Categories
book reviews

The Bad Mother’s Virus by Suzy K. Quinn

2020-07-04-15-54-28

Published: May 30th, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Media
Format: Kindle
Genre: Humourous Fiction

Thank you to Megan at Ed Public Relations for the invitation to read this book and the gifted eARC.

SYNOPSIS:

100% of net profits donated to coronavirus healthcare initiatives (details below)

Laugh out loud for your immune system with this parenting comedy
Single mother, Juliette Duffy, is getting married. Again. And this time, she is determined to make it all the way down the aisle. But you never know what’s around the corner, do you?

Follow Juliette as she tries to plan a wedding that may never happen, cheers up a grandmother quarantined on a cruise ship and experiences self isolation hell with her dramatic ex-partner and his mother.

If you’re feeling gloomy and fed up, and looking for a REALLY good laugh and the ultimate feel-good book, download on Kindle Unlimited and laugh your way to better immunity.

A note from your author
I think we all need a bit of cheering up. There are so many real, human funny and heart-warming stories in the midst of this pandemic, and that’s what this book is about. But there’s a serious side to all this too, that hasn’t been forgotten.
THANK YOU EVERYONE who donates to healthcare heroes by reading this book. You are contributing to many good causes AND hopefully laughing and feeling good, even if things feel scary or uncertain.
We’ll get through this everyone!
Huge love,
Suzy xxx

MY REVIEW:

“But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s to expect surprises.”

The Bad Mother’s Virus is the fifth installment in the popular Bad Mother’s series. In this book Juliette Duffy is starting 2020 in a positive mood. She is planning her wedding to Alex and declares that 2020 will be the year of health and wellness, not banking on the coronavirus derailing not only her plans but the lives of the world. The story follows the early days of the virus, its spread to a global pandemic that sees Juliette attempt to navigate panic buying, homeschooling and life in quarantine while fighting a custody battle with her ex.

Though I have two of the other books in this series, this was the first time I’ve read any of the Bad Mother’s books. When I was contacted asking if I wanted to read and review a copy and learned that Suzy was donating all profits from the book to finding a coronavirus vaccine and healthcare heroes, I jumped at the chance. Despite taking my first foray into the lives of the characters five books deep, I never felt confused about their backstories as the author succinctly catches the reader up with past events in the early pages of the book.

Though it is full of humour, there are some emotional and more serious topics covered in the book too. As someone who’s fought custody battles that element of the story is very real and brought back some unwelcome memories for me. I felt a camaraderie with Juliette and was rooting for her every step of the way. In fact overall I found the characters to be compelling, real and relatable and laughed most at Nana Joan’s antics. 

An entertaining, quick and easy read that offers a relatable look at our current crazy times. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

5321488

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzy K. Quinn is the author of feel-good romance and page-turning thrillers and published her hilarious parenting memoir Lies We Tell Mothers last year. She wrote The Bad Mother’s Virus exclusively during the lockdown, while juggling homeschooling, the inevitable extra cleaning and cooking, and generally not having a moment’s peace! Suzy’s books have sold over three quarters of a million copies worldwide and have been translated into 7 languages. Suzy is also a journalist and has previously written for The Guardian, Perfect Wedding Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine and The Sun. Suzy currently lives in Essex with her husband Demi and two daughters, Lexi and Laya and is available for interview and to write features.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Lies I Tell by Joel Hames

1fa448ea

Published: June 9th, 2020
Publisher: FFS Publishing
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour and Happy Publication Day Joel Hames. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and FFS Publishing for the ebook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

SHE’S WATCHING YOU
BUT WHO’S WATCHING HER?

From the bestselling author of Dead North, a tense, claustrophobic psychological thriller perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Claire McGowan and Clare Mackintosh.

Meet Polly. Meet Emily. Meet Belinda.

They’re all me. My name is Lisa and I’m an identity thief. If I’m not inside your system stealing your money, I’ve probably already stolen it. I’m your friend. I’m a thief. I’m gone.
I’m in control.

Only now, the tables have been turned. I’m in danger. My son is in danger. And I don’t know where that danger’s coming from.

Any friend.
Any enemy.
Any stranger.

