Thursday, 29 September 2016

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay

Many thanks yet again go to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for granting me an advance readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I do like a good murder mystery. They set my little grey cells, as Poirot would say, working hard at solving the crime, trying to beat the detective. However, not all books are like that. They can be more simplistic, even giving away the murderer within the first few pages sometimes. Murder Underground was between the two which made it quite an enjoyable read.

A horrible woman is found dead on the steps down to an underground station in London. The boyfriend of the maid in the hotel/boarding house where the old lady lived has been arrested, but is presumed innocent. The police have their eyes on the rest of the boarders who seem to be hiding some information, as well as the old woman's nephew and niece. With the police seemingly on the wrong track, the tenants gradually unravel the case before the police have any idea who the murderer truly is.

I enjoyed the writing style. It is typical of the golden age, when Agatha Christie was at her peak. The plot is good too, but the characters are all a bit exaggerated in my opinion. I also guessed who the murderer was quite early...not through something they said but by their general attitude to the crime. However, that shouldn't put you off what is a pleasant read. It is a shame Hay only wrote three novels because I would like to read more of her books in the future. As a light read, this one at least was a pleasure to indulge myself in.

Star rating: 3 from 5

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This edition is due to be published on 1st November 2016

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Many thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for granting me access to a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nowadays, many anti-race movements, such as Black Lives Matter, are huge news. Everyone seems to either be totally in favour of what they are doing, others are very much against it. My view is simple...ALL lives matter. If that makes me a racist, fine, but, as Spock would say, that's illogical. The Sellout is one of those books that BLM will both love and hate.

As we read it, we follow the life of our narrator, a black man with a mission to restore his city's name to the maps. However, whatever he tried to do to help his community, from saving a man from suicide to improving the local kids grades at school, he seems to take his world backwards...to slavery and segregation.

The book is well written, easily readable and the satire shines through. The characters are vibrant and sometimes hilarious. I really did like this book, once I got into it, after about 100 pages the plot picks up enough to make this a truly enjoyable read.

Star rating: 4 from 5


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

At the beginning of this year, I set myself the challenge of reading 50 books. With Fool's Quest, I have doubled that target. It was also the only currently published book by Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm that I had left to read. Well, not anymore because I have finished it...

I loved this book, as I have loved all of the Farseer books. This ones as full of plot twists and surprises for Fitzchivalry Farseer as it follows on smoothly from the end of Fool's Assassin. Fitz, discovering the disappearance of his daughter Bee and finding his household unaware that she ever existed, must try to get her back from those who stole her and Shun. Meanwhile, the Fool has returned, seriously injured and blind, and he takes an unnaturally strong interest in Bee's existence.

Naturally, there are plots, and secrets that must be aired before anything can truly happen and this book reads very much like a middle book. Do not let that put you off. It is a very vividly written book with as many plot twists as an Olympic diving competition! And the situation we are left stranded in at the finale really helps to set up the final book in this masterful trilogy! Can't wait for that!

Star rating: 5 from 5

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Many thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nutshell is one of those unique books that are both bizarre and clever at the same time. It tells the story of a plot against someone, a plot planned by the brother and wife of the victim. But it is the point of view which makes it so unusual. It is told through the eyes of the as-yet unborn baby of the wife, about 9 months into the pregnancy.

The view point is surprising, but the story itself, the plotting, is quite straightforward. Our hero,the baby, wants to stop the crime happening and then wants revenge on the plotters.

I think the characters are well written, and the idea clever. The writing is fantastic too, but I do think the story itself, the plot, needs some work. However, overall this book is excellent and I didn't want to put it down for a second!

Star rating: 4 from 5

Monday, 5 September 2016

Sindbad the Sailor and Other Stories from The Arabian Nights

Many thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an advance readers  copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Way back in January, I made a promise to read more from my NetGalley list, to read more classics and to explore new fantasy worlds. This book covers all three of those points in one! I have often heard people talk about The Arabian Nights stories and, of course, there are many movies about them...not to mention the odd pantomime of Aladdin. When I saw this new, illustrated edition on NetGalley, I thought I would request it and give it a try.

The first thing I must point out about this book is that it is not all of the stories from The Arabian Nights, but a selection. It includes Sindbad the Sailor, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, The Three Calendars and The Sleeper Awakened. Both NetGalley and GoodReads say that Ali Baba is included, but it isn't. They are wonderful stories to read, although, I must admit to being a little annoyed with Sindbad for his stupidity...if you get shipwrecked 4 times in a row, obviously sailing is not the right thing for you. DON'T go and buy yourself a boat! That aside, these stories are wonderful.

So, yes, the stories are great, but what really made this book stand out were the illustrations. Edmund Dulac has done a fantastic job with the 23 colour plates, drawn in the Persian style. They make the stories come alive more! Also, the border around each page is really a nice touch, although I am sure some people would complain about the waste of paper. Not me, however, as it's these little details that truly make this a wonderful work of art, not just a series of stories.

Star rating: 5 from 5
This edition will be released on 21st September 2016