Book Reviews

Book Review – The Vintage Coat By Chris Turnbull

This book has been sitting on my desk waiting to be reviewed for a while but here it finally is…

 

So first up the Goodreads blurb…

Joseph Michaels is 25 and an accidental time traveller.

After losing his job Joe finds himself working at the local second-hand shop. One day whilst unpacking new stock Joe comes across an old military coat that he just can’t resist trying on.

Excited by the powers of the coat, Joe quickly takes it home where he discovers it allows him to travel between present day Alston, Cumbria and the same area during WWII

Joe soon finds himself in the midst of living a double life.

However, one night an unexpected air raid hits town and everybody is thrown into disarray; and Joe is faced with standing up for the ones he loves, even if it could cost him everything.

When I read the blurb for this book I was reminded of the TV programme where Nicholas Lyndhurst finds a way to walk through an alley way to start a second life in war torn London, but this is so much more. While the Tv series does touch on the realities of life it was a sitcom but this book takes you into the real lives of people trying to survive the best they can.

You are automatically invested in these characters and their stories, The plot is a delicately crafted web that draws you in until you cannot put the book down, but be warned there should be a warning on the cover that tissues will be required while reading this book, The dynamics of the time travel are well dealt with, the coat is of course the method of travel but that Joseph quickly gets to grip with how the passing of time in each dimension relates to the other is pleasing and because it is kept simple it does not require the reader to struggle with complex timelines that can take you out of the story.

I could not put this book down when I started it, and even now looking at it, I am tempted to go for a reread, which I must resist as I have so any others to read. So to the mark it’s an easy 5 out of five

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Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – Frozen In Time Alimanti Series, Book 1 By Lavinia Urban

At the age of 14, Kasey-Ray Thompson lost her mother to cervical cancer. Her father, the one person she needed to be there for her, was spiralling into the depths of depression. Just when she thought her life couldn’t get any worse, he died a year later.
Kasey-Ray’s whole world has come crashing down around her leaving her an orphan. The only relative she knows is her gran who is in a care home with Alzheimer’s. Her hopes of staying in Scotland with her best friend Lauren and her family are quickly dashed when a woman from social services announces that she is going to stay with a grandfather she had never met. Even worse, he lives in a small town called Alimanti, thousands of miles away in another country.
Her grandfather’s cabin is in the middle of nowhere. They have no electricity, no internet, or any other modern technologies. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her new school is almost two hours away.
Kasey-Ray has lots of questions and her grandfather is refusing to answer them. He has clocks everywhere that go off at the same time every day, 4:30am, and Kasey-Ray can’t figure out why.
She sees a man in the woods who tells her that he shouldn’t have brought her here because they will take what is hers. What does he mean?
Kasey-Ray needs answers before time runs out.

I have avoided this review for so long, I have to be honest that writing it breaks my heart despite the fact that a year has passed since Lavinia lost her own fight against cancer leaving her own children to  navigate the world without her shining light. I am privileged to have bought a signed print copy of this book.

This is a YA book so not my usual genre but it was an easy captivating read with well written characters and an intriguing plot, the obvious problem is that this was intended as a series, and although there are three books available, I cannot say whether the story is really ended as I have not read those.

I did notice a few typos in this book but nothing to distract you from the story. if you have a pre-teen I would recommend this book as a good read am even more a chance to discuss different ways of life where the modern comforts are unknown not taken for granted.

I have to give this book 5 out of five stars despite the few editing issues.

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Book Reviews

Talk to Me by Roseanne Beck

The last thing Laura wants is a relationship.

The only thing Austin needs is his independence.

Sometimes love sneaks up on you when you least expect it.

Austin’s car accident shattered his life and his leg. His main focus is on proving his independence. Figuring out how to shut up the new voices in his head would be an added bonus. They like to converse at the most inopportune times.

Laura’s built a wall around her heart. Everyone she loves ends up leaving her. She’s still reeling from the death of her brother and business partner. Seems like he might not be ready to completely give up the ghost yet, though.

