Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

Kate and Lisa are friends; both have children and busy lives. Then young girls start to disappear and Kate’s daughter is one of them. The trouble is that Lisa was supposed to be looking after her at the time. Just what sort of a mother loses her best friend’s child? What kind of mother are you?

I enjoyed this book; it was a quick read and a clever story with a predictable twist at the end which didn’t really matter since it wasn’t exactly a thought provoking kind of novel anyway. Some of the characters are quite unpleasant (you’ll have to read it to find out who) but I did really relate to Lisa trying to be all things to all people and managing to drop the ball one too many times. The family dynamics are very true to life and the story is based on an interesting premise so pretty easy reading.

All in all, it wasn’t a great book but it was still a good read and I would definitely read another by this author.

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The Fire Court by Andrew Taylor

It’s a few months after the events of the “Ashes of London” and James Marwood and his father have their own house with servants.  Mr Marwood senior goes out one day and comes back raving about seeing his wife.  James knows his mother is dead so who has his father seen?  Meanwhile, Cat Lovett has become Jane Hakesby, a servant to Mr Hakesby the draughtsman and friend of Sir Christopher Wren.  When a body is found in the Ashes near one of the Fire Courts, Cat and James again become embroiled in the history of London after the Great Fire.
This is not really a stand alone novel – if you haven’t read “Ashes of London”, you need to do that first.  We pick up the story a few months on with the same characters and the back story of the Great Fire ever present.  Marwood is still serving his two masters and, once again, he and Cat become reluctantly mixed up in Court business and politics – this time arising from land disputes after the fire which are to be resolved in Fire Courts.
As with “Ashes”, the backdrop of the Great Fire seems an original one to me and I’ve read nothing like this series before.  This time the theme of fire is even more present and, at some points in the story (although I was reading it on the train) I really felt like I could smell the smoke.
It is so evocative and clever but I can’t give it more than three stars because it just does slightly tip over into being that bit too complicated.  Less characters would make it easier to follow (although there is at least a list at the front of this one) and there is probably just one too many intrigues to make it satisfying.  Nevertheless, it really does keep you guessing right to the last pages and there’s then a tantalising excerpt from the next one in the series to keep you interested.
This is a fascinating series and “The King’s Evil” is going straight onto my wishlist!

Two One Three by Denzil Meyrick

This is a short story (although it is a proper story and not just a couple of pages) which might be considered the beginning of the DCI Daley series.  In it, Daley meets not only Brian Scott but also Liz, his future partner.
I did enjoy the fact that this was a proper story and I would like to thank Denzil Meyrick for showing readers that respect.  There is a crime to be solved (although you can’t solve it yourself which is a but irritating) but the emphasis is definitely on the relationships and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
As I said, this is a proper short story and I know there are others to accompany the series.  On the strength of this one, I’ll definitely be reading more.

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

London is burning and the landscape changing minute by minute. The political landscape has also recently changed with the death of Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy. James Marwood’s father is one of those who wanted the king dead as is Cat Lovett’s father, Thomas, who is still a wanted regicide. When Thomas Lovett returns, will he take Cat away from the new life she has tried to create for herself and can James Marwood help her to his cost?

I like the idea of a novel set in the time of the fire and I found the historical detail very interesting. The rebuilding of St Paul’s running parallel with the rebuilding of the monarchy is a clever idea and not a time I know much about.

This is quite a slow moving novel, however, and I think it tries to cover too much. I liked Cat’s story very much but I think that of Marwood was also an afterthought and definitely bore saving to the second book in the series which I am currently reading.

I can’t say that I really liked this book or that I would recommend it – but I think it is probably more enjoyable if your expectations of it are not enormously high…

The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton

The painter, Edward Radcliffe, and his sisters and friends visit his new house, Birchwood Manor one Summer. Edward is a member of the Magenta Brotherhood and has his new muse, Lily Millington, with him but not his fiancée, Frances Brown. Then uninvited visitors begin to arrive and the party changes tone. Time shifts to 1940 and yet another family arrives, but there’s more to the house than meets their eye and soon the future and past begin to intertwine whilst the house tries to tell it’s story.

In some senses, I did enjoy this book. Individually, I liked all families and their stories and the central mystery, although predictable, is quite a clever idea. I think the trouble is that the story is just a little bit too clever for it’s own good and I’m not sure it all makes sense in one novel. All the endings tying together is, frankly, just unnecessary and it is really, in the end, just too much over the top for my liking.

I did like Lucy’s character most of all and would have preferred a lot more of the story to be centred on her and Edward, who is too much of a shadowy figure and seems to just disappear conveniently for a lot of the time. Elodie, the researcher is also one I liked, but Elodie the bride to be was not necessary and didn’t add to an already rather crowded story.

