Tag: mystery

Book Review: The Appeal – Janice Hallett

I’m excited to bring you my thoughts on a fun mixed media book I read in June last year – The Appeal by Janice Hallett. It’s the book that introduced me to this narrative style, and I loved it! I’ve gone on to read other books in this style since and I’m still a fan, regardless of genre.

Shall we take a look at the details?

 

The Appeal – Janice Hallett

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 432

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Viper

Publication Date: 14 Jan 2021

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The Appeal

 

Dear Reader,

Enclosed are documents relating to the events surrounding the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons, and the tragic death of one of its members. Another member is currently in prison for the crime. We have reason to suspect that they are innocent, and that there were far darker secrets that have yet to be revealed.

We believe that the killer has given themselves away. It’s there in writing, hidden in the emails, texts, and letters. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth? Do you dare?

 

My Thoughts

 

Narrative Style

The selling point of this book is the format in which the story is told. Written in mixed media, we unravel the lives of a wide cast of characters through emails, texts and posters, to give just a few examples. 

The interesting thing about this format is that you experience a lot of different voices and perspectives. As a result, a lot of the story is told in subtext and us readers need to pay attention to what isn’t said as much as what is.

The opening media is a letter to the junior lawyers, who are in the same position as the reader. We are reviewing the evidence of a murder case, we’re invited to scrutinise everything. We’re told at the beginning that the senior lawyer believes the wrong person has been arrested, and so our journey into the mystery begins…

 

Plot

The Appeal unveils an intricate mystery that starts off quite simple, but quickly branches out. The local Theatre troupe, Fairway Players, pull together when they receive the news that their star performer’s grandchild is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. However, not all is as it seems. Whilst we discover in the opening pages that at some point, a murder takes place, this doesn’t happen early on in the narrative. We spend a good portion of the book getting to the point of this event, and naturally, wondering who the victim is.

The Appeal has a clever, complex and twisty narrative. Nothing is as it first appears. As we delve deeper into the narrative, we uncover truths and deceptions that keep us compulsively turning the pages. Honestly, it is a book where you are best off not believing what you are told and making up your own mind.

Whilst had worked out something fishy was going on pretty early on, there are plenty of false trails planted that kept me from uncovering the truth entirely. I’m sure that will be the same for most readers. I can honestly say that when I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it and trying to unpick the tangled threads that create this fantastic read!

 

Characters

The cast of characters is vast and complex. Couple that with a small town like community, who are distrustful of newcomers by nature and wreathed in gossip, subterfuge and scandal, and this is a simmering pot begging to overspill!

The two-facedness we see in some characters and their relationships with others is relatable. Sadly, it’s something we’re all too familiar with. Naturally, as we experience the narrative through multiple subjective points of view, we rarely get an unbiased view of events. Characters either colour themselves and their actions through rose-tinted spectacles, or alternatively, we get equal or opposing biased viewpoints from others.

Some characters seem more independent and objective than others. But, with questionable pasts, are we getting the truth? Equally, there are blantant attention seekers and liars. For those types, any readers like me will quickly formulate their own opinions as to who to take with a pinch of salt, and those to disregard completely! With a full spectrum of characters and underlying motives, readers can experience every emotion going in this book. The question is, who do we believe?

Imagine trying to unpick a murder mystery from suspects that are in your social circle. You already have your opinions of people; who is most likely to have an agenda, who wouldn’t harm a fly etc. It’s all subjective and consequently full of bias. The same goes for The Appeal! With over 20 characters to keep tabs on at a semi-intimate level, it’s a lot to digest. But, that’s fun if that’s your bag.

 

Summary

The Appeal is a fun and intriguing mystery with a lot of layers and complexity. With questionable characters, events and a narrative style that keeps readers engaged, it’s the perfect read for anyone looking for a change of pace!

Have you read The Appeal, or any other books by Janice Hallett? I own a copy of The Curious Case of the Alperton Angels, but I haven’t read it yet.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts or comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 19th November 2023

Good evening everyone and welcome to another Sunday Summary post. If you’re off watching I’m A Celebrity, then I’ll understand! I’m watching it as I write, which is why this post is a bit shorter than normal!

So, what have I been up to this week? The first post I shared with you was a Top Ten Tuesday post, discussing which mainstream authors I have not (as yet) read any books by.

On Friday, I shared a First Lines Friday post. I kept my options open for this post, and in the end, I featured a book related to a series I read years ago and I’m looking forward to reading.

 

Books Read

 

Lost Solace

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I had only read the first chapter of Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater.

I really enjoyed this break and change of genre. Having read books in Karl’s Tales of Lost Solace series, I already had some knowledge and high expectations of the book.

It didn’t disappoint! I read Lost Solace very quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed it! There is plenty of action to keep us entertained, and just the right amount of detail/jargon so as not to overwhelm a non-techy reader.

 

The Boy Who Followed His Father to Auschwitz

After Lost Solace, I moved on to my current read, The Boy Who Followed His Father to Auschwitz.

It’s a difficult book to read for its topic, but it is compulsively readable in style. I’m really enjoying this book. It’s a harrowing topic, and awful to think that so many people lived through the horrors this book touches on! Even so, this is a fantastic book.

