The Child by Fiona Barton

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The Child by Fiona Barton; release date June 27, 2017; published by Berkley Publishing Group; ISBN 9781101990483

The bundled up skeleton of a newborn baby is found at a London demolition site. As Kate Waters, reporter at The Daily Post, works to put the story together, she unearths a decades old mystery with three unsuspecting women at the heart of it. Angela gave birth to a baby girl forty years ago, kidnapped from her hospital room. Emma is house bound and struggles with anxiety, a result of a secrets she has kept buried. Jude, Emma’s estranged mother, craves an improved relationship with her daughter but is unable to let go of her obsessions. What are their stories and how are these three women connected? But most importantly who is the ‘Building Site Baby’?

What can I say, except that I loved The Child! Fiona Barton has created within its pages an intricately woven web of characters, each with their own trials and tribulations. Each hiding dark secrets. As the story came together, I found myself playing detective, jotting down notes, potential clues and constantly guessing, inferring the likely outcome. Did I have an inkling of what the twist would be? Yes, probably about halfway through when I mused to myself, “Hmm, wouldn’t it be interesting if…”, but it didn’t take away one bit from my enjoyment of the story’s progression and found the resolution to the mystery very satisfyingly written.

Not having read The Widow (no I haven’t been living under a rock), Fiona Barton’s debut novel, I was a little hesitant to read her next novel fearing some overlap and although I did come across a few references to it in The Child and the fact that Kate Waters is in both novels, I was happy to learn that the two can be read as stand alone. Needless to say, I have put a hold on The Widow at my local library!

The Child is a gripping, fast-paced addictive read; the first book in a while that kept me awake reading way past my bedtime! With complex, well developed and totally likeable characters, sharp, relevant dialogue and numerous twists and turns, The Child is one of this summer’s best mystery thrillers.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Berkley Publishing Group for providing a digital advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz; release date June 6, 2017; published by HarperCollins Canada; ISBN 978-0-06-264522-7

I always find murder mysteries difficult to summarize because much of the enjoyment of reading them comes from the reader experiencing the story development firsthand, with no prior knowledge of the potential plot twists. One of the main reasons why I loved Magpie Murders so much was in fact the ingeniously unique structure of the plot itself and uncovering the delectable intricacies of Magpie Murders on my own. So I apologize in advance for the vagueness. You’ll just have to read it to find out what it’s all about!

Susan Ryeland, is a forty-something editor at Cloverleaf Books, a small independent publisher, and her plan is to spend the weekend with snacks, a bottle of wine and the manuscript of Magpie Murders, the latest instalment in the Atticus Pünd series, from bestselling author Alan Conway. Like Susan, the reader is soon transported to the sleepy English countryside of the 1950’s, where German detective Atticus Pünd is investigating two  mysterious deaths at Pye Hall, a stately home in the village of Saxby-on-Avon. Replete with a long list of suspects, all with secrets to hide, Atticus Pünd must work through numerous clues and red herrings to solve the crimes. But just as the murderer is about to be revealed, Susan discovers something very disturbing about the manuscript; something so unnerving as to change the course of her life.

Written as a novel within a novel, in Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz masterfully and seamlessly bridges the classic British murder mystery of yesteryear with the more modern detective crime story of today. Each mystery is intriguing and developed in such a way as to stand strongly on its own, yet the fact that there are similarities and parallels between the two make it even more appealing. I absolutely loved the whole idea of Magpie Murders, from the picturesque English country setting, the eccentric foreign detective, the suspicious and secretive (yet likable) characters, to the old-school mystery.

What a brilliantly and cleverly written tribute to the queen of crime Agatha Christie. Magpie Murders was so entertaining and engrossing that I was sad to see it end. My only complaint is that the Atticus Pünd mysteries referred to in Magpie Murders don’t actually exist in the real world. They would be so awesome to read!

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada and the HCC First Look program for providing a advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

300 Days of Sun – Deborah Lawrenson

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300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson; release date May 16, 2016; published by Lawsome Books; ISBN 9780062390165

Journalist Joanna Millard, having just lost her job and needing separation from her boyfriend Marc, travels from Brussels to Faro, Portugal. She spends her days taking language lessons and lazily exploring the history and natural beauty of this seaside town. She soon befriends fellow classmate Nathan Emberlin, who enlists Joanna to investigate a number of child kidnappings that have occurred in the area. As Joanna reaches out to the locals, she uncovers ‘The Alliance’, a novel written by Esta Hartford, which recounts an American couple’s experiences in Portugal during WWII. Although written as fiction, Joanna begins to suspect that the story of ‘The Alliance’ and the mysterious kidnappings are somehow connected.

So, I have to admit that when I first started reading this back in 2016, I gave up on it after only 100 pages. At the time I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind, and honestly found the writing to be slow and dry, and I just couldn’t get interested in the premise of the story. Fast forward to present day, I decided to give 300 Days of Sun a second chance when I found it would fit one of the Goodreads Seasonal Challenge tasks.

I’m so happy to have restarted it again. While the writing is still slow, and I didn’t really find it very thrilling, the descriptions of Faro, and the Algarve coast are so wonderfully vivid. I found myself engaged with the characters, almost imagining myself following in their footsteps, lazily enjoying the sun’s heat or exploring the historical beauty of Portugal.

