Tag Archives: novel

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler. Review 

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. 

Death Shall Come by Simon R Green. Review. 

‘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? 

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Review 

The Beautiful Ones is the first novel I have read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia but I’m really glad I decided to give it a try. 

Hauntingly beautiful this novel tells the story of unrequited love from the perspective of the lover and the loved. 


Set in what is presumably based on historical France (although the time period isn’t clear). Antonina (Nina) is a naive girl from the countryside taking part in her first grand season in the city of Loisail. Nina is staying with her favourite cousin and his wife who seems to inexplicably dislike her. Nina is used to dislike though, her telekinetic powers are why she couldn’t find a suitable husband at home and her less than perfect manners and lack of ability to be ladylike in public just seem to make things worse. 


But Nina’s attention and affection are captured by the enigmatic if slightly distracted Hector Auvray a telekinetic performer, as they become closer she is certain that a marriage proposal is imminent but there are other things at play that Nina knows nothing about. She has become a bit player in a game that goes back more than a decade. 


I found this book to be very engaging. It was an interesting take on a historical novel with the addition of the characters telekinetic powers. It sssms to be more of a play on the usual historical novel, while some things remain true to the times, others show a decided change. Valérie’s spite and malice make her an excellent villain against the naive and yet lovable Nina. This novel highlights the saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. 


I really liked the characters of both Nina and Hector and I was rooting for them the whole way through, I won’t say if they had a happy ending though, as always I won’t give any spoilers! 

I’ll definitely look into reading more from this author in the future! 

Darien: Empire of Salt by CF Iggulden. Review 

CF Iggulden is better known for his historical writing under his real name Conn Iggulden. But this is a historical novel like no other. It blends history with fantasy, the real with the imagined and just a pinch of magic. 


The premise of the story is a city ruled by 12 powerful families with a weak king at their head. Many people out in the surrounding towns and villages, and even inside the city itself want a change. But only a few will act. 

Daw Threefold sees riches and destiny when he meets Nancy, more than just a fumble and a tumble, she has something about her which causes magic objects to fail. Daw has big plans for what they can do with this power but Nancy has plans of her own… revenge. 


Elias Post is an incredible hunter. Because he has a gift of his own. A gift he calls ‘reaching’ but it’s about to get him into trouble when General Justan of the immortal army gets wind of it and decides how he can use it. 


Then there’s Tellius who comes across a small boy who can mimick anything he sees perfectly. Tellius thinks to use him to his own advantage until they get into a scrape and the boy is revealed as not a boy at all but a Golem. 


Overall the novel was fairly fast paced. It changed direction quickly which was sometimes confusing as it switched to the different narratives of all the characters involved. I would have also liked to have seen more world building, other than the name of the city, the fact it has 12 families and that the people worship a goddess not much else was given on the world itself and where it is supposed to be set or even when. We also only meet characters from 3 of the 12 families and I’d have liked to have seen more about them. How did they get into power for example and why are they so important? Just their names would have been nice…

I think this book got off to a great start and I really enjoyed the first 50-65% of it. But as aforementioned it lacked too much in world building and also became very fighting strong. That’s not necessarily a criticism but I’m not that fussed on books with a lot of fighting for like 35% of the story. 

Overall, it was well written and plotted and I think fans of books about action and war with a little magic thrown in would really enjoy it. 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Review 

I decided to purchase and read this book because I’d seen everyone talking about the Netflix series and I wanted to read it first. 

Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of a teenage girl called Hannah Barker who kills herself. A week later Clay Jensen a teen boy who loved Hannah receives a package on his doorstep containing a bunch of cassette tapes which Hannah recorded before her death, to provide Thirteen Reasons Why Hannah was driven to do what she did. 


For obvious reasons it’s a very emotive novel. Suicide, teen or otherwise is a trigger subject and very upsetting. I suppose I half expected it to be very dramatic, which it wasn’t. 

