Review: Waking in Time

Waking in Time
Waking in Time by Angie Stanton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Abbi is so excited to start at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in honour of her beloved Grandmother. Three days in, she wakes up in her own bed in her own room but with a new roommate and absolutely no idea of why she is now in 1983. Why is Abbi going back in time? Does it have to do with the mystery “baby” grandma mentioned? And if so, how on earth will she ever get back again?

This is a very easy novel to read and doesn’t really involve too much thinking. The characters of Abbi, Will and Smitty and fun but one doesn’t have time to become involved with any of the supporting cast as, as soon as Abbi meets them, she is on her way again. I have not read the other “time travelling” novels and do not know if this can be overcome in some way, but it does mean that most of the action centres on the same people and places and I think the author may have needed to take a bit more care that this was not too repetitive and that the reader, let alone Abbi herself, had time to get things straight before the action moved ahead.

This aside, this was definitely an enjoyable book as a light read and I am sure it will appeal to a range of readers of varying ages.

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Review: Rather Be the Devil

Rather Be the Devil
Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rebus is retired and supposedly taking things easy but he isn’t feeling great and has been persuaded to give up cigarettes. To keep himself occupied he thinks back to a murder from years ago when a wealthy socialite was murdered at the Caledonian Hotel. In the meantime, Big Ger Cafferty is also supposed to have started to take things easy. So when his rival, Darryl Christie, is attacked, Rebus knows who to go to. But is this new crime somehow to do with what happened years ago? And how can Rebus investigate when he isn’t even on the force any more. As Siobhan Clarke comes to see, being retired isn’t slowing him down one bit!

I do enjoy the Rebus novels and this one settles into its normal rhythms in the first few paragraphs with Rebus spending a meal out with Deborah Quant talking about a cold case murder. I did think the series had come to a natural end when Rebus retired and, although it is always good to see him, I am not entirely sure that even his bullish personality would just allow him to go around Edinburgh barging into police stations and interviewing suspects by not actually telling them who he is. Suspending this disbelief though, this is another great romp around the city with Rebus, as usual, sticking his nose into everyone’s business in order to solve both a very new and a very old crime.

Another rebus novel is always welcome and this one is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will keep reading the novels as long as Ian Rankin is prepared to keep on writing them.

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Review: The King of Rats

The King of Rats
The King of Rats by Melinda Salisbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rats are invading Tallith and the king needs the Rat catcher and his children to get rid of them. The rat catcher will do so if his daughter can marry the Prince but she is not a Princess and so the king says no. Meanwhile, the plague of rats continues unabated. Who will break the stalemate?

This is a quick little book to read and very enjoyable. It is definitely along the lines of a fairy tale with Princes and Princesses and mysterious strangers abounding and the good old fashioned war between good and evil.

I have never read anything by Melinda Salisbury before but this has definitely made me want to look into her more; a good teaser for the longer novels and one to read easily in an evening.

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Review: Origins

Origins
Origins by A.D. Starrling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sons of Romerus are dying. He is a good man and travels a long way to find help for them, although the help he finds is not at all what he expected. The sons of Romerus are Crovir and Bastian, and this is their story…

Having read all the other “Seventeen” novels, I was interested to see a slight change of direction with this one where AD Starrling goes right back to the “Origins” of the Immortals and introduces the forebears of the characters we have got to know in the previous novels and novellas. Although all of the original family are mentioned, the novel really concentrates on Mila, the Warrior, and the forebear of Anna and shows us how her reputation was earned.

Apart from Mila and Aaron, this novel is less character driven than some of the others, and I did not feel I got to know anyone apart from them and Crovir particularly well. It was also quite hard to keep all the names and relationships straight (lots of marriage between cousins!) so this did add a bit to the lack of engagement with some of the characters (there is a family tree at the beginning, but it’s really hard to see on a kindle).

As usual with AD Starrling there is plenty of action including a good deal of fighting. This is a big part of the story in this one and again, does mean that characterisation loses out a bit. Nevertheless, this novel is a really big part of the “Seventeen” story and is absolutely necessary to understand the beginnings and move the story on.

Although the other 4 novels in the series can really be read in any order, I would suggest not reading this until you have read the others as knowing the modern day characters will make this one much more accessible. I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking forward to the next in the series.

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Review: Well of the Winds

Well of the Winds
Well of the Winds by Denzil Meyrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A family goes missing on the Scottish Island of Gairsay and DCI Daley, DS Scott and Chief Superintendant Symington are called in to help the local volunteer policeman find any clues as to where they may have gone. Whilst in the house Scott discovers a hidden cellar and, all of a sudden, the missing Bremner family’s secrets open a can of worms that have consequences reaching out across Europe.

I have enjoyed the previous stories involving Scott and Daley and, although I don’t usually like phonetic writing, I am a fan of the Brian Scott’s lovely Scottish accent and down to earth attitude. Events in the last novel mean that this one spends a little less time on Daley and more on Scott and Symington which isn’t a bad thing at all as Scott in particular is a great character with an interesting personality to get to know alongside the story of the novel.

The DCI Daley thrillers can easily be read as stand alones and I do not think anything is lost by simply starting from this one. Nevertheless, if you still have the treat of picking one up for the first one, I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series and learning more about Scott and Daley as you go.

Any fan of a crime thriller would definitely enjoy this and others in the series. I look forward to the next one coming out!

Thank you to lovereading for the ARC.

