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The Liar's Handbook by Keren David - Review

Saturday, July 31, 2021


This is one of those Barrington Stoke books that in paperback are set out in dyslexia friendly fonts and on thick paper, although I read it electronically. But a while ago I bought a few of these books on Kindle for around 99p each. I've read a couple of them, but always forget they're there, but I was scrolling through my Kindle library and remembered, so I went for this one. It took me almost no time to read so was perfect for the time I needed. 

River is a teenager and up until just before the beginning of the book he's lived with his mum. His dad disappeared before his mum even had chance to say she was pregnant, so River's never known him. However, Tanya's boyfriend Jamie had just moved in and River is suspicious of him.

River is known among his friends and teachers for telling tall tales. He is determined to find out something about Jamie though, who seems too good to be true. He does unravel some interesting things about Jamie, but no one will listen to him. Then River sees an interesting tattoo at a football match, and things start to unravel...

This is a lovely little book, I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I read it. I'm giving it five out of five. 

Trip to The Bookish Type in Leeds

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

At the end of June I went to Leeds to meet my friend Leanne and to visit The Bookish Type, which is an independent queer bookshop in Leeds. I can't remember where I first heard of it, but I've been wanting to go, so I said that on Twitter and Leanne replied saying she'd love to go. I haven't seen Leanne or her partner and child since Christmas 2019, so it was well overdue and I was really looking forward to it. I went into Leeds a bit early and ate some lunch by myself in Costa, having parked in the Merrion Centre, before I went upstairs to meet Leanne. The shop isn't huge, but it does have soooo many books. They're all nicely categorised, too. First on the left was children's and middle grade, so I spent some time looking at that. I was pleased to see the Murder Most Unladylike series on the shelves! 

I was thrilled to see so many books that I've already read, and books by friends of mine. It was so lovely! I picked up three books and some badges. 

The YA section was big - two shelves - and I asked the person behind the counter if I could take some photos of it. I always do this in bookshops as I don't want to annoy anyone, and I also don't want them to think that I'm taking photos of books I want so that I can buy them online later as I think that's rude IF you have the money to buy in store. The person said yes and I said I was a YA blogger and was really impressed by their selection. There were books about teens of all races, with other intersections like disability, and not just contemporary YA but fantasy and so on too. The person thanked me for the compliments and said they didn't always know what to buy, but tried to focus on British YA and not have solely American YA. 

Leanne bought a book for her little girl and then three books for herself. We went for coffee afterwards and spent quite a while catching up. I set off home around 4.10 and didn't get home until 4.50 - I've forgotten what being in queuing traffic is like! I used to work in Leeds and I honestly don't know how I did it! 

Here's the YA shelves what I got:



Look how vibrant and colourful they are - absolutely gorgeous. The person behind the counter and I had a discussion about how queer YA has come on so far since we were teens. This is one of the reasons I love it so much! It just didn't exist 20 years ago when I was a teenager!


The book on the left is a sequel and I read the first one ages ago and have been meaning to buy this one. The other two just looked good


La! If you've seen It's A Sin, you'll know why this has become popular. I have a t-shirt too. The others are inclusive badges and I am an inclusive queer. Thanks!


Dark Tides by Chris Ewan - Review

Sunday, July 25, 2021

I got this book from my subscription box A Box of Stories, which is around £16 and includes four books each time. I get mine every three months which is perfect for me. I am subscribed to the mixed fiction box which often includes crime fiction, which as you'll know I've been reading a lot recently, so I don't mind. I was intrigued by the premise of this book and picked it up fairly quickly after it arrived. 

The book is set on the Isle of Man where the late autumn festival Hop-tu-Naa is celebrated on Halloween (it apparently is linked to Samhain). When Claire Cooper is eight years old, her mother disappears on Hop-tu-Naa. The two have been out on the streets collecting sweets (like trick-or-treating I guess) and singing a traditional song. Their last call of the evening is the mansion where Claire's mum works. It's owned by Edward Caine, who lives there with his young son Morgan. Claire finds him very creepy, and describes him as a bit of a villain. He asks her mum to return later to do some work. Claire's mum leaves the house, but is never seen again. Edward Caine swears that she never arrived at the mansion, but Claire remains suspicious of him. 