Anyone from the past I’ve been trying to outrun for years.

NOBODY CAN BE TRUSTED.

MY REVIEW:

When she fled her tragic childhood home at the age of fifteen,  Lisa Atkins shed her first identity and became someone else. Ever since she has invented new identities in order to outrun her past and to scam her targets.

But now the tables have turned and she is the target. Realising that she and her son, Simon, are in danger, Lisa frantically tries to find the source of the danger. But they remain illusive. Will the past she’s been trying to outrun for two decades finally catch up with her?

This readable and intriguing thriller captured my attention quickly. The story is told in chapters that alternate between the past and present with flashbacks revealing the terrible homelife she endured and the trauma that has cast a shadow over her whole life. In the present day we watch her keep track of her various identities and scams while also being a doting mother to four-year-old Simon. It provides a shocking and thought-provoking reminder of how our modern-day love of technology and social media can be used against us by those with the knowledge to do so. Personally, I could only think how being so many different people must be exhausting. Just reading all she had to do to keep on top of her many identities left me feeling like I needed a nap!

One of the things I liked most about this book was Lisa’s nuanced and layered character. Lisa isn’t supposed to be someone we like. She’s a con artist and a thief who takes pride in what she does, but she is also a loving mother and someone with a tragic past. There is something about her that was endearing to me from the start and I couldn’t help but like and root for her. The flashbacks to her childhood were certainly a contributing factor to this as the story went on as it was impossible not to be moved by what she had gone through.  

Another thing I enjoyed about this novel is that I found it hard to predict. I had no idea who was targeting Lisa or what turns the story would take next. My only issue with this book, and the reason I have given it 3.5 stars instead of 4, is that about a fifth of the way in the tension wanes and doesn’t pick back up for quite some time. But overall this was a fascinating, twisty, and enjoyable thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

unnamed (6)

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.

After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family chose to let him).

Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Website |Twitter |Facebook               
BUY THE BOOK:
Amazon
Joel Hames
Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton ⭐⭐⭐.5

2a035e17

Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to HarperCollins UK for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

At the school gates, there’s no such thing as yesterday’s news . . .

When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.

Was nobody watching him?
Where was his mother?
Who’s to blame?

The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.

Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart.

MY REVIEW:

“Tell the truth, lose a friend. Lie, and keep her close.”

An ordinary day becomes the stuff of parents’ nightmares after five-year-old Jack falls from a post at the local health centre. His mother, Liza had asked her friend, Sarah, to check on him only minutes before and was reassured he was fine. But Sarah wasn’t being completely honest when she told her that and is now racked with guilt and facing a dilemma – should she tell the truth and lose her friend or stick to the lie and be there at the worst time in her life? 

There are secrets, lies and rumours abound in this emotionally charged novel. There’s an air of mystery and tragedy from the start and we learn that Sarah isn’t the only one hiding a shameful secret and Liza has one of her own. But we don’t know what it is, only that it gives her husband a hold over her and she will do anything to stop even her best friend from finding out. These secrets have a ripple effect, influencing everything else in their lives and threatening to tear their worlds apart. 

At the heart of this novel is a story about female friendship. The author has created an authentic portrayal of its dynamics, complexities and competitiveness. The WhatsApp messages are a particularly good example of how women can talk to and about each other and the judgements that can come from other women. I’m sure that the women in this book will feel familiar to us all. I know it made me thankful that the days of playground politics and cliques are behind me. 

“Look at everyone here, playing grown-ups, but knowing what the hell they’re doing most of the time.”

I always find it fascinating when we see two very different perspectives on the same events, and enjoyed the dual narration in this book. Sarah and Liza might be best friends, but they are very different people. They are both flawed, complex women who are doing their best. While I found them, and all the characters, well written, I didn’t particularly like any of them. But they were compelling to read and I had a lot of empathy for the things they went through, particularly Liza as she is vilified in the wake of the accident by people who believe she neglected her duty as a mother. It is all too easy to sit behind a screen and judge but sadly it is something prevalent in today’s society, and it must be heartbreaking to be in the middle of a tragedy and face hate and criticism when you need kindness and support. 

