Book Review: Leopard at the door


Title: Leopard at the door
Author: Jennifer McVeigh
ISBN: 978-0241247617
Publisher: Penguin 
Source: Review copy
Release Date: Available now from Penguin
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 

Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Review:

This is a beautifully written novel set in the atmospheric background of 1950s Kenya. This is Rachel’s story; an 18 year old British girl who returns to Kenya after staying in England for sis years. We follow her story as she tries to adapt her life to rural Kenya. But Kenya is not the same as it was when she left.

I didn’t know much about the history of Kenya and this made for a fascinating read. The occasional violence is very hard hitting and unsettling.

Jennifer McVeigh’s descriptive style makes it a compelling read. He vivid descriptions of the landscape, the people and their lifestyle draw you into the book.

 

Recommended.

 

Follow Jennifer on Twitter

 

 

Blog Tour – Book Review: Behind Closed Doors – B. A. Paris


Very happy to take part in this blog tour today! Thank you Netgalley and Mirabooks UK for sharing this review copy with me.

Blurb: 

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.
He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.You’d like to get to know Grace better.But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of their bedroom windows.
Sometimes the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

Review:

I finished this book in one sitting. Grace and Jack are the perfect couple. Jack is handsome and wealthy, Grace is elegant and charming and the perfect hostess. They have a friend circle who might just envy them for their perfection together. They have a beautiful secluded house, they are so in love and Jack never leaves Grace’s side. They have a perfect marriage, perfect house, a perfect love story. But when the laughter is over, the friends gone home, it is a different story.

Grace’s narration gripped me from the start and I could feel her helplessness and wished a miracle should save her. Grace’s story alternates between past and present. We learn how she met Jack and fell in love with him instantly when Jack showed kindness and empathy towards Grace’s sister who has Down’s syndrome.

Jack has charm and good looks and it is only natural for Grace to fall in love him. It is quite scary to see his true colours as soon as they are married. He is a truly evil character and exceptionally clever to manipulate and control Grace. You begin to wonder if Grace will ever break free from his trap.

Behind Closed Doors is a tense and claustrophobic psychological thriller An interesting take on the subject of domestic violence, Behind Closed Doors is highly addictive and engrossing.

Rating: 4 out of 5

BAParisAuthor info:
B A Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.

 

Follow BA on Twitter @BAParisAuthor

 

 

To purchase “Behind Closed Doors” click HERE

More information and reviews if you follow the tour:


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Book Review: Beside Myself


Title: Beside Myself
Author: Ann Morgan
ISBN: 9781408870297
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Advance copy via NetGalley
Release Date: January 14, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 

Helen and Ellie are identical twins – like two peas in a pod, everyone says.

The girls know this isn’t true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back…

And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself – until eventually only ‘Smudge’ is left.

Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister’s dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?

Review:

Beside Myself is the story of twins and how a childish game gone horribly wrong affects the entire life of one of the twins. One day, Helen and Ellie decide to swap places to tease their mother and other people in their neighbourhood. After fooling everyone, including their mother, Helen wants to swap back. But Ellie refuses. You see, Helen has always been the leader between them and Ellie has lived in Helen’s shadow. Ellie has always been poorly and mentally slow due to a complication at birth. But now, she has the opportunity to live the life Helen has enjoyed. Helen ends up being locked in as Ellie and try as much, she cannot switch back. As frustration and helplessness set in, she starts to develop psychological problems.

Helen (now Ellie) is clearly mentally ill, hearing voices, living in a horrible apartment – which reflects the chaos and confusion in her mind. She is also paranoid and suspicious and sometimes has a hard time differentiating between reality and nightmares.

This dark psychological thriller is very well written and atmospheric and shows what it is like to experience mental illness brought on by dysfunctional family dynamics, social pressure and deception. The creepy premise of this book grabbed me. Reading about twins is always fascinating as they share a bond unlike any other. To be true, I didn’t like these twins but still the it held my interest till the end. Does Helen ever get her life back?

Book Review: Arsenic for Tea (Wells and Wong #2)


Title: Arsenic for Tea (Wells and Wong #2)
Author: Robin Stevens
ISBN: 9780552570732
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s
Source: Advance copy via NetGalley
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill – and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem – and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.