Years later, a girl called Rachel invites Claire out with her friends on the Hop-tu-Naa that they are fourteen. They meet up with four lads - Callum, David, Mark, and Scott, and they do a dare in the woods. Claire is terrified, and an unknown assailant feels her up while she's out there in the dark. She assumes it's one of the boys, but never gets to the bottom of it. 

For the next few years, the six do dares every Hop-tu-Naa. By the time Claire is eighteen she's going out with David, and is at uni in Manchester. It's Mark's turn to choose the dare and he reckons they should break into Edward Caine's mansion, and leave a traditional Manx symbol on the hearth, one which is associated with Hop-tu-Naa. The tradition goes that you leave ash on the hearth and if in the morning there's a footprint on the hearth it means one of two things - if it's facing towards the fire it means there'll be a birth in the family, and if it's facing towards the room it means there'll be a death in the family. Mark's plan is to leave a footprint facing out just to scare Edward.

However, Edward catches them in the act and one of them sets upon him, beating him up so severely that he is left paralysed. The book is not linear in this way, so I'm not explaining it as it happens. Because, nearly a decade later, Claire is back living on the Isle of Man, having trained as a police officer. She goes to visit someone in prison to try to get answers about that night, but comes away frustrated. But, on Hop-tu-Naa that year, Scott is driving along the road when he crashes into the side of the road and is killed. Claire is an attending officer and she sees the muddy footprint left on one of the mats in the car, but can't be sure if it's intentional or not. 

Over the next couple of years further "accidents" happen and eventually Claire puts it together and realises what's happening. The book culminates in a truly creepy and terrifying way. 

I liked the book - I liked the non linear structure and the way we met up with the same characters year after year. I liked Claire but thought characterisation in general was a little lacking. I loved the Manx setting and the traditions of Hop-tu-Naa. This is really creepy in parts which I liked. I'm giving this a good four out of five. 

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy - Review

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Where did I get it? I had it on pre-order so it arrived in June and I picked it up shortly after. 


What's it about? It's the third in the series set in Clover City, the same as Dumplin' and Puddin'. It's about Waylon Brewer, who is tall, fat, ginger, gay, and quite femme leaning. He knows of both Willowdean and Millie, but he's not friends with them. His only friends are really his twin sister, Clem, and her girlfriend, Hannah, even though he often feels like the third wheel with them. He's not in the LGBTQ+ club, Prism, at school, partly because of a feud he has going on with the leader, Kyle. He also always wears polo shirts and khaki shorts, because he doesn't want to be bullied any more than he already is, but he has a wardrobe full of stuff that he will wear when school finishes and he and Clem move to Austin and his life will begin. 

He's a big fan of a drag race show, but in the final his favourite doesn't win. He then discovers that Clem is applying to go to the University of Georgia, several states away, and without Waylon. Upset, he drags himself up and applies some make up, and does a faux application video for the drag race show. Clem sees it, and shares it with Kyle, who then - supposedly by accident - shares it to his Facebook profile. Waylon goes viral within the school and feels absolutely horrible about it. 

He then gets nominated for prom queen, at the same time as Hannah gets nominated as prom king. Hannah decides to go for it, and with her encouragement Waylon decides to stay in the competition. He's paired with Tucker to complete a few tasks for the nomination. Tucker is on Waylon's shit list - to be fair, most people are - but the two get close. Waylon is sure that Tucker is straight, but is he?

Waylon, due to being bullied, usually keeps himself to himself, and refuses to believe there's any kind of queer community in Clover City, or that there's people who would want to be friends with him. I like how he lets down his walls throughout the book. He visits the Hideaway - the drag club that is mentioned in at leasy one of the other books. I loved the ending!

What age range is it for? 14+ 


Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yep, both Waylon and Clem are gay. There's plenty of other queer kids around, as I say. 


Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Hannah is a person of colour, but I'm really sorry and can't remember where her family is from. 


Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 


Is there any sex stuff? No 


Are drugs mentioned or used? No 


Is there any talk of death? No 


Are there swear words? A few but not many. 

