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.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
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 – Wicked Wish (Wicked Horse Vegas #2) By Sawyer Bennett

I am the most sought after man in The Wicked Horse. Sex is nothing but a game to me and I’m the type that will leave at the end of the night without looking back. Tonight, there is no way I can walk away from the mysterious green-eyed beauty behind the mask of sapphire feathers at the club’s masquerade event.

Clearly looking to walk on the wild side, she’s the escape I’m looking for. Unfortunately, I realize too late that I know exactly who she is. And now I’m left to reconcile the fact that I just experienced the greatest pleasure of my life with Jorinda Pearce.

My best friend’s little sister.
And there is not another woman in the world who is more off limits.

I confess I was a little annoyed when I realised that this book was not the first in the series, however, I don’t think I really missed out on anything important by not having read the first one. The book’s plot plays on the fine lines of friendship, siblings, and bonds between people not based on shared blood.

At first, I was a little unsure about the plot, I don’t really read a lot of erotica, and the pacing where the main character goes from being ‘vanilla’ and questioning her sexual failings to being fully immersed into the idea of sexual exhibitionism seemed a little too quick for me and a little too easy. The fact I found the characters interesting made it easier to keep reading and I did enjoy the book but I would just like to have seen more of an internal struggle from the main character regarding her choices.

The book is well written and I get that the length fits the genre but I was left feeling like I would have liked a little bit more, however,  accept that is probably more my failing than the book, and it is only fair I scale the book based on its genre rather than how much more could have been added.

I did enjoy this book and did read it in a day so I am going to give it 4 out of five stars, for me the only thing I can’t get past is that there would not have been any internal turmoil with Jorinda after the first visit to the club.

Book Reviews

Book Review – What Happens in New York: Two friends. One life-changing vacation. by Kristina Adams

Hollie can’t catch a break. She’s broke, she’s back living with her family, and her career prospects are zero. So when the chance arises for her and her best friend to escape to New York, well, she can hardly say no, can she?

Little does she realise the charming stunt performer she just met is about to introduce her to Hollywood royalty. But are the Hollywood elite really who they claim to be, or is there more to their stories than they let on?

Find out what happens next in the sassy, seductive debut perfect for fans of Paige Toon, Sophie Kinsella, and Marian Keyes.

I loved this book, I read it more or less in a day. As the blurb says it is very similar in style to reading Sophia Kinsella, the characters are in the main likeable but each has their baggage and just like real-life friends occasionally you wish you could reach in and give them a good shake. Their frailties are relatable, and when they are thrust into the spotlight you can imagine that the way they are portrayed is pretty much true to their characters. The elite are also a mix of complex personalities, the drug use and excesses of celebrity lifestyles are touched on but do not take over the plot allowing for a nice balance of normality, drama and extravagance that creates an enjoyable, fun read that leaves you wanting more.

I really recommend this as either a summer beach read or for a cosy winter evening book to curl up with just be warned they are not on KU and you will want to read the next one straight away. I give this book 5 out of five shiny gold stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
Book Reviews

Book Review: Lust: Lavinia Urban’s Seven Deadly Sins Series by Lavinia Urban (Goodreads Author), Rene Folsom

Throughout December I am going to try to post a review each day to catch up on some of the books I have read this year!

Plentiful. Enjoyable. Disposable.

Women were like toys to me, and I wasn’t at all ashamed to say so. I worked hard and deserved to enjoy my possessions. Those who discredited me for my attitude didn’t know a thing about life or how to live it.

Money. Motorcycles. Women.

They were all possessions in my eyes, and I had no shame in taking what I wanted when I wanted it. Even though I wasn’t stupid, I usually spat caution in the wind when it came to sweeties. It wasn’t like anything would ever go beyond the first night.

Of course, leave it to Alexina to derail everything I thought I knew.

***

ATTENTION: Lavinia Urban had a vision to write this series, yet her life was taken from her all too soon after a heart-wrenching battle with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Aside from her family’s welfare, her last wish was for her friends to continue these stories about The Seven Deadly Sins. With her husband’s well wishes, seven authors banded together to bring Lavinia Urban’s Seven Deadly Sins Series to her fans and readers everywhere. All proceeds will go to Lavinia’s loving husband and adorable children. May she rest in peace with the knowledge we will never forget her.

I put my hands up before I start, reading these books was one of the hardest things I have ever done, Lavinia was a friend and an author I respected, I had to suppress any emotions I may have had regarding the fact she did not get to write these stories herself.

Rene Folsom was a new author to me but I thoroughly enjoyed this story and am looking forward to reading more from her. The characters are well written, and it is easy to identify with two people not looking for love but meeting a person who should be all wrong for them but ends up being so right. These books are more along the lines of short stories/novellas, so I consider it natural for the story to be a little faster paced than you might wish for but that is in part down to the amazing effort made by these amazing authors to honour Lavinia’s wishes and finish this series for her.

Most of the authors seem to have used characters from their own series, spun off into this collection, so not only does that make these stories worth reading in their own right, but also as an introduction to a whole new series of books if you enjoy the writer’s style.

