Thursday Murder Club Review

Summary

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Author: Richard Osman
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition (ARC provided by publisher)
Print Length: 382 pages
Publisher: Penguin Viking (2020)

I wanted to love The Thursday Murder Club. I really did.

Like most people, I was drawn to it because of the author. I love Richard Osman; he’s smart, witty, and possibly one of the most pleasant people on television.

So I’m sorry to say that I found The Thursday Murder Club to be a very poor novel.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Review

Summary

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games.

The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

Author: Suzanne Collins
Format Reviewed: Hardback
Print Length: 528 pages
Publisher: Scholastic (2020)

When Suzanne Collins announced that she was writing a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, tongues started wagging.

Would it be about Haymitch’s time in the arena? Would it take place during the Dark Days?

Well, neither apparently. 

Collins instead chose to write a novel about President Coriolanus Snow’s teenage years. Sound unappealing? You’re not alone! It has proven divisive amongst fans.

However, I quite enjoyed The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. It’s a flawed but nonetheless interesting detour through post-war Panem.

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June 2020 Reading Roundup Central City

Summary

When a spate of seemingly identical murders occur across Central City, Detective Vinnie Bayonne and his young sidekick Adam McKenna are tasked with bringing in the murderer.  Meanwhile, ex-con Kane Kulpa struggles to deal with an increasingly violent gangland dispute.

 

Author: Indy Perro
Format Reviewed: eBook (provided by author*)
Print Length: 243 pages
Publisher: Dog’s Name Press (2020)

Central City is a crime fiction novel from writer and ‘recovering academic’, Indy Perro.

A decent debut novel, Central City marvels the reader with its well-developed characters and a remarkable setting that oozes with atmosphere. The narrative, however, doesn’t quite reach these heights.

Regardless, if you enjoy crime fiction, Central City is certainly worth reading.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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May 2020 Reading Roundup The Sound Mirror

Summary

The Sound Mirror spans three familial generations from British Occupied India to Southern England. Through intimately rendered characters, Heidi James has crafted a haunting and moving examination of class, war, violence, family, and shame from the rich details of ordinary lives.

Author: Heidi James
Format Reviewed: Advance reading copy (provided by author*)
Print Length: 230 pages
Publisher: Bluemoose Books (2020)

The Sound Mirror is, without a doubt, my favourite novel of the year so far.

Without spoilers, here’s why.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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The Playmaker Project Blog Image
Credit: Amazon.co.uk

Author: Daniel Peterson
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Intelligens Press (2020)

ISBN: B0866GLPXT

Summary

“When winning at all costs becomes too expensive.”

Eddie Alonso, a former pro soccer star, whose career was ended by a violent and intentional assault, is now a reluctant high school science teacher and varsity coach in St. Cloud, MN.

But when two of his student players, Peter and Benny, are recruited out of the blue by an upstart Finnish soccer club owned by an eccentric tech billionaire, Eddie is suspicious of the motives.

Travelling to Finland to keep an eye on the boys, Eddie is led to believe that the club is running an underground cognitive training programme, led by neuroscientist Anna Lehtinen.

A thriller that spans Minnesota, Kotka, and St. Petersburg, Daniel Peterson’s geopolitical thriller examines the blurred lines of ethics in sport.

Who’d have thought that the worlds of sci-fi and soccer could collide?

Well, author Daniel Peterson has done a remarkable job in bringing these two seemingly disparate topics together with The Playmaker Project.

And whilst the ending does feel a little rushed, The Playmaker Project is a great success.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

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Atomic Number Sixty Blog Image
Credit: Amazon.co.uk

Summary
What would you do if you only had 60 minutes to live?

This is the question Atomic Number Sixty ‘s protagonist, Holly Holloway, faces as the bomb she’s strapped to ticks down from sixty to zero.

Author: Dave Johnston
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 69 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2016)
ISBN: B01JAA81A6

Atomic Number Sixty is an interesting idea from the outset. I’m not sure that I’ve encountered anything like it before.

Essentially, it’s a 60-chapter novella (one minute per chapter) that follows a story which unfolds over 60 minutes. You even get a countdown at the beginning of each chapter.

In the case of Atomic Number Sixty, the story is told from the 1st person perspective of 25-year-old Holly Holloway – a red-head receptionist with an attitude – who finds herself strapped to a bomb, with a timer set exactly to sixty minutes.

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A River In Darkness Blog Image
Credit: Amazon.co.uk

Summary
“When you’re starving to death, you lose all the fat from your lips and nose. Once your lips disappear, your teeth are bared all the time, like a snarling dog. Your nose is reduced to a pair of nostrils. I wish desperately that I didn’t know these things, but I do.”

A River in Darkness is a chilling personal tale of a man’s life inside North Korea – and his subsequent escape.

Author: Masaji Ishikawa
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 159 pages
Publisher: AmazonCrossing (2018); First published (2000)
ISBN: B06XKRKFZL

A River in Darkness is a tough read.

And I don’t mean that the writing is complicated.

Ishikawa’s memoirs left me truly numb. Not since Hardy’s Jude the Obscure have I felt this disturbed by a text.

But here’s the thing – A River in Darkness isn’t fiction.

It’s a sombre tale of how a country inflicted (and continues to inflict) poverty, starvation, and death upon its own populace. Ishikawa did escape, but not without suffering immense loss.

These are memoirs of real life inside the most secretive country in the world. And this is partly the reason I would implore you pick up a copy of A River in Darkness.

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