As of this Sunday Summary, I’m 240 pages into the book. Ignoring the appendices, that leaves me with another 100 pages to go. Already so much has happened in the narrative. A part of me wants to find out what happens to the titular Gustav and his son, Fritz – how their story ends.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added one book to my reading list this week as a result of Friday’s post. I want to re-read the whole series again, this time including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

 

Coming Up…

On Wednesday, I plan to share a book review with you. This week, I’m reviewing The Appeal by Janice Hallett.

On Friday I’ll be back with a Well, I Didn’t Know That! post! It’s been a while since I made a habit of listening to some podcasts, so I might try to incorporate that into this feature. Stay tuned to find out more!

Last, but not least, I’ll be returning with a Sunday Summary post. As always I hope to have plenty to catch you up on in that post.

In the meantime, that’s all for this Sunday Summary post!

What have you read recently?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Mainstream Authors I Haven’t Read

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I’m sharing a list of ten mainstream authors I have not yet read. Some of the authors in today’s post are ones I intend to read in future, but there are some that I don’t as well. Never say never though.

Let’s take a look at my list of authors!

 

Sarah J Maas

I’m of two minds whether to try Sarah J. Maas. As a fan of epic fantasy, I’m intrigued as to how these books sit in the genre. On the other hand, I’m not sure about the romance elements of the book.

I might try the first book and see how I get on from there.

 

Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare is another author I don’t have a particular plan to pick up as of writing this post. She is one I may try in future as an experiment though.

If I were to pick her books up, I feel like I’d start with what appears to be her core series, The Mortal Instruments. The rest seem to spin off in either direction from there, so that feels like the logical option.

 

John Grisham

I have 3 John Grisham books on my TBR as of writing this post – Rogue Lawyers, The Litigators and The Rainmaker. However, I’m yet to read to have read any.

I’ve featured some of these books on my blog via Friday features like Shelf Control and I’m excited to read them. If I go on to enjoy these, then John Grisham is an author I can go to town with reading more from. He has a lot of books!

 

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is a classic author, a defining voice in detective novels. However, I am yet to read any!

I don’t even have any on my TBR. Were I to try any of her books, I’d probably go with the one I’ve heard of the most… Murder on the Orient Express. Based on what I’ve read, I believe her books can be read reasonably standalone. If anyone has an alternative recommendation I’d be interested to hear it!

 

James Patterson

Although I don’t currently have any James Patterson books on my TBR, I don’t really know why not. I enjoy the genre he writes in, and he clearly does well for himself in terms of popularity.

Where would I even begin here? I honestly don’t know what book would be best, so any advice would be welcome here!

 

Patricia Cornwell

There is yet another crime fiction writer on this list. Seems like a trend at this point. Do I not read enough?

Post-mortem is probably the first book of hers I would read. The plot seems to have a forensic emphasis, which I would (morbidly) enjoy reading! I have a lot of appreciation for the discoveries that can be made as such a level. Is it a job I’d want? No. But, it’s compelling in fiction all the same.

 

Lee Child

My grandad was fond of the Jack Reacher books, and it’s for this reason that I have Killing Floor on my TBR. However, as of this Top Ten Tuesday post, I’m still yet to try this book and therefore this author!

If I go on to enjoy this book, it’s another expansive series to make my way through. Maybe it’s not want to start yet as I’m trying to reduce the number of series I have ongoing. But, I can pencil in for future!

 

Dan Brown

I’m familiar to some extent with The Da Vinci Code, and it’s the book that would immediately spring to mind if you asked me to name one written by Dan Brown. Although I think I would quite like the book, I haven’t as yet got any plans to pick up any books by this author.

In order to read The Da Vinci code, I’d have to read the first book in the series, Angels and Demons. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I don’t particularly have any burning desire to either.

Maybe it’s one, I’ll get two in future, or perhaps not. Only time will tell!

 

David Baldacci

David Baldacci is another author that you could end up down a rabbit hole of all the books he’s written. As of writing this post, I do intend to pick up this author, and in particular, Memory Man.

Again, as I’m not looking to start any new series just yet, this is one I will park for now and come back to you later. I’m excited by the prospect of having lots of books his to read over time if I enjoy the first one.

 

John Green

The last author I feature in this Top Ten Tuesday is John Green. He has written solo and co-authored a number of books in his career. If asked to name one off the top of my head, I would naturally come out with The Fault in Our Stars. It’s the book, he is really well known for and received such such a good reception of that it has been made into a film.

Based on the sound of the synopsis, I’m not sure it’s a book I would pick up. Then again, I read Me Before You by JoJo Moyes as it is in the same realm of topic. I suppose you can never say never, but we’ll see.

 

I hop you have enjoyed today’s Top Ten Tuesday feature!

Have you read any books by the authors I’ve shared in today’s Top Ten Tuesday post? Are any of them on your reading list?

 

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Sunday Summary – 12th November 2023

It’s the end of another weekend (boo!) so that can only mean one thing – it’s time for my Sunday Summary! I hope you’ve all had a great week?

