Crime Fiction, Goodreads Reviews

The Puppet Show (Washington Poe #1) by M W Craven

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5star

Call me a psychic! A five star psychic! I predicted that The Puppet Show was going to be brilliant, and I was bloody right! I knew it! I just knew it!

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It gave me those vibes, you know what I mean? You pick up or hear about a book, feeling all attracted to the cover. Come on, we ALL love a bit of sinister looking cover art don’t we? The synopsis gives you that ‘oooh, this could be juicy’ feeling. And it gets put right to the top of that enormous TBR, winking at you, beckoning you to pick it up. This one went straight to the top of mine and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Much to my delight there’s murder and fire and stone circles and a copper who’s got the DRIEST sense of humour ever. And there’s a REALLY COOL CHICK too, who wears band tees and happens to be a mathematical genius. I’d also like to mention that there’s a Spaniel called Edgar.

That gives you a basic rambling idea of the two main characters, but I’m going to cast my mind back to my last read for a moment, Murder at the Mill (I’ll call it MATM for short) by M B Shaw. And for those of you who haven’t read my review yet, you may do so HERE if you so desire. Why am I mentioning my previous read I hear you cry?! Particularly in another book review as well! Shocking! Let me explain.

Similies. Descriptions. Creative writing in general. It has to be good. Clever. Funny. Emotional. Flowy. I could go on. I’m a tough reader to please. MATM is a perfect example of how NOT to do it. In contrast, The Puppet Show is a perfect example of how it SHOULD be done. It’s creative, witty, well planned and brilliantly researched. Craven’s similes are CLASS. After my last read I was so relieved that this author can write. He can write gooooood.

‘The chief constable walked like a man badly in need of a stool softener.’

‘He had a drinker’s nose and his upturned chin resembled a jester’s boot.’

If there’s one thing I enjoy when I’m reading, it has to be when characters’ personalities shine through and they become so real.

‘Poe pointed at the BPhil after Francis Sharples’s name and asked, ‘You know what that means, Tilly? ‘Bachelor of Philosophy, Poe.’ Poe shook his head. ‘It means he’s a cock.’

Dry, British humour always gets a thumbs up from me, particularly if there’s some cracking insults in the mix.

The Puppet Show is one hell of a ride, I read it in just under two weeks but I wanted to read it in one sitting. Life got right in the way, and I found myself drifting off thinking about it when I should of been concentrating on work. I really wanted to cancel a family occasion as well because I just wanted to read. I love how a great book can make me feel so unsociable and selfish.

I’ve always been a fan of crime fiction, especially when it’s about a serial killer, my first being Silence of the Lambs twenty-odd years ago. I have also recently discovered Robert Bryndza and J D Barker for new reading in this genre. M W Craven is now up there for me as a go-to author as I just love the Britishness he injects into his story.

I cannot fault The Puppet Show in any way, I highly recommend it. It is pretty graphic in places and there’s a bit of sweary dialogue, but it all fits a treat. For a debut novel, this is exciting and gripping from start to finish. And I’m pleased to say that the author has just finished #2 and is writing #3. YESSSSSS! GET IN THERE! I will undoubtedly read the next instalment of Poe and Bradshaw solving gruesome murders in their quirky and entertaining way.

Many thanks to Netgalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and M.W. Craven for an advanced copy of this awesome book in exchange for an honest review. The pleasure was all mine.

 

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Goodreads Reviews

Murder at the Mill by M B Shaw

Murder at The Mill by M.B. Shaw

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My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘She was a riot of contradictions: quiet but pushy, reserved but passionate, observant yet refreshingly slow to judge.’

Reviewing Murder at the Mill is also going to be a ‘riot of contradictions’ because I’ve gone from rating it a one star, ‘this sucks’ read to a near on four star ‘ooooh I need some answers page-turner’ read.

It was also a riot of Post-It notes, as you can see here!

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I have never felt so conflicted about rating a book as this one, I shall try my upmost to review this honestly and fairly without too much snark.

So, Murder at the Mill is a cosy mystery set in Hampshire, England, ‘perfect for fans of Midsomer Murder and Agatha Christie’. Apparently.

To try and fathom out my star rating, I’m going to have to see how this review pans out, as I still haven’t decided my final decision even at this point.

The plot itself deserves a solid 3 stars, possibly even 3.5 because the ‘whodunnit’ element was really very good. This, along with characters whose closet skeletons were being discovered left, right and centre was what kept me going.

The characters, in which there were many, all helped to build an intriguing mystery with their dodgy pasts and poisonous personas. A 3 star rating for sure here is deserving as I particularly liked Billy, the black sheep of the family. He was portrayed well in a sinister and menacing way. The main protagonist, Iris Grey was my least favourite, her quirkiness and terrible taste in clothes became rather tiresome as the story progressed.

The writing style. Oh god, this is where it gets awkward.

SIMILES. SIMILES. SIMILES. SIMILES. SIMILES. SIMILES.

I am so DONE with the countless, terrible, TERRIBLE similes in this book.

…’the spindly tree branches swayed and shivered pathetically in the wind like the starved limbs of concentration camp prisoners pleading for escape.’ (WHAT? WHY? Editor, why? Awful. Truly awful.)

…’tore at the wrapping on his gift like a starving child clawing at a bag of rice.’ (No. Just no.)

And what’s with all these animals? After the first two dozen, I was destined for eye-rolling moments throughout.

…’like a smug cockerel.’ (Smug! Whaaat?!)

…’like a wounded fox.’

…’listening to the satisfying crack as they shattered beyond repair like the bones of tiny mice.’

…’as excited as two piglets on speed.’ (What the..?! 😂)

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…’staggering around like a newborn fawn.’

…’impale them like lambs on a spit.’

…’attached himself like a louche limpet…’

I could go on, it gets worse. Describing someone’s anger pouring out …’like pus from a lanced boil’  was the final straw really. It was pretty damn dire.

Ok, maybe there’s a bit of snark here, but I just can’t help myself! Tell me, Ms Shaw, were you sponsored by all those brands you name-dropped throughout your book? Tesco, Smarties, Heinz, Next, H&M, Zara, Cath Kidston, blah, blah, blah. So much was described based on the brand alone, and it irritated the hell out of me.

It’s also funny how so many different characters used the term ‘whatnot’ in their conversations. Must be a Hampshire village thing.

By now, you can probably tell why I’m still debating about this books star rating. My main problem is I really enjoyed the story, it hooked me in and I was overall impressed by the final revelations and conclusion. There was some pretty good red herrings in there too. But for me to rate a book above 3 stars, the writing style has to satisfy me. Towards the end I started to laugh and groan at some of the descriptive text and it took away my enjoyment and marred the seriousness of the story.

After all is said and done, I’ve decided, I’m giving Murder at the Mill 2 stars. And strangely, I would indeed read another cosy mystery about Iris Grey and her irksome sleuthing. Even if it was just to spot all the awful, and sometimes unintentionally comical similes that are scattered ‘like dandruff on one’s shoulders’ throughout the book.

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Thank you to the author, the publisher Orion Books and Goodreads for hosting a giveaway for which I was lucky enough to win!

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Goodreads Reviews

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

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Elmet by Fiona Mozley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mini Review

I can without a doubt see why Elmet by Fiona Mozley was nominated for an award. The way in which this story was written had the power and presence of an orchestra. Sweet, sweet music, ambling along at perfect pace, flowing and describing and setting the scene. The characters were the boom from the cymbals, the mighty beat of drums, and in contrast, the delicate poignancy of a triangle.

As you can probably tell, this story totally GOT ME. Such simplicity, and yet, it was INCREDIBLE.

Elmet is contemporary fiction at its best. This story has a heart, and it made mine beat in unison with it.

*Thank you to the publisher, author and NetGalley who provided me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.*

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Books about books, Goodreads Reviews, Humour, Non-fic

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

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The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh Shaun, your hatred for Kindles and stroppy, tight-fisted customers shines through in your highly entertaining diary! I wish I could get away with customer service ‘Bythell Style’, but I doubt I’d be employed for very long! The advantages of being your own boss I guess.

Next time I come across a book with age-related mould on it, I will undoubtedly be visualising some dude in a protective suit, complete with breathing apparatus, whipping it out of my hand to dispose of it safely.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Diary of a Bookseller, what’s not to love?!

For starters, it’s about a second hand bookshop in my most favourite place ever. SCOTLAND.

Shaun gets to rummage through thousands and thousands and thousands of books FOR A LIVING!!!

It gave me a fascinating insight into being part of the second hand book industry, and it definitely isn’t all bookish loveliness.

Did I say this delightful shop is in SCOTLAND? Oh yeah, I did.

Hey, Shaun, I’m coming up for a visit in the summer. I promise I’ll put the books I look at back where I found them. (Even if they are possibly in the wrong section already. Sigh…..*Shakes head*).