The Fallout is a timely, emotional and suspenseful novel that also serves as a reminder of the damage that secrets, lies, gossip and assumptions can wreak on people’s lives.

RebeccaThornton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Thornton is an alumna of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course, where she was tutored by Esther Freud and Tim Lott. Her writing has been published in The Guardian, You Magazine, Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The Sunday People amongst others. She has reported from the Middle East, Kosovo and the UK. She now lives in West London with her husband and two children.

The Fallout is her third novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Instagram
Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Waterstones
Book Depository
Google Books
Apple Books
Kobo

1586036420571_The Fallout BT Poster

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Dark Corners by Darren O’Sullivan ⭐⭐⭐.5

83113ae1

Published: April 2nd, 2020
Pubisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Welcome to my spot on the blog tour for this absorbing thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

You thought you’d escaped your past

It’s been twenty years since Neve’s best friend Chloe went missing. Neve has never recovered and promised herself she’d never go back to that place.

But secrets can come back to haunt you

When Neve receives news that her first boyfriend Jamie has gone missing, she’s forced to return. Jamie has vanished without a trace in a disappearance that echoes the events of all those years ago. Somebody is watching and will stop at nothing until the truth about what took place that night is revealed …

MY REVIEW:

“One way or another, secrets were debts that had to be paid.”

Dark Corners is an eerie, mysterious and gripping thriller that had me hooked from the first page. It is a story about friendships, secrets, lies and revenge. How we can run from the past but it will always catch up with you.

Neve Chambers left the small mining village where she was born and raised after the disappearance of her best friend, Chloe, and has tried not to look back. But when an old friend gets in touch to tell her that Jamie, her first love, is now missing, she feels she has no choice but to go back. Returning to the claustrophobic village, she immediately feels everyone’s eyes on her and the whispered rumours resume. As she reconnects with the friends she left behind and searches for Jamie the evidence seems to suggest that his disappearance is connected to Chloe’s, forcing Neve to confront the part she played in events twenty-one years ago.

The story is told in dual timelines. In flashbacks we go back to the summer of 1998, when Neve and her six friends are hanging out and celebrating the end of their exams, unaware that before the summer ends one of them will vanish and the rest of them will see their lives changed forever. The flashbacks made the book feel part coming-of-age story, which I enjoyed, and felt authentic, bringing back memories of my own teenage years with friends in the late nineties, when we would hang out with just a curfew and there were no mobile phones and social media. I loved that these flashbacks gave  the reader a sense of why Neve was so anxious about returning to the village while also providing a dual sense of mystery alongside what had happened to Jamie.

In the present day we follow Neve as she returns to the village and searches for Jamie, finding herself embroiled deeper in mystery and danger than she’d anticipated as it seems The Drifter, a mysterious man the friends saw near the mine when Chloe vanished, is back and taking his revenge on those who saw him all those years ago. The author did a great job of keeping the reader guessing and I was totally at a loss as to who The Drifter might be or what had happened to Chloe and Jamie. 

The atmospheric, chilling, ghostly and claustrophobic small mining village was the perfect setting for the story, adding extra layers to the mystery and foreboding and casting its shadow over all who live there. The dual disappearances and timelines were easy to follow and as the tension was raised in the flashbacks, you could feel it increasing in the present day too as like Neve you became suspicious of everyone and didn’t know who to trust. 

Dark Corners is a twisty, intriguing and cryptic thriller that I devoured in just a few hours. Cleverly written, it is filled with twists and turns that keep you guessing right up until the jaw-dropping finale. A great read for anyone who enjoys this genre. 

Darren+O'Sullivan+(1)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Darren O’Sullivan is the author of #1 bestsellers, Our Little Secrets, Close Your Eyes and Closer Than You Think. His latest, Dark Corners is coming April 2020.

When Darren isn’t writing, he is usually rolling around on the floor, pretending to be a pirate with his 4 year old.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Waterstones
Book Depository
Google Books
Apple Books
Kobo

IMG_20200401_142122

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver ⭐⭐⭐.5

Nothing Important Cover

Thank you to Anne at Random Things  Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Orenda Books for my gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides.

One cult.

No leader.

