Book Reviews – July 2022

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Another month has flown by and as I have about 5 books on the go at the moment, I haven’t read as much as I’d like this month! Do you read more than one book at a time or do you stick to one at a time? I get far too excited by a new title and like to have at least one fiction and one non-fiction on the go, as I can then decide what I fancy every chance I get to read some more. I have however, managed to finish a few great Audible books this month so still have plenty to share, enjoy!

Countdown to a Killing*

by Tom Vaughan MacAulay

The Blurb

London, Sicily, Huddersfield 2016–2017: Wen Li is a deeply kind and sensitive twenty-nine-old British-Chinese woman who suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which manifests itself in an incessant, overwhelming fear that she might have murderous impulses. Unlucky in love and emotionally scarred, Wen falls for colleague, Lomax Clipper, a tremendously frustrated and delusional Englishman. He’s in love with a Sicilian young woman he met while working in Italy, but he and Wen do share a mutual loathing of their boss, Julian Ponsonby. Julian’s struggling too – with a toxic relationship and his father’s refusal to accept his sexuality. On his return to Sicily, via a sabbatical, Lomax befriends Fifi de Angelis, a vulnerable Sicilian man with restricted growth who has been ostracised by his family.

An original concept, this is an innovative novel in literary fiction told through interwoven correspondence, emails and WhatsApp messages, with the suspense around an impending murder steadily building, Countdown to a Killing is a deep exploration of multiple perspectives and points of view of individuals who are inextricably bound. The key themes of love, sexuality, ethnicity, mental health and acceptance are sensitively explored in a unique linear year multi-layered and metafictional narrative. Packed with humour, heartache and a cast of expertly-crafted characters, this contemporary take on the epistolary novel will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. 

What I Thought

So, when I started reading this, I almost put it down. I found the introduction of the characters in this format really confusing at first. The story is told in a series of email and WhatsApp messages and it took me a while to get used to it for sure.

However, once I got into the story and was able to work out the characters, I was really invested and struggled to put it down!

I found I really enjoyed the alternative format and way this story is told through correspondence. I also liked the characters and thought that the author wrote them well, giving them all separate personalities and a chance for the reader to connect with them, meaning we cared about what happens. The tension builds after a slow start, which kept me intrigued and reading to the end, which didn’t disappoint, even though it comes quite suddenly,.

A different style of book for me but one I really enjoyed and would recommend!

Where To Buy

Buy on my Amazon store

Little One (Audible)

by Sarah A. Denzil

The Blurb

“Take my hand, little one.”

Fran finds her standing by the swings. A little girl, Esther, no older than seven years old, by herself in the dead of night, her pretty but old-fashioned yellow dress covered in grass stains and her hair dishevelled. She says she’s waiting for Father, and that strikes Fran as particularly odd.

After Esther is reunited with her family, Fran can’t stop thinking about this pious child whose imaginary friend is God. Fran’s instincts tell her something is very wrong. Why does Esther keep running away from home, and how did she get that bruise on her leg?

Fran’s husband warns her not to get too close, but one morning, Esther and her family disappear. Where did they go? Why did they leave their furniture behind?

Fran knows in her gut that something terrible is going to happen to that child, and she can’t stand by while it happens. No matter the cost.

After all, she found her. But can she save her?

What I Thought

This is the first book I have read (listened to) from this author but I will be certainly looking out for more!

Fran was a fantastic main character, someone I felt for and I enjoyed how her story unfolded throughout the book. The narrator of this Audible book did a fab job too and I enjoyed the listen and would recommend this version if you like an audiobook.

When the action swaps location, I did have some reservations as it seemed pretty unrealistic, but I remained hooked and enjoyed the twists and turns of the story – not guessing the huge twist at the end in the slightest! A great thriller that had me listening at every opportunity – a true page turner!

Highly recommend to all and will be checking out more from this author!

Trigger warning for child abuse and SIDS.

Where To Buy

Buy from my Amazon store

Idol (Audible)

by Louise O’Neill

The Blurb

‘Follow your heart and speak your truth.’

For Samantha Miller’s young fans – her ‘girls’ – she’s everything they want to be. She’s an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their ‘truth’.

And her career is booming: she’s just hit three million followers, her new book Chaste has gone straight to the top of the bestseller lists and she’s appearing at sell-out events.

Determined to speak her truth and bare all to her adoring fans, she’s written an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her female best friend, Lisa. She’s never told a soul but now she’s telling the world. The essay goes viral.

But then – years since they last spoke – Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn’t remember it that way at all. Her memory of that night is far darker. It’s Sam’s word against Lisa’s – so who gets to tell the story? Whose ‘truth’ is really a lie?

What I Thought

I sought out this book after listening to the author on the Sentimental Garbage podcast. I found both positive and negative aspects to this one.

This book is timely with the current popularity of influencers and the important Me Too movement. I found most of the twists pretty unexpected, and the idea of consent was well explored.

I don’t think I liked any of the characters – and while this can be a good thing, showing the author has done a great job in making you feel a certain way towards them, it left me feeling a bit down, with nothing to salvage in any of these people. The author did a great job of making you feel uncomfortable throughout.

The pace of the book felt a little off, but it increased the sense of chaos in Sam’s life. I would have liked some things to be explored or explained a little further, but overall, I stayed hooked, so it wasn’t too off-putting. On the whole I would recommend a read as it’s so relevant right now, but I think some things could have been done better.

Trigger warning – sexual content, rape/consent, eating disorders, abortion

Where To Buy

Buy from my Amazon shop

The Interview (Audible)

by Gill Perdue

The Blurb

A girl covered in blood. A missing man. A cryptic fairy tale.

Detective Laura Shaw seems to have it all: a supportive husband, a happy two-year-old and a great career. She is her team’s top interviewer, brilliant at coaxing victims to open up.

Then, she meets Jenny – a 14-year-old assault victim – and the façade crumbles. Jenny’s stepfather is missing, the blood on her clothes is not her own and Laura can’t interpret the fairy tale she keeps repeating.

But Jenny isn’t the only one with secrets. With every hour that passes, Laura loses more of her grip, grappling with the biggest question of all:

Is every life worth saving?

What I Thought

A psychological thriller based around the interview of a trauma victim. The story is told from the alternating points of view of Laura and Niamh. two detectives specially trained for this type of work, and the victim, fourteen year old Jenny.

The book was a slow burner and the pace only really picked up in the latter third. Laura is a complex character who is plagued by so many of her own problems and is far too arrogant to admit it or ask for help. While this heightens the atmosphere of the story, it seems unrealistic that someone in that position is allowed to work with such vulnerable people. Niamh appears to be there at times only to remind us that Laura is great at her job usually, despite her obvious issues right from the beginning of this story.

The narrator of this Audible book was fantastic and I really enjoyed the listen. While I felt that the author did a good job of showing us that this sort of interview process can be tiring and long-winded, I felt this meant the book didn’t properly get started until well in to the second half and the ending seemed rushed because of it. The sensitive subjects were well handled by the author though, and I will definitely consider reading or listening to more of her books in the future.

Trigger warning – domestic violence, child abuse, child sexual abuse, rape

Where To Buy

Buy from my Amazon shop

I hope you enjoyed reading my reviews and will let me know what you think if you give any of these books a go! What’s on your Summer reading list this year? Anything you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below! Take care and keep safe in the sun,

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