Book Review: I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk

What’s it about?

Angela’s running from the world’s worst wedding for a new life…

Fleeing her cheating boyfriend clutching little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins and her passport, Angela jumps on a plane – destination NYC.

Holed up in a hotel room, Angela gets a New York makeover from her NBFJenny and a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps. Before she knows it, she’s dating two sexy guys and writing about it in her new blog. But it’s one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it’s another figuring them out for yourself …

Angela has fallen head over heels for the big apple, but does she heart New York more than home?

My thoughts

It’s not in my usual bookish nature to pick up a rom-com but I’d had this on my Kindle for some time, ok a long time, and it was like a breath of fresh air after the rather heavy going brutal serial killer thriller I’d just finished.

This is the first book in the I Heart series and it’s a good read which I enjoyed.  It’s light-hearted, sad, funny and is mostly set in one of the best cities in the world.  Having been to New York I do like reading about places I’ve visited as I have much more of a clearer image of the setting – this book just made me want to go back even more!

Our heroine Angela is a somewhat clichéd character who thinks of herself as a bit of a lush but I think she’s actually stronger than that and has got her head screwed on exactly where and how it should be.  I totally see where her actions were coming from on her arrival in America and would think that a lot of women who’d been through what she had would rebel.

It’s not without faults, some of the storylines are a little far-fetched but overall it’s an entertaining read.  I’m not sure if I’d continue with the series…maybe if they were on Kindle offer I might be tempted.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

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Source: Purchased
No of pages: 322
Publisher: Harper


Book Review: You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

What’s it about?

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.

He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters: Did he do it?

My thoughts

I requested this book from Netgalley based on a promotional email I’d received and it was the blurb which attracted me to it…being all legal and that.  There is no real format to this review as I have to just get all my feelings and thoughts out in what will probably be one long ramble.

All in all it’s a very interesting and unique way to tell a story; from the point of view of a defendant on trial for murder and through his closing statement.  Although in reality I don’t know if he really would be able to give a closing statement this long or what the implications and consequences be!

However, through this statement, which does go on for a few days, we discover how he came to be where he is and why.  Gang and estate culture, drug dealing and prostitution – it really is another world and another language.  It takes a bit of getting used to, every other word is ‘like’, bro, innit all this gangster chat and half the time I found I was trying to decipher what his point was.

PLOT SPOILER AHEAD >>

I do prefer books that have clear cut endings and unfortunately for me this isn’t one of them.  To all intents and purposes, without trying to give too much away, I, and other readers, are the jury and will need to come to our own conclusions at the end as there isn’t a proper end.  For that reason, this book would make an interesting book for a book club read as you could have a really good debate.

Overall, an interesting premise and a pretty decent debut.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Penguin Bio

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Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Michael Joseph

Book Review: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

What’s it about?

My name is Amber Fraser. I’ve just moved in at Number 40, Lime Park Road. You’ll come to think of me as a loving wife, a thoughtful neighbour and a trusted friend.

This is a lie.

When Christy and Joe Davenport are handed the keys to Number 40 on picture-perfect Lime Park Road, Christy knows it should be a dream come true. How strange though that the house was on the market for such a low price. That the previous owners, the Frasers, had renovated the entire property yet moved out within a year. That none of the neighbours will talk to Christy.

As her curiosity begins to give way to obsession, Christy finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery of the house’s previous occupants – and the dark and shocking secret
that tore the street apart . . .

My thoughts

I’ve read a couple of Louise Candlish’s other books and whilst one I loved, one I could have passed on but was still pleased to pick this one up in a local charity shop.

Told in turn by the two very different women owners of the house the start of the book does entice you in with the hint of mystery and your mind will go into overdrive with all the possibilities of what did make the Frasers flee overnight and of course human nature and sheer nosiness makes us want to find out what’s going on behind all the closed doors in the street.

There is so much build up in this book which does make it somewhat overly long and at times I’m afraid I started to get a little bored along the way and then one character divulges something in confidence it’s kinda obvious where we’re going with the plot, and when everything comes to a head it’s not so much of a shock.

I can’t fault the author’s writing style though, it’s very well written but just with unbelievably horrible stuck up characters that I couldn’t give two hoots about.

If you enjoyed Candlish’s The Swimming Pool then this one would be a hit with you too.  I, on the other hand, much preferred The Disappearance of Emily Marr.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased – second hand
No of pages: 512
Publisher: Penguin

Book Review: The Ex by Alafair Burke

the-exWhat’s it about?

Olivia Randall is one of New York City s best criminal defence lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

My thoughts

This book was recommended by a well trusted book blogger and as I love a good legal thriller I reserved a copy straight away from the library.

When someone comes back into your life after twenty years, that in itself can be awkward enough, but when that person is accused of a triple murder, well…are you gonna believe them or the evidence laid out in front of you?  Would you be able to know for sure they didn’t do it based on your relationship from such a long time ago? Would you stake your reputation on it? These are the situations Olivia finds herself in when she agrees to represent her ex-boyfriend.

Whilst a good premise and well paced, for me it just lacked something to grip me and I just wasn’t feeling the wow factor.  I didn’t really engage with Olivia, she comes across as stand-offish and cold and there was something off about Jack that I couldn’t feel much for him.  The only character I felt had some genuineness to them was Jack’s best friend Charlotte; prepared to pull out all the stops to help and protect her friend.

I didn’t guess the identity of the real killer so that’s a positive but once revealed I began to pull apart the plausibility of it all given the level of security already mentioned in the book earlier and what evidence the prosecution had.

Overall, this book took me nearly a week to read which is unusual for me for this genre.  It’s a decent enough mystery but I have read more thrilling thrillers!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

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Source: Library
No of pages:
Publisher:

Audio Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

holdingWhat’s it about?

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

My thoughts

Disclaimer: I’m a Graham Norton fan, love his TV and radio show so it was unlikely that I would dislike this book and fortunately I didn’t, I loved it.  This was also my first audio book experience so is kind of a two-for-one review!

A small town drama that’s full of intrigue, mystery and regular and relatable characters; mostly three actually.  Sergeant Collins; a severely overweight police officer, Brid Riordan; a borderline alcoholic mother and Evelyn Ross; heartbroken at a young age, never recovered and feels as though she has nothing to show for her life.

This isn’t really your typical murder mystery type of novel, so don’t go into it thinking it’ll be fast paced page turner.  It is a slow burner with the mystery of the bones being an aside thread for us to unearth Duneen’s secrets in more detail and getting to know the characters and one in particular Sergeant Collins’ housekeeper Mrs Meeny’s heartbreaking story.

I really enjoyed this book as an audio book as I felt the story was enhanced by being narrated by Graham too.  I don’t know if it’s usual practice for authors to narrate their own audio books but it makes so much sense.  Graham was obviously the best choice for bringing his own characters to life.  The small issues I had was understanding the names, not being able to see how they were spelt, and at one point, unusually, I was sure I’d cracked the mystery but couldn’t recall the info supplied earlier in the book about the DNA, so I couldn’t go back and check what I’d heard as I would have done with a paperback.

The book is also quite darkly humourous, especially with Graham’s narration; the characters swear quite a lot and it just made me laugh in the context it was used (picture me walking to and from work listening to this chuckling away like a mad fool).  I think it would make an excellent drama and I thoroughly recommend.

What’s your experience of audio books? Any to recommend?

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Via Audible free trial
No of pages: 320
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton


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