Aside from the 9-5, I’ve spent mine reading and preparing/sharing blog posts. Oh, last night I watched the last Hunger Games film – I really want to re-read those books now! Anyway, let’s get into my recap of the week’s posts so far.

My first blog post of the week was my Norsevember feature – Vikings of Mann: Ancient History or Modern Enigma. I really enjoyed writing this post, although it felt like I poured a lot more effort into than my usual content! As a post with some special meaning for me, it was great to be able to share it, and to take part in a reading event I have seen on the blogosphere in recent years.

I waived my usual Friday feature, Well, I Didn’t Know that! as the Vikings of Mann post is very similar in nature. Given I knew I’d already committed to the first post, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by completing this feature on top. Instead, I moved onto the next in the rota, being a Shelf Control. In these posts, I take a look at upcoming books on my reading list and share why I’m excited to read them. For this week’s feature, I shared the first omnibus in an expansive fantasy series by an author I’m yet to try. I’m not allowed to start it until I’ve wrapped up some more of my ongoing series though. If you’re curious, check out that post to see what it is!

 

Books Read

 

The Vikings in the Isle of Man

As of last week’s Sunday Summary, I was 10% into The Vikings in the Isle of Man. Given that I wanted to finish this book as part of Norsevember, but also to include any relevant content in my blog post that went live on Wednesday, this was my priority of the week. I had also borrowed this book from the library, and it was due back on Wednesday. There was no pressure at all to get this finished up…

The Vikings in the Isle of Man isn’t an overly long book, and it provided some useful content for the blog post and taught me some things I didn’t know. It also expanded on some of the topics I originally explored in The Viking’s of the Irish Sea (read last week), so it was an ideal book to pick up.

In the nick of time, I finished The Vikings in the Isle of Man on Tuesday evening. I’m glad I chose to pick up a local history book and learn something new about my home.

 

The Shining

The second read I had ongoing as of last week’s Sunday Summary post is The Shining. As of that post, I was around 50% through the book.

After concluding The Vikings in the Isle of Man, I reverted back to prioritising The Shining. It’s not unexpected at all, but I really enjoyed this King novel! It’s been awhile since I picked up one of his horrors, and picking this up as reminded me just why I like his writing. I love how his horror plays upon natural and relatable things as opposed to delving too far into the realms of the fantastical. It makes his books feel all the more real and at the same time, more harrowing.

I certainly won’t be leaving it so long before I pick up another, regardless of the season! I am glad I picked this up around Halloween though – it felt apt.

 

Lost Solace

The last book I have picked up physically this week is Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater.

As of this Sunday Summary post, I’ve only read the first chapter of the book so far. However, already the book draws on characters I have met through Karl’s Tales of Lost Solace series, which is set in the same universe. The writing style is also very familiar and easy to pick up, so I’m already settled in and ready to see where Lost Solace takes us! Given I’m not that far into the book, there really isn’t a whole lot I can say at this point. I’ll give you more of an update next week.

 

The Flood

In addition to the physical reads I’ve picked up above, I also listened to about 40 mins of The Flood by Rachel Bennett when waiting for Tesco’s Christmas slots to open. Yes, I legitimately put this on at 5:30am on Tuesday morning to stop myself falling back asleep and missing out on my Christmas food shop! It worked though… 

I had hoped to listen to a little bit more of the audiobook this week, but it wasn’t meant to be. I will be making more of an effort to listen to the last few hours this week.

 

Books Discovered

No news is good news once again this week – the reading list is still heading in the right direction.

 

Coming Up…

On Tuesday, I’m looking forward to sharing my top ten list of mainstream popular authors I haven’t read yet. There are some very popular authors I haven’t read books by, and you may be surprised. Or not, it depends how well you know me I guess!

On Friday I’ll be back with a First Lines Friday post! The last few times I have done this feature. I have set myself a challenge. I’m in the mood for keeping things open this time, so you’ll have to tune in on Friday to see which book I feature and why.

This time next week I’ll be returning with my Sunday Summary and all my bookish updates for the week. I hope you can return to check that post out too!

That’s all for this Sunday Summary though!

What are you reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 5th November 2023

Happy Sunday folks and welcome to today’s Sunday Summary! Before we get into my reads for the week, let’s take a look at the posts I’ve shared so far.

Firstly, I shared my book review for Cinderella’s Crimes on Tuesday. That was the deadline for this review, and I was excited to finally get my thoughts together for you to read. Cinderella’s Crimes is a re-publication of a book initially published in the name of Pretty Deadly. As a dark fairytale reimagining, I feel this new title is more apt.

Secondly, I published my review of October’s reading in my monthly wrap-up post. October was a good month overall. I had quite a few review obligations, but I managed to make my way through those and pick up all my mood reads before the end of the month. I carried over my last two ongoing books to finish in November.

The final post on the agenda for this week (aside from this Sunday Summary) was my November Monthly TBR. It’s quite the list when you look at it at face value. However, it’s made to look more onerous than it is by the number of titles. When you compare page count to other months, it’s not far off!

 

Books Read

 

Killing For Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen

As of my last Sunday Summary update, I had just 15% of this ebook to finish. I was hoping to get it all read by the end of Sunday night, but I ended up finishing it on Monday.

