Book review: One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

One Dark Lie

One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a spate of reading fantasy novels I was in the mood for something darker. This is a murder mystery with a hint of gang violence thrown in to up the level of menace.

Ruby writes books about real people. When she is offered the chance to write the life story of murdered academic Diana Patrick-John and she can’t help but drawn into the mystery of who killed Diana.
Nate is trying to trap his sister’s killer. He’s playing a dangerous game whilst trying desperately to keep the people he loves – including Rudy – safe.

This is a tense and atmospheric book. It’s worth mentioning the Other Place city of Cambridge, which is almost a character in itself. Beautiful. I also loved the way Ruby found academic rivalry and a low level of sniping in the academic community.

I hadn’t read the previous book in the series, but that didn’t really stand in the way of my enjoying this one. It’s a good old fashioned murder mystery – not too dark, but tense and gripping.

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This review is part of a blog tour that Clare is doing to promote One Dark Lie.

One Dark Lie - high resYou can buy One Dark Lie now. You can find out more about Clare on her website or catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Goodreads Book Review: Light On Snow by Anita Shreve

Light on SnowLight on Snow by Anita Shreve

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, atmospheric book. Told from the point of view of a grown woman looking back at her 12 year old self, it’s a story about a father and daughter who find a baby in the snow. Ostensibly the story is about what happens to the baby and her mother, but it’s really about the bond of grief and love that links Nikcy to her father.
It’s a quiet study of emotion. Highly recommended.

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Goodreads Book Review: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5)The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a novella. I’m reading my way through this series and this one is probably my favourite so far. Serena is sitting outside the Duke of Clermont’s residence, not speaking, but not leaving either. Hugo is the Duke’s man and it’s his job to get rid of her. Hugo can be ruthless if he needs to be.

I loved the characters in this book and the respect that grows between them. I’m a sucker for good dialogue and character driven humour and this book has definitely got those. It’s nice to see a romance between two intelligent, well rounded character who both grow by the end of the book.

I read this book in an afternoon and went straight on to read the next in the series. Brilliant.

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Goodreads Book Review: A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

A Man With One of Those FacesA Man With One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose this book based on the title and the cover, both of which are great. The blurb is about how Paul has one of those nondescript faces which means that people tend to mistake him for someone else quite a lot. It starts off with him offering a service where he visits elderly patients in hospitals and hospices and pretends to be a nephew or a grandson – the patient is happy because they’ve had someone visit and Paul gets to do the charity work that is the prerequisite for him getting his allowance.

This is a crime novel with a twist of comedy running through it. I thought that was quite a refreshing thing to see. The humour is quite dark. The crime side is good too. There’s a decent mystery and a good twist at the end.

Paul’s nondescript-ness doesn’t really play much part in the story after chapter one. Paul is meant to be really intelligent, but you only know that because people tell you so. He doesn’t seem any cleverer than your average chap. Nurse Brigit is much more on the ball. I liked her a lot.
I liked Bunny too. He was interesting and realistic. I probably wouldn’t want to meet him in real life.

There were a lot of secondary character gangsters and crooked cops, whom I tended to lose track of after a while (I read fast and am easily confused, so this might just be me).

All in all, a good fun read, especially if you like combination of crime and dark humour.

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Goodreads Book Review: Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Sofia Khan Is Not ObligedSofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book after reading Jenny Colgan’s piece in The Guardian. (FWIW, I don’t agree with all of it, but I didn’t feel it was racist at all). Anyway, back to this book. I’m always going on about how there aren’t enough genre fiction books with minority characters doing normal things, so a book about a Muslim girl looking for romance sounded exactly my kind of catnip.

I really enjoyed this story. It took me a few chapters to warm to Sofia’s voice, but once I got into it, it galloped along at a good pace, like any good rom com should. There was at least one scene where I giggled out loud.
It was really nice to see a regular chick lit book featuring a Muslim girl. I liked that her day to day life was unique to her – and not super-cliched. I loved the bit where she tells her Dad that if he’d given her pocket money, she wouldn’t have had to learn to hustle. I also approve of the prominent role given to biscuits. Biscuits are important.

If you like chick lit – give it go. It’s fun. If you’re looking for a book that highlights how different a Muslim woman’s dating experience is compared to a non-Muslim’s… not so much.

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Goodreads Book Review: The Santa Next Door by Stephanie Cage

The Santa Next DoorThe Santa Next Door by Stephanie Cage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the run up to Christmas, I tend to read a lot of Christmas novellas. The Santa Next Door has been sitting on my TBR pile for a while and I finally got to it.

Sue is bringing up her daughter Trudi on her own. Bryn is the reclusive conductor who lives next door. A chance meeting with Sue and Trudi helps Bryn find the inspiration he’s been searching for to complete his latest composition.

All three main characters are well rounded and believable. It’s a lovely, warming Christmas tale. All the warm and fuzzy feelz you could want at this time of year!

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Goodreads book review: The Fairy’s Tale by F. D.Lee

The Fairy's Tale (The Pathways Tree, #1)The Fairy’s Tale by F. D. Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This partly a story about free will in an Orwellian state… and partly a story about stories.