Review:

Arsenic for Tea was one of the books I had been excited to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Steven’s first book in the series, Murder Most Unladylike so I was delighted to find Arsenic for Tea on Netgalley.

This is a cute book with a cosy murder. It is the second in the Wells and Wong series, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong – schoolgirl detectives. They are at Daisy’s house for the school holiday. For Daisy’s birthday, the entire family, a few friends and relatives are invited for a splendid birthday tea party. At the party, someone falls ills mysteriously.

A closed house mystery, motley of people – all with reasons for doing the bad deed, stuck in the house due to bad weather (another Christie style mystery – could it get any better!). Everybody seems to have secrets and it’s upon the Detective Society to solve their second case before something very bad happens.

Daisy and Hazel are delightful characters – witty and quirky. Daisy’s father, mother, uncle and Miss Alston provide further layers to the plot.

The second book in the series is always compared to the first one will the plot be as good, will the characters grow mature or appear pale? Arsenic for Tea is deeper and stronger. Daisy and Hazel are settling well into their role of detectives, the setting of the murder is charming and cosy and the mystery is very interesting indeed.

I am now a fan of this series.

Book Review: The Deep End


Title: The Deep End
The Country Club Murders #1
Author: Julie Mulhern
ISBN: 9781941962268
Publisher: Henery Press
Source: Advance copy via NetGalley
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: 

Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?

Review:

The Deep end is the debut mystery novel by Julie Mulhern. One early morning in 1974, Ellison Russel, an artist, heads to her country club for her routine morning swim. She didn’t expect to find the body of her husband’s mistress floating in the pool. Now life is not only complicated for Ellison and her daughter Grace, but also messy and confusing. Then Henry, Ellison’s husband disappears and two more mistresses show up.

The Deep End is a classic mystery with red herrings and clues sprinkled throughout. It has an Agatha Christie feel to it. I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Ellison is such a lovable character, you feel bad for her but she holds it together with her dry humour and sarcastic comments/dialogues in her head! All the people in her world are fully-fleshed out and add so much detail to her story.

I highly recommend the The Deep End.

The cover shows that The Deep End is book one of The Country Club Murders. I’m eager to read the next book in the series.

Monday Musings – 2


musing-mondays
Musing Mondays are hosted by Miz B.

Musing Mondays asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer each week…
Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

I am currently reading: Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner

cover57388-medium

 

My name is Nicky Frank.

I’m in hospital after crashing my car. I am afraid. The only thing that I can think about is Vero. I know I have to save her but why couldn’t I find her? She’s just a little girl.

The man standing in my hospital room tells me we are married but there is no Vero. That six months ago I suffered a traumatic brain injury which caused changes to my personality. I have dramatic mood swings, an inability to concentrate and large gaps in my memory. I’m much easier to anger these days. And I drink. All of which he says explains the car accident and my confusion.

Now a Sergeant Wyatt Foster is investigating. He has questions about the car accident. He has concerns about my husband. And he’s worried about a missing girl.

He would like to know what happened to me. So would I.

My name is Nicky Frank. This is my life.

Watch me crash and burn.

Monday Musings – 1


musing-mondays
Musing Mondays are hosted by Miz B. But I found this first on Smitha’s book blog

Musing Mondays asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!
• What are you currently reading? What do you think you’ll read next? What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished reading two books:

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The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. It’s a nice funny little romantic book with lots of yummy dishes to drool over.

cover52192-medium

Curtain call by Anthony Quinn. This one is not a straightforward historical crime novel. The period of 1930s London’ society is intriguingly woven with the plot. This a portrait of motley of (not all delightful) characters and their stories that are interlinked and eventually cross.

Book Review: The Girl on the Train


Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
ISBN: 9780857522313
Publisher: Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
Source: Advance copy via NetGalley
Release Date: January 15, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

Review:

Rachel is a real mess. Gone is the strong, confident working woman – she is now just a shadow of her former self. Her husband has left her for another woman – they now have a baby, a baby Rachel wanted more than anything. Unable to accept the situation, she has now turned to drinking, has become a bad drunk in fact and often has blackouts. to make matters worse she has lost her job and gained weight.

