All posts filed under: book reviews

book review: Dark Game by Rachel Lynch

the blurb: Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out. After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies. Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get …

Review: If I die before I wake ~ by Emily Koch

This title was rather kindly sent to me by the publishers, Random House UK / Vintage. This review has also been published to NetGalley, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and my social media accounts. the blurb: HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER? Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. A stunning edge-of-your-seat debut novel with an unforgettable narrator. the review: If I die before I wake is Emily Koch’s debut novel, but you …

Review: Fire Sermon ~ by Jamie Quatro

This title was rather kindly sent to me by its publishers. This review has also been published to NetGalley, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and my social media accounts. the blurb: Maggie is entirely devoted to her husband Thomas, their two beautiful children, and to God—until what begins as a platonic intellectual and spiritual exchange between writer Maggie and poet James transforms into an erotically-charged bond that challenges Maggie’s sense of loyalty and morality, drawing her deeper into the darkness of desire. A daring debut novel of obsession, lust, and salvation by the highly lauded author of the story collection, I Want To Show You More, Fire Sermonis a tour de force that charts with bold intimacy and immersive sensuality the life of a married woman in the grip of a magnetic affair.   ♦ “It would be difficult to overstate the wonder I felt while reading this novel. It’s among the most beautiful books I’ve ever read about longing — for beauty, for sex, for God, for a coherent life.” — Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You ♦   the …

Review: Thaw (poems) ~ by Chelsea Dingman

Blurb: Thaw delves into the issues at the core of a resilient family: kinship, poverty, violence, death, abuse, and grief. The poems follow the speaker, as both mother and daughter, as she travels through harsh and beautiful landscapes in Canada, Sweden, and the United States. Moving through these places, she examines how her surroundings affect her inner landscape; the natural world becomes both a place of refuge and a threat. As these themes unfold, the histories and cold truths of her family and country intertwine and impinge on her, even as she tries to outrun them. Unflinching and raw, Chelsea Dingman’s poems meander between childhood and adulthood, the experiences of being a mother and a child paralleling one another. Her investigation becomes one of body, self, woman, mother, daughter, sister, and citizen, and of what those roles mean in the contexts of family and country.   Review: Thaw is Chelsea Dingman’s inaugural poetry collection. In these, the author talks about violence, abuse, death, loss and grief; about family and childhood, being a daughter and about growing …

Review: Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar ~ by Michael Harlan Turkell

Blurb: In Acid Trip, Michael Harlan Turkell takes readers on a fascinating journey through the world of vinegar. An avid maker of vinegars at home, Turkell traveled throughout North America, France, Italy, Austria, and Japan to learn about vinegar-making practices in places where the art has evolved over centuries. This richly narrated cookbook includes recipes from leading chefs including Daniel Boulud, Barbara Lynch, Michael Anthony, April Bloomfield, Massimo Bottura, Sean Brock, and many others. Dishes range from simple to sophisticated and include Fried Eggs with a Spoonful of Vinegar, Sweet & Sour Peppers, Balsamic Barbecued Ribs, Poulet au Vinaigre, Tomato Tarragon Shrub, and even Vinegar Pie. Turkell also details methods for making your own vinegars with bases as varied as wine, rice, apple cider, and honey. Featuring lush color photographs by the author, Acid Trip is a captivating story of an obsession and an indispensable reference for any food lover who aspires to make and cook with the best ingredients. The review: Those who know me in real life know that my kitchen is one of …

Review: Bathing Strictly Prohibited: Poems 2011-2016 ~ Matthew Rhodes

My copy of this book was kindly sent to me by the publishers, Matador, in return for an honest review. I do not know Matthew Rhodes. At least, I think I don’t, that we’ve never met in real life. Yet, in most of his poems he wanders through grounds that are familiar to me, both geographically (for instance, the Midlands), emotionally (his love of Nature and the feeling of peace and belonging he derives from it), and linguistically and semantically. These are poems about life as it is, recounting episodes of the quotidian which, however, like all poetry, lend themselves to extraneous interpretations. The poet talks about his observations as much as about things and moments he knows well and holds dear, for instance the scenery sliding past as the train he’s travelling in departs from Stafford station, or the views of mountains from a house patio, of the feeling of rootedness Nature affords him — so much so that many of his metaphors (and metonyms) are mostly taken from Nature. But he also talks …