And then there’s Aunt Marge, a world-class meddler with a penchant for oversharing. Can she manage to nudge Laura and Austin toward each other? Or will her recipe for love fall flat?

If you like sparkling, witty banter and strong characters with a hint of the paranormal, you’ll fall for TALK TO ME, because humor and love conquer all.

 

I flew through this book, it was easy to read and fun. The main characters are relatable and likeable, you find yourself rooting for them even when you get a little exasperated with them.

The plot is interesting and the paranormal twist adds to what is more or less a rom-com. This is a great choice for a beach read, or would be if anyone were getting near a beach this year, however, it will work just as well sat out in the garden. I read it on Kindle which I find myself doing more and more lately with these sorts of books, it is not a book you are likely to read over and over again, so buying the paper version is not a must.

I give this 4.5 stars out of five, the only reason for the drop of half a point is that it has been a while since I read it and it really did not stick in my mind enough for me to write this review without going back for a quick scan through.

Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review: The Killing Place By Tess Gerritson

Something terrible has happened in the snowbound village of Kingdom Come, Wyoming. Twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Cars still parked in garages. The human occupants have vanished, seemingly into thin air.
this is the unsettling place where Maura Isles finds herself trapped during a snowstorm.

 

This book is the 8th in the Rizzoli & Isles series but if you are a fan of the TV series please bear in mind that the timelines are different and not all elements of their personal lives are necessarily the same. I first read this back before I ever watched the TV series so was lucky enough to go into it with just the literary narrative in place and I really do enjoy this series.

This book deal with various social issues all threaded through a crime story, there are the more base motives of greed but what is more interesting is the world of belief, cults, abuse and the damage caused to those who may have physically escaped but are forever mentally scarred. In a world where we like to think that things are harder to cover up in it revealing to understand how human nature colludes to pervert justice for personal gain.

The characters are well written as always although I will accept that for anyone picking this up as a first book it may be confusing to understand some of the dynamics between some of the individuals. While it is possible to read and enjoy it as a standalone read the reader will get so much more from it by taking the series in order.

I have no problem giving this book 5 out of five stars but do recommend reading the other books first if you can.

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Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – Wilt In Nowhere by Tom Sharpe

When his endlessly capricious wife Eva receives plane tickets for the family to visit Auntie Joan and Uncle Wally in Atlanta, Wilt knows only one thing – that nothing could entice him to fly three thousand miles over the water, and especially not two rotund Americans with more money than sense. What better way to escape and find equilibrium then to embark on a walking tour? Just Wilt, the countryside, and an ill-judged bottle of whiskey…

Meanwhile, Eva finds her plans to inherit Joan and Wally’s fortune slipping away faster than her sanity, thanks to a combination of sinister teenage quadruplets with foul mouths, and her unexpected role as lead suspect in a drug-trafficking plot.

Outrageous, darkly comic, and packed with calamity on top of calamity, Tom Sharpe’s latest episode of Wilt’s misadventures is a razor-sharp farce that will delight fans both old and new.

I love these books, just when you think that Wilt’s life cannot get any more complicated, Tom Sharpe dreams up another set of outrageous circumstances for him. You could read this as a standalone book however, I would recommend the full series so you do not miss out on any of the extraordinary circumstances that have plagued Wilt and led him to the insanity that his life has become.

Witty, absurd, and verging on the unbelievable this storyline takes you sauntering through the English countryside at an increasingly erratic pace, you find yourself feeling for the unlucky Wily and questioning how many mirrors he must have broken as a child for his life to turn out this way.

No surprise this is a 5 out of five stars.

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Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – In The light of Madness By Hemmie Martin

 

As always we start with the Goodreads Blurb….

A murdered boy in a Cambridgeshire graveyard sets in motion an investigation into the local church and school, with suspicions of a cult murmured throughout the community. With their first case, DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox explore the various levels of desperation and malice that can stem from an unhappy or dissatisfied life, where no one takes responsibility for their actions. They quickly find that everyone harbours a secret which, left uncontrolled, can bring forth devastating self-destruction.