If you want a more comprehensive summary of the book, check out last week’s post. I’m not going to go too much into detail here given that this update constitutes about 45 minutes of reading time this week. In short, it is an interesting and intimate biography of one of the most notorious serial killers of modern times. It’s brutally honest in its capture of events and the state of mind of Dennis.

 

Vikings of the Irish Sea

I didn’t mention Vikings of the Irish Sea as a current read last week, as I was keeping it up my sleeve for an upcoming post. As of drafting my Sunday Summary last week, I was approaching halfway through the book.

I finished the book this week as it is forming the foundation for a post I will be sharing for Norsevember. Additionally, I’m reading a second book that focuses on Vikings in the Isle of Man (see below). However, for a more rounded research approach, I wanted to pick up Vikings of the Irish Sea to compare findings on the island versus the likes of Dublin, England and Wales as a comparison.

Vikings of the Irish Sea isn’t a particularly long book, but it provided good insight for my post and taught me quite a few things about Vikings that I didn’t know from local knowledge.

 

The Vikings in the Isle of Man

Here is that second book I mentioned above! In addition to Vikings of the Irish Sea, I’ve read the first 20 pages of The Vikings in the Isle of Man.

I appreciate that doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider, the book is only 140 odd pages in total in its entirety, it’s enough of a dent to have made a solid start. As I will be sharing my November post in just a few days, I am going to look to make considerably more progress in this book in the next day or two.

 

The Shining

The main book I have been reading over the course of the week is The Shining by Stephen King. After years of owning my copy and not picking it up during spooky season, I decided 2023 was the year. And, it’s been a little while since I picked up a horror novel.

I confess, for such an iconic story, I didn’t know much about The Shining before going into this book. I think that has worked well for me though. I’ve not had any preconceptions or been spoiled for the story, and I am enjoying watching it unravel.

Unsurprisingly, I am really enjoying the book. As of this Sunday Summary, I am 250 pages in, which is approximately 50%. I will be reading this in tandem with The Vikings in the Isle of Man, and I hope to finish the book very soon.

 

Books Discovered

Since adding Unmasked last week, there have been no new additions to the reading list!

 

Coming Up…

My first post of next week will be my contribution to Norsevember… a reading event hosted by Alex at Blogs and Spells for several years now. It’s the first time I’ve taken part in contributing a themed post. I contacted Alex as I wanted to write a post about Viking influence and history in the Isle of Man. This will be going live on Wednesday, and I’m really excited to be writing a different style of post.

This week would normally be the turn of my Well, I Didn’t Know That! feature post. However, as these are a little bit more involved and I don’t want preparation for this to clash with my Norsevember feature, I’m going to skip this one and instead share a Shelf Control. In my Shelf Control posts, I feature an upcoming read on my TBR and why I’m looking forward to picking it up. They’re a lot easier to prepare and post and given my commitment for earlier in the week, I think this is the better option! I’ll do a Well, I Didn’t Know That! feature next time.

Last, but not least, I will be back with another Sunday Summary post to round off the week. Fingers crossed I’ll have plenty of reading updates to share.

What have you read recently?

 

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Monthly TBR – November 2023

Good evening readers – I hope you are having a lovely weekend? I’m looking forward to sharing all my upcoming reads for the month, and today is the day I share my monthly TBR!

The list looks larger than usual, as it is inflated by a couple of carryover reads from October, together with the fact that the average book length for this month is slightly lower.

I have around 2400 pages to read over the course of the month, which is about average. This doesn’t include my audiobooks for this month, of which I have about 16.5 hours listening time. That averages to just over half an hour a day, which is more than achievable!

Shall we get into my monthly TBR and discuss specifics of the books I’m reading in November?

 

Fixed Reads

 

October Carryover – The Shining

I picked up The Shining, the last book on my October TBR, on Halloween. I was hoping to be a little bit further into the book by that point, but still reading it for the spooky season. As it happens, I only read about 40 pages… But it is a start and I’ll take it.

As of this monthly TBR I am a more modest 180 pages, or roughly 40%, through the book. There was never really any doubt, but I am enjoying this story and the setting so far. Although I’ve been making my way through The Dark Tower series, it’s been a little while since I picked up a pure horror by Stephen King.

I’m looking forward to making further progress in the book and seeing how events unfold. There has been a lot of set up for what may happen later in the book; I’m keen to see if they play out as I hope they do!

 

October TBR Jar Carryover – The Flood

Throughout the latter half of October I started listening to The Flood by Rachel Bennett. Rachel is, I believe, resident on the island, and so I picked up this book to support a local author.

As I mentioned in my monthly wrap-up post for October, I am getting on well with this audiobook. I’m curious as to the history of some of the characters and how future events will unravel. There is definitely far more going on from the ‘historic’ timeline than we readers are aware of yet. I’m interested to see what bearing this has on the modern day aspect of the narrative.

 

Norsevember – Vikings in the Isle of Man

Norsevember is a reading event hosted by Blogs and Spells. Over the course of November, he and other creators feature all things Norse, from books to mythology. I have the pleasure of taking part this year and sharing a feature post on how the Norse touched the little island I live on.

