Sunday 19 May 2024

Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang

YellowfaceYellowface by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 336

Publisher - Borough Press

Source - Bought

blurb from Goodreads

White lies. Dark humor. Deadly consequences… Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American—in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R.F. Kuang, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel.

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.

So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.

So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.

But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media. R.F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable.

My Review

Like a Jerry Springer show but instead of cheating spouses we have an author trying to make it big and when an "opportunity" arises she grabs it. Everything from that moment on she does/chooses is just car crash tv. You are mortified and like GIRL NO WHAT ARE YOU THINKING and she just gets worse as the book goes on.

I don't know what I expected with this one from everything everyone was chatting I just knew I HAD to read it but it wasn't what I thought it would be. You get it, authors have it really rough and with this we get a look behind the curtain of what it is like from education to starting out and trying to make a name for yourself. Your friend is doing the same but she strikes gold every single time and our protagonist, June - later Juniper - can't help but compare, resent and be annoyed. We then see inside June's thinking process and her justifications for what she does and her monologue of she deserves this. She isn't a nice person and wow does she spiral.

As success comes so do all the bad sides of it and when you have been a dodgy biscuit and rose high, the height to fall is far higher. Outside the drama we also have themes of cultural appropriation, race/racism, plagiarism, the pitfalls of social media, actions and consequences, greed, death and some seriously shady characters and behaviours.

I liked this I just didn't love it, a lot of characters and choices will grind your gears or just your teeth, not a bad thing. I absolutely wanted to see where it was going and I have another by this author to read, 3.5/5 for me for this one though.

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Wednesday 15 May 2024

ALIEN Sea of Sorrows by James A Moore

Alien: Sea of Sorrows (Canonical Alien trilogy, #2)Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A. Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 352

Publisher - Titan Books

Source - from my boxset

Blurb from Goodreads

As a deputy commissioner for the ICC, Alan Decker’s job is to make sure the settlements on LV178 follow all the rules, keeping the colonists safe. But the planet known as New Galveston holds secrets, lurking deep beneath the toxic sands dubbed the Sea of Sorrows.

The Weyland-Yutani Corporation has secrets of its own, as Decker discovers when he is forced to join a team of mercenaries sent to investigate an ancient excavation. Somewhere in that long-forgotten dig lies the thing the company wants most in the universe—a living Xenomorph.
Decker doesn’t understand why they need him, until his own past comes back to haunt him. Centuries ago, his ancestor fought the Aliens, launching a bloody vendetta that was never satisfied. That was when the creatures swore revenge on the Destroyer… Ellen Ripley .

My Review

Aw guys I know a lot of folk didn't like this one and you need to suspend belief but I mean don't we do that anyways. I love the aliens books/movies so it is a bit like my shark/zombie love, I accept just about anything so with that being said, lets get to it.

This is book two from my boxset and whilst they are from different authors they are from the same universe. This one is X amount of years after the previous, the aliens are still going and they remember Ripley, she isn't in this one but one of her descendants are! So Decker is working on a settlement, something happens and the company are up to their dastardly deeds. After some very questionable behaviours and manipulation Decker is headed back to LV-178 to help the squad acquire what the company have wanted for years, an alien for themselves. Decker has this empathy type "power" that will aid them with the aliens however this connection comes at a cost. The xenos can sense him too and they know him as "the destroyer" akin to Ripley the one who caused them so much pain/hurt/death and he will pay.

The aliens hate humans and really any life that isn't theirs but this for Decker is something else and we hear from the xenos in this one. How they think, focus, what drives them but the whole revenge hate destroy thing reminds me of Jaws 3, this time it is personal. Mind the shark travelled X amount to wipe out Brodie's family (I think it was the third movie) so it had echos of that.

It has strong vibes of the second movie too, the team of professionals who are tooled up and fantastic at what they do, then they meet our bad boys and it all goes to pot. I think if you enjoy the movies/alien universe you will like this one. I did get a wee bit annoyed at some of the choices of these guys but I get that all the time. Its the old watching true crime and giving it all pfft they are so dumb to leave XYZ sitting being a CSI specialist on the couch in my jammies skelping a pot noodle lol. Faced with the perfect killing machine I am sure I would be toast in the first chapter but you still sit high and mighty and judge lol, 3.5/5 for me this time. Looking forward to whatever the next book brings!

