I’ve been reading a lot of books recently and a couple have really stood out. Like this one.

Want to give a quick shout-out to Pigeonhole. I tried to download the book after it had finished it’s serialisation.  But the app was letting me download it but it never appeared in my bookshelf. I shouldn’t have been able to get hold of it, but Pigeonhole let me because they are wonderful. This is what I thought of Lies by T.M Logan.

Blurb

 When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

My Review

Sometimes, secrets are best kept that way.

T M Logan’s debut novel ‘Lies revolves around the decisive moment where everything changes, when you find out something you didn’t want to know. The YES or NO choice that seems harmless but causes your life to dissolve into hell. Well maybe.

Joe Lynch is pretty normal. He has a lovely wife and an adorable son, and a normal job as a teacher. He spends his days pottering around doing all-together adult things. Until one day his son spots his mum’s car, somewhere where it shouldn’t really be. Following his wife Mel he finds her with their friend Ben at a hotel. From this moment everything begins to collapse. It looks like Joe is going to be arrested on suspicion of murder and he quickly realises he doesn’t know his wife, Mel, at all.

Character wise I loved Joe. Yes, he’s very naive, yes it takes him a long time to catch on but that’s why he’s so great. The trial by social media that he is forced to withstand is excruciating. Ben, (as described in the blurb,) dissapears but not for long. He taunts Joe, leading him deeper into the hell hole that’s been created. I wanted Joe to succeed, especially as he gets more and more desperate.

The writing is exceptional. It’s not gritty, but it is very engaging and clean writing with bite. The demise of Joe is wonderfully done. I felt like throwing the book on the floor a number of times. It’s not often that a book manages to make me desperate to read and piss me off at the same time. The writing is very cat and mouse, back and forth.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a super good read. I would say the ending was a brilliant twist but a little over the top. Saying that I didn’t guess it at all and was very, very shocked. If you love a thriller definitely get a copy. Thumbs up.

It’s been mentioned recently that book reviews are a little low.  Or maybe just book related bits and bobs. Apologies; I’ve been getting really into my Friday/Saturday posts. However, expect a lot of bookish bits because I’ve read some really bloody good books recently. Like this one – Death Message by Kate London.

Blurb

October 1987: the morning after the Great Storm. Fifteen-year-old Tania Mills walks out her front door and disappears. Twenty-seven years later her mother still prays for her return. DS Sarah Collins in the Met’s Homicide Command is determined to find out what happened, but is soon pulled into a shocking new case and must once again work with a troubled young police officer from her past, Lizzie Griffiths.

PC Lizzie Griffiths, now a training detective, is working in the Domestic Violence Unit, known by cops as the ‘murder prevention squad’. Called to an incident of domestic violence, she encounters a vicious, volatile man – and a woman too frightened to ask for help. Soon Lizzie finds herself drawn into the centre of the investigation as she fights to protect a mother and daughter in peril.

As both cases unfold, Sarah and Lizzie must survive the dangerous territory where love and violence meet.

My Review

As the blurb suggests the novel centres on two Met Police Officers DS Sarah Collins and PC Lizzy Griffiths. Sarah is tasked with solving the dissapearance of Tania Mills, Lizzy is returning to work at her new posting within the Domestic Violence Unit. The case Sarah has taken on is a complex case; Did Tania run away/have an accident? Or is it something more sinister? PC Griffiths is working with a young mother in dire need of help but refusing all attempts. How far will Lizzie go to protect the victim?

I really enjoyed this novel and it definitely throws up some conversations about the use of social media, texts, CCTV etc. I liked the discussion of the way the justice system operates. This would definitely be a brilliant book to debate and discuss at a reading group maybe. The writing is tough, gritty and edgy. It really throws the reader back and forth and gets you involved.

The characters are brilliant. Sarah is this cold, quite difficult character to get to know but that only makes the search for Tania more interesting. Sarah has to emphathise with Tania’s parents/friends/acquaintances and it’s fun to engage with that. I liked Lizzie less (despite sharing her name.) I found her confusing as she was both very weak and at times putting herself in terrible situations. However the constrast with Sarah was brill.

The writing is punchy and emotional with moments of great tension, it’s set in London after the great storm of 1987 and there are excellent twists and turns. I do love gritty female detectives!

Final Thoughts

I think something to note is that the stories don’t really interfere with one another that much which is a little frustrating. More correlation might have helped but both stories are brilliant stood alone. The author of the novel is an ex-met detective and it really really shows. The writing definitely questions and tries to understand what makes people commit crimes and what makes certain people more vulnerable to abuse.

Death Message is a banging novel – well worth a read.

I guess I should point out 2017 isn’t over so it’s not QUITE over. So I haven’t failed the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 yet.

Goodreads is something I use very rarely. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the clunky format, or because I don’t like rating books. It’s just not pivotal to my reading life/experience. However, this year I decided to try and read 100 books using Goodreads to document my books. Quite a tough number – and by May, almost half way through the year I’ve read 17.  Or maybe 18. But nowhere near the 50 I should be getting towards. At first I panicked, however, today it feels pretty good. Here’s why.

I’m reading more ‘difficult’ books

I guess difficult might be the wrong word. Basically, I’ve been reading quite intense books and it’s been harder to get through them. I’ve borrowed T’s Miklos Nyiszli’s ‘Auschwitz A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account.’ As you can imagine the writing is incredibly intense, difficult to read and v v emotional. It’s been best to read it in small chunks, but I’ll get there. (Review to come soon.)

I’ve joined a book club!

This probably shouldn’t be an excuse but I joined a lovely group of ladies and we read a book a month and then discuss over wine/gin/beer. (Also if you’re in Greenwich you should definitely come and say hi. First Wednesday of the month – Greenwich Union Pub, 7.30.) Anyway, the books we’ve read so far have been quite long and I’ve been writing questions, and notes so it’s taken longer to read the book. Saying that, I’m finding I’m doing it with all my books – which is a good thing.