I have already read one book that will contribute to my feature post next week, but I am going to be reading Vikings in the Isle of Man to supplement my knowledge ahead of this post. It’s also another great way to be able to support the event.

It’s only a short non-fiction at 140 pages, but I’m looking forward to picking it up!

 

Ashes of Guilt

I found Ashes of Guilt on Discovery as available to read and to provide a review for. I really like the sound of the premise for this book, so I’ve decided to give it a go! It’s a small-town mystery/thriller novel in which the main character has a shady childhood past; only, it may be that not all is as it seemed back then…

Ashes of Guilt is my only review obligation for November, which makes a nice change from the three I had to do last month! I shouldn’t complain, I sign myself up for these things. So, if there’s anyone to blame, I should just go look in the mirror…

 

November TBR Jar – The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz

Every month, I randomly pick a book out of my TBR Jar. November is no exception. Yesterday, I shared my pick on Instagram. If you’ve seen that already, then you know I drew out The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz.

I’m actually glad this book made it to November’s monthly TBR. I really love books around World War II and in particular Auschwitz. You can call me morbid if you want. I just find it a really interesting subject. What makes the pick even better is that it is a non-fiction novel. With the end of the year fast approaching, I am trying my best to meet my target of picking up more than 15 non-fiction books by the end of the year.

As of this post, I have read 12. Incidentally, I have three non-fiction books on this reading list (last one below), meaning that I have every chance of hitting that goal! Considering I was behind in my mid-year review post, that’s quite a turnaround. 

The fact that this book came out makes it even easier for me. I should, in theory, only have to read one in December to exceed my >15 goal. 

 

November Instagram Poll Pick – The Minders

In addition to the TBR Jar, I’ve taken to posting a poll on Instagram and getting my followers to vote between two books, the winner being the one I read next.

For the poll just gone, the books my followers had to choose from were My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, or The Minders by John Marrs. The Minders won by quite the majority, and I’m glad it did! I have a few books by John Marrs on the reading list at this point, so I’m excited to be getting around to one of his at least! It’s also more fitting for the season. The Minders is a mystery/thriller novel with hints at government conspiracy in the synopsis. I hope you are as intrigued as I am, because I’m looking forward to telling you about it.

I have obtained a copy of The Minders via audiobook. I quite enjoyed the sample and honestly, I already had quite a lot of books on this reading list in either physical or e-book format. I needed another audio!

 

Mood Reads

The Witches – Salem, 1692: A History

The first of my mood reads in today’s monthly TBR is also the third non-fiction I mentioned above. I have had my copy of The Witches for about a year now. I have gone to pick it up before, but I was a little bit intimidated by the page count and the text size – it’s tiny!

This normally doesn’t bother me, but I looked at it before experimentally when I was looking for a change in read, and ideally something quite quick. That wouldn’t have been the case, so I didn’t pick up.

I am interested in the subject matter though, so I’m looking forward to getting around to it at last!

 

Lost Solace

A relatively quick read, and a change up in genre, is Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. I have had a copy of this book for the longest time to read. It’s also supposed to have been on the last three or four months TBR’s, but I just couldn’t fit it in.

Karl’s Lost Solace series in itself will be new to me, but I have read several short stories set in the same universe. I have really enjoyed those stories, so I’m looking forward to giving this mean series for dry.

It’s also been a little while since I read a science fiction novel. What do you believe, the last time I picked up the genre was when I read Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson back at the end of July! I certainly never intended to leave it that long. Then again, picking up Lost Solace has moved to or three times.

 

Incendium

The last book I would like to pick up in November is Incendium. It feels like the perfect month to pick this book up, as the plot sounds like it is very reminiscent of the gunpowder plot… which was foiled in November 1605.

I would’ve liked to pick up the book a little earlier in the month to coincide with bonfire night. However, it’s more important that I focus on my obligations, and so I will have to settle for reading it in the same month!

 

Summary

That’s a lot of books that I’m hoping to pick up in November, but honestly, I think it’s doable. Given that I am prone to reading 600-900 page books, and all of these on my list fall under that, there is absolutely no reason this is unachievable!

Thanks for reading today’s Monthly TBR post!

Have you read any of the books on my November reading list? Do you like the sound of them?

 

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Book Review: Cinderella’s Crimes – Kelsey Josund

In today’s review post, I have the pleasure to share my thoughts on a unique fairytale retelling that held my attention throughout. Cinderella’s Crimes is loosely based on the classic fairytale, but quickly deviates and develops a world of its own.

What’s more exciting is that I have the privilege of sharing my thoughts on the book’s re-publication day; it was originally released under the title Pretty Deadly. I hope you are as excited for this book as I am to tell you about it. Let’s check out the details of the book and then dive into my review!

 

Cinderella’s Crimes – Kelsey Josund

Genre: Fairytale Retelling

Pages: 230

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Kelsey Josund

Publication Date: 31 Oct 2023

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Cinderella’s Crimes

 

Cinna would quite literally kill for the throne.

