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One of Us Is Next by Karen M McManus - Review

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Where did I get it? I bought it a few weeks ago as I didn't have it and wanted to read the sequel to Karen's first book. 

What's it about? It's a sequel to One of Us Is Lying, but not starring the same characters. They have moved on - Bronwyn is at Yale, Cooper is playing baseball at college, Nate is working for a construction company in Bayview, and Addy is preparing for her sister's wedding to lawyer Eli. Instead, we're concentrating on Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox, eighteen months after Simon's death in the first book. 

Maeve is Bronwyn's younger sister, and she has previously had leukaemia which she has survived twice. She misses Bronwyn and although she and Knox went out for a while, they're better off as friends. She has a crush on Luis, who works in the cafe she goes to a lot. (Luis is from the first book, he is Cooper's BFF). 

Knox lives with his parents - his lawyer mom and his dad, who owns the construction company Nate works for. He feels like a disappointment to his dad. He has four older sisters, all of whom's names start with K - he jokes they're like the Kardashians. He feels like a bit of a nerdy loser, and I really liked him. Bless him.

Then Phoebe, she was mentioned in the first book as the family lost their dad and had to move to a smaller apartment. She and her sister Emma are barely speaking, even though they have to share a room. She's worried about her mum, too. She works at the cafe that Maeve frequents and while they're not excactly friends, they're not enemies.

Anyway, then it seems like the spectre of Simon is raised again. Every student in school gets a message from an Unknown number, saying there'll be a new game, a game of Truth and Dare. Phoebe gets the first message, telling her to choose, but she ignores it. Then Unknown tells everyone that Phoebe slept with her sister's ex boyfriend, Derek, right after he split up with Emma.

Phoebe is of course devastated. Her relationship with Emma seems broken beyond repair. She gets bullied a bit at school. When the next message comes, chief jock Sean takes the dare, which is obviously the sensible option. Next to be targeted is Maeve, but she's got other things on her mind.

The book, like the first one, has a lot of high stakes, a lot of intrigue and mystery, and a lot of kids sorting stuff out for themselves. I, as an adult, desperately wanted them to get adults involved, but their reasons for not doing so were REALLY good, and totally in character and in keeping with the book, which I appreciated. I was totally captivated by the story and the three main characters, all of whom I really liked. 

This feels to me like a middle book of a trilogy, and I really hope I'm right, because I would love to be back in Bayview with some of the same characters. I loved it, I read the last third in a couple of hours one afternoon on my sofa because I was so desperate to see how it ended. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No. There is a little bit of mention of Cooper being an out gay baseball player, which I liked. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Maeve's dad is Colombian, and Luis family is Argentinian - there's not much around race but there's some nice bits in the cafe around food, which I liked. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No. 

Is there any sex stuff? A little, it's a bit graphic but not too bad. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes and it's a bit graphic. I thought it was really well done, actually, I got nervous alongside it. There's some description of injury too, which is a bit graphic. 

Are there swear words? Only a couple, and well used. (Once by Nate! Who I love!) 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none. The only thing I found weird was the time slides sometimes. At the beginning of the book we learn that a student has died, and then we go back in time to learn who that was, and then part two goes from the death. It was fine but it confused me a couple of times. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, a hundred percent. I find the author such a good author, I would read anything by her. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I've just been meaning to, and as I didn't gel with the book I read previously I wanted something to really get my teeth into, and this was perfect. 

What do I think of the cover? It's like the others, so it fits the branding! 

What other books is it like? I think a comparison to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is an apt one. I really feel like in both books there are real high stakes. 

How many stars? Five out of five. 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'm keeping it!

Closure - A Short Story Anthology by Black Authors

Sunday, July 26, 2020

I bought this book off one of the authors featured, Leone Ross, a couple of years ago when she presented at a conference I was at. She signed it for me, too. I pulled it off the shelves in late June and then it took me ages to get through. Some of the stories I LOVED and could have read a whole novel of, but others I struggled with and it made me put the book down too much. I usually read a bit during the day and then for an hour before bed, but I just couldn't get through all of this. I'm sad about it, but it is what it is. I'm giving it three out of five. I did really like Leone's story though!

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - Review

Thursday, July 23, 2020

I bought this book a few weeks ago too after hearing loads of good things about it. I often buy books on recommendations from others, and expecially if they're only a few pounds it's cheap enough for me to take a risk on something. I didn't really know what this was about as I went into it, but I don't mind that often when I start a book, do you? 

Okay so this book is set in Nigeria and is from the point of view of Korede, who works as a nurse at a hospital in Lagos. She lives with her mum, her sister Ayoola, and their house girl, who remains unnamed in the book, in a big house built with the dodgy riches of Korede's dad, who is now dead. 

