Book review: Last Victim of the Monsoon Express by Vaseem Khan

This book is described as ‘charming’ and it really is!
Inspector Chopra is on a revived steam train and his ward, the baby elephant Ganesha is travelling with him. An Indian politician is murdered and Chopra has to solve the mystery before the train stops or risk there being a major international incident.
I liked how the history of partition was woven into the story (only where it was relevant). I really appreciated the Poirot-esque murder mystery.
This was a fun short read. I liked the gentle humour in the story, even though Inspector Chopra is a very serious man, his observations are sometimes funny.
I will be checking out the other books in the series.


Book review: The Forgotten House on The Moors by Jane Lovering

Another corker!
Alice is woken up by the police coming to tell her that her ex husband, Grant, has died in an explosion. When she goes up to the site where it happened, she meets his current girlfriend, Jenna and her brother Max. She ends up seeing more of them because Jenna needs someone to talk to about Grant, Alice is curious as to why Grant was out there in a deserted house in the first place and well, seeing Max again wouldn’t be all that terrible either.

It’s nice to see a heroine who is ‘big and plain and sensible’ be loved for who she is. The book is broody an atmospheric in places, as befits a book about the existence (or not) of ghosts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for the review copy.

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The Change by Kirsten Miller

When I spotted The Change on Netgalley, I requested it straight away.
Three women in a Long Island seaside community realise that they have powers. Nessa, who sees the dead; Harriet who is the punishment that fits the crime and Jo who will destroy it all at the end.
Nessa sees dead girls (not women, teenaged girls) who have been murdered by men. She knows there’s a serial killer on the loose, but it’s hard to prove it when the bodies haven’t actually been found. As the three women seek to get justice for these dead girls, they uncover a web of corruption that is terrifying.
With heart and anger but also with humour, the book captures the everyday sexism that women face and the double standards the world imposes on people based on their sex and social class.
It’s a fast paced read that sits where thriller meets women’s fiction. I raced through it in a day.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC. This is my honest review.

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Book review: The Buy-In by Emma St Clair

Book Cover for The Buy-In by Emma St Clair

I had never read anything by Emma St Clair before. I grabbed this book on Netgalley because I saw that it was a sweet or low heat romcom and it sounded like fun. I’m so glad I did.
The Buy In is sweet in every sense of the word. It has a whole lot of heart. The story centres around Lindy who has abandonment issues, and Pat who is a ex pro football player with a tendency to be impulsive (he has ADHD, which is discussed in the context of being part of who he is). It’s a second chance romance between him and Lindy and at the core of the story is a little girl called Jo (Lindy’s niece). Lindy has looked after Jo for years and she is trying to keep custody of her. The story is as much about family as about romance.
It’s a fake relationship story, and a second chance story, both of which are tropes I really like. Plus it’s a small town romance. So there is a wonderful cast of secondary characters for you to get to know and love. I think a lot of them are going to have their stories told in the rest of the series. Overall, I really really enjoyed this. I love the corny jokes. I liked the over the top comics set pieces – including the flaming squirrels – and I really really loved the family and small town love aspect of it. I’m definitely going to read more by this author


The Grooms Wore White by Charlie Lyndhurst

This story is women’s fiction/ general fiction rather than romance and it centres around Jason who is a wedding planner, nearing his 40s and who has a long term partner in Pete; Mel who is in her 40s, suddenly single and grappling with being a single mum after all these years; and Harriet, who is another wedding planner, slightly younger than Jason, who is actively homophobic at the start of the book. Harriet is definitely not the most likeable, but she does go through a huge character change which is quite nice to see.
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was nice to see older characters looking for and finding romance or cementing existing romances because we quite often see only the point of view of the young. It was good to see Mel coming out of her shell. I loved the details about the weddings that Jason was working on. I especially liked how ‘Extra’ the Extra Weddings were.
This is a fun book to read. Thank you to the publisher for the ARC.

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Book Review: The Love Hyspthesis by Ali Hazelwood

A book about a biochemist and computational biologist with loads of biochem references – I’m pretty much the exact target audience for this book, so it’s no surprise that I loved it.
I adored Olive’s nerdiness and her passion for her work. I also liked the way Adam was baffled by her. Explicit demi-sexual rep too, which you don’t see that often in US set romance.

Olive doesn’t date, but she needs to persuade her friend that she’s dating someone, so she kisses the first guy she can find, who just happens to be Dr Adam Carlson. Fake dating is always a fun trope. I liked how they gradually became comfortable in each other’s presence. There was a good side note about sexism in academia, too.

Very much my kind of book.

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Babes In The Wood by Mark Stay

Funny, atmospheric and a tiny bit scary. Perfect Halloween reading.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, so when this one popped up on Netgalley, I requested it immediately.
It’s the 1940s, there’s a war on. It’s about a year since the events of The Crow Folk and most people seem to have forgotten about it. Faye is now a proper witch-in-training. When a plane crashes into the petrol garage, Faye rescues a group of German Jewish children on the Kindertransport. When she touches one of them, she sees his death. She decides she was going to try to stop it, whatever it takes.
There’s German magicians, spies, a murder and a scary painting that glows. This book is a great adventure that barrels along at a pace. It’s funny and realistic. There’s definitely something of Tiffany Aching about the very sensible Faye.
I read this book in a day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Book review: Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I requested an ARC of this book from Netgalley because I loved The Interpreter of Maladies.
This book follows a year in the life of a nameless narrator. She talks about the places she goes, the people she knows. No one has names, we only see what these people are to her.
The book is a series of vignettes, where we see the world through one woman. We get a sense of who she is – bookish, melancholy, lonely, not entirely likeable (but interesting enough to make you want to keep reading). There is a story of sorts, but mostly it’s about us getting to know and understand the narrator. The language is sparse and deployed with precision so that you get a great sense of place and personality with minimal description.
It’s a thought provoking book. I enjoyed it.

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Book review: Home on Folly Farm by Jane Lovering

I’m a fan of Jane Lovering’s books, so when I spotted this on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.
Dora is a sheep farmer working the family farm in the North York Moors. She works hard and is scraping by. Everything changes when her spoiled sister and her equally spoiled son come to stay, bringing the son’s tutor with them. If all that weren’t enough, the tutor reminds Dora of someone she knew from her teens, where things happened that she’d really rather not remember.

There’s a lot about sheep in this story – because they occupy Dora’s thoughts a lot. The romance is slow burn and understated. The story is more like a family drama where Dora redefines her relationships with various members of her family and in doing so, finally works out her place in the family.
Nat is a nice hero, kind and dependable. The change in the relationship between the two sisters and the way the teenaged nephew changes from self obsessed YouTuber with ‘almost a thousand followers’ to a young man (and carer for two lambs) is lovely.

There’s a great car chase through the Vale of Pickering, which made me laugh a lot.

I found this book heartwarming and funny. Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the review copy.

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