Bea is a cabbage fairy who wants to be a fairy godmother. Fairies aren’t usually made godmothers… least of all cabbage fairies. In the meantime things are going wrong in the state – the mirrors are breaking and the human belief in Fae is fading.

This is a well thought out, well realised world. It’s also funny. Bea is a bit of a bumbling Everywoman (Everyfairy?) at the beginning, but gets stronger and stronger as a character as the book progresses.

My favourite character is probably Ana – the ugly sister who isn’t mean or stupid. She definitely gets the best lines. The relationship between her and her step sister Sindy is lovely too. King John was a bit annoying at first, but grew on me as we got to see more of him.

The ending was dramatic and Happy For Now (you can’t really have a Happy Ever After for Bea, seeing as the book is about narrative convention and predetermined plots!). There were a lot of loose threads at the end of the book – what happened to Seven? And who/what is Mistasinon? What’s the story with Melly? And Bea’s family? All fodder for sequels, I guess.

All in all, good fun. If you like Terry Pratchett, or the Artemis Fowl books, you’ll like this.

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Goodreads Book Review: The Boys of Christmas by Jane Lovering

The Boys of Christmas (Choc Lit)The Boys of Christmas by Jane Lovering

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wonderfully Christmassy tale! Mattie is running away from a nasty controlling relationship. Her aunt has left her a house, on the condition that she scatters her ashes (the aunt’s, I mean) over ‘the boys of Christmas’. Mattie and her best friend Toby end up in the spooky old house, in the middle of a snow storm, just before Christmas trying to figure out just who these ‘boys of Christmas’ are.

There’s snow, freezing archaeologists, some excellent sentences that Toby will never say again and a knitted octopus called Cthulu. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times (much to the annoyance of my daughter, who thought I was concentrating on Thomas the Tank Engine).

I really enjoyed this story. It was short enough that I could read it in one day and it was funny enough to make me laugh. What more could you want from a Christmas story?

As always, the disclaimer. Jane is a friend and we write for the same publisher, but I was a fan of her books before I even met her.

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Goodreads Book Review: I Found You by Lisa Jewell

I Found YouI Found You by Lisa Jewell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I picked this book up on Netgalley because I’ve read other books by Lisa Jewell and loved them (especially Vince and Joy. I adored that book). Alice is a generous, slightly flaky, woman who finds a man who has lost his memory sitting in the rain and gives him a place to stay. I liked that Alice’s family were sceptical and slightly scared. It wouldn’t have been realistic otherwise.
‘Frank’ can’t remember anything. He seems like a nice person, but he’s not sure that is. He may have done something terrible.
Lily in new to England and her new husband has disappeared.
There is a parallel story from 20 years before (dear god, were the 90’s twenty years ago?! Ugh. Now I feel old). There’s a deep sense of foreboding in that thread, right from the start.
For a large part of the book you’re sure which of the two men ended up being ‘Frank’. You want him to be good guy… but…

I really enjoyed this book. It was another one of those books that I had me trying to stir dinner with one hand, with the Kindle held in the other. Loved it.

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Film review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I’m not a huge fan of the Potter films. I adore the books and am a fan of the world, but the films felt… rushed. They had so much information to cram in that, if you hadn’t read the books (or, hadn’t read them in a few years), you had to scramble to keep up.

The great thing about Fantastic Beasts was that you went to it without a world already in your head. There was no book to compare it to. So you had to take the film as a self contained story in itself. It worked beautifully as a story.

The setting is 1920’s New York, where there is a risk of the Muggle world finding out about the Wizarding world and wizards being hunted down. This is highlighted a nod to the Salem witch trials via the New Salem Philanthropic Society, headed up by the creepy Mrs Barebone and family.  A dark force is ripping through New York and a definitely not very nice auror called Mr Graves is walking around being all brooding and mysterious. Oh, and Gellert Grindelwald is on the loose somewhere.

Newt Scamander is an English boffin in New York. He has a suitcase full of creatures, some of whom escape. He meets a disgraced auror (Tina) who tries to turn him in. He also befriends a wannabe baker called Jacob.  The story is partly about the friendship between the two men.

Newt is socially awkward (and very English at times). He is brilliant with creatures, gently gaining their trust. In many ways, he is at home with the creatures in a way that he can’t be with humans. Tina is also a little awkward. She’s been disgraced as an auror, but really cares and wants her old job back. She had a sister (Queenie) who is a legilimens – she’s very beautiful, but has no ambitions apart from being happy.

I loved that Newt made a friend during the course of the film. I also loved that he wasn’t miraculously cured of his social awkwardness – he was improving though.

The film was visually spectacular, the dialogue was witty, there were plenty little jokes and lots of action and the story hung together well. There was interesting insights into the wizarding world in the US. I especially liked the gigglewater. I wish we had gigglewater.

If you’re a parent and concerned about the content: The film is a certificate 12A. There are a few monsters. Quite of lot of creatures wreaking havoc type violence (presumably, a lot of people get killed) but no gore. One jump scare. There are references to corporal punishment. I took my 9 year old Potterhead to see this. She loved it. If they’ve seen the Harry Potter films, they will have seen more disturbing things than anything in this film.