All in all, I think a bit of editing and taking out one of the strands might have made this novel hang together a little better and made it more enjoyable. It was one I reasonably enjoyed but I wouldn’t particularly go out of my way to recommend.

Time’s Convert, Deborah Harkness

Back to the wonderful world of Vampires, witches and demons which is the de Claremont clan – this time with less emphasis on the characters of Matthew and Diana and more on their children (either by birth or creation).

I absolutely loved the world created by Deborah Harkness for the All Soul’s Trilogy and so I was looking forward to reading this one with some trepidation as I wasn’t sure what else there was to say. Thankfully, Harkness is a clever author who didn’t try to go back but instead we follow Phoebe’s journey into vampire and, through her, the wonderful back story of Matthew’s son, Marcus.

As if that was not enough, we also learn a lot more about Matthew and Diana’s twins and what they may become and this does add another, a little lighter layer to the tale.

All in all, this is a fantastic addition to the series and I am hoping we are to expect more stories to come. Another really enjoyable and highly recommended read.

The Winter of the Witch – Katherine Arden

Moscow is in flames and Vasilisa Petrovna is to blame. Even Demetrii Ivanovich, Crown Prince and her cousin and her brother, the Monk Alexander Petrovich cannot save her from the angry mob. Vasya has other friends that most people cannot see, can they help her save Moscow and her family?
I have loved reading this trilogy and was looking forward to it finishing in yet another gorgeous story – I was definitely not disappointed. Where “The Girl in the Tower” seemed to concentrate a lot more on the people and the battles (reminding me of “The Two Towers” – necessary but not my favourite), “The Winter of the Witch” is right back to the gorgeous Russian winters and their mythology with spirits abounding and the road through Midnight providing a path.
If you like Russian mythology at all you will absolutely lovely this clever retelling; the settings are wonderful and the characters are enough to move you to tears whilst not taking away from the beautiful story in any way.
This is fabulous book, but make sure you read the whole trilogy in order – you will absolutely love it!

Gone – Mo Hayder

A car is stolen and Jack Caffery is straight on the scene because it isn’t just a car that has gone – there’s a little girl missing too and Jack doesn’t think she’ll be the last…
This is another of my TBR list and, yet again, I am glad that I am picking up some of these old favourites. Jack Caffery and Flea Marley are excellent characters, both deeply flawed but with such a lot to give. My favourite, however is the “Walking Man” – he’s just there on the edge of everyone’s vision – I’d like a walking man of my own!
In this story, what starts off appearing to be a car jacking turns out to be something a lot more sinister and more cars with little girls in the back are targeted and the jacker seems to know so much more than the police. As one the areas identified is a culvert, Flea and her divers become involved and we reunite the fabulous cast of characters for yet another clever thriller to keep us on the edge of our seats.
I really enjoyed this book and it has reminded me why I should read more novels by Mo Hayder – one to be highly recommended.

The Liar’s Room – Simon Lelic

Thank you to The Pigeonhole and the author for the ARC.

Susanna is a counsellor with two new patients booked in. Adam Geraghty is the first – he looks familiar but she can’t place him. Then Adam starts to speak and Susanna realises just why he is there. Can she get away to save her daughter in time.

This was a very enjoyable novel – easy to read (although not always easy reading) and, although the cast of characters is pretty small, they are all very interesting and well written. Susanna and Adam both have secrets and the tension is just kept close enough that you want to read on but are not frustrated at any point.

There are some lovely supporting characters – Alina is fantastic for example, not playing an enormous part but adding colour to the story in her own way. There are also some quite terrifying extras, but they of course, are part of the story and so I can’t really say any more about them here.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and I would definitely read another by this author. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of crime and thrillers.

Review: Song of the Current

Song of the Current
Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Caro Oresteia was born into a family of Rivermen who sail Wherries carrying cargo around the Riverlands. Unfortunately, not all of the cargo is safe and when Caro’s father is arrested, she must take a mysterious box to Valonikos to buy his freedom.

This was, in theory, a perfectly reasonable read about a young woman’s coming of age during her adventures on the river. To be honest though, there was far too much description of boats and how to sail them (which I freely admit to have glossed over a lot of the time) and not enough about the relationships between any characters but that of Caro and Markos who were, again, perfectly reasonable characters but spent a lot of time misunderstanding each other and/or pining for each other before meeting up and falling out again.

This is the first in a series apparently; to be honest it could have had another book’s worth of action and lost a lot of the unnecessary parts. I suggest a good editor could make it something a lot better than it turned out to be!

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