But wait… that’s not a criticism, far from it. As someone who was bullied all the way through high school I understand what this book is trying to say, and what I hope is that other people do too. I hope this book and for those who don’t read, this series, achieve what it has set out to do. That is, the way that things which some people perceive to be ‘small’ or insignificant things, can really affect other people’s lives. 


It highlights how bullying is more than just attacking people physically or verbally. How it can be small things like spreading a ‘little’ rumour, or stealing something which would have made that persons day. 


But what this book is also about, is the people left behind. There is a lot of focus on blame but also on the things that the person themselves could have done differently, the way that Hannah towards the end almost sets herself up to make her life as terrible as possible in order to finalise her decision. It explores the complexity of the depressed mind and how reason can go out of the window when life becomes so terrible and you feel so alone. How one chain of events can cause you to make a decision about ending your life. 


What I hope this book, and this series does is reminds people to be nice to other people because you don’t know how much that person needs just one smiling face in their day. 

Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose. Review 

I was really excited to receive an ARC of this novel as I love the Romantic Suspense series. 

Monster in the Closet is the 19th book in the Romantic Suspense series and the 5th in the Baltimore series. The Romantic Suspense series follows a makeshift family made up of a group of friends. There may be some spoilers here for the other books in the series but not this one, only because I can’t talk about any of the other characters without spoilers for previous books! 

We see old favourites in this novel such as Detective JD Fitzpatrick and his partner Lucy a medical examiner, who we were first introduced to in You Belong to Me. 

Paige Holden & Grayson Smith the private investigators from No One Left to Tell although they don’t feature heavily in this one. 

State attorney Daphne Montgomery & Special Agent Joseph Carter from Did you Miss Me? As well as Daphne’s son Ford. 

Clay Maynard & Detective Stevie Mazetti from Watch Your Back. 

Faith Corcoran & Special agent Deacon Novak from Cincinnati 1 Closer Than You Think. 

I love the way that Karen Rose expertly blends all of the characters into a relationship with each other. If you haven’t read the Romantic Suspense series before, each book focuses on one couple, how they get together and their romance, but alongside that runs a thriller element with a murder and the couple’s attempts to solve the murder and catch the killer. 


Monster in the Closet sees 2 children Jazzie & Janie in therapy at Daphne’s equine therapy centre. Their mother has been violently murdered and Jazzie hasn’t spoken since. But she’s finally opening up to the new intern therapist Taylor Dawson, but she’s got secrets of her own that she’s hiding and this is where the romance and suspense comes in. 


The difference with this one is that we know who the killer is right from the beginning and this creates an immediate frustration as we watch the characters attempt to discover who the killer is and gather evidence. 


Overall this was a great novel, picking up with the younger generation of the friend/family group. Once again it was fast paced and unputdownable and most importantly thoroughly enjoyable! 

The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen. Review. 

The Unseen is on the Man Booker Prize shortlist and attracted my attention because I like to read books about other countries & cultures. 

Set on a fictional island called Barrøy just off the coast of the mainland of Norway, it focuses on the family who lives there, also called Barrøy. There is Martin the grandfather still grieving the loss of his wife and struggling to come to terms with the shift of power as he becomes weaker and his son stronger. Hans, son of Martin is a sailor-cum-farmer who wants to make the island and their life better. Maria, his wife is distant and silent, with dreams of her own. Ingrid the daughter is confused, growing up unsure if her life should be as a girl helping her mother in the kitchen and knitting, or out helping her father & grandfather with the nets and fishing. Finally, there’s Barbro, sister of Hans who can’t move from the island over due to some kind of disability which prevents her from reading or learning as fast as the others. 


The novel is beautifully written and interesting. While nothing exactly dramatic happened in the book, well, depending on how you look at it. There is a calm serenity to the everyday life of the islanders. From the way they never exactly fit in with the mainlanders, to the way they struggle on lending, struggling through brutal winters and terribly dry summers. Sometimes the biggest drama is things like Hans not wanting a lighthouse to be built on the island. 


The intricacies of daily life are what make this novel truly fascinating. It’s no surprise it has been shortlisted for the prize.