For years, Cinna has been forced to serve her wealthy cousins rather than attend society events alongside them. She has waited for the chance to prove herself and exact revenge. When a ball at the castle is announced, promising to bring many powerful people to town, she seizes the opportunity to strike.

She bets her best friend, Johann, a small-time thief and con-man, that she can land a greater score the night of the ball than he can, and they embark on parallel heists. But as their plots unfold, things begin to unravel: by the end of the night, the castle’s on lock down, a duchess is dead, a mansion has burnt to the ground—and Cinna hasn’t even stolen anything.

Or has she captured something far more valuable than gold and jewels?

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

A complex heist is the feature of this retelling, and it far surpassed my expectation in details and intrigue. There is no way I had anticipated the events that unfold in the book; it is a real page-turner! If you are a follower of my blog and keep up with my weekly Sunday Summary updates, you will know that I read Cinderella’s Crimes in just a handful of days earlier this month. If that doesn’t prove my point, then I don’t know what does!

Regardless of the intricacies, the plot is easy to follow and engaging to the reader. The narrative is also full of plot twists, with us not knowing what will happen next at any given moment.

Who scores the greatest haul on the night? Well, I’m not going to tell you that! You’ll just have to read the book for yourself!

 

Characters

Cinna, unlike her fairytale counterpart, is a cold and calculating individual. Subjected to a fall of grace in her family as a result of mistreatment by her stepmother and step-siblings, she plots her revenge every day. In order to break out of her desperate circumstances, she plans the most daring of heists, and sets herself against her friend Johann in scoring the greatest haul on the night. Cinna is a complex character and a fun perspective to enjoy this story from.

Johann is also an interesting counterpart to Cinna. Like Cinna, he is far from altruistic, and this isn’t his first criminal venture. It’s by far the biggest yet, however, and he rises to the challenge! With little time to prepare, Johann is incredibly resourceful and determined to best Cinna, even though he suspects deep down she’ll trump him. He’s determined pull it off anyway.

The dynamic between the two adds intrigue to an already high stakes story. I enjoyed their complicated relationship at every stage of the book.

 

Narrative Style

The short and concise chapters make this already compulsively readable story even easier to read.

The chapters intertwine between Johann and Cinna’s perspective, combining two different angles of the heist into one comprehensive story. As these two seemingly separate parts come together into the full picture, we’re surprised by how their daring endeavours unravel in tandem.

 

Summary

Cinderella’s Crimes is a dark twist to a classic fairytale with high stakes, daring adventure, and a shot at revenge that is best served cold!

Are you intrigued by Cinderella’s Crimes? Would you like to read it for yourself?

 

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Sunday Summary – 29th October 2023

Good evening from a rainy and dreary island! But that’s okay – as I’m inside, cosy with a cup of coffee and ready to dive into publishing this week’s Sunday Summary! As always, let’s take a look at the posts I published earlier in the week.

My first post this week was a Top Ten Tuesday feature. This week’s theme was ‘atmospheric reads’, and I had several different genres and bookish vibes to share as part of the post. If you haven’t checked it out already and are looking for reading inspiration, look no further.

On Thursday, I shared my review as part of the recent blog tour for Warrior Prince. I enjoyed this historical fiction novel which features Vikings in an Eastern European setting, as opposed to the English variants. It’s a fun, action-filled adventure, and if you want to find out more, my review is here.

 

Books Read

 

Killing For Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen

I left off last week’s Sunday Summary post having concluded my ‘current reads’ at that time (I mentioned in that post that I had about 20 minutes of Surrounded by Idiots left to finish, which I did. I didn’t feel like that warranted a section in this Sunday Summary post.)

So, I picked up my next read on the TBR, Killing For Company by Brian Masters. You would like to think that based on the title and subject matter, it would be obvious that this book isn’t for the fainthearted or those with a sensitive stomach. However, in case that’s not clear, let me emphasise that now. This book isn’t for the fainthearted or those with a sensitive stomach. 

In this book, we explore the life, history and grisly murders Nilsen fully admits to committing between 1978 and his arrest in 1983. In the latter stages of the book, we start to address some of the psychological elements and potential diagnosis for Dennis as a means of explaining his actions… both the murders he did commit and for those he failed and/or chose not to go through with.

It has been a really interesting book, although I am sure it is not for everybody. As of this post, I have read 85% of the book and I have an estimated reading time of one hour to complete it. I’m hoping to get that done tonight!

 

The Flood

I have been off work this week – something I haven’t mentioned before now I don’t think. I have been busy though. In addition to catching up with jobs in the house, I have been out and tidying up the garden ready for winter. Whilst I’ve been doing these jobs, I have taken the opportunity to make progress with my second audiobook of the month.

The Flood is actually written by a local author, and it is for this reason I added it to my reading list. It is also the book I pulled out of my TBR jar this month, and I’m enjoying the story so far. There’s definitely a lot more going on under the surface of this narrative that I am yet to discover, and I’m looking forward to unravelling it all. The audio is also very good, so I can recommend the format!

As of this Sunday Summary update, I am coming up to 50% of the way through this audiobook. I may be back at work from next week, but I will be finding any opportunity I can to continue listening. 