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Review: The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey
The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A man has committed suicide by jumping in front of a bus and Detective Sam Porter gets the call he has been waiting for – it looks like the man is the “Fourth Monkey Killer” he has spent years chasing because the man has a box in his pocket containing a human ear and addressed to a prominent local business man. Porter, and his partner Nash, know that this means a member of this man’s immediate family is missing and they need to find her before it’s too late. The thing is, the man’s wife and daughter are safe so who is missing? Can the diary in the killer’s pocket give the answers Porter, Nash and their team are desparately looking for before it’s too late?

“The Fourth Monkey” is a police precedural at heart but is so much more than that, having interesting characters on all sides and therefore plenty of people to root for aside from simply wanting the killer to be caught. The story is written from multiple points of view and this definitely adds to the tensions of the story, particularly those involving Emory Connors. The other fascinating sections are those from the killer’s diary and the divergent parts coming together definitely add welcome tension to the novel without making it feel as if the author is stringing things out.

Apparently JD Barker is a “horror” writer, but I would certainly not pigeonhole this book in that way – there are some slightly unpleasant bits but nothing more than a usual crime novel and these were only used as a necessity to further the story. As I said, this is much more of a thriller so perfect for any fans of crime fiction of all types.

I did really enjoy this novel, I liked Porter and Nash’s team very much, and I could see it continuing as a series. If it did, I would definitely read more. Highly recommended!

This novel is released on 27th June but your can pre-order it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Monke…

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC – #4MK

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Review: Ink

Ink
Ink by Alice Broadway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leora’s father has recently died and his skin is ready to tell his story like everyone else in Saintstone. Leora wants to be an “inker”; one of those who makes the tattoos that define people’s lives and who would have added to dad’s story. A public marking makes her realise that not all marks are good marks, and something happens to make Leora think that her dad may not be who he said he was. Is the fate of his story in her hands?

I really liked the premise for this book and was intrigued by the idea that marks on the skin could tell a story. From the synopsis, I did wonder whether the marks were n actual story (which I did think was slightly implausible) but the fact that they are tattoos makes much more sense and is really a very clever idea.

As characters, I thought that Leora and Obel were the most well written and had the most about them. Verity, Sophie and Oscar did lose their way a little in the tricky third quarter, but had certainly come into their own again at the end and definitely did their part to add to the shock factor of the climax.

This is a great YA novel as it has so many themes for everyone to enjoy, but it is YA and should be thought of us such; particularly in the relationships between Leora and Oscar and Leora and Verity. Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant debut and I can’t wait to see how the story continues in the next one; I’ll definitely be reading it!

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Review: Quicksand

Quicksand
Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maja Norberg and her boyfriend, Sebastian Fagerman, were the golden couple at school. Then it all went wrong and their classmates, teacher and Sebastian are dead. Is Maja guilty or innocent?

I found this book surprisingly easy to read given the sbuject matter. It is not that the subject was easy to read about (far from it) but that the author drew me in so quickly and the situation Maja found herself in so compelling, that I wanted to keep reading to find out more.

The book skips backwards and forwards between Maja’s trial and the details of her relationship with Sebastian and his father beforehand. Sometimes this device works and sometimes it doesn’t; in this case it was definitely the right decision and added much to the tension of the book as details of the relationship emerge, and Maja’s situation spirals more and more out of control.

The only bit I didn’t really like was Samir’s testimony and what turned out to be the critical point. As someone who spends a lot of time in my day job asking questions about what actually happened, I wondered why nobody had asked the right questions of Samir before the trial. Nevertheless, I suppose there would have been no story to the book in that case, and so I need to be grateful that they didn’t.

Overall, very difficult subject matter handled really well; I’ll definitely read another one by this author in the future.

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Review: An Expert in Murder

An Expert in Murder
An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is the last week of Josephine Tey’s play “Richard of Bordeaux” being on in the West End and she travels down on the train from Scotland to watch it and see the cast. On the train, she meets and befriends a young fan but, as the train arrives in London, there is an unpleasant murder; setting off a chain of events which Josephine and her friends from Scotland Yard must solve before it is too late for any of them.

I would say this novel is a “cosy mystery”, it has a gentle cast of characters, none of whom do very much or who have much about them and nothing really happens other than them rushing about in horror when the murders are committed. Apparently there is a real Josephine Tey who really did write “Richard of Bordeaux” so it seems a little strange that the author was not really able to add more character to her or to any of those she interacted with.

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this story; I found it very slow moving and the characters were not very rounded. Despite this it was rather a slog to read and came to a rather unsatisfactory conclusion. All in all, not my favourite crime novel and not a series I will continue to read.

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Review: Watching Edie

Watching Edie
Watching Edie by Camilla Way
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Edie is alone and pregnant – she left home 15 years ago and hasn’t been back and the father of her baby has his own family already. Just when Edie thinks she’s completely on her own though, and old friend gets in touch and comes back into her life just when she really needs help. Where has Heather been all this time though, and what will she do with Edie’s secret?

The premise for this book is quite interesting but I think it could probably have been told as a short story or novella at least as effectively, if not more so. Edie and Heather clearly do share a big secret, but the big reveal is a long time coming and, to be honest, by the time I got to it I fell rather flat.

I didn’t really warm to the characters of either Edie or Heather either; neither of them were particularly well fleshed out and, again, too much time spent looking back but not telling rather than getting to know them in the present. Heather, particularly, is not given a very detailed description and both girls appeared to just have one dimension to them.

All in all, it’s a simple idea which should have been told in half the time but which, unfortunately, leaves the reader feeling thoroughly short changed. Not one I would recommend.

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