However, she still takes the same train at the same time (as she did when she had a job) still keeping up the illusion of going to work and not letting anyone else find out that she was fired. While on the train, she looks out at the row of houses (one of which had been her own house once) and dreams and spins stories about the people she sees. She looks out for one house in particular and has named its residents Jason and Jess. Watching the husband and wife everyday, she feels their life is perfect. Until one morning she sees something different, something unexpected and she is shocked. Through her drunken, unreliable narration, we find out more…

Rachel is such a flawed character – to the point of being weak. She is drunk most of the time, has lost her job, has an obsessive compulsion to stalk and call her ex-husband and yet you feel sympathetic towards her. She is on the edge of losing herself. As the plot progresses, we learn more about the residents on the track and more about Rachel.

This is an incredible psychological thriller with a lot of suspense and tension. An unlikable protagonist with her unreliable narrative, layered characters and intriguing plot. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great thriller.

Book Review: The Contract


 

Title: The Contractthe-contract-200x300
Author: Zeenat Mahal
ISBN: 9781927826157
Publisher: Indireads Inc.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“…We’ll get married, but I’ll pay you a monthly salary to behave and appear for all practical purposes as my wife…If you agree, the marriage vows can be taken on the phone on Saturday, since I have an hour free in the morning.”

Shahira, a young, divorced mother of a seven-year-old son, wants nothing to do with men ever again. But circumstances have forced her hand, and Hussain’s unusual proposition leaves her secretly relieved. As per their contract, she’ll have his name, will be paid to look after his ailing mother and motherless daughter and will be left well alone by him. Perfect!

Until her new husband decides to stop playing by the rules.

Hussain is suave and rich. He is nobody’s fool…and is not about to be bested by the ex-schoolteacher he is married to. He has Shahira in his sights and she has to have all her wits about her in order to hold him at arm’s length.

Review:

Shahira has come out of an abusive marriage and is now a single mother. She has been teaching a motherless girl, Natasha and has developed a kinship with her and her grandmother. Natasha’s father, Hussain, is a very rich man, very busy in his business with no time for his own daughter and mother. Both Shahira and Hussain have been through an emotional upheaval in their past relationships and are too scared to look for love and hope in life again. Until they meet.

Their personalities are different and so are their perspectives at looking at life and family. While Shahira has been a kind and caring mother, Hussain has created a distance from his daughter and mother. Shahira is quite modern and practical and has created a space for herself in her bound culture. Hussain is inherently a nice man caught in a bad situation.

This was a really fun read and a short and sweet book!

Book Review: Butterfly Season


 

Title: Butterfly Seasonbutterfly-season-200x300
Author: Natasha Ahmed
ISBN: 9781927826553
Publisher: Indireads Inc.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.

Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.

Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.

We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.

Review:

Butterfly Season is a story of a contemporary Pakistani girl Rumi, who has spent the last years caring for her ailing mother. Now after her mother’s death, she has come to London to visit her younger sister and some old friends. Rumi has been a dutiful daughter, loyal friend, yet independent and hard working.

She has been the typical girl next door until she falls in love with Ahad, a Pakistani man living in London. Even though both come from the same cultural background, their lifestyle and perspectives couldn’t be more different and this creates a complicated situation.

Rumi’s dilemma now is to decide whether to drop her usual way of thinking (traditional and conservative) or adopt a more bolder and refreshing approach to love and life with Ahad. The story develops among the family and cultural issues and is an interesting view on the Pakistani expats and society.

This is a bold and refreshing take about the Pakistani culture, expectations and way of life among the women in Pakistan. I loved reading about the independent Rumi, who is willing to realise her dreams even if it comes at a price.

Butterfly Season has well fleshed out characters. I loved all the characters in the book, their conflicts and different perspectives create a multilayered drama the story. This can be the story of almost any woman living in today’s society, be it India or Pakistan. Butterfly Season is an enjoyable read wih great engaging writing style and interesting plot.