Book Review: Vera Wong’s unsolicited advice for murderers by Jesse Sutanto

I loved this book. Vera is such a great character – elderly, lonely, fearsome, interfering – an all round force of nature.
Mostly though, she’s lonely. Life is dull and colourless. No one comes to her tea house and nothing much happens. Until she comes downstairs and finds a dead man in her shop.
Vera decides that the man has been murdered (even though the police don’t think so) and decides to solve the mystery herself. We then get to see a group of very different individuals, all of whom could have killed the victim.
I loved how we got to know the gang and how they became a sort of family to Vera. It was really sad to think that they were potential murderers.
A brilliantly evocative and funny book. I recommend it wholeheartedly if you’re after a comic murder mystery.
I received a review copy from Netgalley. This is my honest review.

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Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan

This book was quite intense reading. Shashi has four brothers, we meet them as a family when they all have dreams – of going to University in Jaffna or in Colombo, of becoming doctors, engineers etc. But then the civil war starts and slowly their ordered life disintegrates. Sashi loses most of her brothers, one way or another, and loses the boy she fell in love with as well.
This story is fictional, but the big events in the background (and some fictionalised events in the foreground) are true. I remember hearing about them on the news. (I grew up in Colombo in the 80s)
This is an important book, too. It’s told from the perspective of a character who was an ordinary person living in Jaffna, even though she eventually became affiliated with the Tigers it was because of her commitment to healing people, rather than any political ideology. Life is complicated, so are people’s motivations. Stories are often the best ways to show this sort of nuance.
The story is gripping. I highly recommend reading it if you want to understand the horror of living in the middle of a long running war.

I received a free ARC from Netgalley. This is my honest review.

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Terry PRatchett- A life with Footnotes

I was given this as a Christmas present. I wasn’t sure what I would make of it, because I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett’s books and when he died, I felt palpable grief for this guy I’d never met, but had heard in my head for decades. When I read A Slip of The Keyboard, I cried.
This is a biography, written by Rob Wilkins who DID know and work closely with Terry Pratchett. If you thought Pratchett was a twinkly cuddly person, you’re in for a surprise (but if you’ve seen any of the programs about him/ by him, you’d know he’s a grumpy old so and so for the most part, but a kind and lovely man nonetheless). Because it’s Rob’s memories, it’s in Rob’s voice, which made it much easier to read. The last few chapters, when The Embuggerance takes hold, were difficult, not least because Rob’s own pain was so raw on the page.
I don’t really know what else to say in this review. If you want to see Terry Pratchett as his PA and friend saw him, then it’s well worth a read. You might feel that you’ve had a glimpse into the day to day working practice of someone who was a writer through and through. I’m glad I read it.
Now, I suppose I should read The Shepherd’s Crown (I own it, and have listened to Tony Robinson reading it. I just haven’t read it for myself yet).

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Book review: Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

This book made me so hungry!
Reena loves to bake. She doesn’t particularly love being out of work though, or the fact that her parents are trying to set her up with a husband. Again. Only this time, he lives across the landing from her and the first time she met him (before she knew her parents were intending for her to marry him), she liked him.
Nadim likes a lot of things. Reena, for one. Also, bread. He really likes food.
When Reena’s career hits a snag, she spots a cooking competition that would let her fulfill her dream of becoming a baker. But you need to be a couple to do it. After a night with too much beer, she and Nadim film an entry and send it in. When they get through to the next round, they agree to pretend to be engaged for the duration of competition.

There’s so much food in this book. I kept having to get up to have a snack.
I liked that they discussed the Afro-Indian diaspora and Afro-Indian food in particular. I also liked that, during the course of the book, Reena healed her relationships with her family too.

Overall, this was a tremendously fun book to read. Just expect to need to eat while reading.

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Book review: Killers of a certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

This book was a hoot! I kept reading well past my bedtime to find out what happened.

Four elite assassins – all part of the all-female team Project Sphinx – are on a cruise to celebrate their retirement, when they realise they are now the target of the same company they used to work for. They can run and hide, for a while, but there’s only one way to really get the target off their backs. Kill or be killed.

I love how the four women are so different to each other. They are all super competent at what they do, despite their bodies being slower than they were when they were young. The men consistently underestimate them – which they often use to their advantage.

I really enjoyed this book. I got a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you!)

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Book Review: The Practice Kiss by Sara Martin (My K-Drama Life Book 1)

I picked this up after reading an article about books influenced by K-Drama. I love K-dramas, but when I watch one, it takes up all my concentration. I’m a bit busy right now, so I figured I’d get a quick K-drama hit by reading this book.
Chloe goes to Korea for a job – which turns out to be a scam. Penniless and drunk, in the rain, she gets spotted by a talent scout and offered a job. She’s cast in a K-drama alongside a handsome actor … who knew her when she was a teenager.
I wanted a quick K-drama hit and that was exactly what I got. I enjoyed reading this book and zipped through it. The only downside was that it didn’t fully end. I think you need to read all three books to get the full story with the happy ending.

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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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