Mini Book Reviews: Safe at Home | All For You | Next of Kin | The Heights | A Slow Fire Burning

I’ve not read a huge amount of books whilst on my blogging break but I have read a few and they’ve been so good. Today I’m sharing some mini reviews of recent NetGalley reads and I highly recommend all five of these books!

Safe at Home by Lauren North

I loved Lauren North’s first novel so am always keen to read anything new by her and I’m so pleased to say that I enjoyed this one. Safe at Home follows Anna who is a very anxious mother. One evening she leaves her eleven year old daughter home alone for a short period but she gets held up. When she gets back her daughter has unexplained bruising but won’t talk about it. The next day a businessman is reported missing. I found this novel to be very gripping. I was immediately curious about why Anna was so anxious and over-protective and wanted to know what could have happened to her daughter. Throughout the novel we see snippets of the local mums’ whatsapp group, which I loved as we see the way they appear nice and supportive and then the way they talk behind other mums’ backs. The gradual reveals of what has happened were really good and this novel definitely kept me on my toes. I didn’t see the ending coming and I love that it shocked me. I recommend this one!

All For You by Louise Jensen

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Louise Jensen’s previous novels and this one was just as good. It follows three members of a family: Lucy the mum, Aidan the dad and Connor their teenage son. In this novel all three of them have their secrets so when threatening messages begin appearing each of them believes these messages are aimed at them. Then one day two of Connor’s best friends go missing and the worry is that Connor might be next. I loved how this novel kept me on my toes. I had my suspicions throughout the novel and some of them proved correct but most were completely wrong as I just didn’t see the bigger picture of what was going on. I sped through this novel and didn’t want to put it down so I definitely recommend it!

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

Next of Kin is a brilliant novel but it’s not always easy to read. It follows Leila who one day is asked to take her very young nephew to nursery on her way to work. She agrees but later in the day when the baby’s father rings her to ask why his son isn’t at nursery Leila realises her mistake and races to her car. There are distressing scenes in this book but the story is really well written and the issues are sensitively handled. The novel follows the aftermath of Leila’s discovery and the guilt of various members of the family. I love how it explored the ramifications for Leila and her sister’s relationship. This is the third book I’ve read by Kia Abdullah and her writing just keeps getting better and better – I already can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.

The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Heights follows Ellen a couple of years previously as she tries to deal with her teenage son making a new friend at school who seems to be a really bad influence. She tries her hardest to split them up but never manages it. The novel also follows her in the present as one day whilst at work she sees Kieron, he son’s friend, but it can’t really be him because she knows he’s dead! The novel then goes back and forth in time as we learn what happened with her son and Kieron and what revenge Ellen exacted to get him out of her son’s life. I was completely engrossed in this novel and read it in one sitting – it’s absolutely my favourite of all of Louise Candlish’s novels to date and I highly recommend it!

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

I listened to the audio book of this, which is narrated brilliantly by Rosamund Pike. The novel follows three women: Laura who is hot-headed and often judged for it; Miriam who sees Laura fleeing the scene of a murder but who knows you can’t always believe everything you see; and Carla who is reeling the shock from finding out that her nephew has been murdered. These three women are all fascinating and I loved getting to know more about all of them and seeing the layers of what makes them who they are slowly getting peeled back. They all have damage and they all have issues but they’re all so interesting to get to know. I wanted to know who the murderer was and why but it was almost secondary to getting to know the women. I very much enjoyed this novel and I recommend it!

Mini Book Reviews: Dead Head | Truth Be Told | The Split | Punching the Air

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

This was one of my most anticipated books for this year and it more than lived up to my hopes for it! This is the third instalment in the SweetPea series and I loved this book. In Dead Head we are back with Rhiannon at a book launch and then the novel goes back in time and we find out what she has been up to since the last book. She is now on the run and trying to evade the authorities and she is on form! Her kill lists are absolutely brilliant, and yet again it’s disconcerting to find yourself nodding your head in agreement with some of her hates and then realising she is actually a serial killer and perhaps would kill people for these reasons. This is such a fun series though – it’s dark and at times gory but Rhiannon is one of the best fictional characters I’ve ever read about. I don’t want to say much more about this book as you really need to read the first two books first and I don’t want to risk spoiling anything. I do highly recommend this whole series though, it’s utterly brilliant!