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Sunday 12 May 2024

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

The Mystery of Mercy Close (Walsh Family, #5)The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 4 days

Pages - 508

Publisher - Penguin books

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.

Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.

My Review

So I think the first thing I would say is this book is a bit darker in some of the themes than any of her others, well that I remember. Don't get me wrong there is still some laughs, hilarity, some oh no she/they didn't and jaw dropper moments. However the book centers around Helen Walsh and she is a very unique individual. She doesn't seem to have a filter, she struggles to gel with people, she is abrupt, brutally honest and has mental health issues. Now I don't often put trigger warnings, I do tend to highlight themes without spoilers but I am putting a trigger warning here so if you have issues with dark mental health/self harm - stop reading here.

Helen is a private detective, she is dealing with some personal problems and the work and focus is good for her. Her new assignment is helping track down a member of a previous very popular boyband member, the band is getting back together (minus the one who burst to great stardom) and now Wayne is missing. We follow Helen tracking him down, working with her ex boyfriend, awks much, looking for a famous dude and trying to keep the black dog (depression) at bay.

The investigation is interesting and how she manages to work the case and juggle so much in her personal life. The mental health stuff, her struggles with her depression, how her family reacts to it and how she herself deals with it. The book jumps around a wee bit and I think that helps to cement the way Helen is and how she gets through her day to day life. I think Keyes does great infusing humour with some really tough/harsh real life topics. Depression, self harm and all the darkness that can go with it is throughout the book along with infidelity, splashes of humour, regular and dark, family and obvs the missing celebrity. We get a peak into how the world of celebrity looks through Helen's eyes and the access she gets through her job.

I don't really know how I feel about this one, I liked parts of it, I think if you have had a history of depression or had any battles with mental health you will take something different. Understanding, empathy, maybe even just feeling "seen" because despite this being a fictional character/book the author has done due diligence with the topics, if you know you know. Overall 3.5/5 for me this time, I am missing gaps in the Walsh books I am sure so I need to catch up with them. Yes I have read them out of order *twitch* but they can pretty much be standalones.

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Sunday 5 May 2024

Two Sisters by Alex Kane

Two SistersTwo Sisters by Alex Kane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out as able

Pages -

Publisher - Hera

Source - Bought/review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Time taken to read - in and out as able over 5 days

Pages - 353

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Bought

My Review

They tried to forget their past. Now it’s the only thing that can save them.

Ever since being adopted as babies, twins Sinead and Orla have been the only family they’ve ever known. But as adults, their lives have taken different paths. Orla’s got the big house in Glasgow, the supportive husband and teenage daughter, Molly Rose, while Sinead’s struggle with drugs and alcohol has taken her to some very dark places.

But all of that changes when Sinead receives a call from the woman who gave them up at birth. Their mother, Janey, is back in their lives. But she’s far from what they expected and when the siblings discover their mum is the head of a dangerous gangland firm, their lives are turned upside down.

In a firm like Janey’s, you have to watch your back. And when someone from her past targets her new found family, Sinead, Orla and Molly Rose find themselves pawns in a dangerous game, against someone who will stop at nothing to take his revenge on Janey. But when Molly Rose is kidnapped, it’s time for the sisters to show this family will do anything to protect one of their own.

A hard-hitting, action-packed Scottish gangland thriller that fans of Jacqui Rose, Kimberly Chambers and Mandasue Heller won’t be able to put down.

My Review

So apparently this is book two in a series, I didn't know and started here, I will be going back and buying the first book now though. That said you can absolutely read as a standalone, that's what I done and we have brief throwbacks to Janey when she was younger so I don't feel we missed out starting here.

Janey is top of her game in the criminal world and the book flips between Orla, Sinead and Millie Rose, Janey's estranged family. Orla and Sinead are twins, given up at birth and now grown women, Sinead is addicted to substances and does what she needs to on the streets to fund her habit. Orla couldn't be more different, mum to teenager Molly Rose, owner of legitimate businesses. Janey has reached out to Orla who shuns her however when Janey's past impacts on them and putting them in danger Orla has no choice but to let Janey in, they will all do what it takes to protect Molly Rose but is it too late?