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become part of the People of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on the train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller, Nothing Important Happened Today confirms Will Carver as one of the most extraordinary, exciting authors in crime fiction.

nothing happened poster 2019.jpg

****TRIGGER WARNING****

If there was ever a book that required a trigger warning its this one. This book deals with suicide and mental health and if you struggle with those things I would advise caution in reading this book. Both are subjects I can find triggering but all I knew was that it started with the nine suicides. I didn’t expect it to delve so deeply and darkly into both subject and I really struggled with reading it, having to take lots of breaks. In all honesty, I would have quit reading if I hadn’t been reading it for a blog tour spot that was just days away. But it does move away from being so dark and became a book I enjoyed after some time.

MY REVIEW:

Nine people receive a letter one morning. Each one contains a sheet of paper with just four words: nothing important happened today, the other has instructions for where and when they are to meet and end their lives in unison. They have been accepted as members of the People of Choice, a suicide cult that seems to have no leader and the members don’t know each other. As word spreads and the People of Choice becomes a movement, the police are desperately trying to find links between the members and the identity of the cult’s leader.

This was a powerful, original, dark and brutal novel that I had the dichotomy of disliking the start but ultimately enjoyed. It packs a punch from the start and the unease was instant as I read about the normal days of the nine people who sacrificed their lives on the bridge.

This was my first Will Carver book and I loved his unique writing style. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that’s written in both the first and third person before, but it worked and flowed smoothly. The dual timelines and multiple narrators were a great way to introduce us to what the person behind the People of Choice was trying to achieve and showing us the shattered lives of those he chose to be members. His choice to refer to the members by numbers and profession or a personality trait made it feel like I was observing test subjects in some twisted experiment, which I guess is kind of what the cult’s orchestrator wanted. It made me one of the others. I felt quite voyeuristic and removed when reading parts of the book which perfectly illustrates how taking away personal qualifiers such as names and details about people’s lives also takes away some of the empathy.

This read as a how-to manual for running a cult but was also a commentary on today’s society. There were a lot of great points and things I could relate to but unfortunately I found that for over half the book these things were overshadowed by the things that made this book hard to read for me: as I mentioned earlier, I found the depth and detail to which this book discussed and examinned suicide distressing and the way mental health and how it is treated was discussed in the first half of the book rubbed me the wrong way. I was relieved when the book began to feel less gratuitous and like it was starting to come together at last. I found myself really enjoying the storyline and actually caring about what happened and who was behind the carnage.

Out now.

Will Carver 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

So while I feel I can’t give this a four star rating because of how I felt for the first part of the book, I would still urge everyone to decide for themselves about this book. It is a well-written book by a talented author that is timely, twisted, disturbing and thought-provoking. I liked how the story played out as we approached the finale and absolutely loved how it ended.

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt ⭐⭐⭐.5 

Editor_2_20190923215014

SYNOPSIS:

June 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Judy’s death

August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz

October 4th the motion picture JUDY staring Renee Zellwegger and Jessie Buckley is released

An irresistible mixture of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one person’s enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.

Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old: comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her. In this unique book Boyt travels into the deep underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.

Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero worship be a pursuit that’s low in status, or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? And what is the proper husbandry of a twenty first century obsession. Anyway?

‘When Judy sang to me as I grew older she seemed to confirm the things that I’d all my life held to be true.’

  • Things that are hard have more life at their heart than things that are easy.
  • All feelings, however painful, are to be prized.
  • Glamour is a moral stance.
  • The world is crueller and more wonderful than anyone ever says.
  • Loss, its memory and its anticipation, lies at the heart of human experience.
  • Any human situation, however deadly, can be changed, turned round and improved beyond recognition on any given day, in one minute, in one hour.
  • You must try to prepare for the moment that you’re needed for the call could come at any time.
  • There are worse things in life than being taken for a ride.
  • If you have a thin skin all aspects of life cost more and have more value.
  • Loyalty to one another is preferable to any other kind of human system.
  • Grief is no real match for the human heart, which is an infinitely resourceful organ.