I really enjoyed this book, there is a good balance between the procedural side of the story and the home lives of the characters.  The characters are diverse and I can see them developing and providing more interest as the series develops.

I think there are a few different things that give the reader pause for thought in this storyline, the family issues regarding hereditary illnesses, the dynamics of families and, the ways that roles are taken on by different members are relatable. The bond is there between the sisters despite their obvious differences, however, the portrayal of their relationship is realistic and in many ways reflects the struggles of inequalities in the siblings in terms of responsibility and emotional requirements.

The procedural side is well researched and enjoyable, it is informative without getting bogged down in every detail. Overall this is a great start to a series and I look forward to reading more.

I am thrilled to say I can give this 5 out of five stars.

Amazon Uk link

Author FB page here

Author website https://hemmiemartin.com/

Book Reviews

Book Review – Jenna By Tom Stearns

To protect her sister, Jenna endures a living hell at the hands of her mother and ‘uncles’.
But when the boys at her school think they can do the same they are dead wrong.

From the author of ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’ comes ‘Jenna’; a harrowing tale of abuse and bloody revenge.

WARNING 18+ NOT FOR THE EASILY OFFENDED.

First let’s address the warning, serious, pay attention! although not graphic in the descriptions of the abuse you are left in no doubt about the hell that Jenna has to endure. This storyline is tragically all too believable and although the ultimate outcome may not be one that would happen in real life the events that take us to that point very well could.

The characters are well written and truly believable your heart will break not only for Jenna but for her younger sisters innocence that she is fighting so hard to protect. You will want to reach inside the pages of this book and slap the mother for the way she participates in her daughter’s destruction.

This is a story of abuse and survival, of how things escalate, and the consequences of a girl trying to get through each day. It is well written the only complaint may be that you are left wanting more, that you feel you need to know what happens at the end whether Jenna can ever truly have a happy ending or whether she is damaged beyond repair. We can only hope that the author will answer these questions with a sequel at some time in the future.

For stars I give this 5 out of five very disturbed stars, it is not easy to read but once you start you will be gripped.

Amazon UK link

Find the author on FB here

Book Reviews · Monday Musings

His Garden: Conversations With A Serial Killer by Anne K. Howard

This week something a little different with some true crime…

 

You want to know what happened? Ask Anne.”—serial killer William Devin Howell

A monster was on a killing spree. In just nine months, seven people went missing; all of their bodies eventually discovered in a wooded lot behind a suburban strip mall. But the investigation that led law enforcement to their suspect, William Devin Howell, is only part of the story behind HIS GARDEN: Conversations With A Serial Killer.

A practicing attorney, author Anne K. Howard first contacted Howell while he was serving a fifteen-year sentence for the murder of one of his seven victims. He was about to be charged for the remaining six murders. A unique and disturbing friendship between the two began, comprised of written correspondence, face-to-face prison visits and recorded phone calls. Howell, who had been unwilling to speak to any members of the media, came to trust Howard.

In the years that follow, the suspect shared his troubled history with Howard but refused to discuss the charges against him, promising only to tell her everything when the case was over.

That time has come.

HIS GARDEN probes the complicated and conflicted mind of William Devin Howell–Connecticut’s most prolific serial killer. Both sacred and profane in its narrative style, the story on these pages explores the eternal question of human evil and its impact on others, including the woman he chose to hear his horrific confession.

William Devlin Howell was not a serial killer that I was acquainted with, then I heard Anne Howard on a podcast discussing her book and decided to give it a read. I am fascinated by true crime, what makes a serial killer into the monster, could things have been different, was there a different path the could have taken. this book looks at all those traditional true-crime elements as you would expect but it also gives you a very different and unique insight into the world of true crime writing.

