Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“She fluttered briefly as her ghost shook loose, and then her hands relaxed, shedding fistfuls of freshly picked torch ginger buds.”

Warning: this book may make you weep. There is a lot of emotion wrung out of the characters and Laini crafts her story well. I still feel it now, even though I’ve finished the book and I’m telling you about it, it’s like a feeling of loss, almost.

Lazlo Strange is the main character in the book. We join him as a child at the monastery where he has been placed as an orphan. His play is beaten out of him, but his love of stories and dreams is not. As he grows up he is sent on an errand to a library and so instead of becoming a monk he becomes a librarian, feeding his love of stories.

It is that love of stories that helps to set him on the biggest adventure of his life. The one about Strange the Dreamer.

I suggest you read the book to find out about Weep and its inhabitants, about Lazlo Strange and about the blue skinned goddesses and god who live in a mesarthium citadel, abiding by The Rule that they set for themselves.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

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Sometimes I Lie By Alice Feeney

“Stars cannot shine without darkness, whispers the little girl.”

I went into this book completely open-minded, based on the opening lines of the book.
“My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me any more.
3. Sometimes I lie.”

For the size of the book, I actually read it very quickly, I was in one of my immersive moods. This was a good book for escaping the world in, in that the main character is escaping to different places in her mind while trapped in a coma.

The plot unfolds via flashbacks, diary entries and ‘here and now’ happenings. Sometimes Amber lies, but you cannot necessarily tell! Her sister, Claire, and Amber’s husband, Paul, are regular visitors at her bedside, sometimes at the same time. There are lots of undercurrents between the two of them, and it is hard to work out whether there is something going on or not, particularly as Amber doesn’t always tell the truth.
I admit to being tripped up between the two main female characters a time or two, so that meant I had to do a little backtracking, but it was worth it.
Alice Feeney manages to pack a lot of detail into her telling, which really helps you engage with the story, I could see it in my mind’s eye so vividly.
There are lots of plot twists cleverly woven into the tapestry of the story, the way they are revealed keeps you continually turning the pages as the different elements of the story come together and then something else comes to the fore as Amber’s mind whisks her down another tunnel.
I will of course have to read the entire book again to get the most from the twists and turns and tiny little bits that are there but you don’t notice and then think, Oh!
Even though I know how it ends and it ends really well let me tell you, it is definitely one to read twice and to recommend. So go read it, won’t you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Sometimes I Lie

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Official description:
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.
Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors,The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

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Let The Dead Speak: A Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller by Jane Casey

“‘Mr Norris,’ Chloe said, very calmly, because the alternative was screaming. ‘Where’s Mum?’”

I quite like crime novels and I was anticipating that this one might be a little different

It wasn’t totally different than other detective style books, the main character leads a lonely life, there is friction with colleagues, the story has some obvious elements to it.

The plot is a good one, I did work out some parts of it, at the same time there were some complete surprises too. The characters were well written and the description of the environment worked well for me.

It follows the story of Chloe who comes home to her Mums, from her Fathers (Chloe’s parents are divorced). On arriving back in town, it is teeming with rain, her neighbour spots her and gives her a lift home. Chloe forgets her bag in his car and he brings it round. When he see inside Chloe’s mums house, he rings the police and take Chloe over to his place.

The story then shifts to the perspective of the Detective Sergeant involved in the case and how she and her colleagues gather the evidence and sift through all the clues to try to solve the case before anyone else disappears, or dies.

I would specifically recommend this book to both my Father and my Mother-in-Law. I do know that they both would enjoy this tale as they both like(d) crime novels, so I will see about finding a paperback copy for my Mother-in-Law.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
The chilling new crime novel from award-winning author, Jane Casey. When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth… When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else.

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Distress Signals A Novel by Catherine Ryan Howard

“She found red blotches on her neck and chest, blooming purple bruises on her arms. Her hair was thin and wispy, her eyes dull. Dead already—that was how she looked. She had found him just in the nick of time.”

