Hi there! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had time to post (working in a chocolate shop at Easter is even busier than working retail at Christmas, so I’ve been struggling to recover) but I’m glad to be back and taking part in the […]
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Fallen Angel blog tour. This is the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve ever read, but as soon as Caolinn invited me to take part I knew I had to say yes – she described Fallen Angel in a way that made me desperate to read it.
As always, I’m going to share a little bit about Fallen Angel with you before I share my thoughts. It’s extremely difficult to say anything about this book without giving it all away, so I’m not going to be going into details, but I think the synopsis sells itself…
To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.
Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…
And suspicion is a dangerous thing.
Fallen Angel is told in an extremely intriguing way. Beginning with a murder – a man slumped over his desk, a nearly invisible needle mark nodding towards the cause of his death – it’s pretty obvious that the body belongs to recently deceased world famous professor Max Temple.
The Temple family gather together at their villa for the first time in almost two decades, summoned at the behest of their mother Celia. The matriarch of the family, Celia is determined that her family are going to honour their dead father properly, scattering his ashes near the bench that he loved and putting all of the drama from their last couple of visits far, far behind them.
At their neighbour’s villa, Canadian nanny Amanda is watching the events unfold. A huge fan of Max Temple and his ability to demolish the arguments of conspiracy theorists, Amanda can’t believe it when she stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the Temples themselves. Because Max’s granddaughter, Niamh, died the last time the family were all together, but the internet is convinced that of the Temples is responsible for her death – and that the rest of the family have all been covering it up.
When the police arrive at the villa and another death is announced, Amanda knows there is something fishy going on with the Temples, and she’s determined to use her talents as an investigative journalist to uncover the buried truth.
Chris Brookmyre has chosen an interesting way to tell the story of the Temple family, as it jumps between multiple perspectives but Amanda’s is the only one told in first person. This choice was hard to adjust to at first, but it ended up making me feel far more invested in the story: a little splash of kinship with Amanda made me care a lot more about the mystery.
The Temples are very difficult to empathise with. All of them are rather selfish – although most of them have extremely good reasons for their behaviour – but if it hadn’t been for the down-to-earth attitude of Amanda I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much.
There are two stories running alongside each other throughout Fallen Angel, with the story periodically jumping back to that fateful visit to the villa sixteen years before. I did find the conclusion of the present day story predictable, however I was impressed by the resolution of the mystery of Niamh’s death – I was guessing up until the big reveal and I was so close yet so painfully far.
If, like me, you haven’t read any of Chris Brookmyre’s novels yet, I think Fallen Angel is a great place to start. With similarities to the case of Madeleine McCann, Fallen Angel is the perfect book to pick up if you’re always interested in unsolved mysteries and can’t wait to get to the bottom of the unknown.
Before I go I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little, Brown for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for Fallen Angel.
I’m definitely interested in reading more of Brookmyre’s work now. If you’ve read any of his other novels, is there anywhere you would recommend I start?
I feel as though it’s tempting fate to say this, but the weather in England has been uncharacteristically bright for the past few weeks. It’s still cold, yes, but there’s been a surprising lack of rain: although April is supposed to bring showers, it’s instead […]
I found it really hard to think of ten things to put on this week’s list, because I haven’t done anything that outrageous in the name of books. I just about managed to scrabble a list together… Then I completely forgot to write it up […]
It’s been hard to narrow this list down to just ten, because there are so many different reasons I choose to read a book. I’ve had a lot of fun trying to pick which are my top ten reasons, though – I hope you enjoy this list as much as I liked making it!
10) View potential
Okay, so this is a totally self-absorbed reason, but sometimes I do choose to read a book based off of how successful I think a review post about it could be. I’d be surprised if other bloggers didn’t feel the same – isn’t that one of the reasons that we sign up for blog tours and read and review books by majorly hyped authors?
9) Proof design
This reason is quite shallow – almost as shallow as judging a book by its cover (which is coming later on in this list, don’t you worry!) – but if a book has an intriguing proof design I’m far more likely to remember people talking about it when it’s eventually released. Some of my favourite proof designs that I’ve received include The Last by Hanna Jameson (which features a mobile phone covered in emergency alerts, introducing the story) and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (blue sprayed edges <3). When I’m thinking of books which I’ve reviewed to recommend, they stick at the forefront of my mind because of their memorable designs.
8) Intriguing titles
I’m a huge fan of book titles that make books sound like they’re going to be about something completely different. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell… All of these are books that I might not have picked up if they hadn’t had such interesting titles, but surprisingly enough they aren’t informative books about fruit, trees or the various aromas of living rooms across the world.
