Monday, July 31, 2017

My Sister's Bone by Nuala Ellwood


Kate is a war reporter who has just returned to her home town after her mother has passed away. She has a bad relationship with her sister, who is an alcoholic, so instead asks for her brother in law to pick her up. Taken to her home, Kate reminisces about her childhood in this house with loving mother, abusive alcoholic father, and younger sister who always sided with her father. She also can't put the images from the war in Syria out of her mind. In the middle of the night, Kate thinks she sees a young boy in the garden, but the neighbour next door says she has no children. Is Kate going crazy?

She ends up in custody with the police, as they run a psychiatric evaluation and we learn all about Kate's past. Anything horrible someone can endure, it seems that Kate has had to endure it. This is pieced together for us, interspersed with the events leading up to this evaluation.

We get the story from both Kate's side, and her younger sister Sally's side. There are lots of mysteries to solve in this one: what happened to Kate in Syria, what happened to Sally and Kate when they were children, and is there really a boy next door. This results in an absolutely thrilling read. I stayed up pretty late to finish this off so I could find out the answers to all of this mystery.

This book had a bit of everything: family drama, mystery, the consequences of war and living with post traumatic stress disorder, and telling the story in different states of time and from different points of view. I'll definitely be recommending this to friends.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. If you want to purchase this book, you can do so here.

First Line: "'Would you like me to repeat the question?'"

About the Author
Nuala Ellwood is the daughter of an award-winning journalist. Inspired by her father’s and other journalists’ experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder, she gained Arts Council Funding for her research into the topic and ultimately made it the main theme of My Sister’s Bones, her debut psychological thriller. Learn more at her website or on twitter.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Reversal by Michael Connelly


Mickey Haller is called in to the DA's office to take a case as an independent and prosecute a man who was released from prison due to a new DNA test, after being charged with killing as young girl. Mickey accepts, but on the promise of independence and the ability to bring in his ex-wife to help with the legal side and his half brother to help with the investigation. Haller's half brother is Harry Bosch, gritty LA homicide detective.

Bosch has to examine the case from 20-some years ago and determine if anything was missed and what was just noise. He has to track down all the people that should testify even though some have passed away. The defendant is released without bail and Bosch ensures to follow him 24/7, seeing some abnormal behaviour. Is it possible that he killed before?

With so many Bosch books in this series, you would think that things would start to get stale. The book before this, Nine Dragons was a bit off the path but this took us right back to it. I really enjoyed this and think it would make a great addition to the Amazon series Bosch; I'd love to see this played out on screen.

First Line: "The last time I'd eaten at the Water Grill I sat across the table from a client who had coldly and calculatedly murdered his wife and her lover, shooting both of them in the face."


Betrayal at Iga by Susan Spann


In book 5 of the Hiro Hattori/Father Mateo series, we see the two having just left Kyoto and heading back to Hiro's hometown. They arrive on the same day as a group from Koga, a rival clan that the Iga province is trying to create an alliance with. Due to customs, both the Koga group and Hiro and Father Mateo are to dine together in a welcome meal with the leader of the Iga province. In the middle of the meal, the leader of the Koga group falls over dead, looking like he's been poisoned. Of course, the assumption is that Iga poisoned Koga, but they agree to a neutral investigation from Hiro and Father Mateo so they can bring the murderer to justice.

This is a pretty short book, as the two only have a few days to find the murderer. Everyone is a suspect. Hiro tries not to get distracted when he realizes that his previous lover is also in Iga, and could also be a suspect. The two have a lot of history which ended badly. Can Hiro maintain his objectivity?

I started in this series at book four and thought that it was pretty newbie friendly. This still seems to be the case one book 5. You don't need to have read the previous books to understand this one.

This book was focused mostly around the mystery than the characters. Father Mateo was hardly developed at all, as the book was written from Hiro's perspective and focuses more on him since he's going back home. I think because of this, I enjoyed the fourth book slightly more than the fifth. I'm just a Father Mateo fan! But this is still a great read!

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour! You should considering purchasing this book for yourself - here.

First Line: "Hiro Hattori leaned into the wind that swept down the hill and across his face."

