Tag Archives: book reviews

The Vacation by John Marrs – a review BLOG TOUR

John Marr’s is one of my favourite authors so I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for the newly repacked The Vacation (previously titled Welcome to Wherever You Are)

The Vacation is set in a back packers hostel on a Los Angeles beach. Eight strangers are all there but none of them are there just for a holiday. Each of them has their own reasons for trying to turn their back on their normal life, and each of them have secrets they want to keep hidden. Whether they are running from themselves or other people they hope that the hostel will be the solution, yet as the saying goes you can run but you can’t hide!

The Vacation is a real twisty read that I found very compelling. The chapters are short and there are lots of cliff hanger endings, all of which makes this hard to put down.

The book started relatively slowly as we are introduced to all of the main players but it soon starts to pick up pace. There are a lot of characters in this book but it is so well written that they are all easy to keep track of. They each have their own back story and as with all good books as the stories start to unwind the characters lives begin to merge.

I liked the way that all the stories were tied up properly at the end, some with endings I didn’t see coming and some with endings that were just heartbreaking. Throughout the book my views of each of the characters had kept changing and this continued right to the end.

I would recommend this great read for all fans of a twisty well written tale.

Find out what other bloggers on the tour thought by visiting the stop below:

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Mr Jones by Alex Woolf – a review

When this book dropped through my door courtesy of Indie Novella it was definitely intriguing. The cover being a suited and booted man with a panda head.

Mr Jones begins with Ben and his daughter on their way to school. It’s ten months since the sudden disappearance of Ben’s wife and he’s still struggling to come to terms with it whilst parenting his eight year old daughter Imogen. When he finds a strange young girl who appears to be living on her own in a derelict house it is the start of a descent into a weird and scary place. Ben starts to hear odd noises in the house, and Imogen begins to receive messages from her mother.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Originally I’d just left it on the shelf but the cover kept calling me so I gave it a go, which I’m very glad I did. As all my regular readers of the blog will know (Hi Mr T and the Sister – don’t think I’ve missed anyone!) I’m not a fan of the supernatural and don’t usually like a supernatural ending. However this book was absolutely superb and without giving too much away personally the ending can be interpreted in different ways. Supernatural or human breakdown? I confess that for the first couple of pages I wasn’t immediately gripped but a chapter in and I was hooked.

The story focuses on Ben who is struggling to cope after his wife goes missing. He is a really interesting character that I felt huge sympathy for, yet at the same time I was frustrated by some of his actions. His interactions with the other parents sometimes took turns that made me want to shout no at the page, but his relationship with his daughter was one of love yet desperation.

As I’ve said it’s difficult to review without giving too much away. One of the elements I really liked was the ambiguity around both the story and the characters. There was a real sense of menace coming off the page at points and the ending was equally thrilling and frustrating in equal measure.
I would definitely recommend Mr Jones if you want a gripping yet unsettling story.

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City of the Dead by Jonathan Kellerman – a review

Sometimes I find that with the fabulous amount of new books on offer the longer running series can fall off my radar even if I have loved the previous ones. This is what had happened with Jonathan Kellerman and the Alex Delaware series. Therefore I was really pleased to be sent his latest one City of the Dead.

City of the Dead begins with a dead man who whilst originally thought to have been run over actually seems to have been thrown into the side of a van. However things take a more sinister turn when a trail of blood leads the detectives to the body of a young women. The woman turns out to have a troubled background and the case gets even more complicated as the investigations leads us into the sordid side of LA.

I really enjoyed this story. Despite the murder and crime it felt like the type of story that could be described as a caper (the frolicsom crime type, not the pickled berry), lots of red herrings and dead ends but not so many that it became confusing.

I liked the characters within it, Alex is a psychologist who helps the police out on cases when needed and is an all round nice bloke. The friendship between Alex and detective Milo Sturgis is an interesting one, and I like the fact they work together with mutual respect rather than it just being who can use who the most. I really enjoy the mix of police procedural and psychological thriller that is created by having the two characters together.

The descriptions of the city are incredibly vivid and it conjoured up a pretty murky desperate place where criminals are around every corner.

Although this is the 37 book in the series I think it could be read as a standalone as the focus is on the crimes not necessarily the detectives. However if you are in the market for investing some time and starting a new long running series then start dig out When The Bow Breaks and get stuck in.

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year – new challenge

In the absence of a full TOPCWF this year, I thought I’d have a go at reading the full long list of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year as my challenge. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to complete it ahead of the announcement of the shortlist tomorrow but it’s my challenge and my rules therefore my aim is to read them all before the announcement of the winner later in the year.

The 18 authors listed are:

  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Read – see review here)
  • Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre 
  • Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (Read)
  • Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (Read)
  • Blue Moon by Lee Child
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • Red Snow by Will Dean 
  • Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (Read – it’s set in Peterborough so I had to read a book from my home town)
  • Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Read)
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Read)
  • Joe Country by Mick Herron 
  • How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid 
  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Read – see review here)
  • Conviction by Denise Mina
  • Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Read)
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North (Read)
  • Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson 
  • Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce  (Read)

Ok, well firstly that list confirms that I am very behind with writing reviews. Secondly assuming the winner is announced on the dates that the festival should have been held, voting for the winner will probably close a bit before then. That gives me around 6 weeks to read 9 books. I suppose there are some bonuses about the lock down, with the pubs closed the evenings can be given over to book reading!

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