 

What criticisms do I have? I found the beginning of the book a little bit slow, but it picks up quickly. 

My main criticism is a continuity error which really annoyed me. It's not really the writer's fault, but it is something that a copy editor should have picked up. It's about Hannah's grandma, who she lives with. Waylon says he's never met her, then shortly after, he meets her. Then a few pages later he says he hasn't met her and asks Hannah what she's like. Then half the book later he says he's met her once or twice. Make your mind up! It annoyed me, I'm sorry


Would I recommend the book? Yes, so much 


Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I was desperate to read the third in the series! 

 

What do I think of the cover? It's really cute and matches the other two so perfectly. 

 

What other books is it like? The other ones!


How many stars? Four out of five. 

 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'll keep it for definite!



The Quartet Murders by J R Ellis - Review

Sunday, July 18, 2021


Things have got a little bit out of sync on my blog so it'll look like I read this only a couple of books after I read The Body in the Dales. But I often have to swap things around for my blog tours, so I had had more books in the middle, I promise! But even so, I wanted to get on with the next one in the series because I'd really enjoyed the first one. 

So in this one, DCI Oldroyd is off to Halifax from his home in Harrogate to see a string quartet play a show at the Red Chapel. They've just finished the second movement, around 9pm in the gig, when the violinist, Hans Muller, is shot dead from the back of the building. One of the organisers of the gig, Frank Dancek, immediately rushes to try to find the gunman, but comes up empty. 

Muller was the owner of a very rare Stradivarius violin, and it is stolen from next to his body in the chaos. Oldroyd is asked by the local DCI, Armitage, to stay around and help solve the crime. He asks Carter to come from Harrogate too, and the three men set about investigating Muller and anyone who may have had a grudge against him.

Then a second member of the quartet is killed, and the remaining members get worried. They are keeping things from the police. It then becomes obvious that this second member of the four stole the priceless violin, but it has now disappeared. The crimes must be connected, and there are plenty of suspicious people about, as well as lots of collectors of rare instruments who would love to get their hands on the Stradivarius. 

I loved that part of this was set in Halifax, which I know somewhat, as I could imagine exactly where the detectives were. I liked the mystery over the violin and the history behind some instruments like that. I liked the political nature of some of it. I enjoy Oldroyd a lot, but I wish we'd had more Stephanie Johnson in this book (she's back in Harrogate). I'm giving this four out of five. 

Did Not Finish - Off the Record by Camryn Garrett

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

I really loved Full Disclosure by Camryn when I read it last August, so I was really excite for her new book. I pre ordered it and picked it up not long after it arrived. I read about sixty pages, but I wasn't very gripped by the story. Then I had to read something for one of my blog tours, so I put this down. I read the other book, and then picked this up again. I read about another thirty pages and realised I just really wasn't enjoying it. So, it's going on the Did Not Finish shelf. 

It's about a girl called Josie, who is the youngest of three, who gets the chance to go on a press tour for a new film, so that she can write a piece about one of the stars, Marius something. She's already a writer who's been published, and this is a major senior project for her. While she's there, one of the female actors in the film warns her off a famous director. I didn't get further than that, but I'm guessing there's a Me Too element to it. 

I just couldn't get into the characters properly. I didn't care enough about Josie to see what she was going to go through. She suffers from anxiety, which is something I suffer from terribly myself, but I didn't like the way it was portrayed. I wanted to love this, but I just didn't. I'm sorry! 



The Body in the Dales by J R Ellis - Review

Sunday, July 11, 2021


This book is the first in a series about the same detectives - DCI Oldroyd, and his underlings Carter and Johnson. I read the fifth one, The Nidderdale Murders, back in September 2020, but I don't think I can have reviewed it? I cannot for the life of me find the post if I did! But I enjoyed the book and the setting of Harrogate and the Yorkshire Dales and recommended it to my mum, who loves the Peter Robinson books. She read it and all the rest in the series, and at the end of May told me in passing that the new one - The Whitby Murders - was out. I had totally forgotten about the series, but was pleased for the reminder. I bought the others in the series on Kindle. The older ones were only a pound each, and the newest one was around £4 I think. That's fine by me, I don't want to spend more on thrillers like these which I read quickly and which I don't need paper copies of. 

