The Music Shop, Rachel Joyce – Book Review

I finished this book around lunchtime, and by the evening I was actually missing the story and it’s characters. It’s a gorgeous little gem of a book – I wasn’t expecting it, and now I have no idea why it took me so long to try this author.

The Music Shop, Rachel Joyce

In a run-down street just out of the city, in the 1980s, there’s a music shop. It’s a place where you can come when life gets too much and the shop’s owner, Frank, will find you a piece of music to help. Music is more than just music in this shop, it’s something which connects people, which lifts them up and takes away their worries – even just for the length of one song, they can escape. Frank is the man who makes it happen.

The owner, Frank, is happy with his lot – he has a little community on Unity Street where he lives and works, he’s passionate about music and enjoys sharing it with others. He’s stubborn and set in his ways, and that’s enough for him, until a foreign woman who claims she doesn’t even like music faints outside of his shop, and everything starts to change. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

It’s the first time this year I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday – and the first since it moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl! I’m excited to be back and loving the new logo. This week’s theme is definitely one I can relate to – my TBR list seems never ending, so I’m joining in to look back on some of those poor neglected books that have been on the list the longest. Continue reading

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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar – Book Review

I received The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock in exchange for an honest review

I read a lot of debuts; it’s always a risk – but I love finding those hidden gems when they’re still relatively undiscovered. This book was promoted as Vintage’s debut of the year and, whilst I hadn’t heard much about it from my fellow reviewers, I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the promise of mermaids, and went for it.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar

I would love to fall in love with every book I read, but unfortunately this one wasn’t really for me. It had a lot of promise – combining history, romance and magical realism, this book should work for me, yet I found myself struggling through the slow, meandering plot about characters who I just couldn’t care for. Continue reading

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Genuine Fraud, E Lockhart – Book Review

I received Genuine Fraud in exchange for an honest review

I loved E Lockhart’s We Were Liars, it felt unique, both the writing style and the plot itself, so I was keen to read the author’s latest novel. Genuine Fraud is less original – the writer admits in the introduction that it draws inspiration from other novels, particularly The Talented Mr Ripley. It was a fast-paced, entertaining novel but lacked some depth and character development. There’s not really enough length for me to feel truly invested in the characters, and none of them were really likeable – although I think this was intentional. 

Genuine Fraud, E Lockhart

Lockhart does tell the story well; starting in 2017 we meet Jule. 18 years old and staying in a luxury hotel Mexico alone, it’s clear she’s running from something. She has a selection of wigs and identities which she changes at whim, and when she suspects her cover has been blown, she quickly makes a run for it. The story unfolds backwards from there. Continue reading

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The Toymakers, Robert Dinsdale – Book Review

I received The Toymakers in exchange for an honest review

I read this novel over Christmas, and it was the last book I read last year. It was the perfect finish to my 2017 reading; not quite what I expected, but something  even better.

The Toymakers, Robert Dinsdale - Book Review

The cover and blurb for The Toymakers alludes to it being a heart-warming, whimsical Christmas tale.  I expected something light-hearted, and I got that in places but a lot more as well. Don’t be fooled by the cute, festive cover – this book has hidden depths.

“Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart? So are we.”

Teenager Cathy is pregnant and scared. She wants to escape the control of her parents and, when she sees this advert in the newspaper, she sees an opportunity to do so. She embarks on a journey to London, to Papa Jack’s Emporium. Continue reading

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The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld – Book Review

I received The Child Finder in exchange for an honest review

This was a surprise gem of a book. At first glance, I took it for a regular missing child mystery – a plot which has been covered many times – and I nearly passed it up. I’m so glad I didn’t because this is an elegant, atmospheric novel which tells a fairly unoriginal story in a unique, creative way.

