Reading Round-up: March/April 2018, part 2 #minibookreviews

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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty rubbish at posting reviews lately. I unfortunately don’t have the time (or the motivation) at the moment. I would, however, like to share a few thoughts on some of my recent reads…

 

Anything You Do Say ~ Gillian McAllister

I had heard nothing but good things about Gillian McAllister’s thrillers, and this one was my first. I was absolutely captivated from the very first page. It’s a simple concept which begs the question what you would do if you critically hurt someone by accident? Would you try to help them and turn yourself in? Or would you leave them for dead and hope it’s never traced back to you?

It’s such a tragic dilemma, and I couldn’t stop reading. What I loved the most about it was that there’s no easy answer, and no simple outcome. Both versions of the story are fraught with grief, loss and terror, but show that the human spirit can survive more than you may think.

unicorn rating

 

The Language of Thorns ~ Leigh Bardugo

This book is so beautiful, I almost didn’t care what was inside! But of course, I did a little. This is a collection of fairy tales from the Grisha world created by Bardugo in her Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology. To write a collection of fairy tales and myths that her characters may have heard as children like we’ve heard variations of Grimm’s and Andersen’s just shows how vast and complete Bardugo’s world building is, and for this alone I was impressed.

However, I wasn’t as impressed by the stories as I was the concept. A couple of them were fun, and compelling but the rest fell flat for me. Thankfully, the stunning illustrations, and beautiful cover (in hardback) more than made up for it. I think it’s a book you’ll want to keep on your shelves to look at, rather than reread.

unicorn rating 3

Have you read either of these? Let me know what you thought?

 

30 Days of Horror #6: The Crow Girl #HO17 #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book for each day until we reach Halloween!

Day six and I’m choosing an epic Swedish thriller that is dark. I mean, like really, really dark and messed up. Originally published as a trilogy but now in one volume, it’s not a small book, but it certainly packs a punch. It was released in paperback just last year.

I’m not a fan of the latest cover (right) – it doesn’t really reflect the contents like the other two, but I guess that’s mass marketing for you.

Available in all formats
786 pages
Published April 14th 2016 by Harvill Secker

It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

Goodreads // My Review

bookdepo

Have you read this? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

The Flash Fiction Battle Prompt Result!

Reading Round-up: February 2017 #BookReviews #NewReleases #MiniReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t warrant a full review. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

I was much better this month and the only book I read and didn’t feel like reviewing in full was this:

 

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The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway #9) ~ Elly Griffiths

This was the first Ruth Galloway book I’d read and at first it didn’t seem to make a difference that I hadn’t read the previous ones, but I think as the story went on it became evident that I would have enjoyed it more if I had. It’s for that reason that when I say I was little disappointed with this novel I don’t particularly think I can blame the book itself. It was a perfectly good crime thriller but I personally felt like the plot unfolded a little too slowly. Griffiths’ writing style was nice and effortless though, and I’d like to give the first book a go in the future.

unicorn rating 3

Other Reviews

Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan #BookReview #Thriller

cuttotheboneTitle: Cut to the Bone
Author: Alex Caan
Series: N/a
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: November 3rd 2016 by Bonnier Publishing
Genre(s): Thriller; Crime Fiction
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

One Missing Girl. Two Million Suspects.

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls.

And she’s missing . . .

But she’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely?

Until the video’s uploaded . . .

Ruby, in the dirt, pleading for her life.

Enter Detective Inspector Kate Riley; the Met’s rising star and the head of a new team of investigators with the best resources money can buy. Among them, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, the poster boy for multiracial policing. But can Kate wholly trust him – and more importantly, can she trust herself around him?

As hysteria builds amongst the press and Ruby’s millions of fans, Kate and her team are under pressure to get results, and fast, but as they soon discover, the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

And the videos keep coming…

Review

I was in the mood for a dark, crime thriller so I picked this book up slightly ahead of schedule and I enjoyed it a lot.

Cut to the Bone opens with a girl being kidnapped. I instantly found the writing-style exciting and intriguing. It’s sharp and very matter-of-fact which I’m sure some people with have an issue with but I lapped it up. 

We soon discover that the girl being kidnapped was Ruby, a YouTube star. Ruby does beauty tutorials and talks about her life, depression and other things on her Vlog, to a huge teen audience. She’s a good role model, she tries to use her experiences to help others. So when she goes missing there’s instant interest in it. But it doesn’t explain why commissioner Justin Hope seems to know about it before she’s even classified as a missing person- only hours after her disappearance. 

Like all good crime thrillers, Cut to the Bone is complex, with many strands weaving through it at once. There’s the unreliable cops, the exploitative media agents, ex-boyfriends, stalker-fans and a strange family, (amongst others) all thrown into the mix. Any one of them could be the culprit. 

Caan does a good job of throwing in some red herrings and keeping you guessing, and I couldn’t stop digitally turning those pages, although to be fair, I was never that invested it finding out who the killer is, because we don’t actually know if she’s dead.

I feel like I can’t really give Cut to the Bone more than 3/5, mainly because it wasn’t anything special. I enjoyed it and all, but it didn’t blow me away. It hasn’t stayed with me, you know!? Maybe I’m just in a harsh mood…

I also got pretty bored with all the drawn-out explanations about what Vloggers do and how they make money. I’m sure it’s just a case of timing, and that probably when the story was actually written Vloggers weren’t very well known, but it felt quite dated and well, out of touch. Like it was written by someone who has only just discovered the internet or something.

Anyhoo, for a debut novel, Cut to the Bone is a winner. The writing is quite different than your run-of-the-mill thrillers and that’s what really impressed me. 