 

Books Discovered

I have added a book called Unmasked by Ellie Middleton to my reading list this week. One of my LinkedIn connections has liked content by Ellie on a few occasions, and as a result, I have seen it too.

I’m interested in picking up Unmasked as it looks at ADHD and other forms of neurodivergence. I have a friend who was diagnosed with autism only when she was an adult (not surprising for girls given the ‘official’ symptoms or flags are those typically exhibited in boys and take no account of girls learning to mask them). As somebody who is interested to understand more about neurodivergence in general, I’d like to take a look at this book.

 

Coming Up…

With the end of October and the beginning of November falling into next week, you can expect my usual busy schedule.

My first post of the week though will be a review for Cinderella’s Crimes by Kelsey Josund. I have a deadline to share my review on Tuesday, so that’s when you can expect my thoughts on this fairytale reimagining that I read last week.

After that post has gone live, I will be kicking into gear with my usual monthly wrap-up post, and then my monthly TBR for November. mMy intention is for the wrap-up to go live on Thursday and my TBR on Saturday. I hope you can join me for both of those!

And, as always, I will be back at the same time next week with another Sunday Summary update post.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my plan is to take a cup of tea to bed and finish my current read.

What are your plans for this evening?

 

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Blog Tour Review: The Puppet Maker – Jenny O’Brien

Happy Friday friends and welcome to a highly anticipated review. I’ve been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on The Puppet Maker since I finished the book about a week ago.

Before I jump into my thoughts on this fantastic book, I always like to take the chance to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author Jenny O’Brien, for giving me the chance to read this book and share my thoughts today.

I really enjoyed The Puppet Maker. It’s been a little while since I picked up a book of this genre and it was a great re-introduction!

 

The Puppet Maker – Jenny O’Brien

Genre: Police Procedural

Pages: 298

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Storm Publishing

Publication Date: 17 Oct 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The Puppet Maker

The scrap of paper looked as if it had been torn from a diary. The words written in faint pencil. The letters rounded, almost childlike: Please look after her. Her life and mine depend on you not trying to find me.

When Detective Alana Mack arrives at Clonabee police station, in a small Irish seaside town on the outskirts of Dublin, she doesn’t expect to find a distressed two-year-old girl sobbing on the floor.

Abandoned in a local supermarket, the child tells them her name is Casey. All Alana and her team have to go on is a crumpled note begging for someone to look after her little girl. This mother doesn’t want to be found.

Still recovering from a terrible accident that has left Alana navigating a new life as a wheelchair user, Alana finds herself suddenly responsible for Casey while trying to track down the missing mother and solve another missing person’s case… a retired newsagent who has seemingly vanished from his home.

Forced to ask her ex-husband and child psychiatrist Colm for help, through Forensic Art Therapy, Alana discovers that whatever darkness lies behind the black windows in Casey’s crayon drawing, the little girl was terrified of the house she lived in.

Then a bag of human remains is found in a bin, and a chilling link is made – the DNA matches Casey’s.

Alana and her team must find the body and make the connection with the missing newsagent fast if she is to prevent another life from being taken. But with someone in her department leaking confidential details of the investigation to the media, can Alana set aside her emotional involvement in this case and find Casey’s mother and the killer before it’s too late?

Heart-pounding and totally addictive, The Puppet Maker is the first in the Detective Alana Mack series that will have fans of Ann Cleeves, Angela Marsons and LJ Ross racing through the pages late into the night.

 

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0C9JJ5XYB/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C9JJ5XYB/

 

My Thoughts…

 

Plot

The Puppet Maker has a lot of dark and difficult themes. That shouldn’t come as a surprise in a narrative whose synopsis involves body parts. There’s a lot more to it than that, however. Poverty, abuse, illness and disability also have their place this book. It colours what could be a beautiful setting (and I’m sure it is when painted in a more natural light) into a city with an underbelly… and that’s perfect for this type of book. It’s gritty and highlights the less savoury side of life – something we are perhaps too keen to look away and ignore otherwise.

The plot unravels at a perfect pace to keep us readers on our toes and guessing what could possibly come next. Every chapter has a purpose, from setting the scene to sharing pivotal information. Overall, I enjoyed the balance in establishing the setting and characters with the action within. I enjoy both aspects, so taking time  to make the most of both appealed to me as a reader.

 

Characters

I enjoyed the representation in our protagonist Alana. It isn’t very often we find ourselves with a detective with a disability. Alana’s disability is physical and the book does a fantastic job of illustrating difficulties wheelchair users suffer… even down to being able to perform such basic and mundane tasks by themselves. Taking the time to explore such detail within this complex narrative adds to the overall setting and makes for an immersive experience.

That said, Alana isn’t defined by her disability either. She is a complex character with a strength of spirit even before you consider her recent history. Alana has suffered more misery than the loss of her legs. It’s abundantly clear to us readers that this has a profound effect on her, but she’s doesn’t let it drag her down into the darkest depths either.