Darknet ~ a Sci-fi thriller by Matthew Mather

Blurb: One minute Jake O’Connell is on top of the world with a beautiful family and bright future as a stock broker in New York. The next minute it’s all ripped away when he’s embroiled in a fraud investigation, his childhood friend is murdered and he finds himself on the run. Dodging the FBI and targeted by the mob, Jake is thrown into a Wall Street underworld of cryptocurrencies and autonomous corporations where he discovers a dark secret setting the world on a path to destruction. He must evade the shadowy forces hunting him and find a way to redemption–but the faster he runs, the deeper he becomes entangled in the web that surrounds him. In the end, his only path forward is to return to the ghosts of his past. Review:   This book was… quite something else! It kept me fascinated and on the metaphorical edge of my seat from start to end, and I loved every single bit of it. When it ended, I wanted more, more, more. That much of it …

Review: Serenity Avenged ~ Craig A Hart

Blurb: A ruthless crime boss…a mansion with a chilling secret…a young man faced with the biggest decision of his life. When his daughter goes into premature labor, Shelby Alexander leaves his northern hideaway for downstate. No sooner does he drive into town, than things go sour. His ex-wife, Helen, faces deadly consequences after hard times force her to take desperate measures, setting off a dangerous chain of events. Racing against time to save those he loves the most and avoid unspeakable tragedy, Shelby faces down an evil crime lord, trained killers, and one of the closest brushes with death yet. The third book in the popular Shelby Alexander Thriller Series, Serenity Avenged takes readers on a breath-taking ride through a hail of bullets, close calls, and betrayal. Shelby Alexander wins the day… again, though only just about! Because this time it was quite a hard won battle, which endangered everything Alexander holds dear! Here’s a brief synopsis and review: In Serenity Avenged, we see the main character, Shelby Alexander, confront and eventually defeat a powerful and ruthless …

reading the memoir in 2017 (part 1)

This spring and summer seem to be a good time for readers of adult nonfiction, with a good few of those releases belonging to the sub-genres of memoir and biography and coming out right in time for us to enjoy the great outdoors and the lovely, warm weather that we can but hope will follow. Undaunted as I still am on my learning journey throughout the genre, I intend to read a fair number of memoirs this year. The question now is, of course, which ones and where to start. Isn’t it always? So how about I start with a beckoning towards old loves? Because, when all is said and done, aren’t loves of old the most enduring ones? § Women’s memoirs Jess Phillips, Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth It should come as no surprise then, at least to those who know me well or have been following me on social networks for any amount of time, that the first memoir I hope to be reading this year is a book a) by a woman, b) a woman who …

Review: The North Water ~ Ian McGuire

Blurb: A ship sets sail with a killer on board . . . 1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship’s surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the siege of Delhi, in the shape of Henry Drax: harpooner, murderer, monster . . .  Yes. That is all you get, to pique your curiosity as you’re about to buy this book. Short and sweet and to the point. Says it all, without saying too much. As blurbs go, this one is close to genius. It works so well that I did indeed buy the book. So. The review. The North Water by Ian McGuire is a literary novel that, in the words of Colm Tóibín , is ‘riveting and darkly brilliant’ . …

Review: The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton ~ Katherine Hayton

My copy of this book was kindly sent to me by the author, Katherine Hayton, in return for an honest review. The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton is the second book I read by indie author Katherine Hayton. The first one was Skeletal, which is described as a ‘supernatural thriller’, and relates the story of the murder of a teenage girl who is bullied at school and slowly descends into madness. I think I gave Katherine 3 stars for Skeletal, inasmuch as I’d love to have seen the protagonist’s mental illness differently explored. The title however stayed in my mind, as did Katherine’s name as an author of consistent promise. So much so that, when Katherine asked for readers for her new novel, I did not hesitate. I knew it would be a crime thriller, and I knew Katherine would not disappoint my expectations. And she didn’t. Hayton’s new book, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton, tells exactly the story of its title. There is a teenage girl, Magdalene Lynton, who lives in a religious …