 

MY REVIEW:

Hands up if you’ve ever obsessed over a celebrity? I imagine pretty much everyone reading this raised their hands just then. I know I did. While I’m no stranger to hero-worship, I did think reading this book that the author takes it to a whole other level. I’m a big fan of Mariah Carey and parts of this book reminded me of some lambs (Mariah’s name for her fans) I know who, while I understand their love and obsession, seem to me to never have left that peak of obsession we reach in our teenage years. 

Susie Boyt opens her book talking about her love for Judy Garland and how it helped her when she was a shy, sensitive child. I can relate to that. I’ve always been someone who feels things deeply and like Susie I fell in love with The Wizard of Oz at just three years old. I was instantly obsessed with the film and knew it back to front and inside out. I would quote lines, watch it repeatedly and put on skits acting out scenes with my friends. Of course, I was always Dorothy. But unlike Susie it was the movie and Dorothy I fell in love with, not the actress herself, though I’ve always been a fan from a distance. I can also relate to music and words from someone you admire helping you through hard times. Bad break up – I’d put on Someday by Mariah Carey. A day I’m feeling low – I’d put on Through The Rain. I could probably name a Mariah song for every emotion and situation so I definitely get using that to help you or just to make your day brighter. I’m not going to pull her apart and critique how she hero-worships in detail, and I think there was a lot of positives she has gleaned from her love of Judy, but there were times I thought she seemed a little crazy and I worried about her.

I loved learning more about Judy, including the difficult parts, and she is more interesting to me than ever before. I’ve always been in awe of her talent and admired everything she achieved despite the many obstacles in her way, some of which she arguably put in front of herself. She was a star through and through. But she was also neurotic and insecure. I always saw a sadness to her, like you could tell this was all a bit much for her. All she  wanted to be loved without condition other people taking from her and isn’t that what everyone wants after all? The tragedy is she never found it and died while estranged from her family and alone in a bathroom from an accidental drug overdose. That is no way for anyone’s life to end. I did like that her happiness and joy in life is emphasised as much as her difficulties aren’t shied away from. No one is one dimensional. They aren’t happy or sad, good or bad, they are a bit of everything and that changes all the time. This book showed me more of the real person behind the persona and it made me fall in love with her a little more.

But this book didn’t only teach me things about Miss Garland. It also gave great insight into how some fans think and can be affected by an obsession. The author is aware of how far she goes for her idol and often argues the virtues and benefits of such obsession, which I found fascinating. She asks why we’d want to give up the intense, teenage-like obsession when we get such a rush from it. The book contains a lot of psycho-analysis, which is understandable given her family history. All the way through the book it is clear that the author sees her life as having been enhanced by her love for Judy, rather than hindered by it. Though I have to wonder if there are times those around her wouldn’t necessarily agree. 

An intriguing book that at times felt a little messy and strange, My Life With Judy Garland is honestly like nothing I’ve ever read before. And it is a book I won’t forget. 

Thank you to Virago books and Ann Cater at Compulsive Reader Blog Tours for my copy of this novel.

Out now.

BoytSusie1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden School for Girls and Oxford University. After a nerve-wracking stint at a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down into writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Only Human, which was short-lsited for the Mind Award. Of her last novel, Love & Fame, The Sunday Times said ‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’

Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for The Financial Times Weekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion pages. Last Year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics. She is also a director at the Hempstead theatre in London and works part time for Cruse Bereavement Care.

She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great-grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

FINAL My Judy Garland BT Poster

 

Categories
book reviews

Review: ‘My Sister, The Serial Killer’ by Oyinkan Braithwaite ⭐⭐⭐.5

IMG_20190720_160938_487

SYNOPSIS:

My Sister, The Serial Killer is a backly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach.  This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

MY REVIEW:

“Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again.”

The first line of this book sent shivers down my spine. I’d been excited to read this much-hyped book for a while and was pleased when it was chosen as July’s book for my book club. But sadly this was a book that didn’t live up to it’s promise or the hype.

It started well and had a lot of good points. Initially there was a lot of tension: would the sisters get caught at the crime scene and while disposing of the body? Will the social media search for the victim lead to their exposure? I like the short chapters and though I never quite got to grips with the Nigerian-English, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. 