I promise I won’t come in armed with a pencil, writing in my own prices on the inside page. I am SHOOK that book lovers even do this!

And I’ll BUY some books too. And possibly a walking stick.

Thank you Shaun for sharing a year of your bookish life. I sincerely hope that your Aladdins Cave continues to prosper for many, many years. Bookshops are sadly an endangered species these days thanks to that flipping internet lark. (She says, on her online blog.)

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Goodreads Reviews, Historical, LGBT

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…’we were girls with curious histories – girls with pasts like boxes with ill-fitting lids.’

My lid has never seemed to fit properly!

This is a ‘I can’t possibly review this’ review.

Sarah Waters can do no wrong in my eyes. She could publish her shopping list and I’d give it five stars.

Every book I’ve read by this author (all of them) pleases me like nothing else. I’m sure her pen, laptop or notebook is really some kind of magic paintbrush that comes pre-installed with genius edition software for which she alone knows the password.

Tipping the Velvet is perfection. Sarah has an incredible ability at sucking me in, chewing me up, and spitting me out. I feel satisfied, yet longing for more. I need more, Sarah, write more, write fifty more.

I’m invested in all her characters one hundred percent, I feel for them, I want to be their friend, I want to tell them it’ll be alright and pass them a smoke and appreciate their taste in attire, without judgement.

I am suffering from the biggest book hangover ever. Send help.

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Please note: This is a representation of my feelings, and not, I REPEAT NOT, a representation of my taste in clothes. I don’t do beige. YET.

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Goodreads Reviews, Psycho -Thrill

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Devil’s Work was an enjoyable reading experience with a clever plot and interesting characters.

I seem to keep choosing books that have a dual narrative, past and present events being woven together to create mystery and questions a-plenty. It’s not on purpose, but it’s such a common style that I’m finding it hard to find a book that doesn’t have this! Don’t get me wrong, it is something I like and it worked incredibly well here, but with my next book choice, I’m hoping it doesn’t have this because I’m getting a bit fed up with this concept. (For now).

Mark Edwards uses clear, concise language that tells a quite complex tale that I could follow without any confusion. Sometimes these multiple time lines in books muddle up my brain and I often find I’m back-tracking to help boost my understanding. That was not the case here, Edwards created brilliant characters that I could clearly visualise, whether they were in present day or past.

Only a three star rating though, well, let me explain. I think I’m reading too many psychological thrillers at the moment. It’s one of my favourite genres and I’m becoming rather difficult to please. I’m also getting too good at predicting outcomes, hidden agendas, red herrings and sussing out the unreliable narratives. I’m looking for more WTF’s and, I hate to say it, but I’m getting a little bit bored of this genre!! 😮

The Devil’s Work is the first book I’ve read by this author and I will undoubtedly read more from him in the future based on my enjoyment levels.

Overall, a good, but sadly, not gripping read.

Thank you to the author, Mark Edwards, the publisher, Thomas & Mercer for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

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Goodreads Reviews, Psycho -Thrill

Kiss Me, Kill Me by James Carol

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Kiss Me, Kill Me by James Carol

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tend to read a lot from the psychological thriller genre, I enjoy books that get right into my head and mess it up a bit with twists and turns and WTF’s.

Kiss Me, Kill Me was an enjoyable read, the first half being it’s better half. As the story progressed, I felt that it went off on an unexpected tangent, which kept my interest piqued all the way through to the conclusion, but at times, it did get a bit far-fetched for my liking.

The characters behaviour and reasonings were just bordering on unbelievable. Putting myself in Zoe’s shoes, the main protagonist, I felt that her thought processes and decisions didn’t properly reflect the sheer seriousness and intensity of the situation. She was a bit wet behind the ears, shall we say.

I also found that the dialogue didn’t have a huge amount of depth, making the characters undeveloped and slightly uninteresting. The repetitive use of ‘keep you safe’ started to get on my nerves after I’d read it for the tenth time.

Now, it sounds like I’m properly dissing this book, but rest assured, I most definitely am not. As I said at the start of my review, I enjoyed reading this. I REALLY enjoyed reading this. These kinds of thrillers are pouring out all over the show lately, and I’m a tough reader to please in this genre, because I feel like I’ve read it all before.

Kiss Me, Kill Me was different in that it’s unusual spiral of events were unexpected and never have I come across a psycho-thrill that went off on such a crazy-assed tangent! For that reason alone, my brain was getting a good old mashing that was keeping me turning those pages.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bonnier Zaffre for sending me an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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