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Hope to Die by Cara Hunter - Review

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

You know I love Cara Hunter's books - I've read all the previous Adam Fawley books and had ordered this so that it appeared on my Kindle the day it came out. It feels like forever since one came out, and in the book we're only three months after the events of the last book. Adam and Alex's new baby, Lily, is now three months old. That means it's still 2018, and I do worry how the author can keep writing these books without skipping time forward a bit as it's now 2022. Oh well! I'm just glad there's a new book and I picked it up immediately.

At the beginning of the book police are called to a manor in the country where a man has been shot. The owners, Richard and Margaret Swann are determined that the young man was a burglar and that they shot him in self defence. However, Adam and his team don't believe them. The young man has no posessions or identity stuff on him. He can't be identified visually either. So DNA is taken from him. The team starts investigating and finds that the Swanns aren't who they say they are - and Adam realises who they are just as the DNA comes back. Their daughter, Camilla Rowan, is currently serving at least 17 years for murdering her newborn baby. Although a body was never found, and although Camilla swore that she passed the baby over to its biological father, and even given that Camilla did this with two other children, she was found guilty of killing the baby and the Swanns had to change their names and move house in order to escape the abuse sent towards them. 

But now it turns out that the young man killed in their house was Camilla's son, their grandson. Did the Swanns know that? Did Camilla know he had made contact with them? Witnesses say that it seemed like he arrived and went up to the front door, and other things like that. But the team can't find exactly who he is or where he came from. 

Most of this book is told from Adam's point of view, which is fine, but I missed seeing a lot of Ev's point of view or either Gislingham or Quinn's. That's really my only criticism of the book because I really enjoyed the mystery and the various red herrings that were present. I loved the end - it had a real tense aspect to it. I'm giving this five out of five and as ever I'm really looking forward to the next one! 

The Long Count by J M Gulvin - Review

Friday, August 26, 2022

I got this book in my A Box of Stories subscription box a few months ago. I get the box once every three months and I like it - it's always books that I wouldn't pick up myself and I like that it's a little gift to myself. I know some people will disagree with me here, and that's fine! But for now I enjoy the service and will keep doing it.

You know I like a crime novel and I was in the mood for something in that genre as quite a light read. I picked this up from the side of the bed and read it quite quickly - I actually ended up staying up one night finishing it as by that point I was quite gripped by the story. 

So, John Quarrie is a Texas Ranger. He lives on a ranch not far from Lawton Texas with his ten year old son James. James' mother died when he was small and when John Q is working, James is looked after by John Q's friend Pious and his sister Eunice. Someone with a private jet owns the ranch, because John Q (everyone calls him this, which is why I am) uses it a couple of times. Right at the beginning of the book, John Q, James, and Pious are fishing when they discover some old bones in the river. There was a train wreck there many years ago and John Q and Pious assume the bones come from that. 

John Q is the only Ranger free to go check out something that has happened close to the Oklahoma border. He finds a man in an underground study, dead from an apparent suicide. However, John Q doesn't think it is a suicide. He meets the man's son, Isaac, and explains this, but the local police department think it is a suicide and want to close the case. Isaac thinks there's more to it too, though, especially as access to the underground study was hard to acquire without knowing the building. 

Isaac's twin brother Ishmael has been hospitalised for a long time, having suffered with mental health problems since he was very young. Isaac tries to find out more but finds that the hospital he was in has been subjected to a fire recently. It is in tatters and most of the staff and the surviving patients have been moved elsewhere. Ishmael is missing, presumed dead. But then a string of murders happen too, and John Q is zigzagging across the surrounding area investigating them all. 

I did guess some of the twists, but I enjoyed them all the same. I really liked John Q and his friendships. I actually put a hold on the second book in this series at the library, so I'll look forward to that soon! I'm giving this four out of five

With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte - Review and Blog Tour

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog for my stop on the tour for With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte! I am so pleased to welcome you here! I will admit that I don't often read fantasy novels like this but I liked the sound of the blurb so I signed up for the tour and I'm REALLY glad I did as I loved the book. Thank you to The Write Reads and Penguin for having me along and thank you SO MUCH to Penguin for gifting me with a physical copy of the book for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

So! This is the first in a series and it is deliciously so - there's enough explanation to keep the reader interested in the whole thing, but enough intrigue to make me wonder what would happen in the second and third books. I even gussed some stuff that I think may happen, and I'll definitely read the next ones to see if I'm right! 

Lilly is sixteen and American, but she and her dad, Jack, are about to move to Castello in rural Italy. Lilly and her dad don't really get along, ever since the suicide of Lilly's mother, Carly, when Lilly was around ten. (I will give a trigger warning for graphic description of the suicide as this is one of my own triggers - I found it quite difficult to read). Jack misses Carly so much that Lilly feels unloved and spends much of her time by herself.

They arrive in Castello where Jack is going to set up wifi internet and modernise the place. On the walls in Lilly's room are a mural of a war scene. At school the next day, she collides with a boy called Christian and feels something pass between them. She meets her new classmates, including Liza, Alex, and Nico. Alex immediately dislikes Lilly, as does Nico. Liza and she become friends, and Liza begins to explain to Lilly about the rules of Castello. 

Then the enforcers arrive, looking to test everyone's blood. Lilly passes their test, but is utterly confused. Liza explains to her that Castello is made up of two clans - the rich Paradisos and the poor Marconis. For years the two clans were at a bloody war. Then two Saints, one from each clan, set the church on fire, killing many townspeople inside. From this rose The General, who has managed to generate so much hatred against Saints - people who have magical powers. The townspeople came to a somewhat uneasy truce because they were all focussed on hating Saints and exterminating them. There hasn't been a Saint in Castello in over ten years... but are two more about to rise? 

I liked how this was a fantasy book but it flowed really well, I was interested in the mythology and world building rather than bored by it. I liked Liza and how seductive she was; I liked Christian and how confused he was; I liked Alex and how protective of Christian he was; I liked Nico and all his dark history. I liked Veronica Marconi - she was a perfect leader of her clan with everything that entails. I loved some of the twists and turns and treasonous happenings. I am giving this four out of five and am looking forward to the next one! 

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout - Review

Saturday, August 20, 2022

As I mentioned in my review of Oh William!, I hadn't read the first book about Lucy Barton, so I bought it for a few quid on eBay. It's a short little book so I read it one day in July. I didn't like it as much as I like Oh William, actually. I think that's because I liked William as a character and how insufferable he was - just the type of person you can like to dislike in a book. 

In this book Lucy is in her early thirties and has to spend several weeks in hospital. She has a routine operation but then gets an infection and ends up staying longer. Her girls are very little and rarely visit - they are looked after by the woman who ends up being William's second wife, who he was having an affair with. William also rarely visits, which Lucy explains away by saying he is very busy with work. Instead, he phones her mother, who is in Illinois and with whom Lucy has not had contact since she was a teenager and went to college. That's not strictly true - she visited a few times, including with William, but her family was abusive as Lucy was growing up and she doesn't miss her family at all. 

But Lucy's mother turns up at the hospital and stays for five days, not sleeping but catnapping in the chair next to Lucy's bed. She mentions something about never sleeping properly as a child because she 'wasn't safe' - something that Lucy can also say about her own childhood. Lucy's mothe begins to talk about neighbours and family members, spreading the gossip with Lucy in a way that does bond the two women together. 

But Lucy remembers the times she was locked into her father's truck and the time a snake was in there with her, which left her with a lifelong phobia. She also remembers one time when her brother did something and their father humiliated him in public. There's actually quite a lot about Lucy's brother - who is never named - in this book, which I'd really like more of.

Like Oh William this has a really irreverent style which almost makes the reader miss the depth of the actual words being written. I liked it and am giving it four out of five. 

T.I.G.E.R.S. by M A Bennett - Review

Thursday, August 18, 2022


Where did I get it? I bought it a few months ago when I realised there was a 4th in the series. I am not always the most up to date! I do know there's a fifth and final book, and I've ordered it already! 

What's it about? We pick up just after the action of F.O.X.E.S where Shafeen got a phone call about his father. Aadhish has had a heart attack in India so Shafeen and Greer head off immediately to see him and the princess, Shafeen's mother. Greer does firstly have a conversation about the secret order of F.O.X.E.S. who are working to bring down S.T.A.G.S. with Abbott Ridley, the new abbot of the school. He, like her, has the M brand on his thumb meaning he is a Manslayer. Greer is still unsure about who to trust which turns out to be a good thing because like in previous books you're never sure who to trust and who is working for whom. 

Then we're in India, where Greer has been previously so it's not a total shock to her, but it wasn't shown in a previous book. She and Shafeen are staying at the family's home in Jaipur, where there's a driver at their beck and call and an Untouchable for a servant. Aadhish is unresponsive in his hospital room, and Greer wonders if he will actually survive. It turns out he was at the Tiger Club when he had his heart attack, so Shafeen and Greer head over to it to see what they can uncover. It's a hang over from the British Raj in India, complete with stuffy Colonel and so on. 

Greer and Shafeen later discover Aadhish's diary, telling about how, in 1969, he was invited to Longcourt by Rollo de Warlencourt, like Shafeen and Greer and Nel were way back in S.T.A.G.S., and how he became the hunted one, hunted by the Medievals for their entertainment. There's also another part to his story, which I won't spoil, but which explains the heart attack and brings the whole thing together.

I really enjoyed this book, I liked the Indian setting and I liked how Greer learnt more about the British's role there and the different class systems within Indian society. It felt like a good way of introducing those concepts to readers who may not know much about it. I loved Aadhish's diary and what was contained within. This is a great book, I think it's my favourite since S.T.A.G.S. 

(Please see here for my review of S.T.A.G.S. and here for my review of D.O.G.S.

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Spoilers! 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Shafeen is Indian obviously, and as I say I liked how Indian society and the different castes and privileges within it were portrayed. 

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? Yes, some of it is a little graphic 

Are there swear words? No 


What criticisms do I have? Almost none - it's so good as the fourth book because it feels like it's culminating towards an ending but still being a completed and satisfying book in its own right 

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely if you've read the rest in the series 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Because I needed to know what happened next! 


What do I think of the cover? Hah I was actually reading this while outside at a gig that my partner was playing and a couple of people commented on the tiger on the cover. There's a lot of tigers in the book, including a subplot about a real tiger hunt that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip went on. 

How many stars? Five out of five 


Where is the book going now? I'll keep it - I do keep hoping I'll meet M A Bennett one day! 

Family Life by Akhil Sharma - Review

Monday, August 15, 2022

I got this book in my A Box of Stories subscription, which I have set to come every three months and which I enjoy so I decided to keep going with it. I haven't read anything from it in a while, but again I was rooting through the books by the side of my bed and came upon this. The blurb intrigued me so I started it immediately, but the blurb actually doesn't give the whole of the story at all. 

When Ajay is eight and living in Delhi with his brother and parents, the family decides to emmigrate to America. Fuelled by dreams of living the American Dream, first of all Ajay's father moves to the US where he quickly finds work. The book is set in the late 70s and later the 80s. Ajay, Birju and their mother have to sell all their posessions to move. Once they get there, Ajay finds his father changed and his mother, who used to be a teacher, has to get a job in a garment factory. 

Ajay and Birju spend each summer with their aunt and uncle in Arlington, Virginia. Their second summer there, Birju has an accident that changes everyone's life forever. The rest of the book is about Ajay's life after this, from his childhood to when he graduates from university. I didn't expect the book to go this way at all - I was expecting a story about immigrants in a strange land. But I really liked the book anyway! I'm giving it four out of five. 

Family of Liars by E Lockhart - Review

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Where did I get it? I bought it a few weeks ago. I read We Were Liars ages ago and wanted to read this prequel. I read We Were Liars before I started this blog, but believe me when I say that when the twist was revealed I wanted to throw the book out of the window. I absolutely hadn't seen it coming. I've read a couple of other books by E Lockhart since We Were Liars, and enjoyed them. So of course I ordered this! 

What's it about? It's set on the same island as We Were Liars and is narrated by Cadence's aunt, Carrie, when she is a teenager. Her parents are Harris and Tipper, white upper class WASPy types, who have more money than sense and who are extremely overprivileged. They have four daughters - Carrie, Penny, Bess, and Rosemary. The summer that Carrie is sixteen, Rosemary drowns off the island. She is just ten years old and Carrie grieves deeply for her, but the rest of the family seems to have forgotten about her. In winter the next year, Carrie has surgery on her jaw which gets infected and means that she stays at home with her mother for a couple of months. It also starts in her a codeine addiction which, as she says, will take her a few stays in rehab and a few years to get over. The book does go forwards in time to after the events of We Were Liars (no spoilers!) but mostly concentrates on the year Carrie is sixteen and then the following summer, when she is seventeen.

Rosemary turns up as a ghost in Carrie's room, wanting attention from Carrie. She tries to show herself to Tipper too, but Tipper banishes her. One night in Tipper's room, Carrie sees a strand of black pearls, which she is given permission to wear, and a photograph of Tipper and a man, who has had his face scratched from the photo. Carrie is intrigued and tries to work out who the man is.

Meanwhile Harris' brother Dean turns up with his children, Yardley and Tomkin. Carrie and Yardley are a similar age and usually hang out together all summer. However, Yardley has brought her boyfriend George with her and two of his friends, Major and Pfeff. The summer tumbles away from all of them, and secrets have to be hidden. As Carrie says, the Sinclairs were always liars...

I loved being back on Beechwood Island with the Sinclair family. They're all just quite horrible, and I love it. There's so much tradition which must be upheld at all costs, and everyone is just out for themselves. I did feel sorry for Carrie and really liked seeing the events of this summer from her point of view. 

What age range is it for? Fourteen plus 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? There's a subplot, yes 

Are any main characters people of colour? No 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I think Carrie's addiction counts here - it's not graphic most of the time, but it is there. 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, and trigger warning for sexual assault. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, abuse of prescription drugs 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's quite graphic in places 

Are there swear words? No 


What criticisms do I have? Almost none, I could stay in this world forever 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, but read We Were Liars first! 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Could I resist it?? No! 


What do I think of the cover? It's perfect, dreamy and a little unsettling 

How many stars? Four out of five. I just enjoyed it a lot. 

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

One Track Minds edited by Kristian Brodie and Adam Shakinovsky - Review

Sunday, August 7, 2022

I backed this book on Unbound and it arrived a few weeks ago, and after I'd finished my last book I was digging around in the pile next to the side of the bed and thought, oh yes, this sounds perfect. I had to move many boxes of tablets to dig around in the pile of books, which is the reality of chronic illness life to be honest! 

This book is a small collection of essays about a song that has changed someone's life in some way or another. Most of these essays have been performed by the writer for a podcast, but it was nice to read the words too. Some of the songs I knew and some I didn't, but the book helpfully has QR codes after each song for the reader to check the songs out on Spotify or similar. Some of the songs are classics and some are really unknown - one essay is about a video game theme tune! 

I like people writing passionately about music so this was right up my street. I'm giving it four out of five. 

The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean - Review

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Where did I get it? My friend Lucinda had recommended it to me so when I saw it pop up on Netgalley I requested it. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for granting me access to the book. I was provided with an electronic copy of this book for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

What's it about? James is seventeen and has just inherited the crown of the United Kingdom. His father, the king, has died, and James has to step up to the duty that he has always known would be his. His twin brother, Eddie, born just eight minutes after James, has a carefree life in a way that James has never had. 

There are some problems to James inheriting the throne. First of all, he is Black. The twins' mother is Black and although their father was white, many of the UK's subjects are completely unhappy with the idea of a Black king, and protests start to rise outside the palace. 

Secondly, James is gay, but he's the only one who knows that. Well, he and the aide he's been seeing for a few months now, Jonathan. Jonathan is just eighteen and James is in love with him. But on the night that James becomes king, Eddie throws a clandestine party in the palace and one of his best friends Grigor is there. Grigor is definitely flirting with James and Jonathan sees. When James rushes after him, Jonathan disappears. Someone leaves a note in his room threatening James' secret. 

Then there's a journalist called Quinn, who starts revealing things that only Jonathan could know. James doesn't want to think the worst of him, but who else would know these things? James isn't sure who he can trust - his ambitious cousin, Cassandra, who wants to be queen, his aide, Gayle, who seems to know more about Jonathan than she's letting us, his bodyguard Peter, and even his own family. 

This is a fun, fan fiction kind of book, full of tropes and twists and turns. I guessed some of the twists but not others, and I was still happy with the outcome of the twists. I'm really hoping this is the first in a series, it deserves to be! 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yep, as I say James is gay 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yep, James is Black as I said. I liked the way this was depicted and how it made James worry about being king. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No, it's very fade to black 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? There's a bit about the old king dying, but it's not graphic. 

Are there swear words? No 


What criticisms do I have? Honestly almost none! This a cute YA book 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I just really wanted to read it 


What do I think of the cover? It's cute isn't it, I think it would make you stop and look again. 

How many stars? A very good four out of five. 


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