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Truth Be Told book is an incredible read. In it we follow Kamran, a teenage boy who is the victim of rape by another boy at his boarding school. Kamran goes to see Zara Kaleel at a rape crisis centre and she agrees to help him. This is such a powerful novel that explores so many issues around rape and consent, race and gender, and the impact on the victim, but also the people around the victim when a rape accusation is made. It was very hard to read at times but the issues are handled really sensitively and in a way that is so believable. This is the second novel that features Zara but this novel does work as a standalone. I enjoyed the author’s previous book but this one is even better. I didn’t want to put this one down and now I’ve finished it I keep finding myself thinking about it. I highly recommend this one!

The Split by Sharon Bolton

I’m just finding my way out of a horrible reading slump and this book was exactly what I needed to remind me what it’s like to get completely lost in a great novel. The Split opens with the main character, Felicity, at work in Antarctica. She is on edge about a passenger cruise that is due to arrive and she decides to leave her station for a little while. The novel soon goes back in time to nine months earlier in Cambridge, which was a real jolt but I was soon absorbed in what was going on there. I had my suspicions about elements of what was going on but I didn’t see the whole picture until it was revealed to me. I was completely along for the ride with this one and that was the best way to read it. Felicity is struggling with absences and she finds herself in places without knowing how she got there, and she feels like someone has been in her home. She has to go and see a counsellor, Joe, and we follow his perspective too. My favourite character in the novel is Delilah, a police detective who is Joe’s mother. She does not suffer fools and always says what she thinks. This was a dark read at times but also such a fun novel to read. I definitely recommend it!

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

This is a really powerful young adult novel told in verse and follows a young black man, Amal, as he is convicted of a brutal assault and sent to prison. Parts of drawings and scribbles are interspersed throughout the narrative, which really added to Amal’s story and to my understanding of who he is and how he expresses himself best. He’s clearly a boy who loves his family and wants to do well at school but he is, understandably and justifiably, angry at his art class teacher’s focus on white artists. One day he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and while he isn’t entirely innocent, he didn’t do the thing he is convicted of. His anger and confusion is palpable, and I could feel the claustrophobia of the prison as if I was right there too. Over time we see the moments of hope that keep Amal going, and I loved the letters he gets from Zenobia. There are small acts of kindness, that come alongside the really dark moments, and it is those that make this book hopeful. It doesn’t shy away from racism and race issues, or the injustice suffered by the wrongly convicted but there is definitely some hope in there. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone.

Mystery & Thriller Mini Reviews: The Wych Elm, The Hiding Game, The Holiday, and Take It Back!

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On my blog today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of some mystery and thriller books that I’ve read and enjoyed over the past few months!

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The Wych Elm by Tana French

I’m a huge fan of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series so I was intrigued to read this standalone novel. I did have an ARC of this but due to not being well I bought the audio book, and I highly recommend it. The narrator of the audio is so perfect for the book! The Wych Elm is one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and then gradually weaves its spell around you! Toby is brutally attacked in his home and whilst recovering goes to stay at his family’s ancestral home with his Uncle Hugo, who has a brain tumour and needs some help around the house. One day a skull is discovered inside a tree in the garden and this leads to secrets and lies being revealed, cover-ups attempted and a family left reeling by what they discover. I loved this book and already want to re-read it. I highly recommend this one!

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The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

This is an intriguing and interesting thriller that follows Heather, a defence attorney, as she goes back to her home town to defend a teenage nanny who is accused of causing the death of the baby in her charge. I enjoyed following Heather and learning more about her life – her mother was murdered when she was a child and she’s never really been able to move on from it. I did struggle with the novel a little though as there are a lot of characters and it was difficult to keep them separate from each other at times. For the most part this book did have me gripped though and I was definitely keen to find out whodunnit in both the timelines. I love that it kept me guessing right to the end!