Not for the faint hearted, it covers topics of abuse, addiction, prostitution, abandonment, SA, trafficking (is touched upon), family, drugs, secrets and more. Set in Glasgow, we see just how far ripples have from the past/decisions to present and consequences of those. Family is at the heart of this one but with the long reach/affects of skulduggery and shady dealings that go on from living "the life" even if you aren't a direct part of it, 4/5 from me and I will be getting book one and looking forward to the next!

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Saturday 4 May 2024

The Gathering by C J Tudor

The GatheringThe Gathering by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 4 days

Pages - 336

Publisher - Michael Joseph

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A detective investigating a grisly crime in rural Alaska finds herself caught up in the dark secrets and superstitions of a small town in this riveting novel from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man

Deadhart, Alaska. 873. Living.

In a small Alaska town, a boy is found with his throat ripped out and all the blood drained from his body. The inhabitants of Deadhart haven’t seen a killing like this in twenty-five years. But they know who’s responsible: a member of the Colony, an ostracized community of vampyrs living in an old mine settlement deep in the woods.

Detective Barbara Atkins, a specialist in vampyr killings, is called in to officially determine if this is a Colony killing—and authorize a cull. Old suspicions die hard in a town like Deadhart, but Barbara isn’t so sure. Determined to find the truth, she enlists the help of a former Deadhart sheriff, Jenson Tucker, whose investigation into the previous murder almost cost him his life. Since then, Tucker has become a recluse. But he knows the Colony better than almost anyone.

As the pair delve into the town’s history, they uncover secrets darker than they could have imagined. And then another body is found. While the snow thickens and the nights grow longer, a killer stalks Deadhart, and two disparate communities circle each other for blood. Time is running out for Atkins and Tucker to find the truth: Are they hunting a bloodthirsty monster . . . or a twisted psychopath? And which is more dangerous?

My Review

Imagine a world where vampires and humans co exist. Colonies of vampires are protected from being killed, a law is in place. Vampires aren't allowed the same luxuries as humans, the right to work etc. Some humans hate them, some fear them, some want to kill them like animals, some religious folks view them as evils that need rid, attack before being attacked. Detective Barbara Atkins is a specialist officer who investigates vampyr killings and who can authorise the killing of whole colonies. She takes her job very seriously and will investigate everything. Called to a small town where a youngster has been brutally killed and has all the hallmarks of a vampyr being the killer. The town has priors and are anti vampyr already so Barbara has her work cut out for her.

So whilst this is a book with vampyrs it is very much a murder mystery that happens to have vamps, they aren't the main focus although the book is very rooted in them and some shady humans. The hatred is strong, on both sides and with good reason as we find out as the story gives up its secrets and draws us in.

As Barbara tries to do her job the tensions are rising in the small town who are adamant they have all the proof they need - get it done already. Old wounds take the longest to heal, if ever and we learn quite a lot about this shady wee town and the vamps that exist in it (hard to call what they do actually living).

A whodunit crime fiction that just so happens to have vamps, crime, investigation and skulduggery around just about every corner, 4/5 from us.

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Wednesday 1 May 2024

Deadly Fate by Angela Marsons

Deadly Fate (DI Kim Stone, #18)Deadly Fate by Angela Marsons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out as able over 5 days

Pages - 353

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

The woman’s bright blonde hair floats in the breeze. She almost looks like she could be resting on the soft green grass. But her brown eyes stare unblinking up at the sky, and the final cut across her mouth is dark with blood. Her words silenced forever…

Late one evening, as the final church bell rings out, Sandra Deakin’s cold and lifeless body is found in the overgrown graveyard with multiple stab wounds. When Detective Kim Stone rushes to the scene, the violence of the attack convinces her that this murder was deeply personal. What could have caused such hate?

As the team dig into Sandra’s life, they discover she believed she could communicate with the dead. Was that why she was targeted? The last people to see her alive were a group of women who had a session with her the night before she was killed, and as Kim and her team pay them a visit, they soon learn each of the women is lying about why they wanted Sandra’s help…

Kim realises she must dig deep and open her mind to every avenue if she’s going to stand a chance at solving this case. And when she learns that Sandra was banned from the church grounds and had been receiving death threats too, she’s ever more certain that Sandra’s gifts are at the heart of everything.