Anne Howard talks candidly about the role of the author in these types of books, about the conflicts raised within her by the act of interacting with the serial killer and finding that it is not always that easy to reconcile the man and his actions. I think that is, of course, one of the most intriguing aspects, so many times when someone is arrested for the most horrific crimes we hear friends and neighbours speak to what a lovely man he was, how polite, how quiet, but it makes sense, the victims would be more wary of a freak, of someone outwardly strange or aggressive but the nice guy can get victims alone so much easier.

In an age where journalists are often criticised for the lengths they will go to for a story, it is nice to read about the fact that the decisions to go down certain routes, is not always as easy as it may seem, and also that while dealing with someone who saw his victims as less than human, she was able to show them as the vulnerable flawed people they were and give their families some, albeit painful, answers.

This is not an easy read, at times it does seem to drag a little however, I would say it is worth pushing through it, the book is not as sensationally told as some other true crime books but it is one of the most thought provoking I have read.

I give this book 4 out of five stars.

Book Reviews

Book Review – The Cottage By Lavinia Urban

 

Lydia is left reeling as she discovers that for the past eight years there has been a block on her memories.
Not only is she a shapeshifting witch but she is also a Gatekeeper to the Dark Realms.
Giving up the only life she knows Lydia travels back to her home town of Mystic Valley where things become heated when she meets her soulmate in her dreams.
Follow Lydia as she discovers who she really is as she tries to unlock all of her memories.

As those of you who have been around for a while know, Lavinia was a dear friend who passed away last year, that being said I always review book straight down the line and this one will be no different.

This book is a quick read, it is aimed at YA and I read it in a day, but that is not to say that it does not have substance. Although this was intended to be the start of a series it can be read alone, it is a paranormal coming of age story and while I will not deny that some readers may find it frustrating that we never learn everything there is to know, I do think it is a good enough start to make it worth reading nevertheless.

There are a few typos but nothing that can distract you from the story and as Lavinia is not around to fix them I feel it unfair to hold those against her. Part of me wished she had written this as an adult series but that was not her preferred genre and I have to judge this book for what it is and know if I have come across this age 12-13 I would have absolutely raved about it.

So I am giving my score based upon how it would relate to it’s intended audience, I have no qualms about giving this a 5 out of five stars, and remember that sales of this book help Lavinia’s family continue without her and show she is not forgotten.

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Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Pride (Lavinia Urban’s Seven Deadly Sins Series Book 2) by Lavinia Urban & Stacy McWilliams

There were three things Hunter Sinclair cared about: his club, his Harley and his family.

Being the poster boy for the Atlanta Angels didn’t last long and soon Hunter was forced to flee to Florida with a shattered family and broken dreams.

On the outside Savannah Simmons has it all: good grades, the perfect family and amazing friends, but appearances can be deceptive. Beneath the surface, things are far from perfect.

She was everything he craved but he knew she could never be his for fear that his past would destroy her.

Could Hunter swallow his pride and admit how much he wanted her or would the repercussions from his past tear them apart?

This is the second of the books in the series completed in honour of Lavinia Urban, you can find the review for the first book, Lust, here. Again I approached this with mixed feelings, luckily I still do not have to worry about what will happen if I do not enjoy one of these books.

I had not read anything by Stacy previous to this, so I was not sure what to expect but I did feel that this was a book I could have imagined Lavinia writing. It certainly has more of a YA/New Adult feel than the first book, and is, in many ways a coming of age story, a trope frequently exhibited in Lavinia’s other series. The whole teenage forbidden love, and moving on despite feelings remaining, resonated with me and I can imagine this could be the start of something more.

The characters are well written and believable, likewise the situations that are covered in the book including the way that the parents ‘good boy’ is really the predator while the ‘bad influence’ is the hero.

I am so happy to be able to give this five out of 5 stars without any hesitation and recommend that if you have not already read these books them find them on KU, not only are you helping a family mourning the loss of their wonder woman but you will also get to read some new authors.

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