The Art of the Imperfect: a crime mystery set in Scarborough: Kate Evans (Review nine of the review challenge)

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Good morning lazy Saturday readers, it’s day nine of the ten-day review challenge and I’m a little sad to see it end. I’m currently in the middle of writing a post on the things I’ve learnt whilst completing the challenge and it’s fair to say I’ve learnt a lot. The main thing I’ve found is that if you put your mind to writing a review you really can do it despite the distractions. Yes, there have been a few days where I’ve been a little panicky about it actually getting finished whilst writing a million other different articles and furiously munching down cheese on toast but I’ve done it, almost. Today’s review is of a murder mystery that I rather enjoyed, enough of my babbling and onto the review.

The death of the renowned psychotherapist Dr Themis Greene in Scarborough sends storm waves through the intertwining lives of three of the small seaside town’s residents. The murder in the town perched on the edge of land and sea, pushes Hannah Poole, Aurora Harris and DS Theo Akande to the borderlands. They are forced to explore the edges of reason, understanding, justice and love. What they discover gets them through but is far from perfect. This isn’t gritty crime, this isn’t cosy crime, this isn’t police procedural. This is poetic storytelling which peels back the psychological layers to reveal the raw centre.

As the blurb describes the book follows the death of Themis Greene a psychotherapist who is bludgeoned to death. Discovered by the waif like Hannah a trainee therapist, the investigation begins pulling together different characters and interweaving subplots including Theo, the sergeant investigating and Aurora an expectant, exhausted mother. As the case continues we as a reader are drawn into the different difficult lives of those affected by the death as their hopes and fears are thrown into turmoil and we as the reader get to discover more about them as characters.

The first thing to mention is the writing style is incredibly strong. The description for example is wonderful throughout; the words used help to set the reader right in the heart of Scarborough. I often disagree with bloggers when it comes to description as I like it plentiful, and often overly so. The description through this book is brilliantly constructed so that I really felt completely immersed. This also leads to very strong character profiles. Hannah is a difficult character, insecure and easily daunted I found her story rather heartbreaking. Aurora was my favourite of the characters, a new mother, tired and struggling her anguish felt incredibly real and difficult to swallow. Throughout the author also introduces a number of deep and richly described supporting characters.

The most important point to make however is that this book is less about the crime; this is a softly spoken story on how a sudden event can seriously affect the lives of others and how us as individuals cope and deal with this as people. Yes the book does incorporate a crime, Themis Greene is a rather tricky character and as the plot thickens we learn that she hasn’t been the most ethical in her work after embarking in an affair with one of her patients. By the author acknowledging that a number of characters not only knew but were affected by this it opens the pool of suspects helping to make the crime more intriguing. However the book tends to look at the after effects and weaves these into a thoughtful story.

A couple of quibbles; although this is a book about therapy and character investigation I thought that the author should have made more of the crime side of the story. It had the beginnings of being the perfect division between the two but as the story continued I think it focused too much on the investigation of the characters personally. I also thought the final conclusion of said crime was too easily brushed under the carpet. Although the therapy side of the book is a large part of the plot and obviously something the author wanted to explore it became overwhelming. I also thought that Hannah was a little too bruised to be training as a therapist; it is explained that it is partly due to the trauma of moving in with her parents and her lack of belief in herself but it was a little difficult to understand why she had been pushed so directly in this career path.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I always remark on how well characters are scripted and built up and reading a book so heavily involved in the lives of the characters was very enjoyable. I think the crime should have been made more of a focal point instead of being used as just a host to explore the characters however I will be definitely reading this book again and cannot wait to read more from this author.

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Determined: Elizabeth Brown (Day four of the review challenge)

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Another day, another review from mylittlebookblog; today is number four of the review challenge and so far so good. I’m currently finding the challenge not only rewarding in terms of helping to deliver some of the older reviews in my inbox but it’s already helping me improve my review writing on the whole. I find I’m enjoying writing the reviews more as the days go on, and I’m reviewing the books more as a whole rather than fixating on every little detail. Today’s review is a sultry read from the lovely Elizabeth Brown; enjoy readers.

Samantha Sharp always knew her direction in life. Do well in school, attend a top university, graduate with honors. Having secured a plum gallery job right after graduation, she was well on her way to accomplishing her goals. That is, until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger made her question her life’s entire course. Billionaire David Keith was sexy, successful, and on the wish list of every woman in San Francisco. Sam knew it was dangerous to hope she was different than all the women David normally dated, but for the first time, success wasn’t the only thing on Samantha’s mind. Would this distraction be her undoing?

So a little bit of a contrast to yesterdays incredibly intense book The Cage Legacy. As the blurb describes the book follows the steamy relationship between Samantha Sharp and the devilishly handsome David Keith. The two meet at an art gallery event and after an accident with a glass of wine and a white dress the two end up in a car back to Samantha’s. Intrigued by each other the two part ways but this is not the end of this potential love story. David is intrigued by the young female and will do anything to make sure the two cross paths again; this isn’t difficult when you’re a billionaire and the two embark on a burgeoning relationship but will it stand the test of their differences? Read on to find out.

So it’s best to get this bit out the way first; it’s not the most original of story lines however don’t write this story off just yet. Yes, sweet kind-hearted honest female meets incredibly sultry but closed off business man with a troubled past. Despite this it is a sultry read that is definitely going to keep a reader of romantic literature entertained. In terms of storyline it is a little formulaic but the character profiles are well rounded; David is a generous character with a controlling nature whilst Sam is elegant but with a flirtatious streak which does tend to get her in a number of difficult situations. Attractive and confident her air of sophistication helps to ensnare wealthy David effortlessly. Yes it is a little typical and maybe a little contrived but perfectly enjoyable.

Reading the book I thought to myself that this is a fantasy read; he send her flowers without thinking, he finds out her dress size and sends her a beautiful outfit with the most darling pair of shoes. He jets her off to different events around the world and travels with her and her family to Tahoe on a private jet to celebrate thanksgiving. The chance of it happening in one of our lives is yes very little but this book kind of makes it feel like it could be. It makes the fantasy feel a little closer to home. The chemistry between them feels realistic and genuine and although the connection is very sudden I did find myself engrossed in their relationship. Additionally, the sex scenes are very steamy. This lady does not hold back on details; hot and heavy I found myself blushing relentlessly on the bus to work this morning. I did also enjoy watching their relationship develop from the initial spark to a potentially fully committed relationship.

In terms of negatives, the two do fall for each other incredibly quickly and although their relationship does suffer some adversities it is very trouble-free and almost effortless. I guess for me, I don’t want to always read of the perfect relationship because love isn’t trouble free. I also, for some reason didn’t find myself fancying David, which I was a little miffed about, he didn’t capture my imagination however I know he will for many others. Despite this I did really enjoy the book because it was such a light and easy read. It really gives the reader that blissfully happy and steamy relationship. Yes it’s a fantasy but we all need a little of that in our lives and if I was about to go on a wonderful holiday away this would definitely be stashed in my bag for the beach. For me a little too clichéd, and little too perfect but a lovely saucy and romantic read.

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