I love a bargain. If there’s a book I’m not too sure about reading and it’s on sale on Kindle or I find it in a charity shop, I suddenly can’t resist throwing it in my basket (even if I haven’t gotten around to reading most of the books I own for this exact reason!).
6) Enthusiastic bloggers
If a blogger I like recommends an author or book, I’m more likely to trust their opinion than I am that of a professional reviewer. I recently bought my first ever Abi Elphinstone book just because of how highly she’s recommended by Aimee over on Twitter, and it’s impossible to resist reading Melinda Salisbury or Maz Evans if you go anywhere near Steph’s blog. I’m also willing to try anything that’s loved by Amy at Golden Books Girl – we have almost identical reading tastes, so if she rates a book highly I’m sure it’s going to knock my socks off!
I’ve had to put length in the middle of this post, because it’s not the most important thing I consider when picking up a book but it really does bias me against certain releases. I’m terrified of huge books – A Game of Thrones, The Priory of the Orange Tree and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy are some off of the top of my head – and if a book is too long then I’m sure to avoid reading it. However, I don’t automatically turn towards shorter releases (unless I’m trying to catch up on my Goodreads challenge #sneaky).
As soon as I love a book by an author, they become an autobuy author. This is one of the reasons that I love reading debut authors so much: Sara Barnard, Lisa Williamson, Melinda Salisbury, Kathleen Glasgow, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Steven… The list is practically endless, but they’re all authors who blew me away with their debuts and whose releases I eagerly anticipate.
Hype is a contradictory one. As soon as a book is hyped I buy it instantly – Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – but it takes me YEARS to actually get around to reading them because I’m so certain that they aren’t going to live up to my expectations. It’s definitely one of the primary reasons that I buy books, but it’s the furthest down the list when it comes to actually making me read the book.
The only thing that’s surprising about me putting covers as a reason I pick up books is that it’s not the highest thing on my list. I am so biased towards beautiful books. If I pick up a book with a boring cover and I love it I find myself getting so surprised, and if a gorgeous book disappoints me it feels like the end of the world!
1) New releases on Borrowbox
I only started using Borrowbox last year, but it is ADDICTIVE. Every week I check the new releases in the young adult and children’s genres and I find myself inundated with brand new titles, some of which I haven’t even heard of! It’s awful, because it means I’ve stopped prioritising all of the NetGalley books which I have to review, but I’ve also found some absolute gems so I’m going to continue doing it (until I run out of new releases, which will literally never happen).
I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday post! What’s the one thing that makes you instantly grab a book off of the shelf?
I was extremely excited to see Monsters by Sharon Dogar on NetGalley, because I’ve been obsessed with Mary Shelley’s life since studying Frankenstein at university in 2017. Expecting a novelisation of her earlier years to bring to life all of the people I’ve studied so closely, I thought this was bound to be one of my top reads of 2019.
Unfortunately, Monsters was an absolute struggle. I knew as soon as I read the first chapter that it was going to be hard – it’s written in the present tense, which is an unusual choice and doesn’t lend itself well to storytelling – but it was like pulling teeth. I’m a fast reader, and it took me almost three weeks of constant reading to get through this story.
Yes, it’s important to focus on the fact that Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, completely disowned her when she decided to run away with Percy Bysshe Shelley. It’s also important that they were riddled with debt and had to flee locations across the continent when they couldn’t afford to pay the landlords. But the majority of the book is wholly centred on their monetary struggles, leaving the suicides of both Fanny and Harriet to happen in the last five percent (and for the deaths of two of Mary and Percy’s children, and the death of Percy himself, to happen in the afterword).
However, I do applaud Sharon Dogar for choosing the version of events she feels most likely to have happened and committing to it. A lot of authors would have written the romance between Bysshe and Claire far more subtly, as evidence of their suspected passion has been almost completely destroyed due to the removal of pages from Mary’s journal. It’s a brave move to make the events seem far more clear-cut, although it’s important to take it with a pinch of salt because there is no proof that Dogar’s version of their story is true.
If you’re interested in Mary Shelley but are planning on learning about her by reading Monsters because it isn’t non-fiction, I would highly recommend Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws. Yes, it’s a non-fiction book, but it’s told in a narrative style that makes it more gripping than most stories (and 100% more engaging than Monsters). It also tells the story of Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, by running their lives parallel to each other, comparing and contrasting the events that they get up to.