The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

This book will be released in the UK on May 16 2019

Jeffery Deaver is an American author. He has written a lot of books, including three which have been made into films.

The Never Game book coverThe Never Game is the first book in a new series, and follows Colter Shaw as he gets embroiled in a game he didn’t expect.

Colter Shaw finds people. He’s not a cop or a bounty hunter, but he earns money by looking for people who are missing and there is a reward to find them. He’s good at what he does.

Shaw had a different upbringing. Brought up on ‘the compound’ he was home schooled and alongside that was taught hunting and survivor training.

As soon as you start reading this you’re pulled into the action. Shaw is desperately trying to rescue a woman in a sinking boat. Then we go back to the beginning and you find out how he got there.

I found the story engrossing from the start. I wanted to know more about Shaw, I wanted to understand what was happening. Deaver is very good, he regularly drip feeds you information and answers, but leaves enough out to keep you wanting to read more.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m pleased that I got a chance to read the first in a new series before there are too many books to catch up with. I will definitely be reading the next book, there is so much about Shaw I want to know and a very important unanswered question from his childhood.

If you like crime and mystery then I strongly recommend that you read this book!

Thank you to LoveReading and HarperCollins for sending me the book to review.

The Altered Wake by Megan Morgan

The Altered Wake is the first book in a series of four. It follows Cameron Kardell as she discovers more about the herself and those around her.

This is very different to any of the books I have read recently, being a fantasy/sci-fi book.

Megan Morgan is an Indie author living in Baltimore and the book is published by an indie publisher in Baltimore called Clickworks Press. Because it is an indie book by an author in America, it is only available as an ebook, so on Kindle and iBook etc for those of us in the UK, but at (currently) £2.99 (on Kindle) I think it’s a bargain for such a good book.

Cameron Kardell is a woman in her early twenties, she’s strong, determined and The Altered Wake book coverfocused. Working for the Sentinels (the organisation responsible for protecting the political leader and ensuring order across society) she is on a patrol of the outlying villages and towns with her Captain when she notices a lot of posters for missing children. Deciding to stop in this town to investigate Kardell comes across something out of the ordinary and almost unbelievable. Upon returning home she is introduced to the possibility of people having powers and her world changes.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, I read it to review on the suggestion of someone on Twitter and I was a bit nervous that I would be disappointed. I have to say though, I wasn’t. This book is really well written and I was completely captivated by the story from start to finish.

It’s nothing like The Hunger Games trilogy (other than the strong woman being the lead), but left me with the same sense of being invested in the characters and wanting more.

If you enjoy fantasy/sci-fi and strong women then I would recommend this book. I’m eager for the second book of the series to be released and may have already pestered the author to find out when this will be.

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts

This book will be released on 18 April 2019.

Roberts is a British author who has released four books in the Cosy series (The Cosy Teashop in the Castle, The Cosy Christmas Teashop, The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop, and The Cosy Seaside Chocolate Shop) and also two other standalone books (not including this one).

Image of book Rachel’s Pudding PantryRachel’s Pudding Pantry is about a young woman called Rachel in her mid twenties who is running her families farm after the death of her father a couple of years previous. Overall she is doing well however there are some struggles that she has to work with her mum and other family and friends to help resolve, all whilst raising her five year old daughter.

This is very much a chick lit book and has a romance brewing throughout. It’s very easy reading and not at all heavy like the recent books I have been reading. However I don’t think that this genre is given as much credit as it deserves. For this book to be considered ‘easy reading’ it has to be well written, which it is. The story flows, at a calm, but not too slow, pace. The characters are well written and I really liked the main character of Rachel and cared about what happened to her. This was such a pleasure to read after the recent, very involved (and good) books that I’ve been reading.

I’m not a farmer, but the descriptions of farming life seemed to be well researched, believable and were clearly described in an engaging way. Also the depiction of Northumberland was beautiful and if the opportunity ever arises for me to go there I will be eager to seize it.

I thought that the way Roberts dealt with grief was impressive, I appreciated that it hadn’t been rushed and it was shown that it is something that can still be raw and difficult years later.

If you’re looking for a nice, pleasant read that leaves you feeling hopeful and positive, as well as emotionally moved in parts, then I recommend this book.

Also there were a couple of recipes at the end that I’m looking forward to trying.

Thank you to LoveReading and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this book to honestly review.

A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

Lynn Shepherd is a British author who studied English in Oxford and worked as a freelance copywriter for more than a decade.

A Treacherous Likeness is the third book in Image of book A Treacherous Likenessthe Charles Maddox series. I have not read the first (Murder at Mansfield Park) but read the second (Tom-All-Alone’s) over six years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I borrowed A Treacherous Likeness from a friend shortly after, unfortunately I have only just got round to reading it (thankfully my friend is patient).