I was waiting for this book to be released. Catherine blogged about her experience of writing this book and I found it very engaging. I don’t know how she found the time. Anyway on to the story… I followed Catherine’s blog as she was writing this book, so of course I was dead keen to read it. I started with a sample, so I knew how the book started and that convinced me that the book would be a good read.

Adam loves Sarah and after many years of trying has got a movie deal for a script, meaning he is no longer dependent on the woman he loves. He needs to do a rewrite and then the money is his. Sarah is off to Barcelona for a work trip so it is the ideal opportunity to get stuck into work. The deal is that they won’t contact each other, so that Adam can focus!

Then Sarah’s parents contact Adam because they unable to raise Sarah on her mobile, so they try the home number. Adam reassures them initially, then begins to wonder if something is wrong.

From this point on Adam is on a journey of discovery about Sarah’s life and what has happened to her and others over the years.

It is a book worth reading, it seems well researched and reads true. There are other threads running through the story which add a pique to the novel, to keep the mystery going.

I enjoyed reading it and anticipate that Catherine will be producing further quality novels in the future, so add her to your watch list.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
A MISSING GIRL.

A TRAIL OF SECRETS.

A KILLER WHO’S FOUND THE PERFECT HUNTING GROUND.

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Holding by Graham Norton

“…her small hand pushing open the heavy wooden door with its flaking paint, the shadow on the floor moving slowly from side to side, the work boots with dirty soles and one lace untied, the hands that had patted her on the head that very morning, now hanging limply. The creaking of the rope. That was where her memories ended. She could never see his face.”

Life in the Irish village of Duneen is very quiet until a body is discovered. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but liked the idea of reading about Irish village life, so decided to give this novel a go.

The story centres mainly around PJ Collins the sargeant who works in the village. He is overweight and just longing to make prove that he is good at something. So when a body is discovered at the new housing estate being built in the village, he thinks this could possibly be his opportunity. Brid O’Riorden and Evelyn Ross are shaken up badly when it is said that the body could possibly be that of Tommy Burke, who they both loved when they were younger. Before he left the village for good.

But then everything changes. It isn’t Tommy and the body remains unidentified. Public interest wanes and life continues in the village. PJ continues to struggle with his work and his weight, Evelyn continues to struggle with her acceptance of how life has turned out and Brid continues to try and find a way to resolve her drinking problems and sort out her marriage and family circumstances. Until further information twist events in the villagers lives again and more drama unfolds.

It was an interesting novel, with lots of depth and intrigue, some sadness and grief, and a bit of mystery, which you would expect from a crime novel.
If you like to read mystery crime thrillers, then I am sure that you will like this.

I particularly liked the bit when a sickly Abigail responded to a question, she “stuck her arm up in the air and waved her fingers from side to side as if an invisible sock puppet was saying ‘no’.” It nearly made me laugh out loud, particularly as I have been caught doing exactly that!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

A Note From the Publisher
HOLDING is not the novel I planned to write, at least, not at first. But following the old adage to write about what you know, Ireland seemed a good place to start, especially rural Ireland. I did have in mind a cast of characters living in and around a small village where their lives would reflect the priorities and concerns – land, marriage, religion – that are so present in that area still.

I found as I wrote more about the characters of Duneen that each of them had in some way become suspended in time – due to grief, due to unhappiness, due to fear of failure – and that they were all holding on to their own secrets.

I am hugely excited that HOLDING is now heading out into the world, and would love to hear what you think. Please do let me know on Twitter @Grahnort using the hashtag #readholding. I will be watching!

Best

Graham

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Poison City by Paul Crilley

Don’t fear the reaper . . .’ ‘Nice song,’ mutters the dog. ‘Appropriate.’

I couldn’t resist a book that has a dog like a border terrier in it, especially one that drinks and talks. I liked the sound of the story too.

This is the story of Gideon Tao, also known as “London” and his magic spirit guide “dog” who looks a lot like a border terrier. London works for Delphic Division in Durban, South Africa. He is on a case when it takes a turn that puts him in a dilemma.

One of the suspects is the one who murdered his daughter and he means to see justice done, but what if it costs him his job or his life (or even destroys the world as we know it!).

The story is fast paced, intense and engaging. I felt like I was in Durban itself as it fell under the influence of the orisha and their plans to change the world.

There was no telegraphing of what was to come and I was ‘reading like a demon’ towards the end. I have already recommended this book to my friends and would extend that recommendation to you as you read this. Get this book and read this story. I am sure that you will enjoy it.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.

Life is pretty routine – I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga – a low-key vampire – basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer.

Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both.

It’s not looking good for the world.

Poison City is the first in a fantastical new series for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz and Stephen King.

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

‘Trace. Interview. Eliminate.’ ‘Just … don’t walk,’ Harriet is saying, covering a yawn with her fist. ‘You don’t know –we don’t know –who’s out there.’

Obviously this is a crime thriller style story, which is pretty much what I was expecting.

It is written turn-style, with different character viewpoints, thoughts and experiences. Now, I don’t mind this style of writing as I feel it is a good way of getting a story across, but I know that some people really don’t like it. However, it is worth persevering as in this instance there are different ‘opinions’ about what has or is happening, so you, the reader, needs to ‘hear’ what each of the characters have to ‘say’.

Edith Hind has gone missing! Her keys, passport and phone are still at home, the door is unlatched. A broken glass is in the kitchen and a trail of blood leads through her house.

Manon is on the case, she is single, lonely and looking for someone to make her life complete.

Edith’s mother, Miriam, is questioning her relationships, with Edith her daughter; and with Sir Ian her husband. She has doubts and worries, she wants everything to be fine and normal.

There are many people involved in this story of a person gone missing. There is death and intrigue. It is not what or who you think it is. And although you think you know, you definitely don’t!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A MISSING GIRL
Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

A DESPERATE FAMILY
Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

A DETECTIVE AT BREAKING POINT
The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation?
Advance Praise
“The most satisfying read in ages…slyly funny… so CLEVER… so well-written. Utterly brilliant.” INDIA KNIGHT

“A cracking page-turner” WOMAN & HOME

“clever, witty… an absorbing plot with a startling twist” SUNDAY EXPRESS

“spectacular and deeply satisfying” RED

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Hide and Seek DI Helen Grace 6 by M. J. Arlidge

“They sewed her eyelids to her bloody cheeks. That’s how they found her – eyes shut, grinning from ear to ear . . .”

The description for this book is a little jumbled and confusing. I was expecting a crime thriller, but beyond that wasn’t sure of the storyline.

In essence the story is about a detective being retained in prison on remand while waiting to be tried for multiple homicides. Her colleagues have turned their backs on her with one exception. Charlie is prepared to do her utmost in proving ex-D I Helen Grace’s innocence regarding the charges laid against her.
Meanwhile inside Holloway’s walls Helen is fighting, for the truth and ultimately her life, as inmates succumb to mysterious deaths within their cells.

This was a compelling book to read. If I wasn’t reading it, I was mulling it over in my mind, even after I finished the book. Also the author didn’t slack off as the end of the book loomed, he kept the intensity going throughout. If you like crime thrillers with a bit of mystery, do read this book.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
AFTER Little Boy Blue FIND OUT WHAT AWAITS DI HELEN GRACE IN THE SIXTH THRILLER BY BESTSELLING AUTHOR M. J. ARLIDGE: Hide and Seek

PRAISE FOR M.J. ARLIDGE:
Detective Inspector Helen Grace is one of the greatest heroes to come along in years (Jeffery Deaver)
Page-turningly chilling (The Times)
DI Helen Grace is a genuinely fresh heroine … Arlidge weaves together a tapestry that chills to the bone (Daily Mail)
This is going to be as big as Jo Nesbo (Judy Finnigan)
Taut, fast-paced, truly excellent (Sun)
One of the best new series detectives . . . Mesmerizing! (Lisa Gardner)
M. J. Arlidge has created a genuinely fresh heroine in DI Helen Grace (Daily Mail)
Chilling stuff (Fabulist)
A chilling read (My Weekly)
A grisly, gripping thriller (Sunday Mirror)
Gruesomely realistic, intriguing and relentless. Arlidge’s fledgling army of fans is about to grow (Sunday Sport)
Expertly pulled off. It has a devious premise. DI Helen Grace is fiendishly awesome. It’s scary as all hell. And it has a full cast of realistically drawn, interesting characters that make the thing read like a bullet (Will Lavender)

About the Author
M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge is also piloting original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number one bestseller.