So, in this book, it's Adam Carter's first day on the job in Harrogate. He's moved up from London. He's in reception at the nick in Harrogate when DCI Oldroyd grabs him and takes him across to the Dales, where a body has been found in a cave system. The dead man is Dave Atkins, a well known caver who is not popular in the village. He is a known womaniser and also owes quite a few people some money. There's no shortage of people who would have liked to kill him. 

But what's strange is that his body is at least two hours into the cave system, and he wasn't wearing any caving equipment, meaning that his dead body has been taken there - but why? And by whom? Oldroyd and Carter start their investigations, going round a whole list of people in the area. 

I like Oldroyd as a DCI - he's a good Yorkshireman with a good sense of humour, who works on his hunches and lets his team do the same. I like Carter, but I think he'd settled a bit by the end of the other book I read. There's not as much Stephanie Johnson in this book, which is a shame cos I like her too. 

I was in hospital at the beginning of June and took my tablet with me to read on. I didn't have to stay overnight but was there for hours longer than I might have been because my spinal block wouldn't wear off in my left foot! So I had a lot of time to read and finished this book then. I'm giving it four out of five and I can't wait to get to the other books in the series soon! 

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


This was the book club choice for June, and I happened to be delivering something to someone in the book club and she had finished the book, so lent her copy to me. I got to it quite quickly, reading it at the beginning of June. It's a novella, around 180 pages, so it didn't take me very long to read at all. 

So, Micah Mortimer lives in Baltimore, in the basement flat of the apartment block he is superintendent for. He earns a little money this way, but he is also known as Tech Hermit, and is on call to anyone to go and help with their computers. He keeps his flat very neat - he has a rota system for cleaning and hates to leave things untidy. He read as a little autistic to me, but I'm not sure if that is intentional or not. He is in his forties. 

He has a girlfriend called Cass, who is in her late thirties and is an elementary school teacher. They see each other fairly often, but don't speak of moving in together or anything like that. At the beginning of the book, she is worried that she might lose her apartment and then she's cross at how Micah reacted to this news. 

A teenager turns up at Micah's apartment; he is the son of Micah's college girlfriend Lorna. His name is Brink and he's led a privileged life. He thinks that Micah is his biological father, but this can't be right because Micah and Lorna never had sex. I thought this would be the main part of the book, but it really isn't.

It's an odd little book and yet I liked it. I liked Micah's character growth in so few pages. I liked his family and Cass and how he did care for them, in his own way. I'm sure I have read Anne Tyler before and I definitely would again - she's very good at drawing characters quickly. I'm giving this four out of five. 

The Stories You Tell by Kristen Lepionka - Review

Sunday, July 4, 2021

 

I recently read the third in the Roxane Weary series, which was the third one my library had. There is a fourth but I guess if I want to read that I'll have to buy it. I really like the series and would recommend it. Roxane is a Private Investigator and is the daughter of a cop who was killed on duty a couple of years ago. She has a fractious relationship with her mother and her oldest brother, Matt, but she's friendly with her brother Andrew, who is a barman. She's also close to Tom, who is also a cop. She has an on again off again girlfriend, Catherine (I think?). In this book things are mostly on between them. Roxane is working on a case over counterfeit leggings which isn't thrilling but is paying the bills. 

Roxane gets a call from her brother in the middle of the night. She goes over and it turns out that this girl, Addison, turned up at his apartment, very upset and scared of something. She asked to use his phone and spoke to an answering machine, and then left Andrew's apartment very quickly. Rozane believes Andrew's version of events, even when it turns out that Addison got him fired from his job at a hotel a few years ago. 

Roxane goes to try to find Addison, but her housemate hasn't seen her. But Roxane isn't the only one looking for her - a cop by the name of Mickey Dillan (again, I think) was looking for her a few days previously. Roxane tries to get in touch with him, to ask why, but can't locate him. His body then turns up in the river, and Addison is definitely missing. Suspicion falls on Andrew, but Roxane is trying to find Addison's family and friends to prove her brother innocent. 

I liked the mystery of this, and I liked the ending and what had happened. I'm giving this four out of five. 

 

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