But just when she thinks she’s found a lead, the broken body of a nineteen-year-old boy is found outside a call centre – a single slash across his mouth just like Sandra’s. Kim knows they are now racing against time to understand what triggered these attacks, and to stop a twisted killer.

But they might be too late. Just as Kim sits down at a local psychic show she discovers something that makes her blood run cold. Both Sandra and the call centre were named in an article about frauds. And this show stars the next name on the list. She looks around the audience with a feeling of utter dread, certain the killer is among them…

My Review

If you haven't read the previous ooks in the series, seriously where have you been! This is book 18 and whilst yes this can be read as a standalone I would absolutely read the previous ones because they are such a great series and you know the backstory for the characters. Anyways back to the book/review, this one features two main themes guys, psychics and stalking!

The book opens with the murder of a psychic and there kicks off the investigation by Stone's team. As the book goes on we quickly find that someone has a murderous hate for psychics and this is just the beginning. We have a separate "case but not a case" of a dead homeless man whose identity is unknown and if you know Stone you know the minimal Stone likes is for the dead to at least have their name so as a side thread that is going on. Whilst investigating the psychic a stalker comes up in their investigation and Stacey finds some disturbing info, could this be our killer?

I love the banter/camaraderie with the team especially Stone and Bryant, they are so different and compliment each other as does the team to be fair. The research as always is bang on and woven in to go smoothly and seamlessly with the story. Like I am a fan of psychics and one of the characters in the book debunks them and goes into detail on how they manage to do what they do, I find that so fascinating. The stalker stuff, I am shouting RED FLAG RED FLAG, why why why to X character, pulled right into the story as always. Despite being eighteen books deep Marsons manages (in my opinion) to keep you hooked and invested in the characters, even when you get annoyed you are absolutely invested and questioning why X character is doing XYZ behaviour(s).

I think this book is setting up some bits for the next book and as always we are always waiting with bated breath. Also the pathologist guy, whilst he doesn't make huge appearances in the books I do enjoy their character and their *relationship with Stone. Here is to the next one 4/5 for me this time.

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Tuesday 30 April 2024

Taste of Blood by Lynda La Plante

Today is my review as part of the #TeamTennison project, enjoy.

Taste of Blood (Jane Tennison #9)Taste of Blood by Lynda La Plante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days (in and out as able)

Pages - 403

Publisher - Zaffre

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Detective Jane Tennison made a bad choice.

She was the one who put in a transfer to the quiet, local police station in Bromley, keen to escape the relentless pressure of her former West End department.

Now she regrets her decision. The tedium of petty crime investigations even makes her question remaining in the force.

But then a complicated domestic assault case lands on her desk - one that might still result in a murder charge if the victim dies of his injuries.

The warring neighbours who witnessed the assault intrigue Jane. The case has a sinister underbelly, she can sense it. And when Jane discovers a handsome young boy had recently disappeared after the tragic death of his girlfriend, every family in the private close becomes a suspect.

As Tennison hunts for the link between the crimes, she uncovers a truth more shocking than she could have contemplated. One that will either make her career - or break it.

My Review

Jane has transferred to a smaller/quieter station, really what was she thinking, we all know she loves to be in the thick of it. The new place mostly investigates small crimes - not a long more than petty squabbles in some cases and it isn't long before Jane questions her choice. An ongoing feud with neighbours turns into an assault with one landing in hospital, badly injured. Jane and co have to investigate and as is with Jane's track record there may be more to the incident and squabbles than first thought. Neighbours can often have secrets and some darker than others, could that explain the erratic behaviours by some of the residents?

So whilst this book looks at an assault and then ?a missing person (older case) we find Jane doing what she does best, digging where folk don't want her to until she gets her answers. We also get a lot more of the person side with Jane, family, relationships and touching on loss and issues that often come hand in hand. She is a bit more tetchy and feisty in this book, she has found her feet and her voice and is a strong character who doesn't suffer fools gladly.

At one point I wanted to hug her, I also went through a few irritational moments with her. This book has a very domestic feel to it both in the investigation and her private life. I like that, this is book nine, we have been with Tennison from the start so it is nice to get a bit more meat from the characters as well as the police stuff. 4/5 for me this time, a few themes that will be emotive to some people. Huge fans of La Plante and really enjoying the Tennison series, looking forward to the next book and seeing what is next for oor Jane.

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