(Note: Outside of the UK, Tom-All-Alone’s is called A Solitary House, and A Treacherous Likeness is called A Fatal Likeness)

A Treacherous Likeness follows Charles Maddox, an investigator in the mid-19th century, as he works to unravel the mysteries surround the life of poet Percy Shelley and his wife, author Mary Shelley.

Throughout the book I found myself changing my opinions of the main characters continuously, in fact I’m still not 100% sure what I think of them. There is a lot of history, London in the 19th century, the class system etc. There is also a lot of interesting information about the Shelleys. This is of course combined with fictitious characters and events. The author’s note at the end is very helpful in separating fact from fiction and speculation.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I like Shepherd’s way of writing, she occasionally talks to you separate from the story, discussing how a behaviour would result in a medical diagnosis nowadays etc. Although it takes you out of the period the story is based in, it seems to somehow bring you closer to the characters.

This book has raised a lot of questions for me about the Shelleys and even about Byron. I’m leaving it with lots of curiosity and will be doing some research about them all to sate it.

I really enjoyed reading this and am pleased to see that there has been a fourth book released in the series, although it does seem to be only on the Kindle that I can find it. Regardless, I hope it’s not another six years before I read it. I would also like to go back and read the first in the series.

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister is the first book by British author Beth Underdown.

Image of bookSet in the 17th century in Essex and across parts of Suffolk, the book follows Alice as she returns home to her brother in the midst of the Civil War in England. Upon returning home she finds herself pulled into a world of witch-hunting.

Interestingly this book is a fictionalised account of a real person from history, Matthew Hopkins – one of the witch-hunters who was responsible for the death of a significant number of people.

Some of the women detailed in the book are real women who were tried or testified and some chapters are opened with documents that have been compiled from actual historical sources.

I found this book to be really well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The character of Alice, and the other main characters, were so well written. I could completely relate to Alice and understand her struggle with what was happening.

Underdown paints a vivid picture of what is taking place and it’s so interesting to see reasons why women could be accused of being a witch. I find myself wondering if people truly believed that they were witches, or just didn’t like their actions and choices and so used it as a reason to punish them.

The story moved at a good pace, I didn’t find myself getting bored or wishing there wasn’t so much to read. The book finished well for me, mostly. There was one piece, in fact the final sentence, which I cannot work out whether or not I like. Part of me enjoyed it, and the other part thought it was a bit too much. If you’ve read the book please let me know what you thought of that sentence.

I hope that there are more books to come from Underdown, if there are I would most definitely be interested in reading them.

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

The Bone Garden is written by Tess Gerritsen.  It wasn’t what I expected at all.  I had assumed that it would be in the series that the TV show Rizzoli and Isles was based on but it was only very loosely linked.

Image of bookThe Bone Garden follows the story of, you guessed it, some bones found in a garden.  It flits between the present and the early 19th-century.  Sometimes moving between eras can be confusing and cause the reader problems following the story, but in this case I actually found it very easy to move from the present to the past and back again.

There were lots of characters to keep track of but I found that this wasn’t too difficult.  I felt a connection to the four main characters (two in the past and two in the present), and although some of the more peripheral characters were rather two dimensional, the main ones had different facets to their personality and were complicated as all humans are.  The characters were described well, both their physical appearance and also their personality.

The handling of the different classes in Boston in the early 19th-century was also interesting. Nowadays it seems Americans are proud of their Irish ancestry and I was quite surprised to see how Irish immigrants were treated and looked on back then. Although unfortunately this is not dissimilar to how immigrants are treated now in many countries, no matter where they’re from. It was interesting to see how things have changed, yet not changed at the same time.

It was quite graphic in parts, the autopsy training scene and various descriptions, however it felt as though it was required and a natural part of the story.

I found the details around how medicine was in the early 19th-century really interesting, the things that we take for granted now had not even being thought of then.  I also really liked the inclusion of a real-life person, Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes.  It has sparked an interest for me and I will be researching him and his impact on how medicine is practiced now. 

Overall this was a great introduction to Tess Gerritsen and I am eager to read more of her books.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the debut book by Gail Honeyman, a Scottish author.  It was written after Honeyman read a newspaper article about loneliness and it quoted a woman who said that she rarely spoke to anyone between leaving work on the Friday and returning on a Monday morning.