Korede and Ayoola had what is understandably a tense relationship, though to those who don’t know Ayoola’s deadly secret it seems Korede is unnecessarily harsh towards her and even gets accused of victim shaming when others believe Ayoola’s lies. I liked her character for the most part and understood her desire to protect her little sister as it must be a complex range of feelings to have someone you love do such terrible things and ask for your help. Korede seemed like a decent person put in an impossible situation. She’s forever scared of being found out while Ayoola seems unbothered by her crimes and doesn’t understand why her sister is edgy and anxious. She sees herself as the victim, claiming each man died in an act of self-defense, though this seems a sketchy claim from the evidence. There were also things in their past that were teased that I was excited to learn more about and if that could be where Ayoola’s “tendencies” began.

Unfortunately, for me things soon went wrong as the atmosphere evaporated in a novel that was too lighthearted for its subject matter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like black humour – Sweetpea is one of my favourite books and Rhiannon a character I love – but I just didn’t think it was done well in this book. Instead of funny it came across flat. 

Once the tension had gone the story plodded on mundanely before ending abruptly in a way that made me really mad. I can’t say too much about why because I do think everyone should make up their own minds about any book and I don’t want to spoil things for anyone yet to read it. I felt as if the author had written a longer book and explored some of the plot points in greater detail then this would have been a great book. Instead it felt too short, unsatisfying, lacking in depth and like everything was tied up in a bow far too neatly. So, I’m joining #blacksheepofbookstagram in being one of the few people to say this one didn’t live up to the hype and wasn’t for me.

Out now.

Categories
book reviews

Review: ‘The Three Beths’ by Jeff Abbott ⭐⭐⭐.5

QuotePhoto16dc9569

SYNOPSIS:

From multi-million-selling writer Jeff Abbott comes an intense and gripping new psychological thriller about a daughter’s desperate search for her mother – when she discovers two women with the same name are also missing. 

My mum would never leave me. 

This has been Mariah Dunning’s motto. So when she glimpses her mother – who’s been missing the past year – Mariah’s conviction becomes stronger than ever. Or is she losing her mind? 

An unlikely coincidence? 

When Beth Dunning disappeared without a trace, suspicion for her murder immediately fell upon Mariah’s father. Until Mariah stumbles upon two other recent disappearances. And all three women had the same name: Beth.

Or a sinister connection? 

Mariah would give anything to find out what happened to be mother and clear her father’s name. But the truth may be more devastating than she ever imagined… 

REVIEW:

“You never knew what small-seeming choice in your life could have a massive ripple effect.”

This was a readable thriller with short chapters that helped keep the steady pace and tension. At the start I had so many questions: where is Beth? Who was the woman Mariah saw at the mall? Why does her father seem so reluctant to have her asking questions and trying to find answers? As time went on there were more questions waiting to be answered… 

Mariah was a character I found easy to like. I can’t imagine the grief of having your mother vanish and feeling like the police aren’t looking for her because they’ve made up their minds that your father is guilty. Mariah’s desperation to find her mother and amateur detective work was exactly what I would want to do in her position, especially after being told of a possible link to another missing women that the police instantly dismissed. I liked that her father, Craig, was ambiguous and you were never sure if you could trust him. I had my predictions and I won’t go into them or if they were right to avoid spoilers, but I liked that I would waver in my thoughts about his possible involvement and how honest he was being. His strong desire to protect Mariah was exactly as you’d expect from any father and made some of his more questionable choices understandable. I really liked Sharon’s character although I didn’t really trust her and found her strange. Characters like that can be fun to read though and Sharon certainly added a lot to the story for me, especially the dynamic between her and Mariah. 

The decision by the author to not include flashbacks narrated by the women themselves added to the mystery. It meant our knowledge of them was coloured by the lense through which others saw them but I liked how the author showed us that people can be many different things depending on who you talk to. No person is one dimensional. 

This twisty thriller didn’t blow me away but it was a fun and enjoyable read. I found that the pace and tension wavered and I wasn’t kept gripped as I had been at the beginning, but I never felt bored or tempted to stop reading. By about half way through I thought I knew how this was going to play out and while it was predictable in some ways, other twists still took me by surprise right until the final pages. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Jeff Abbott for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.