I would have been absolutely devasted if I had not been about to give this full marks but I have no qualms hitting 5 out of five stars for this first book in the series.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – The Runaway And The Russian By Helen Bright

 

 

When her best friend goes missing after being targeted by child groomers, Tess Robertson feels she has no choice but to run away.

Fearing for her life, Tess leaves the children’s home where she’s resided for the past eighteen months, and boards a train bound for the capital.

While wandering the streets of London, Tess realises she’s being followed, causing her to run once again, straight into the path of a bullet meant for arms dealer, Kolya Barinov.

While Tess recovers, Kolya vows to keep her safe: to give her a good life in return for saving his.

But is this simply swapping one danger for another? Or could the path to true happiness begin with blood and bullets?

I actually thought I had already reviewed this book but apparently not so let me remedy that situation.

I love this book, first, let me set aside I know the author and hugely respect her, for both her writing and as a person, so I would never insult her by being less than honest. The characters are interesting and each individual in terms of personality and back story. The initial chapters dealing with Tess being targetted by child groomers sadly resonate all too well given I live in an area that has just seen over twenty men and two women prosecuted in very similar circumstances to that in this plot.  I would also suggest anyone wanting to learn more about the inspiration for the start of this series watch the BBC series Three Girls which is available on i-Player and Netflix.

As the story progresses you watch as Tess learns to trust and rebuild a new life despite the constant fear that her past will catch up with her.

This is the first part of a trilogy and I am not going to lie you will want the second part ready for when you finish this.

I have reread this book twice waiting for the next part, I give this a resounding 5 out of five stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars

If you want to find out more about the author you can find her on

Facebook 

Goodreads

Or her website

 

Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – In Your Defence By Sarah Langford

Here is the good reads blurb…

SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

‘A thoughtful, elegant book. … often as thrilling as a detective novel. ‘ – Thomas Grant, QC The Times.
____________________

Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might have been yours.

With remarkable candour, Sarah describes eleven cases which reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts: these are tales of domestic fall out, everyday burglary, sexual indiscretion, and children caught up in the law. They are sometimes shocking and they are often heart-stopping. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She also shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself.

This is a strange book, it is fascinating and does provide an insight into the world of the defence system but in some ways, it is lacking. you do begin to understand that the barrister generally has very little direct contact with their clients until the day of court. They do not always know the full backstories or the details of their clients day to day existence, and I think this is part of my issue with the book.

I am a lover of true crime, I am used to being told every detail leading up to the crimes, to knowing what happened next what happens after the trial and sentencing, I am used to seeing the full story. In this book, you only see a glimpse into this world. While the stories are each different and explore numerous aspects of the defence system in the different types of court you find yourself wanting more. Yes, in one aspect that certainly demonstrates the quality of the writing and the well-selected range of cases but it also means at the end of the book you are left feeling slightly unfulfilled.

I would still recommend the book for those who are interested in the law process and getting a better understanding of how the defence system works, it would be a good book to read on the beach or on a commute as the stories are easy to put down and pick up again, but if you are expecting a true-crime style detail-packed book you will be disappointed.

I give this 3.5 stars out of 5 and as usual, will round up on Goodreads as they do not allow for half marks.

 

Book Reviews

Book Review – Beautiful Freaks by Katie M. John

The edition I purchased came in two books and the cover is different to the one pictured below…

we begin as always with the Goodreads Blurb…

**** A PARANORMAL GOTHIC DETECTIVE TALE ****

From the Amazon bestselling writer of ‘The Knight Trilogy’ comes the stand alone novel fans have been waiting for. ‘Beautiful Freaks’ is a decadent tapestry of all things fairytale, dark and murderous.

Between these pages you will find yourself transported back in time to the high Gothic. Victorian London.

The year is 1899 and both the century and the Queen are dying. As the London populace is gripped by a terrifying series of paranormal murders, eighteen year old Kaspian Blackthorne finds himself on a decadent journey of self discovery.

Victorian London is a place where appearance is everything, but sometimes
appearances can be deceiving. Behind the grand houses, carriages and silks, London is a dark labyrinth of sorrow and violence. Amongst the gambling dens, dancehalls, and brothels you’ll find No 7, known to its members as Eve’s; the most exclusive club in London, infamous for its ‘Palace of Beautiful Freaks’. Each exhibit has a history, each their own unique story.

First, I would like to discuss how this is written, there is, of course, an overriding arc, however, it is the detail given to each individual story within the narrative which really brings the Gothic feel to the fore. This book could have easily have been printed back in Victorian times as a Penny Dreadful or as a series as favoured by Dickens.

The individual tales based on various myths and legends are each well written and each given equal attention, over the top of all this you have the main detective story, though it could equally be described as a love story, the author weaves together love, lust, obsession, and death in a dark journey through alleyways and boudoirs alike.

I highly recommend this book, the chapters make it easy to pick up and put down without losing track of where you are but the reality is you won’t want to put it down.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars