So as previously mentioned. whilst I haven’t been reviewing much since lockdown I have still read quite alot, 33 books and 7 audio books to be precise.
There is part of me that for a split second seriously thought I would try and review all of the books I’ve read. However I soon realised that that was just a silly idea, even if I could remember them in enough detail it would be like painting the Forth Bridge, by the time I reviewed one another would be finished. Therefore I’m just going to list them here and move on.
So here they all are in no particular order. I have to say I enjoyed them all (I’m afraid life is too short to finish books I’m not enjoying) although some stand out more than others. The Last by Hanna Jameson is certainly memorable, I’m not sure reading a book about a group of survivors locked in a hotel after the world has ended is the best choice during a full lockdown! The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, whilst not crime, was definitely one of the highlights, as was Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver. They are two I’d highly recommend, as I would the whole Susie Steiner series.
Overall I think I was pretty lucky with my choices of books during lockdown. Whilst I may not have done anything useful with my time like learn a language, or master the art of taxidermy I did manage to reduce my to be read pile significantly. Although this has led to me learning a new word – Abibliophobia. Apparently it is a fear of running out of reading material. As I live in York and we are heading into lockdown part 2 I can confirm this is definitely a real thing! Time to restock I think.
The List (23rd March – 8th October)
1 Susie Steiner – Remain Silent 2 Jessica Barry – Freefall 3 Helen Fitzgerald – Worse Case Scenario 4 Hanna Jameson – The Last 5 Christian White – The Nowhere Child 6 Joshilyn Jackson – Never Have I Ever 7 Balli Kaur Jaswal – Unlikely adventures of the Shergill Sisters 8 Bruce Goldfare – 18 Tiny Deaths 9 Alison Belshaw – The Tattoo Thief 10 J.S Monroe – Forget My Name 11 Julia Dahl – Conviction 12 Noir at the Bar 13 Tanen Jones – The Better Liar 14 Michael Donkor – Hold 15 Jane Harper – The Lost Man 16 Amrou Al-Kadhi – Life as a Unicorn 17 AJ Parker – The First Lie 18 Isobel Ashdown – The Lake Child 19 Afraid of the Light 20 Emily St John M – Station Eleven 21 Fiona Cummins – When I was ten 22 Louise Beech – I Am Dust 23 Tarryn Fisher – The Wives 24 Will Carver – Nothing Important Happened Today 25 Denise Mina – Conviction 26 Amanda Robson – My Darling 27 S J Watson – Final Cut 28 John Marrs – The Minders 29 Rod Reynolds – Blood Red City 30 Rachell Amphlett – Turn to Dust 31 Sherryl Clark – Dead and Gone 32 Kjell Ola Dahl – Sister 33 C L Taylor – Strangers 34 Nell Pattinson – Silent House
On top of those I also listened to a few audio books: 35 David Jackson – The Resident 36 Louise Candlish – The Other Passenger 37 Erin Kelly – We know You Know 38 John Marrs – What Lies Between Us 39 Lisa Jewell – Watching You 40 Phillippa East – Little White Lies 41 Lisa Jewell – One-hit Wonder
Well as you may have noticed I have been rather absent when it comes to this blog, and there has been a distinct lack of reviews. In fact since lockdown I haven’t really done any reviewing except for blog tours (and even then I’ve managed to miss a few and in one case post on the wrong day – sorry all lovely blog tour organisers!) During lockdown I have certainly not stopped reading, in fact I have made decent in-roads into my To Be Read pile. For some reason I have just been woefully lacking in motivation to sit down and write.
Partly I blame the whole working from home situation. For me working from home has both good and bad sides. On the plus side I like not having to get up early and make myself look presentable (yes I am one of those who only straighten the front of my hair for zoom calls, in fact the back of my hair was bright purple for a while) I also like having flexibility in terms of hours, and found it gave me time to do things such as a lunchtime yoga class and clean the kitchen (It’s all rock and roll here)
However there has also been downsides. Having access to the fridge at all times means I end up having cheese on toast as a snack, and baking cakes for elevenses whereas at work I’d have an apple and a salad. Working on the kitchen table means everything takes twice the time it should do as I spend half my time looking out of the window watching what the rest of the street are doing. The main downside being however that I find after a day staring at a laptop on the aforementioned kitchen table, the last thing I want to then do is spend the evening staring at it again to catch up on reviews. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this, but it is a shame.
However now that we have moved back into the office part time things should start to improve. Of course working in the office has it’s own issues. There is a new habit at my place of all eating lunch together (socially distanced of course) which is quite nice, but it’s going on for an hour and a half, that’s just too much forced social time for my liking. There is also tape all over the floor to ensure that we socially distance correctly. I know it’s good that it is being taken seriously but honestly at the top of one stair case in order to keep behind the tape you have to stand on tip toes with your nose pressed againt the wall. We do all have our own coffee making facilities now though which is a bonus.
Hopefully being back in the office will mean things at home get back to a bit of a more normal routine. If nothing else I think I’ll give up my baking experiments and give that time back to reviewing. I suspect both Mr F and the pigeons in the garden who end up eating most of them are all going to be happy about that!
I am a big fan of Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson, therefore I was really pleased to get the chance to read his latest novel, Final Cut.
Final Cut is set in the fictional town of Blackwood Bay, a formally busy seaside town now struggling to survive in a world of cheap package holidays. Alex is a film maker who grew up in the Bay and is commissioned to make a ‘fly on the wall’ style documentary about the town. She is not keen to revisit the place she grew up in and knows that something bad happened to her, yet she has no memory of the events. When a young girl goes missing the lives of the villagers start to unravel as secrets start to emerge.
I really enjoyed this novel. Final Cut is an interesting premise starting with the idea that everyone nowadays is a filmmaker, as people in the village are being encouraged to film themselves and then upload it to a website. It was not what I would call fast paced, it is very character led and there is a lot of conversation, but that for me was what made it interesting. It felt a very compelling read with a sense of menace running through.
The writing is excellent and conjours up some vivid pictures of a quaint but run down seaside town. The book follows a ‘now and then’ storyline as we find out what happened to Alex after she left the town, and also the village as it is now. I found both plots to be interesting which is often not the case in dual narratives where I often find myself skipping through one storyline fast to get back to the more interesting one. The story itself is good although it did go a little flat in the middle, but I suspect that was mainly because I was so keen to find out what was going on that I got a bit frustrated with no one talking. I like the unreliable narrator as a hook, and you can’t get much more unreliable than someone who has little memory of her past.
Overall I very much enjoyed Final Cut. To find out what others on the tour thought of it visit the other stops on the blog tour.
As I’ve mentioned many times, I read a lot more than I review. A lot of that is down to the fact that I love to read, and tend to move immediately from one book to another. Then I end up forgetting about the review. Annoyingly that happens even when I love a book. My scatty-ness also often means that I think I’ve reviewed things and it’s only when I go back to check I realise I haven’t done at all.
One such author that has fallen foul of this is John Marrs. I know that I have read a number of his books and that I have loved them all. Therefore when I was asked to join a blog tour for his latest novel, The Minders I jumped at the chance. However it’s not until I look back I realise I haven’t reviewed any of them which is very remiss of me.
I personally think John Marrs is one of the most interesting authors I have come across in a long time. Each of his novels is a standalone with a story that has kept me hooked. I have just finished listening via audible to What Lies Between Us, a super twisty tale of two women living together. His previous The One about finding love through DNA testing will put you off dating for life. I have thoroughly enjoyed them all, in fact looking at John’s back catalogue there are only two I haven’t yet read, The Passengers and his latest The Minders. Well I intend to change that and am very lucky to have recently received a copy of The Minders which I can’t wait to start. This time I promise I’ll remember to review it too!
The Minders by John Marrs
In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads. Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew. But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…