The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld

Set in the heart of an Oregon forest, where it seems to always always be snowing, this is a beautifully atmospheric tale – you can almost see the snow topped mountains and feel the bitter cold. Denfeld makes the missing child story her own, bringing her setting and characters to life with rich, almost lyrical prose, interweaving fairy tales and magical realism with dark reality. Continue reading

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2017 Wrap-Up & Top Ten Books

yearly-review

 

Happy new year, folks! I hope you all had a great one. I can’t believe it’s my third year of doing a yearly wrap-up on this log – seriously, where does the time go?! I’ve got pretty busy this year and unfortunately my blog and my reading have been neglected – I set myself a challenge of 55 books this year and only got through 40, my lowest yet. But I did read some good ones, and I enjoy looking back at them, so here goes my top ten for 2017… (covers link to Goodreads or my review) Continue reading

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House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz – Book Review

There’s been countless takes on Conan Doyle’s famous detective over the years but, as far as I’m aware, this is the only series that was officially sanctioned by the Estate. And I’m so pleased it was Horowitz that was given that honour, as I loved his take on Sherlock Holmes.

The plot itself opens in typical Holmes style, with a frazzled client turning up at 221B Baker Street. I found the section a little slow, as personally I didn’t really enjoy this story; ‘The Man With the Flat Cap’. If you’re feeling the same as I did, hang on, – there’s a much deeper, darker mystery here still to be explored; The House Of Silk.

House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz - Book Review

The House Of Silk is a great modern take on the classic series; it retains the atmosphere of the era and captures the characters wonderfully, but eliminates some of the more archaic language and views which (I’m sorry to admit) held me back from completing loving the original books. Continue reading

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J. Sullivan – Book Review

I received Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in exchange for an honest review

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J. Sullivan

This was a wonderful, quirky surprise, quite unlike anything else I’ve read this year. A twisty mystery thriller, packed with eccentric characters, bookish references and hidden secrets.

The Bright Ideas Bookstore has its regulars, those bookseller Lydia has affectionately named ‘Book Frogs’. Mainly men, the Book Frogs are lost and lonely, those who’ve slipped through the cracks of society and finding a peaceful refuge in the store. And they seem harmless,  until Lydia finds one of them hanging from the ceiling, with an old photograph of her tenth birthday party in his pocket.

Joey was a little different, but Lydia liked having him around the store. “He was a shattered young man, Lydia often thought, haunted but harmless – a dust bunny blowing through the corners of the store.”  His death shakes Lydia, but she’s drawn in deeper when she finds out he’s left the entire contents of his flat to her, including a stack of books with hidden messages which leads her on a journey into her own past. Continue reading

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I Know A Secret, Tess Gerritsen – Book Review

I received I Know a Secret in exchange for an honest review

This is the twelfth in the Rizzioli ad Isles series, and Tess Gerritsen has done it again! Fast becoming one of my favourite thriller authors, Gerritsen has really mastered creating unputdownable stories which explore complex issues and characters without ever dropping the fast pace.

The story opens, as most of them do, with a body. This one is of Cassandra Coyle, a young amateur film maker who specialises in the horror genre. There’s something horrific about her death too; her eyes have been gauged out and placed in her had post-mortem. Our resident Doctor, Maura Isles, struggles to identify a cause of death, and so the mystery begins.

I Know A Secret, Tess Gerritsen

The characters shine through again in this instalment; I love the story arc of Jane Rizzioli and Maura Isles and their strong friendship (although I don’t think you need to read all the books in order to enjoy this one), unbroken by the countless murders the two have seen. In this novel we have a third point of view, Holly. Holly was fascinating to read as well – she certainly knows a few secrets and it’s unclear until the very end whether she’s a culprit or another victim.

The body count and the suspect list increases, as Gerritsen unfolds a mystery which stems back decades, linking to an old unsolved case of a missing nine-year-old girl, and a scandalous child abuse case which connects the victims. It’s one which not only kept me on tenterhooks, but it’s deeper and more multilayered than many in this genre.

I already know that Gerritsen has a background in medicine which helps with those oh-so-authentic (and gory) autopsy scenes, but this novel feels well researched in other areas too. The tale is rich in symbolism, from religious iconography to to horror movie classics, and clues are scattered behind throwaway lines, just tantalisingly hidden from view until the big reveal. It’s an intelligent story, yet it’s a page-turner too – a rare and extremely satisfying combination.

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