Ayoola is a serial killer. She has killed three men, the latest of whom, Femi, is killed right at the beginning of the book. Ayoola calls Korede to come and help her again, and she does - she cleans up meticulously, and helps Ayoola to fling Femi's body off a nearby bridge. Ayoola says that each of the men attacked her and that she was acting in self-defence, but Korede isn't convinced. She knows her sister well, and knows that because she is very beautiful she often gets her own way. 

Korede has a crush on a doctor at the hospital, Tade. And honestly, at the beginning of the book he seems quite interested in her, too. There's a patient, Muhtar, who is in a coma, and Korede confides in him, telling him everything her sister has done, knowing that he, of course, can't do anything about it.

The book is told in little vignettes of action, and sometimes flipping back to the past, which shows the reader what happened to Korede's dad and the years of abuse he subjected his wife and daughters to. Ayoola and Tade meet and Korede is jealous and warns him off... But is she too late? 

The booked is billed as a thriller and I think it fits well among others there. I liked Korede and really wanted her to be okay. I loved the setting of their fancy house and yet how oppressive it was. I'm giving this four out of five. 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams - Review

Monday, July 20, 2020

I bought this book a few weeks ago when I had a bit of a book splurge. I had heard it was really good and wanted to get to it pretty soon. My sister in law had picked it up around the same time I did, and then when I posted the photo on Instagram three other people said they were reading it too!

So it's about Queenie, a twenty-five year old black woman living in London. She's from Brixton, where her grandparents still live. At the beginning of the book she's at the gynaecology unit with her aunt Maggie and is told that she's had a miscarriage. She has been with Tom for three years, and has moved in with him, but then just before her miscarriage, he has asked for a break of three months. Queenie moves into a house share with two other people and, encouraged by her friends, starts dating people she's met on OKCupid. They are all basically terrible men, and she relies heavily on her friends Darcy, Cassandra, and Kyazike to unload what's happened with them.

She works at a newspaper and is desperate to be taken seriously there, but she's distracted by talking to Darcy who also works there, and by flirting with Ted, who works upstairs. She keeps having sex with a Welsh fella and it's always quite rough sex, leaving her bruised.

Queenie is estranged from her mum and has had a traumatic past. She has had to put up with Tom's racist family (and Tom NEVER stood up for her, which was awful). There are little flashbacks in the book which show what she went through previously. She visits her grandparents and is quite close to her younger cousin Diana.

It's obvious for the reader that Queenie is falling apart and will come undone at some point. I really liked her and wanted her to succeed and get better. I loved her family set up and her grandparents in particular. There are a million books about sad white girls so it's really refreshing to read one about a sad black girl. I didn't feel like I was the intended audience for this book - I felt it skewed younger than I am, which made me just not LOVE it. But I did really like it, and I'm glad I read it. I'm giving it four out of five.

Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle - Review

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Where did I get it? I got it through the Willoughby Book Club when I was a subscriber, way back in 2016. It's been waiting on my shelves since then and since I'm trying to read more books by black authors, I've been looking on my shelves to see what I already have. 

What's it about? It's the second book set in a neighbourhood in South Crongton (which I think is in London), but it is a standalone with some of the same characters. McKay is nearly fifteen and lives with his brother Nesta and their dad. His mum died a few years ago and he misses her. The family is poor and Dad is working lots of overtime to try to keep the bailiffs from the door. 

McKay's best friends are Liccle Bit, who is the main character in the first book, and Jonah. Bit has a huge crush on Venetia, and she needs his help. Her phone has been stolen by her ex boyfriend Sergio, and he also has some topless photos of her that he is threatening to post online (which is a crime! Especially when the person in the photos is under sixteen! Just so we're clear). Venetia asks Bit to go with her to Notre Dame, a neighbourhood the other side of North Crongton, to get her phone back. 

Bit asks McKay and Jonah to go with them. It's earlier in the week, and they decide they'll go on Friday after school. That evening, though, McKay's brother says he has to go underground for a little while. It turns out that a guy called Festus stole Nesta's bike, and Nesta hit him and he had to go to hospital. On Thursday night there's some unrest in the neighbourgood when a kid steals something from a local shop, meaning that there's police all over that night and the next one. At school, a kid they call Boy from the Hills overhears what they're doing. 

Venetia, Bit, McKay and Jonah set off on Friday night after school. They go to get Saira, Venetia's friend, and Boy from the Hills turns up too. They get the bus, and go to Sergio's house, and then all hell breaks loose, and most the rest of the book is about this one evening. I loved it for that, it is an epic adventure in its purest sense.

