Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: book review

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

“You know what I’m talking about,” she said. “You’ve known from the day we met. Even on text, where there are no inflections or nuance or tone for non sequiturs. You’ve always spoken fluent me.” When Sam’s ex-girlfriend Lorraine – the great love of his […]

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

‘It’s dope to be black until it’s hard to be black.’  When Starr’s friend Khalil gets shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop, her world is turned upside down. Already struggling to juggle two personalities – the person she is in her ‘hood, Garden Heights Starr, vs. the person she […]

Review: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom by Alex Gardiner

Review: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom by Alex Gardiner

Mossbelly MacFearsome is a dwarf warrior on a mission. His nemesis, Leatherhead Barnstorm, has stolen the Doomstone Sword and is planning to use it to bring about the end of the human race.

It’s up to Moss and his recently elected Destroyer, Roger – an ordinary boy who meets Moss on his way to get beaten up by a bully, impressing the dwarf with his ‘bravery’ in facing someone tougher than he – to save the day (and hopefully avoid getting grounded in the process…)

As this is the first book in a new series for children (the second book, Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Goblin Army, slated for release at the beginning of September) I wasn’t surprised that some aspects of the story were rather clunky. Establishing the lore of the world (introducing Moss and the dwarves, the Witchwatchers and Warlockwatchers, and goblins, ogres and dragons, too) causes the pace to suffer, the amount of exposition making it hard to keep track of the plot at times.

However, that’s both a negative and a positive thing. Although it makes the book feel a bit too long, it also proves Alex Gardiner has done a lot of world-building and has crafted this with potential for expansion in mind. The attention to detail shows Gardiner is invested in the story and the characters, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are quite a few installments in the Mossbelly MacFearsome series to come.

There’s even a bonus chapter at the end of the book featuring a fairy tale which is referenced regularly throughout the story, making you feel even more involved in the world.

I read Mossbelly MacFearsome out loud to my partner and daughter, and had much joy trying to embody the various members of the gang. This book is a perfect bedtime story, as there are lots of made up words that will get children giggling, but it also features a few difficult terms that will help expand your child’s vocabulary.

If you’re looking for a series for your child which will be fun for you and them, give Mossbelly MacFearsome a try.

Alyce

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Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

‘I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing his silhouette; his ghost crawled from the sewer drains. But in a town covered in residue, how could there have been such a lack? Outrage. Sound. Where were the sirens? The panic? Benjamin Whitaker was dead! Dad was dead! […]

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

When Saffron discovers a briefcase in the attic of her family home, she discovers that her father has lied to her. Ten years ago, he told her that her mother was dead, but she’s alive and out there somewhere and Saffron is determined to find […]

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Hello, and welcome to my stop on The Lost Man blog tour. I’ve taken part in the blog tours for both The Dry and Force of Nature, so I jumped at the chance to read and review another of Jane Harper’s novels.

My excitement grew when I learnt that this book was a standalone and not another Aaron Falk novel. Even though I absolutely love his character, I couldn’t wait to see how Harper’s writing changed with a completely new cast of characters.

I wasn’t disappointed.

If you don’t know what The Lost Man is about, check out the synopsis below, then keep reading to hear my spoiler-free thoughts on Harper’s third novel:

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Dark, suspenseful and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

As well as being Harper’s third novel, The Lost Man is the third of her books that I’ve given five stars to. It’s safe to say that she’s cemented herself as one of my favourite mystery authors, keeping me on the edge of my seat and making me consistently unable to predict the outcome to her stories.

At its core, The Lost Man is a tale about coping with adversity. Of course, the characters are all learning to cope with their grief at losing Cam, but as we learn more about each of their back stories it becomes apparent that nearly every member of this family has had a tough time of it.

Nathan has been an outcast – almost completely on his own in the outback – for a decade after making a decision which still haunts him. Liz, their mother, dealt with her abusive husband until his death, but each day she’s forced to confront the lasting impact of his actions. Then there’s Ilse, Cam’s wife, who’s adjusting to life without her husband while rapidly discovering he might not have been the man she thought he was…

The most impressive thing about The Lost Man is how few characters there are. It’s pretty obvious that Cam’s death wasn’t a straight-up suicide: I don’t think there’d be as much of a story here if that was the case, so I’m not counting that as a spoiler! But even though the action solely takes place on Cam’s farm, making the narrative stiflingly intimate, I still gasped with shock when Harper revealed exactly who was involved in his death.

