Review: The Hand That Feeds You by AJ Rich

 

Title: The Hand That Feeds You

Author: AJ Rich

Published: Simon & Schuster July 2015

Status: Read from July 23rd-24th, 2015 – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Review to come

Morgan’s life seems to be settled – she is completing her thesis on victim psychology and newly engaged to Bennett, a man more possessive than those she has dated in the past, but also more chivalrous and passionate.
But she returns from class one day to find Bennett savagely killed, and her dogs – a Great Pyrenees, and two pit bulls she was fostering – circling the body, covered in blood. Everything she holds dear in life is taken away from her in an instant.
Devastated and traumatised, Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s death. Only then does she begin to discover layer after layer of deceit. Bennett is not the man she thought he was. And she is not the only woman now in immense danger …”

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Review: The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham

 

Title: The Night Ferry

Author: Michael Robotham

Published: Mulholland Books July 2015

Status: Read from July 18-19 – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Review to come

“Struggling detective Alisha Barba is trying to get her life back on track after almost being crippled by a murder suspect. Now on her feet again she receives a desperate plea from an old school friend, who is eight months pregnant and in trouble. On the night they arrange to meet, her friend is run down and killed by a car and Alisha discovers the first in a series of haunting and tragic deceptions.
Determined to uncover the truth, she embarks upon a dangerous journey that will take her from the East End of London’s to Amsterdam’s murky red light district and into a violent underworld of sex trafficking, slavery and exploitation.”

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Review: Precocious by Joanna Barnard

 

Title: Precocious

Author: Joanna Barnard

Published: Ebury Press July 2015

Status: Read from July 16 to 17, 2015  – I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Review to come

There are some lessons you shouldn’t learn in school…
Fiona Palmer is (un)happily married when a chance meeting with her former teacher plunges her headlong into an affair.
Intercut with the realities of their adult relationship, Fiona remembers first meeting the enigmatic Henry Morgan as a precocious and lonely fourteen-year-old. Her schoolgirl crush developed into an intense relationship, but it was always one which she controlled.
Or did she?

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Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan

 

Title: The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe

Author: Ann Morgan

Published: Liveright Publishing May 2015

Status: Read from May 19 to 20, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

In 2012 Ann Morgan, a freelance writer, editor and blogger, set herself the goal of reading one book from every country in the world, sharing her reviews through her blog, AYearofReadingtheWorld.com.

The World Between Two Covers is in small part the story of her reading adventures, but is more fully an academic examination of the challenges she faced in sourcing world literature.

Her first task was to determine exactly what defines a country, apparently there is some dispute, though she eventually settled on a list of 196. Morgan was then faced a number of challenges in selecting representative texts from each country including availability (only around 4% of books published in English are translated from other languages), censorship, technology and cultural identity. The World Between Two Covers examines these issues both within a global context, and within the framework of Morgan’s personal challenge.

“The truth is, we as individuals will never be wise enough or cultured enough or fast enough or long-lived enough to read the world as deeply and thoroughly as it deserves – and we never have been. We can only fail. So we have a choice: we can stick with what we know, or we can embrace the impossibility of reading world literature properly and jump right in – ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.”

I found The World Between Two Covers to be an interesting read, highlighting the issues at play in reading world literature, especially because I’m in my second year of participating in a similar, though far less ambitious challenge {Around the World in 12 Books}, requiring I read 12 books over the course of the year, each set in a different country, across six continents. This book has inspired me to dig a little deeper than I have previously in selecting books for the challenge.

 

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Review: A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas

 

Title: A Court of Thorn and Roses {A Court of Thor and Roses #1}

Author: Sarah J Maas

Published: Bloomsbury May 2015

Status: Read from May 14 to 16, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

As a huge fan of Sarah J Maas’s ‘Throne of Glass’ series, I’ve been excited about the release of A Court of Thorn and Roses, the first book in a new trilogy, blending fae lore with a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fable.

In the depths of winter, Fayre is fighting to keep her poverty stricken family alive when she kills a wolf, unaware he is a creature of the fae. Having unwittingly broken the centuries old treaty made between the humans and their kind, she willingly submits to the penalty to protect her family and is dragged to Prythia by the beast that demands it, expecting to be killed, enslaved or worse by the race that once slaughtered humans for sport.
Instead the beast, who is not exactly a monster at all but rather a High Fae with shape shifting abilities, offers her a life of ease in his court but can Fayre really trust the word of a Faerie, especially when something dark and wicked lurks close by?

I really liked the character of Fayre, she is a strong willed, fierce and passionate, though not without her vulnerabilities. She struggles to adjust to her new life in Prythia and is understandably slow to trust Tamlin but once she gives in to her fate she embraces it wholeheartedly.

It isn’t until Fayre is captive in Prythia that Tamlin reveals his true self, not just High Fae, he is the devastatingly handsome and powerful High Lord of the Spring Court. Tamlin though is also cursed, condemned to wear a masquerade mask with weakening powers, by what he explains to Fayre is a blight that has been poisoning the magic in the realm.

The nature and source of the ‘blight’ provides the major arc of conflict for the novel. I won’t give it away but I will say it surprised me. I enjoyed the action and drama of the story, particularly in the climatic final chapters, but I did feel that the story lagged somewhat in the middle. Fayre’s time in the Spring Court is largely uneventful, with most of the action happening ‘off the page’, while Fayre sort of wanders around with her easel.

And as to be expected, romance develops between Fayre and Tamlin. There are some intimate scenes between the couple, but nothing too explicit. There is also the potential for a love triangle of sorts with the introduction of the enigmatic High Lord of the Night Court, Rhysand.

While I wasn’t wholly enamored by A Court of Thorn and Roses I did enjoy the characters and the world Maas has built and I will be picking up the next book, as yet untitled, as soon as it is available.

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Also by Sarah J Maas reviewed on Book’d Out


Blog Tour Review: The Lie by C.L. Taylor

 

Title: The Lie

Author: C.L. Taylor

Published: Avon: HarperCollins May 2015

Listen to an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 10 to 11, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A tense thriller from author C.L. Taylor, The Lie is a story of friendship, deception, secrets and betrayal.

“A couple of weeks ago I found a picture of the four of us, taken by a stranger outside Kathmandu airport…We all look so fresh faced and hopeful in the photo, and we were. It was supposed to be a holiday of a lifetime.”

Best friends since university, Emma, Al, Daisy and Leeanne, are heading to Nepal for the holiday of a lifetime, where, in between exploring Kathmandu and treking in Chitwan, they are planning on spending a week relaxing at an isolated spiritual retreat. ‘Ekantra yatra’ initially seems to be everything the brochure promised but within days the friendship between the four girls sours, corrupted by the charismatic leader, Issac.
Five years later Jane Hughes receives an anonymous note, ‘I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes’. Whoever sent it knows the truth, ‘Jane’ is really Emma, but do they know she has been lying about more than her identity?

Jane/Emma has been keeping the whole secret of what really happened in Nepal for five long years. When the anonymous note is followed by sinister texts, purportedly from Daisy, Jane reaches out to Al, the only other member of their foursome who returned from ‘Ekantra yatra’.

“I was lying to myself when I said that your past doesn’t shape your future. Or maybe it was wishful thinking. Your memories are the one thing you can’t run from, the one thing you can’t change.”

As the narrative shifts between the past, revealing what actually happened five years previously at ‘Ekantra yatra’, and the present, Taylor skilfully builds suspense in both timelines. As Jane/Emma’s carefully constructed life in Wales is falling apart in the face of escalating threats from her stalker, the friendship between the four best friends begins to disintegrate in Nepal. Within days of their arrival at ‘Ekantra yatra’ it’s clear the retreat is not what it seems. Manipulated by Issac who preys on their insecurities and petty resentments, the girls turn on each other with frightening ease and as their friendship implodes, the danger escalates.

“How had our holiday gone so wrong? We’d arrived at Ekanta yatra as friends, friends with issues rumbling beneath the smiles and excitement, but ours was a friendship that had outlasted uni and survived relocation, jobs and relationships. Or so I thought. And yet the bonds I believed were strong were only ever superficial and, like a game of Jenga, all it took was one false move and everything collapsed.”

With a strong premise, supported by interesting characterisation, The Lie is a well paced, dramatic and atmospheric tale of psychological suspense.

 

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The Accident

Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberley McCreight

 

 

Title: Where They Found Her

Author: Kimberley McCreight

Published: Simon and Schuster April 2015

Status: Read from April 23 to 25, 2015   – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

An idyllic suburban town. A devastating discovery. Shocking revelations that will change three lives forever.
At the end of a long winter in well-to-do Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of a newborn is found in the woods fringing the campus of the town’s prestigious university. No one knows the identity of the baby, what ended her very short life, or how she wound up among the fallen leaves. But among the residents of Ridgedale, there is no shortage of opinions.
When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the disturbing news for the Ridgedale Reader—the town’s local paper—she has good reason to hesitate. A severe depression followed the loss of her own baby, and this assignment could unearth memories she has tried so hard to bury. But the history Molly uncovers is not her own. Her investigation unravels a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind Ridgedale’s white picket fences.
Told from the perspectives of three Ridgedale women, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth behind the tragedy, revealing that these women have far more in common than they could have ever known. That the very worst crimes are committed against those we love. And that—sooner or later—the past catches up to all of us.

 

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Review: Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

 

Title: Hush Hush { Tess Monaghan #12}

Author: Laura Lippman

Published: Faber: Allen & Unwin April 2015

Status: Read from April 26 to 28, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Though Hush Hush is the 12th mystery to feature journalist turned private investigator Tess Monaghan it can easily be read as a stand alone given its encapsulated story line.

In Hush Hush, Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, are hired to assess the security needs of Melisandre Harris Dawes, a woman who ten years previously had been charged with the wilful murder of her infant daughter. Having returned to Baltimore with an ambitious documentary maker in tow, Melisandre claims she wants to tell her side of the story and reunite with her estranged teenage daughters, Alanna and Ruby, but a series of sinister notes threaten both the project and the reunion.

The past and the present are on a collision course in this tale of madness, betrayal and murder.

Melisandre is manipulative and demanding and Tess suspects she is not being completely honest with her uncle, Melisandre’s lawyer, Tyner Grey. Despite being found not guilty in the death of her child, due to postpartum psychosis, questions remain about Melisandre’s past and the true motivation behind her current actions.
Melisandre’s surviving daughters, now teenagers, are conflicted about their mother’s attempts to reach out to them, especially as their father is reluctant to allow contact, for both the obvious reasons and to keep his own secrets.

Lippman extends the story beyond the crime exploring the effects of Melisandre’s actions on both her family and the wider community. She also examines the experience of motherhood and the ways in which women can struggle with it.

Events in Tess’s personal life adds another layer of interest to the story. Tess is still adjusting to juggling motherhood with her career, and nurturing her relationship with Crow. She, like Melisandre, is also being taunted by a series of anonymous notes that grow increasingly threatening.

Hush Hush is a solid story of suspense with interesting characters, and though there is very little action, the pace is brisk with events taking place over a period of about two weeks. It is an easy and enjoyable read.

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Review: Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indriðason

Title: Reykjavik Nights {Inspector Erlendur Prequel}

Author: Arnaldur Indriðason

Published: Minotaur Books April 2015

Status: Read from April 19 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Essentially a prequel to the eleven book series from bestselling author Arnaldur Indriðason, Reykjavik Nights features detective, Inspector Erlendur as a rookie officer on the streets of the Iceland’s capital.