His début thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar and Little Boy Blue. Hide and Seek is the sixth DI Helen Grace thriller and will be followed by Follow My Leader in 2017.

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The Inscription by Pam Binder

“She lives, but death chases her soul.” ‘Tis a long time since you have brought a lost one to my door. Where was she found?”

“Loch Ness.”

A mystery story placed across the boundaries of time maybe. And based in Scotland so I expected plenty of scenery and draughty castles. Perhaps the love of a woman brings an immortal man into the human world and creates ripples of change across time.

Actually, I wasn’t too far off with the immortal man in the human world because of the love of a woman. Except that he was already living in the world as a Laird of a Scottish castle. And Amber McPhee travelled through time to him. Having arrived she has to adapt to the 16th century way of life. The clothes, the food, the personal hygiene!

Now they need to fulfil an ancient prophesy and fall in love within a moon’s cycle or they will be separated again. This isn’t made easy by Amber’s determination to have her say about things nor Lachan’s determination to be absolutely totally sure that AAmber loves him truly.

Needless to say the story is very convoluted and even Queen Elizabeth I has some input into events.

The medieval fayre they visit in Inverness sounded so lovely and I would have enjoyed going along myself, had I had the opportunity!

The book is well written, Pam carried me along with the characters as if I were a miniaturised drone camera tracking their activities. I wanted to stay with Amber in Urquhart Castle to see her live her life out there. It was such a disappointment to come to the last word in the book. I will be keeping an eye out for further books written by Pam Binder.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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An immortal warrior has conquered death.
Now he must conquer living.
When immortal warrior Lachlan MacAlpin rescues a woman from the depths of Loch Ness, he knows she is his one true love foretold by an ancient prophecy. But imagine American Amber McPhee’s surprise when she awakens in Urquhart Castle to discover that she has fallen more than four hundred years into the past – and into a love that will shatter the barriers of time.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

‘It’s been such a long time,’ he says, his eyes fixed on mine. ‘So many years. So many lies.’

I expected a crime thriller, with a darker than usual thread running through it.

Frankie is surprised to receive a call from her old best friends brother, Daniel, asking her to cone back to her old home to go with him to identify her remains, which have turned up after nearly 20 years since her death/suspected murder. He arranges an apartment for her to stay in, while they try and work out what happened to Sophie at the end.

Frankie finds it difficult being back in Oldcliffe-On-Sea, there are too many memories and she finds herself obsessing about her dead best friend Sophie to the point that she starts seeing her: on the pier, in the apartment where she is staying, at places around Oldcliffe-On-Sea.

Frankie has had a hard life, a failed marriage and failed to have children, she feels these things strongly and they affect her ability to think about men in a rational way. As she spends more time in Oldcliffe-On-Sea, she starts to drink too much and struggles to stay rational about her dead best friend, Sophie, as well.

How did she die? What happened before she died? Who, if anyone, killed her?

At one point I knew who had killed Sophie, even before their involvement in the story became clear. But then, I’m not always right about everything!

This story allowed me to think that I knew where it was heading. Then it tripped me up just before the end and sent me down a different route. Meanwhile it was still engaging enough to keep me reading and guessing about the finer details of the story until the very end. It was a good read and I think anyone who has read the likes of Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne (you can read my review of that book here: https://julieshort.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/redemption-road-by-lisa-ballantyne-finished-12-april-2015/) will enjoy it as much as me. That book stayed with me for a long time after I had finished reading it, and I don’t doubt that this book will too.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE SISTERS – ONE OF THE BEST SELLING DÉBUTS OF 2015 – COMES A TENSE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER RIPPED STRAIGHT FROM THE HEADLINES . . . Twenty years ago 21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night. She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier – and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca. Now A body’s been found. And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget. Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned. Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past. The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth. But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it? Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life . . .