Book of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineI have to admit that I found this book difficult to begin with.  Not because it isn’t well written, it is.  But because the main character, Eleanor Oliphant, is difficult to connect to.  This is of course the point of the character, but it still meant that I struggled to sympathise with her or like her very much at the beginning.  Gradually you get to know her though, especially through her relationship with others, and you see that she is just a confused, lost person who is trying to fit in as best she can.  It was a little over half way through the book, when we reach the second section, that I finally began to connect and fully empathise with the character.  Watching her grapple with feelings and emotions and facing her past made her more human and relatable.  I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of this book, in fact I read it in one sitting, not getting the early night I had planned but I was just completely absorbed by it and had to read what happened next and then finish it.

The overarching theme of this book is loneliness.  It takes quite an extreme approach to it, but it was effective nonetheless.  It also reminded us that we don’t know what people have experienced in their past or what they are currently going through and we shouldn’t judge a person based on our own preconceptions – something that was addressed well with an encounter on a bus. 

It did feel as though the second half of the book was too quick, the speed at which Eleanor is meant to deal with her past issues when she finally faces them was extremely fast.  Having said that Honeyman was clear that Eleanor still had more work to do, and although the ending was a bit of a surprise (more so how easily Eleanor dealt with a revelation) you could tell that it wasn’t the end of her journey and she still had a long way to go.

I did enjoy this book and am pleased I read it, I can also see why it was a Costa Book Awards winner in 2017.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a novel by Heather Morris.  It follows Lale from his journey into the concentration camp, through his time there and how his story ends.  I was surprised when I saw on the front of the book that this is based on a true story.  Lale was a real person and the book was created after Morris sat with him and spoke of his time in the concentration camp numerous times.  This novel was initially written as a screenplay but, although I’m sure Morris was disappointed, I’m pleased that it didn’t get picked up and was converted to a book, I feel like we heard so much more about Lale’s life than we would have done in a movie or similar. 

It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed a book about someone’s experience in a The Tattooist of Auschwitz bookconcentration camp, but I did.  Obviously there were parts of the book that were harrowing and shocking, I was quite surprised at how naïve I was about what happened in the concentration camps, but overall I found the book uplifting.  It showed the inner strength that Lale, and many others, had and demonstrates what people are capable of, both negatively and positively.

I found the book to be really well written.  In my head the images of the camp and the people were clear, and the characters were written so well that I felt invested in those I read about and truly cared about how they were.

The edition of the book that I read had an epilogue and additional information that told you the outcome of Lale’s life (and those of some of the other main ‘characters’), it had photos from his life which were incredible to see, and there were also diagrams of how Auschwitz was laid out which I found it very similar to how I had imagined it from the book. There was also an afterword by someone who was very close to Lale and Morris wrote about a trip she took to both Auschwitz and his hometown.  All of these came together to bring Lale into the real world, rather than just a character in a book he was a real person, which gave the experiences detailed in the book that much more depth and feeling.

I highly recommend this book to read, to learn more about an important time in our history and get an understanding of what so many people went through (no matter how small that understanding is), it’s inspiring and a book I shall definitely be reading again in the future. 

Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Roar by Cecelia Ahern is a book of 30 short stories about modern day life as a woman.

Cecelia Ahern is an Irish novelist who is known for books such as ‘P.S. I Love You’ and ‘If You Could See Me Now’.

I didn’t really know what to expect with this book, I have to admit I’ve never read any books by Cecelia Ahern before (I try to avoid books that are going to make me cry) so it was with some trepidation (I really didn’t want to cry) that I read this book.  It’s also been a while since I’ve read short stories, having had a long phase of just novel reading lately so this was a real change of pace for me.

I expected it to take me some time to get into the book, to find short stories unfulfilling.  I assumed that with the stories being short I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters and so wouldn’t care about them.  I was completely wrong.  As soon as I started reading I was enraptured.  The stories, no matter how long or short were completely engaging and I wanted to keep reading and find out the outcome of each story, and the next story, and the next.  It was rather clever of Cecelia Ahern to not give a name to the main character in each chapter – it made it that much easier to relate and put myself in the characters situation.

I found this book to be incredible.  Each story had its own metaphor and there was a moral or lesson at the end of each chapter.  I found it so easy to read, quite often picking it up to read just one story and finding myself reading three or four.  I found every single story relatable, even the ones that on the face of it I would expect to have nothing in that was relevant to me.  Some obviously touched home more than others, but each left me feeling more empowered and self-aware in their own way.

I was surprised, and pleased, to find that Cecelia Ahern has published other books of short stories and they will definitely be added to my ‘to read’ list.

It is such a lovely, positive and uplifting book.  I strongly recommend reading it, especially if you are a woman who… well, if you are a woman.

Thank you to LoveReading and Harper Collins for my review copy.

The book is released on 1 November 2018 (Hardcopy and Kindle) and then 2 May 2019 (Paperback).