Alana is just one character amongst a complex cast. Whilst she unravels the mystery of a young girl and a missing parent, there are lots of other characters that add to this interesting narrative. Casey’s mother is also a really exciting character to read the perspective of. Could you imagine leaving your daughter in a supermarket in the hopes that someone will take her in and care for her? A lot of people might consider that unthinkable, but believe me, she has her reasons and those come to light as the book unfolds.

 

Narrative Style

The Puppet Maker is multi perspective, which really worked for me. This writing style is my preference, and with this type of book and narrative it works really well to unveil plot twists and secrets to the reader in a timely fashion and maintain suspense until all the pieces come together.

The chapters are a great length. Each voice has plenty of page-time to explore their own stories within the wider narrative. At the same time, they are concise enough to get the message across and have us compulsively reading the next chapter for a further revelation. This balance, in my opinion, was perfect for the genre and subject of the book!

Each character and perspective has a distinct voice and narrative style, so we know whose perspective we are reading at any given time. With a decent number of characters to pull off, this is well managed throughout.

 

Summary

The Puppet Maker is a compulsive page-turner with an intricate and twisty plot line to keep readers engaged. It’s a wonder I managed to put the book down from time to time and actually function as an adult. Well, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion, eh?

 

Author Bio

Born in Dublin, Jenny O’Brien moved to Wales and then Guernsey, where she tries to

find time to write in between working as a nurse and ferrying around 3 teenagers.

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer.

Jenny is represented by Nicola Barr of The Bent Agency and published by Storm Publishing and HQ Digital (Harper Collins).

Social Media Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ScribblerJB
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/scribblerjb/

Sunday Summary – 15th October 2023

It’s a chilly Sunday evening here as I’m writing this Sunday Summary post. We’re finally getting into the season I enjoy… although I’m a little disappointed I’ve had to bring out my electric blanket already. Okay, let’s be honest, no I am not! It’s very toasty…

Before we take a look at the books I have been reading over the course of this week, let’s do our usual recap the other blog posts I have shared with you earlier this week.

The first of those blog posts was a book review for Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. I read and enjoyed the book in Summer last year. Having had mixed results with Neil Gaiman’s writing before, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down. It is a relatively safe subject though, and it worked out really well. If you want to know my thoughts on the book, then please go and check out my full review.

The second post I shared earlier this week was my First Lines Friday. In that post, I completed the challenge of featuring a book that I intend to pick up later this year. It’s currently pencilled in on next month’s TBR, in case you’re interested. If you are as big a fan of fantasy as I am, I strongly recommend you check out that post and see if you can recognise the introduction!

 

Books Read

 

Surrounded by Idiots

I started this week having already made 40% progress in Surrounded by Idiots the week prior.

I’ve made considerable progress with this audiobook over the course of the week. I have particularly enjoyed listening to it whilst working on a long-standing cross stitch project. I’ve been working on that project on and off for probably over two years now. I like to have something to occupy my hands, but keeping my mind free enough to be able to enjoy audio at the same time.

All of my comments from last week about this book still stand. The topic is keeping my interest and is even teaching me a few things about how I can approach different people. Perhaps I will omit mentioning to some of my work colleagues that I’ve learned how to approach them from a book of this title. Whilst my immediate work colleagues could take the joke, I’m not sure about others!

As of this Sunday Summary post, I have just less than 20% left of the book to complete. On Audible, it’s indicating a listening time of just over an hour and a half; that should be very easy for me to achieve on the basis that I’ve listened to a lot more this week already!

 

The Puppet Maker

The first physical book I picked up this week was read on my Kindle in full. I have picked up The Puppet Maker in order to review the book as part of the upcoming blog tour next Friday.

The Puppet Maker is a police procedural that will appeal to fans of murder, mystery, and a disabled protagonist. Alana finds herself in the midst of multiple complex cases, one involving a small child and a missing mother, an unusual disappearance and then finally, an apparent murder.

I enjoyed this book and the opportunity it gave me to dip my toe back into the police procedural genre. The unique perspective and characters within made the book all the more interesting. Especially after the 50% mark, I couldn’t put the book down! If you want to read my full review, then be sure to check out the blog tour post going live on Friday.

 

Warrior Prince

Lastly, I made a start on Warrior Prince this morning. As of this Sunday Summary update, I am just 10% into this book. I am also reading Warrior Prince for an upcoming blog tour post… although this one is not going live until the week after next.

I can’t really say a whole lot at the moment as I’ve only just started the book. It’s made a good starting impression though, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story over the next few days.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve got a good run going here. Once again, there are no new books on the TBR this week to share with you!

 

Coming Up…

I’ve already mentioned one of the posts that will be going live next week, but let’s take it from the top.

The first post I intend to share next week is a discussion post. It’s well documented on the blog that I’m a big fan and reader of fantasy. In my discussion post, I am going to share some elements of fantasy that I love, and some I don’t necessarily enjoy… at least not all of the time.

On Friday next week, I’ll be taking a break from my usual Friday features in order to bring you that blog tour review of The Puppet Maker by Jenny O’Brien.

As always, I’ll be back here next Sunday with another Sunday Summary update post for you all. I’ll get you up to speed on the reading I’ve picked up over the week and what’s coming up on the blog next!

Until then, happy reading and I’ll see you soon!

 

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