I liked McKay and wanted the best for him. I liked the stuff about his mum dying and his family situation. I loved the adventure and the six kids who went, and their friendships and their banter and how they all get to know each other more. I loved the plethora of characters they ran into and the night they had. I loved the neighbourhood. The book is written in vernacular and I really liked that too. 

What age range is it for? It skews as a younger YA for me, so I'm going to say from thirteen. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, most characters are black I think. Saira is from Syria and there's a really good bit where she explains how she ended up in England. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? They might be mentioned in passing but that's all 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, there's a bit of description of how McKay's mum died, but it's not graphic. There's a bit of violence too, which is a little big graphic but suitable for the book. 

Are there swear words? No - there's a lot of words that stand in for swear words, like "frick", but no actual swear words, which is why it skewed a bit younger to me. 

What criticisms do I have? Not many, to be honest. 

Would I recommend the book? Yep. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I have been meaning to get to it forever! 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it looks like the others in the series and I think it's eye-catching 

How many stars? Four out five! 

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it I think!

Left for Dead Blog Tour

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Hello! I am really pleased today to welcome you to my blog for my stop on the blog tour for Left for Dead by Caroline Mitchell. If you've never been to my blog before please do click around and read some of my other posts. I like crime fiction and read it fairly often.

I liked this book, I liked Amy as a detective and the premise of the window display had me really intrigued. The book is pretty gruesome which I liked and even though I haven't read others in the series this is a good standalone and works well. I would read something else with Amy though, I liked her a lot.

A victim on display. A detective on the rails.
Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.
This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.
As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?

Author Bio:

An international #1 and New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time, with over a million books sold.
As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached the Amazon number 1 spot in the UK, US and Australia and won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards. Her previous thriller, Witness, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York. She has also been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies recently became a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV. Her works have been translated worldwide and her book, The Silent Twin, has been converted as an interactive app in the Chapters Interactive game. 

The Day She Came Back Blog Tour

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Hello and welcome to my blog for today's stop on the blog tour for The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse. If you've never been here before please do click round and have a look at my other reviews!

I have enjoyed previous books by Amanda so I wanted to read this one as I had really enjoyed what I'd read before. I liked this book, I loved the relationship between Victoria and Primrose and how Victoria had to rethink her whole life throughout the book. She really grew as a character which I liked. I loved the setting, too, I could picture the house and settings perfectly. Amanda is really good at weaving stories together, and also at tugging at the heartstrings. 

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: how do you forgive the family that lied to you, and love the mum you never had?
When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.
As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.
To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

Author Bio:

Amanda Prowse is one of the UK’s most prolific and loved storytellers with global sales of 8 million copies and legions of loyal readers.  Based in the West Country, Amanda is the author of 25 novels and 7 novellas with books sold in 22 countries and translated into 12 languages– no mean feat when you consider her first novel was only published in 2012! 
A passionate reader since her first visit to the local library aged 6, Amanda would read everything and anything and – armed with her precious library ticket – would spend hours reading loved Enid Blyton, Anna Sewell, Judi Blume, Nina Bawden while scribbling short stories of her own. As time passed, she moved onto the more risqué delights of Lace, The Thorn Birds and A Woman of Substance; gritty, emotional stories that would inform her writing. 
A powerful storyteller and a master of the addictive plot, Amanda’s rich imagination and prolific writing talent has seen her write over 20 bestsellers with millions of copies sold across the world. She often writes for 15 hours a day and sees her plots like movies in her mind that she’s compelled to get down on paper. These heartfelt human stories have made her one of the most successful female writers of contemporary fiction today and she has become a regular interviewee on TV and radio as well as a successful journalistic writer. 
Amanda’s ambition has always been to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night; great characters that stay with you and stories that inhabit your mind so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades. She is also a passionate supporter of military charities and those that support women’s causes and holds regular ‘Evenings with Amanda’ events as fundraisers for her chosen charities.
Twitter – @MrsAmandaProwse

The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan - Blog Tour

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hello and welcome to my blog for today's stop on the blog tour for The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan. If you've never been here, please do have a click around to see the rest of my blog!

I really liked this book, I liked Miranda and her family and how they came to be. I loved the Irish backdrop and could imagine it really well. I wanted Ada to do well as I felt like she had lived in the shadow of her mother and sister for so long. I would read something else by Faith for sure!

Here's the blurb:

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills...

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan's is one of them...
Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they'd lead.
Ada has forever lived her life in her sister's shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.
Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she's unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what's she's been yearning for. The chance to go home.
Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he'll have to return to the people who always believe in him.
Ballycove isn't just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn't just the base of the famous mills. It's a place to call home.
Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.

Author Bio:

Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women's fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

Faith's latest book, The Place We Call Home is published in January 2020.

She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan - Her Sisters Bones is available now!

Faith gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She's a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger - except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Faith on her website

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