 

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The Holiday by T. M. Logan

I do love a thriller novel that involves groups of old friends going away together and seeing how things unfold in that situation so the premise of The Holiday ticked all my boxes and I’m really happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations! Kate and her family are on holiday in a beautiful holiday home with three of her oldest friends and their husbands and children. Early on the holiday she discovers some texts on her husband’s phone that make her doubt his honesty and from there on the novel grips you as you wonder if he could be cheating with one of the other women in the villa. It turns out there are more secrets amongst this group of friends, which makes this such a fast-paced, gripping page-turner. I didn’t see where this was going so I loved being surprised by how it all turns out. I definitely recommend this book!

 

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Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

This is a legal thriller that is very prescient for our times. Jodie is a sixteen year old girl with neurofibromatosis and she claims to have been sexually assaulted by four muslim boys. This is written in such a way that when you read Jodie’s story you absolutely believe her but then when you read the perspectives of the four boys you believe them. The novel follows the legal case but also the way the community deals with the accusations. This book certainly makes you think and would make a good book club read as it brings up lots of issues that would make for interesting discussions. It didn’t quite hit the mark for me, it just felt like something didn’t quite sit right with me and I can’t even put my finger on what that was. I did enjoy it though and I would recommend it. I’m looking forward to reading whatever Kia Abdullah writes next.

A Brand New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Birthday Books

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It was my birthday way back in January but I saved the book vouchers I got so that I could treat myself to some lovely books later in the year (it’s always nice to make a birthday gift last longer!). I finally spent the vouchers yesterday and got these three books! 🙂

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S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

This book has fascinated me for the longest time as it’s a novel with marginalia that also tells a story plus it has notes and postcards and maps inserted amongst its pages. I’m so excited to sit down with this stunning book!

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Spring by Ali Smith

I love Autumn and Winter so I really wanted to get Spring in hardback too so I’m delighted to have this one. It’s even more beautiful in real life than it looked in pictures so I’m happy to own this one. I plan on reading this one very, very soon!

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The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell

I’ve been hearing about this poetry collection recently and am fascinated by its exploration of women and disability so I couldn’t resist buying it!

 

Purchased Books and eBooks

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

I’m a huge fan of Louise Voss (and have been since her first novel was published!) so I couldn’t resist grabbing the ebook of this while it was on offer this week. I’ll still be buying the paperback when it’s out to add to my collection!

How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan

I’m fascinated by how our minds work and so this book has been on my radar for a few months. I’m in the mood to read it now so decided to treat myself this week.

The Boy Who Stole Time by Mark Bowsher

I first heard about this book on Linda’s Book Bag late last year and it’s been on my mind ever since so when I spotted it this week I simply had to buy it. I think this will be an emotional read so I’ll save it to read when I’m in the right mood but I am so looking forward to getting to it.

Someone is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst

I’ve seen some brilliant reviews of this book during the recent blog tour and decided that I simply had to get a copy. It sounds like such a gripping thriller and I can’t wait to read it!

The Mother’s Mistake by Ruth Heald

I saw a fabulous review of this book on the wonderful Meggy at Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles blog this week and I immediately bought a copy! I can’t wait to read this thriller so don’t think it’ll be on my TBR for very long!

 

Purchased AudioBooks

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Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

I’ve been wanting to read this book for absolutely ages so when I saw the audiobook on a deal of the day on Audible this week I immediately clicked to buy. I’m really looking forward to listening to this book!

 

ARCs

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

I read the blurb for this book and was so intrigued that I immediately requested it on NetGalley. I was thrilled when I got approved and I can’t wait to read this!

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I read Claire Allan’s first thriller and really enjoyed it so when I realised she had a new one due out I knew I had to read it. This one sounds really intriguing and I’m so looking forward to it.

The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

This book sounds so interesting – it’s a thriller set at a time when a tsunami is bearing down. I’m really keen to get to this one soon.

How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

I requested this book on NetGalley after reading a very moving article about the author and how she came to write this book. I think this will be a moving and also heartwarming read.

 


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.