It takes a special kind of writer to pull the wool over my eyes, because I’m notorious for seeing twists coming from a mile away, so I’m impressed that Harper has managed to do it not once, but three times. I’m already highly anticipating her fourth novel, and I’m looking forward to discovering whether she’s going to write another standalone or whether she’s going to catch up with her old friend Aaron Falk again.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Grace Vincent and Caolinn Douglas from Little, Brown, who are tireless supporters of Jane Harper and have put in a huge amount of work to run this blog tour. If you’ve got the time, you should check out the Little, Brown Twitter page to read some more of the posts on this blog tour – there are some brilliant bloggers involved, and I’m honoured to be one of them.

Alyce

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Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything. “So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?” Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.” Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. […]

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’ Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, […]

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

‘Is this what marriage is like? she wonders. A constant balancing act between infatuation and impatience.’

At first glance, it appears as though The Flower Girls is going to be a pretty cut and dry thriller. A girl disappears from a hotel on New Year’s Eve, and when a terrible storms starts raging outside it’s a race against time to try to find her – and the person responsible for abducting her.

Hazel is terrified that the finger of blame will be pointed her way, because she has a secret. Her real name is Rosie, and she’s one of the infamous Flower Girls: the moniker given to her and her sister, Laurel, who was convicted of the brutal murder of a toddler when she was just 10 years old.

Rosie was unable to be tried – as a 6-year-old she was too young to face trial – but even the trauma of seeing what Laurel did to the poor girl caused her to wipe it from her memory, the entire day a completely blank space in her mind.

Hazel’s life is good now. She’s in a long-term relationship with a man called Jonny, who she thinks is preparing to propose. She gets on with his teenage daughter, despite the fact that she’s definitely not old enough to be her mother. She doesn’t want all of that to be ruined.

But when an author staying in the hotel recognises her and forces her to come clean to the investigating officer about her identity, Hazel is catapulted back into the spotlight – and back into Laurel’s life, too.

The Flower Girls is more than just a mystery novel, it’s an exploration of the meaning of family. Laurel is abandoned by her parents and her sister, but their uncle Toby supports her throughout the years, representing her over and over again as he regularly tries – and fails – to get her released from prison. Meanwhile, Hazel finds herself a new family in the form of Jonny and Evie, telling Jonny the truth about her past and feeling pleasantly surprised when he accepts her anyway.

It’s also the perfect starting point for many different moral discussions. Can a child truly be evil? Or held accountable for their actions in a legal sense? Is it more important to examine biological or sociological in these kinds of cases? What exactly constitutes a life sentence? My mind was racing at multiple points while reading The Flower Girls, and I found myself needing to put it down to gather my thoughts into some kind of order. These were topics I’d thought about before but was examining in a completely new light, and I loved the fact that Alice Clark-Platts took a basic idea and elevated it to such heights.

The way the story is told is genius, too. The first half of the book is propelled along at a breakneck speed, as the search for Georgie is extremely time-sensitive. Meanwhile, flashbacks are laced throughout the unfolding events, throwing us back in time to when Hazel was Rosie and the original crime was committed. I was eager to know what happened in both aspects of the plot, and I found myself racing through the present day chapters to dive back into the past, then wanting to get back to the present as quickly as I possibly could.

It’s been a while since I’ve been this captivated by a thriller, as they seem to have become so repetitive and predictable in recent years. Although there were some twists I saw coming throughout The Flower Girls, the ways that they were revealed were fresh and interesting, and there was a big twist that had my jaw dropping open and made me want to reread the entire book with this information in mind (something I’m still considering doing).

I requested The Flower Girls from NetGalley on a whim, because it seemed like the kind of book I’d probably enjoy, but I didn’t have my expectations too high because I was sure it wasn’t going to impress me. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story, and I’m planning on going back and exploring some of Alice Clark-Platts previous releases to see if they’re as good as this one.

The Flower Girls is going to be one of the biggest releases of 2019, I can feel it.

Alyce

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Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

“Why go digging up the past when all it will give you is dust in the eye?” Scared To Death is the first Anthony Horowitz book I’ve ever read, which should be impossible because he’s published so many. I’ve been recommended both the Alex Rider series and […]