I’ve started writing again

Well journalling mostly but writing as well. Although blogging is wonderful I’ve wanted to note down some bits but not online. Although it’s only a V small part of my day it’s eaten into my reading time. But, it’s a lot of fun so I’m going to keep it up. I might just fit the reading in before bed. Which brings us to the next point.

Sleep

I’ve started using a sleep cycle app and it’s basically said most of the sleep I get is crap. If it’s not crap, it’s just not enough. Which is a double whammy for Lizzy. I’ve also fallen asleep on the sofa a couple of nights last week and that’s a triple nope. So I’ve been going  up to bed earlier and sleeping earlier.  Seeing that a lot of my reading happens before bed it’s another cut in my reading time. But my sleep is definitely improving.

I’m watching too much Netflix

This is probably the main problem. Sue me.

(Also if you haven’t watched it yet – 3% is really good.)

You can follow my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 here. 

I’ve been reading from the Pigeonhole App again.

This time it’s the intense You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. Abbot has been on my list to watch for a while now. I’ve read a lot of good reviews but never quite got round to it. Today I finally did. Onto the review!

Blurb

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon. A gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But then a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community weeks before an all-important competition. Everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries to hold her family together. But she finds herself drawn, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.
 
You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

My Review

You get a jist from the blurb, this is a murder mystery. BUT, it revolves around family and the anchor that is Devon. Devon is a gymnastics prodigy. Her family have given everything to make her dream come true. When a supposed hit-and-run rears it’s ugly head, rumours begin to swirl. The novel details the hows, the whys, the confusion, melted into the intense mania of elite gymnastics.

The characters are intensely written. Katie is a mother overwhelmed and terrified by her daughter who is changing in ways she can’t control. Eric, the father, is obsessed with Devon’s dream – he’ll do anything to make her success a probability. Drew, the little brother notices the smallest details. He’s often forgotten and left in Devon’s shadow. He’s written wonderfully. Finally Devon – she’s a whirlwind that keeps her feelings close to her chest. She’s described regularly as a hard, perfectly smooth nut. It’s a perfect description of a teenage girl caught up in the stressful world of elite gymnastics.

The writing is sublime. Abbot is brilliant at writing about the psychotic world of teenage girls. The pain, the hurt, the secrets. Abbot has a way of manipulating the reader so you never quite know where to point the finger. I like the fact that the secret could be given away and you would still read on. The execution of the writing is spot on. The death brings a lot of secrets to the light and Abbot perfectly understands how to manage each character as it slowly unravels.

Final Thoughts

I loved the exploration of claustrophobia, secrecy and female adolescence. The story is full of suspense, and I liked the perspective of transition between girl and woman. Watching Katie try and control her daughter, whilst trying to push away multiple characters that wear on Devon. It’s exhausting and exciting. I like the theme of greatness and sacrifice and how to two mix, and how it affects little Drew. It creates a destructive but very exciting narrative, which I loved.

Abbott also manages to capture tiny moments (with a lot of meaning) in perfect clarity. Here’s an example.

He’d never woken up, and the only sound now was his breathing, hoarse and ragged. For a second she thought she saw his lashes lift, the white of one eye looking at her, but she was wrong.

It’s a brilliant story that had me hanging onto every word. Read it.

AmazonGoodreads 

 

I’m addicted to free crime thrillers.

I got picky with my reading and decided to download another free crime fiction book onto my Kindle. IT FELT like the right thing to do. The problem with being a reader is that you’re always looking for the next thing to dig your teeth into. I struggle after reading one genre to skip to another. There’s something comforting about sticking your finger into another plum pie (so to speak.) That sounded rude. I’ll move on- THIS is the last free crime thriller I download*.

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

Blurb

Crime Lord Malkie Thompson’s spent 25 years killing, maiming and blackmailing his way to the top. He’s got everything he ever wanted, except his health. The knives are out. His rivals sense blood. Their time is now. But Thompson’s not going down without a fight.

Violence in the Blood documents Thompson’s rise to power from the backstreets of Glasgow to the industrial heartland of the Midlands.

Join the rampage as Malkie and his crew blaze a trail of mayhem and destruction north and south of the border.

My Review

Why did I download this? I like the idea of a tale about a criminal gang. Question is, did I enjoy it?

Yes, yes I did. Writing about criminal gangs can become bogged down. There are often a lot of things to fit and bob in. Detail is important to immerse the reader in the tale. This worked well. The pace is frantic and hectic. It moves with pace, and all the writing is spritely if stomach churning. The rival mobsters feel real and threatening. They are violent, use any method possible (baseball bat anyone?) and are brought vividly to life.

Malkie is told in brilliant technicolor. He’s a menace, a monster and a brilliant character creation. I felt both sorry for him at times and appalled. The ability of the author to play with the reader’s emotions despite the questionable behavior of the main character shows a lot of skill.

But, there are problems. The writing is very good at describing police procedures and the like and the torture scenes are very graphic. There’s a lot of blood, guts and gore. A lot of death too. But, because the book is so short, you don’t really care for the characters because we barely know them. Other than Malkie everyone is a whitewash of a character. A couple of minor details poke through but other than that, very little character distinction.

There are plots and subplots which I enjoyed but this book felt like a spoiler to the big event. This happens a lot with free books. They tend to have a killer starting read that gets the reader involved which then spans into a series of 15 books. This one just didn’t have quite enough to encourage me to continue with the series.

Final Thoughts

Gritty gang warfare is a great way to describe this book, but I wanted double the content. Probably double the gore too.

* For now.

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman