Phew! What a roller coaster ride. I haven’t read such an engaging, well written thriller in a while.
The Other Girl is authored by Erica Spindler best known for her ability to jump between genres, beginning with Mills & Boon style romances, fitting in some of her delicious crime thrillers featuring The Malones and Stacey Killian and even fitting in some cross genre crime/sci fi fiction with her Lightkeepers series.
This new novel features a brand new detective Miranda Rader and I really hope that we get to see some more of Miranda in the future. Miranda comes from a troubled background, after getting busted for possession of pot when she was 15 and spending some time in juvenile prison, Miranda turned her life around and became a police officer.
Miranda is brought in as lead detective to investigate the murder of a professor at the local university. Son of the prestigious President of the University, the pressure is on to find out who killed him in such a brutal way. As Miranda begins to put together the pieces which may link the dead man to a terrifying night from her past, suddenly she’s gone from Apple of the Chief’s eye to a suspect. The only people who seem to be on her side are her partner Jake and her best friend Summer who owns a bar (with a really cool name!) The Toasted Cat.
But who can Miranda trust, it’s clear somebody is setting her up but who? Then she remembers there was another girl there that night, another girl who knows what happens and who exactly covered it up… but who is The Other Girl?
This was a well written and fast paced novel. Erica has a wonderful way of writing and throws in particularly good red herrings, I’m not ashamed to admit that I fell for one of them hook, line and sinker. But there’s a sadness to this novel too as it shows how a woman must struggle in a man’s world, how someone who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks can be manipulated and disbelieved and the corruption within law enforcement, where money can buy you anything.
‘Call me Ishamael’ you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that you were about to start reading Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick. But this is a series which is set to be a completely different type of classic.
This is the second book I’ve read in the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R Green and the fourth in the series overall. Which answers the question do I need to read them in order? No. There is always a little background at the beginning that fills you in on who Ishmael is and what’s going on with him.
Ishmael Jones (which isn’t his real name) is an alien who crash landed on earth 50 years ago, his spaceship turned him into something resembling a human and he’s since joined the service of a covert government operation led by the strict Colonel.
The Ishmael books all feature a mystery which Ishmael and his endearing human girlfriend Penny have to solve. This time they’re carted off to the mysterious house of the Colonel’s wife’s family who hold one of the largest private collections of Egyptian artefacts in the world. Including a brand new mummy that they want to show off.
The Ishmael Jones series is an excellent example of genre blending, imagine Scoony Doo meets My Parents are Aliens for grownups. Ishmael and Penny have an amusing relationship and the books are just generally very easy reads, they’re not particularly long and the mysteries are hard to solve because it’s usually something supernatural at work and hiding in plain sight.
I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and hope there will be some more if only to determine Ishamael’s true origins. Will he ever know where he came from and why?
I really like Lianne Moriarty’s books, I’ve read The Husbands Secret & Truly, Madly, Guilty and liked their style of constant build up with the big reveal at the end. Big Little Lies follows the same pattern.
In the beginning the reader is immediately aware that there has been a murder at the school trivia night but we don’t know ‘whodunnit’. Instead we are taken back to a few months before the evening and introduced to the characters. The novel mostly focuses on three friends, Madeline who is obsessed with clothes and makeup and a typical girly girl who you can’t help but love, Celeste who’s stunningly beautiful and stunningly rich but nice with it, and Jane who’s much younger, only just moved to the area and lives up to her name as the ‘plain Jane’. I’ve been watching the TV show so of course I wanted to read the book even more and of course there’s differences, the show got rid of some characters like Madeleine’s daughter Fred.
Each family has their secrets and lies. Madeline is suffering through fights with her teenage daughter who seems to prefer her father and stepmother. Celeste is hiding the horrors of her real family life behind the rich, beautiful facade. As for Jane she’s got a whole heap of baggage not least that her son Ziggy is being accused of bullying.
I must admit that I didn’t find this novel as engaging as the others I’ve read by this author but I don’t know if that was partially because I’ve seen the beginning of the series and so sort of knew what half of it was about, but I found the characters likeable and the plot was great! Of course the end was a huge shock in line with Lianne’s usual way of writing. There’s not one but two major twists and the ending leaves shock waves rebounding through the reader.
My regular readers will know how much I love Kate Morton’s novels. There’s just something delicious about them. The type of novels that remind me why I love reading, books that you can sink into like your favourite armchair. The Secret Keeper was no different.
Like her other novels, The Secret Keeper is a time lapse between different periods with a mystery at its centre. This book features the Nicholson family. Laurel is 16 years old in the 1960s and lusting after a boy she’s met at a dance and thinking of her future career as an actress, away from the farm and family life. But then she witnesses a shocking crime which will resonate with her through the ages.
The time switches then to 2011. Laurel is an old lady herself and her mother much older is in hospital close to death. An old photo turns up depicting her mother with another young woman during world war 2. The mysterious Vivian has never been mentioned to Laurel and her siblings and in light of this she decides to investigate what her connection might be to the crime committed so long ago.
Finally, we switch back to the late 30s into the early 40s of Laurel’s mother’s teenage years as desperate to get away from the family who smother her, she moves to London to pursue her dream. Only to become involved in a plan which goes horribly wrong.
The story is gripping from start to finish. The reader is drawn in to Laurel’s story and her quest for the truth. Throughout, as the story evolved I began to hate Dorothy ‘Dolly’, Laurel’s mother who was the most annoying, narcissistic character I’ve read in a long time. It was hard to connect her with the kindly, loving, mother Laurel remembered from her childhood. But it all makes sense in the end so don’t worry if you get the same feelings. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that the ending was a complete shock to me. I really never saw it coming.
Easily a five star rating, not only is it a gripping and extraordinary novel but Kate’s writing style is always wonderfully delicious to consume. I’d highly recommend any of her novels.
It’s a weird thing, but what actually prompted me to read this book was the association of the word ‘Roanoke’ with the most recent series of American Horror Story. Which is laughable because it’s not remotely related in subject matter.
In fact The Roanoke Girls has a plot which defines the word ‘horror’ a lot more than American Horror Story ever did.
Lane Roanoke lives in New York with her mum who refuses to speak about growing up at the big Roanoke House in rural Kansas. But Lane dreams of the beautiful house and the people inside.
”Did you wake up screaming?’ A dribble of milk ran down my chin.‘Huh?’ She turned and glanced at me then, her skin pale, eyes redrimmed. The bones of her face looked sharp enough to cut. ‘Was it a nightmare?’ I shook my head, confused and a little scared. ‘No’. She looked back out the window. ‘Then it was nothing like that.”
But when her mum commits suicide Lane is dragged into life at Roanoke with her gran and grandad and her cousin Allegra who loves Roanoke life more than seems right.
The thing about this novel is that you know what’s going on almost immediately but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or less frightening and definitely not less thrilling.
Gripping from start to finish, Amy Engal has a beautiful way of writing, her descriptions are wonderfully woven together and her characters jump out of the page.
One of the best books I’ve read in ages it’s going to stay with me for a while.
I must express some confusion at how anybody at all can give this novel a less than 5* rating.
I read a lot, last year alone I read 225 books. I read across genres, self published authors as well as traditionally published. I read good books and bad books but it is not very often that I come across a book which I truly cannot put down.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is one of those books. I started it at 10pm yesterday and read into the early hours only putting it down when my eyes were too tired to stay open any longer. It’s been a while since that happened!
The Miniaturist is set in Amsterdam in the 1600s. Nella Oortman has arrived at her new home after being married a few weeks before to a wealthy merchant 21 years her senior.
Nella is expecting life as a wife in the big city to be a little different than the one she finds. A husband who travels and is never at home, a servant who spies at keyholes, another servant who is the first black man Nella has ever seen. As for her husband’s sister with her dark clothes and pious attitude, she seems intent on ensuring Nella never finds happiness in her new life.
The story takes an unexpected twist when Nella’s new husband Johannesburg gives her a dollshouse and she enlists an elusive Miniaturist to fill it. It soon becomes apparent that the Miniaturist is more than she seems and she’s not the only one. The house at the sign of the dolphin holds more secrets that Nella can ever anticipate.
This novel is beautifully written, engaging and interesting. It explores the little known world of the Dutch past in a city now seen as liberal. Historical fiction meets mystery and intrigue to bring together a fantastic piece of fiction which will leave the reader reeling for a long time after putting it down.
A new year for me means only one thing. A chance to open up my imagination in a whole new world of literary delights. So here’s some of the upcoming publications I’m most looking forward to in 2017.
1. The Winds of Winter by George RR Martin
Will it ever happen? Will we ever get to finally open the front page of this book with baited breathe and learn what happened following the harrowing events of A Dance with Dragons? It’s been rumoured that George RR Martin plans to resolve the cliffhangers from book 5 almost immediately in book 6 but who knows what other heartbreaks he has planned for his loyal readers?
2. A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde
Katie has long been one of my firm favourites and as The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett is one of my all time favourite books, the idea of a Katie novel featuring a secret garden sets the romantic part of me all of a flutter! Due for publication in February 2017 we don’t have long to wait!
3. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The new and eagerly anticipated novel by the author of The Girl on the Train. Described as an addictive novel of psychological suspense it sounds right up my street. It promises to be as full of secrets and mystery as it’s predecessor and is due for publication in May.
4. Perfect by Cecelia Ahern.
The sequel to this years explosive YA dystopian novel Flawed, described as ‘The Scarlet Letter meets Divergent’ following the build up and suspense of Flawed im expecting great things and plenty of action in Perfect.
5. The Silver Mask (Magisterium 4) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.
If you haven’t read them already you should definitely get your hands on these books. Written by the creators of The Spiderwick Chronicles and Shadowhunters, the Magisterium books are set in a time of darkness at a wizarding school which is absolutely nothing like Harry Potter and Hogwarts before you even think it. After the cliffhanger ending of book 3 I can’t wait to get my teeth into book 4.