Definitely worth a read – and I’ll be looking out for more from Caan in the future. 

unicorn rating 3

Cut to the Bone is out now on Kindle, but not due in paperback until November 2016

Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane #BookReview #Mystery

murderat42Title: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
Author: Con Lehane
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: April 26th 2016 by Minotaur Books
Genre(s): Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library’s crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.

In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden–and profoundly disturbing–relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library’s crime fiction collection, that writer’s missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler’s colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.

Review

A grand library. A mysterious murder. A librarian turned sleuth… in theory this book ticked all the boxes for me and I was looking forward to it a lot.

Ray Ambler is the librarian in charge of the (fictitious) crime fiction collection at the world famous New York Public Library. When a Dr. James Donnelly is murdered in the library, Ambler takes it upon himself to investigate. His boss Harry witnessed the murder, yet fails to identify the culprit, and in time Ambler discovers that the murder is linked to recently acquired documents from renowned crime writer Nelson Yates.

With a large pool of suspects and a growing concern that the crime fiction collection is to be expunged, Ray Ambler has got his work cut out for him and his amateur detective skills. 

I really wanted to love this book but I was left feeling pretty meh about it. At first I liked that it felt like an old fashioned mystery but in the end I just found it a bit dull. I never really got invested in the characters – or the murder – and so I didn’t feel compelled to turn the pages. I also thought there were too many characters and I was often confused about what was going on.

Still, I found it to be a relatively quick read and I loved the library setting. I’ve never been to the NYPL but I can certainly picture it after reading this book; the descriptions were lovely. I enjoyed it enough, but I guess I was hoping for more. Worth giving it a go though!

unicorn rating 3

Murder at the 42nd Street Library is out now!

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund (out today) #BookReview #CrimeFic #DisturbingReads

crowgirlTitle: The Crow Girl
Author: Erik Axl Sund
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 784 pages
Publication Details: April 7th 2016 by Harvill Secker
Genre(s): Crime Fiction; Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

Review

Everything about this book drew me in until I realised that it’s almost 800 pages long! I probably would have been put off if I’d realised that before I requested a copy (because as a ‘in spare-time blogger’, I aint got time for that), but I’m so glad I started reading first. It was totally worth the investment of time. 

The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there. 

We follow protagonist Jeanette Kihlberg, a respected detective who is assigned the case when a mummified boy is discovered. Jeanette is a strong protagonist. She’s clearly dedicated to her work but is also consumed by it, which takes its toll on her private life. As more bodies show up, and the search for a killer intensifies, Jeanette’s life starts to unfurl. 

The Crow Girl isn’t a simple whodunnit tale. It’s a complex saga of child abuse, paedophile circles, corrupt officials, false identities, human trafficking and psychological battles. It took me a few chapters to get hooked and adapt to the dark and twisted tone of the story but once I did, it was impossible to not get completely invested the story.

Originally written as a trilogy, and published here as one volume, The Crow Girl has been painstakingly translated from Swedish. Despite the length, I’m really glad I read this all in one go as I think it would have been too confusing in three separate books and I’m not sure I would have appreciated the first part enough to read the second; it’s all about the bigger picture and the pay off at the end! I was also extremely thankful for the short chapters – they really helped in making the book less of a chore. 

This is one of those books where I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but what I will say is that The Crow Road is a book that sheds light on child abuse and the damage it can cause. The effects of which ripple throughout all 700+ pages of this disturbing Swedish triumph.

It actually reminded me a lot of the Hannibal TV show with similarities in both content and style/tone, so if you enjoyed that I’d highly recommend giving this one a try.

unicorn rating 4

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage (#DNF #review) #OutToday

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Title: All Things Cease to Appear
Author: Elizabeth Brundage
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2016 by Knopf
Genre(s): Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review

Goodreads // Waterstones

bookdepo

 

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone–for how many hours?–in her room down the hall.

He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. And he is the immediate suspect–the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional.

While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. The pall of death is ongoing, and relentless; behind one crime are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.

At once a classic “who-dun-it” that morphs into a “why-and-how-dun-it,” this is also a rich and complex portrait of a psychopath and a marriage, and an astute study of the various taints that can scar very different families, and even an entire community.

Review

What came first…the book, or the book slump? Now there’s a question! I stopped reading this book at around the 35% mark, which I really try not to do for ARCs as I like to fulfil my end of the bargain as much as possible, but I just couldn’t. 

I’m not sure why, as it wasn’t badly written, or even overly dull, I just couldn’t muster the motivation to keep going. It may be nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with the fact that I read two really amazing books in a row and was a bit burnt out…who knows!?

All Things Cease to Appear has the makings of a really great mystery/thriller. George comes home to find his wife dead, brutally-murdered-dead, and his little girl alone and scared. George is instantly the prime suspect and his reaction to his wife’s death is quite strange, so he is always a suspect in the reader’s mind too. 

I think the main reason I couldn’t get into this book was because I didn’t like any of the characters in it. George is aloof and strange, even his parents are a bit – bland. Yes, bland is how I would describe most of the characters. 

I do think that if I was in the mood for this book it could have gone differently. I’m sure it would become clear why the characters were dubious, but I just wasn’t in the mood to get to the endgame. 

ATCTA may not have worked for me, but it might for you. I thought the lack of quotation marks for dialogue was interesting, and it actually didn’t bother me at all, I think it was just a mixture of bad timing and ambiguous characters that turned me off. 

I DNF at 35% and therefore won’t be giving it a rating.