About the Author
Susan Spann began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest.
Find her on Twitter, Facebook and at her website.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Wisdom of Big Bird by Caroll Spinney


Caroll Spinney is the man behind (or in?) Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. This novel is presented as life lessons learned from being Big Bird, but it's really a short look at how Spinney became Big Bird and the adventures he had as him. Sesame Street was a big part of my childhood. I watched it fairly frequently, enjoyed the muppets, and even had my own little version of Big Bird at home. This path down memory lane for Spinney was enjoyable to read as a grown up fan.

It gives you a bit of insight in to how Sesame Street was produced, how they came up with their characters, and how they hired new talent. I didn't learn any lessons or really have any wisdom imparted on me, but the story that Spinney told was interesting. I wish Spinney had spoken a bit more about his wife. It's obvious that he is deeply in love with her and we only got a few pages on how they met and got engaged in a quick period of time.

More detail could have been provided in many parts of this book, but it was a good overview of the man behind Big Bird.

First Line: "The alarm goes off."


Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

Historical Fiction

We first meet Mary, the widow, while she's just left her house and is on the run. She has killed her husband for reasons so far unknown and has left her home to escape her brothers-in-law. She has nothing to her name and must learn to survive in the wilderness, as this is 1903.

As Mary makes her way through the Canadian wilderness, she meets a few people that knowingly or unknowingly help her out. But her brothers-in-law are on her tail. She winds up in a mining town of mostly men, working with a priest to help him build his church.

For a book with little dialogue, the momentum was maintained quite well. We learn about how Mary came to be in her situation (justified or not, I'm still not certain), but we mostly read about her survival. This part of the book is the most satisfying. Mary's past was far less satisfying as it seems like there should have been a bigger and better reason for her to risk her life.

This book is an impressing debut novel.

First Line: "It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling."


Monday, July 03, 2017

Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture by Joshua Levine


Dunkirk was a massively successful failure in WWII. I had never learned about this story in history class so knew absolutely nothing coming in, other than this took place in the early parts of WWII. The British and French troops kept getting pushed back and back by the Germans until they wound up on the beaches of Dunkirk, France having to be evacuated across the channel. Ships came from everywhere, both civilian and navy, to evacuate these troops. Many died, but many many more were rescued. This book tells the story of what lead up to Dunkirk and how this rescue took place.

This book is also about the new movie Christopher Nolan is making on the events at Dunkirk. There's both an interview with Nolan at the start and a chapter at the end of the book about the making of the movie. Having no knowledge about Dunkirk, I found the Nolan interview at the start of the book oddly placed. I was worried it was going to spoil something further in the book and couldn't appreciate their interest in the story because I knew nothing about it yet. However, the notes at the end of the book on the film making were quite interesting. The fact that they filmed on the Dunkirk beach should make this even more authentic.

In the telling of what happened at Dunkirk, there were many eye witness accounts stitching together Levine's story. These likely come from his other book Forgotten Voices of Dunkirk (I can't help but wonder if the book is exactly the same, but with chapters added on the movie). These accounts were very interesting, but overall they were all quite short, which lead to some major pacing issues in this book. The history of Dunkirk isn't started until about page 60. Then the book is on a roller coaster from engaging and interesting to boring. At times I wondered if I should give up, but I stuck through to the end. It does get better once the troops are on the beach and the rescue attempt is underway.

I'm not a huge history buff (but do enjoy well tell stories of historical events) and feel that most parts of this book are geared towards someone of a more historical buff nature. If you can get past the first 100 pages or so, you'll learn a lot about this event and the movie that will represent it.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. Interested in trying this book for yourself? You can find where to buy it here.

About the Author

Joshua Levine has written six bestselling histories including titles in the hugely popular ‘Forgotten Voices’ series. ‘Beauty and Atrocity’, his account of the Irish Troubles, was nominated for the Writers’ Guild Book of the Year award. ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’, his history of the pilots of the First World War, has been turned into a major British television documentary. He has written and presented a number of programmes for BBC Radio 4. In a previous life, he was a criminal barrister. He lives in London.
Find him on Twitter or his website.