The use of the two timelines, with Joanna and Nathan in present day Faro and the Faro of WWII depicted in ‘The Alliance’, works really well and adds a certain historical depth to the mystery. Both stories eventually converge, providing a satisfying tying up of loose ends.

300 Days of Sun has almost all you could hope for; mystery, espionage, history and romance and is really the perfect read for the lazy days of summer ahead of us.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lawsome Books for providing a digital advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella; release date February 7, 2017; published by Random House; ISBN 9780812998269

Katie ‘Cat’ Brenner is living her dream life in London, or at least that’s what she wants her family and friends to believe when they see her Instagram photos. Everyone else’s life is perfect so why would they want to know about her excruciatingly long commute, horrible roommates and underwhelming job? When an unexpected change at work forces her to return to her family home in the countryside, Katie is forced to reevaluate her life, her priorities and along the way learns an important life lesson: not everything is as perfect as it seems.

Sophie Kinsella has such a knack for creating lighthearted and fun stories, with relatable and likeable characters. It’s one of the main reasons I come back to her books every time. With My Not So Perfect Life, Sophie Kinsella has captured perfectly the society we live in today, where the appearance of happiness, success and perfection is so much more important than the messiness and unglamorous reality of everyday life.

A fun, entertaining and (surprisingly) thought provoking read. I absolutely recommend to pick this one up from your local library or bookstore.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group (The Dial Press) for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Buzz Books 2017: Spring Summer by Publishers Lunch

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Buzz Books 2017: Spring/Summer by Publishers Lunch; release date January 13, 2017; published by Publishers Lunch; ISBN 9780997396089

Buzz Books never disappoints and their latest edition is another great collection of excerpts to read in preparation for the upcoming spring/summer book releases. Below you will find a list (with links) of those titles that were standouts to me.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne; release date June 20, 2017; published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons; ISBN 9780735213005

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz; release date June 6, 2017; published by Harper; ISBN 9780062645227

Soleri by Michael Johnston; release date June 13, 2017; published by Tor Books; ISBN 9780765386489

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips: release date July 11, 2017; published by Viking Books; ISBN 9780735224278

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Samson; release date May 2, 2017; published by St. Martin’s Press; ISBN 9781250130402

The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber; release date June 27, 2017; published by She Writes Press; ISBN 9781631521928

Final Girls by Riley Sager; release date July 18,2017; published by Dutton; ISBN 9781101985366

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt; release date August 1, 2017; published by Atlantic Monthly Press; ISBN 9780802126597

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore; release date May 2017; published by Sourcebooks; ISBN 9781492649359

Memory’s Last Breath by Gerda Saunders; release date June 6, 2017; published by Machete Books; ISBN 9780316502627

Thank you to NetGalley and Publishers Lunch for providing a digital copy of this title in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Buzz Books 2017: Young Adult Spring/Summer by Publishers Lunch

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Buzz Books 2017: Young Adult Spring/Summer by Publishers Lunch; release date January 13, 2017; Published by Publishers Lunch; ISBN 9780997774412

Always a great resource for upcoming releases, Buzz Books 2017: Young Adult Spring/Summer highlights a number of books for the middle school to teen and young adult set being released between March and July of this year.

Not that I needed to add any more titles to my already unmanageable to-read list, but if you are looking for something new to read, here’s a list of some notable standouts:

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh; release date May 2, 2017; published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons; ISBN 9780399171635

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr; release date May 16, 2017; published by Philomel Books; ISBN 9780399547010

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau; release date June 6, 2017; published by HarperTeen; ISBN 9780062453846

The Legend of Skyco: Spirit Quest by Jennifer Frick-Rupert; release date April 4, 2017; published by Amberjack Publishing; ISBN 9781944995119

How to be a Supervillain by Michael Fry; release date May 2, 2017; published by Jimmy Patterson Books; ISBN 9780316318693

Thank you to NetGalley and Publishers Lunch for providing a digital copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.

After You by Jojo Moyes

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After You by Jojo Moyes; Published September 29, 2015; Published by Penguin Group Viking (Pamela Dorman Books); ISBN 9780525426592

When I was handed Me Before You at a book club meeting a few years back and urged to read it, I never expected a book to affect me so deeply as this book did. Since then I have read the majority of Jojo Moyes’ novels, and while I enjoyed them all, Me Before You has stayed with me as one of my absolute favourite books. So when After You was published I was a little reluctant to read it. Not that I thought it wouldn’t be good because Jojo Moyes is a wonderfully talented author; but I was a little afraid to be disappointed. That without the Lou/Will dynamic, After You just wouldn’t be good enough.

In After You, we catch up with Louisa Clark eighteen months later, who is struggling with the emotional void left by Will’s death and not realize her promise to Will to live a more fulfilling life. When a devastating accident forces Lou to return home to her family and she makes a shocking discovery from Will’s past, Louisa must finally come to terms with the void in her life and find a way to move on.

After You is a wonderfully entertaining and engrossing read. Jojo Moyes has written a tender and emotional story of what it really is like to deal with grief and the loss of a loved one. Louisa is quirky, funny and utterly lovable and as she struggles to find her way, you can’t help but root for her.

Is it as good as Me Before You? No, but then it doesn’t have to be. After You stands firmly on its own as a poignant, touching and endearing story of grief, love lost and found, family, friendship and the strength of an individual’s perseverence.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group Viking (Pamela Dorman Books) for providing  digital a copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.