It is the mid 1970’s and Erlendur is a new beat officer, patrolling the darkened streets of Reykjavik. He responds to traffic accidents, drunken brawls, thefts and domestic violence incidents but it is the fate of the missing that intrigues him, reminding him of lost brother.

“This fixation of his with disappearances – with the phenomenon itself, the fates of those who were never heard of again and the sufferings of those left behind to mourn. He knew his obsession had its roots in the tragedy he himself had endured on the moors out east, and that it had been intensified by all the books he had read on disappearances or terrible ordeals in this harsh land.”

The novel begins with three young boys discovering the body of an alcoholic vagrant known as Hannibal, who death is quickly dismissed as drowning via misadventure. A year later the case continues to haunt Erlendur in part because he had struck up an acquaintance with the tramp but his interest is rekindled when he discovers a tenuous link between Hannibal’s murder and the disappearance of a local woman around the same time. The plot meanders a little as Erlendur, on his own time and with few resources, follows his hunch, but I enjoyed moving through the streets with him as he worked to develop connections and answer the questions he is unable to let go of while also going about his usual police duties.

” As he thought about Hannibal he reflected that people could just as easily lose themselves on Reykjavik’s busy street as on remote mountain paths in winter storms.”

Indriðason paints a vivid portrait of Reykjavik and its culture during the 1970’s, a city yet to experience the economic boom that revitalised the capital, and began to attract tourists. Erlendur spends a lot of time walking around the Reykjavik streets, and those familiar with the capital should be able to trace his path.

“His thoughts shifted to the Reykjavik nights, so strangely sunny and bright, yet in another sense so dark and desperate. Night after night he and his fellow officers patrolled the city in the lumbering police van, witnessing human dramas that were hidden from others. Some the night provoked and seduced; others it wounded and terrified.”

For readers unfamiliar with the Inspector Erlendur series, Reykjavik Nights is a great place to start, while fans should enjoy learning more about the hero they have grown to know and love. I enjoyed the novel and I’m interested in reading more.

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Seasoned Traveller 2015

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Review: Gallipoli Street by Mary-Anne O’Connor

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia, a time to remember and honour those who have served in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations in defense of Australia and New Zealand. The date, April 25th, specifically  references the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915, a doomed campaign that nevertheless birthed the legend of the ANZAC spirit.

My daughter has been accorded the honour of leading today’s ANZAC march in my country town, on the 100th anniversary of the landings, bearing the Australian flag. My oldest son will wear his grandfather’s service medals as he and his brother march with their cub troop. We will remember them. Lest we forget.

******************

Title: Gallipoli Street

Author: Mary-Anne O’Connor

Published: MIRA: Harlequin AU March 2015

Status: Read from April 23 to 24, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A sweeping saga of romance, friendship, family and war, Gallipoli Street is Mary-Anne O’Connor’s debut novel.

Its 1913 and the declaration of war is about to shatter the rural idyll of Beecroft, home to the close knit O’Shay, Murphy and Dwyer families, who will discover their fates are intertwined by tragedy and love.

The romance of Gallipoli Street begins with the passionate love story between childhood friends, Veronica O’Shay and Jack Murphy. It is an epic tale that sees the couple overcome a scheming femme fatale, the perils of their service in the Great War, and Jack’s struggle to reconcile his experiences on his return home.
Twenty years later their son finds love in a New Guinea field hospital ward with orphaned nurse Theresa, but their relationship is shattered when shocking secrets from her past are exposed.

The story takes us from the trenches of Gallipoli, to the deserts of Egypt, from the muddy battlefield of The Somme, to the dense jungle of the Kokoda Trail. No matter the period or arena, war proves to be a universally horrifying and heartbreaking experience which the author relates with truth and compassion.

An appealing and poignant tale, O’Connor has drawn inspiration for both the story of Gallipoli Street and its characters from the lives of her maternal grandparents lending it authenticity and heart.

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