Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

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They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened…

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

My Review:

You would think that Charlie and Sal were a happily married couple with a young child. But Lisa Hall’s novel shows the complete opposite. Charlie is a successful lawyer who is hoping to become a partner. Sal trained as a teacher but is now a stay at home parent, keeping everything spotless and making delicious meals. Sal is punished both physically and mentally if Charlie is disappointed.
Both tell their sides of the story, sometimes you see the same scene repeated so you get to see each of their views on certain events. Charlie becomes increasing hostile the further you get into the novel, not just to Sal but also family and work colleagues. When Sal refuses to give into Charlie over a family matter things come to a head.
I loved this book, it’s very fast paced and very believable. With the narrative switching constantly I was gripped all the way through.
Between You and Me is a fantastic debut novel. I had wanted to be a patient reader and wait for the novel to arrive on publication day but I was reading so many reviews praising it I couldn’t wait any longer.
Thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley.

Modesty Blaise: Ripper Jax

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Continuing the only complete collection of Modesty Blaise adventures! The return of the ‘ass-kicking femme fatale’. Full of classic action and adventure and dripping with 60’s chic.

My Review:

It’s a least thirty years since I read any type of comic strip fiction, it took me a while to settle back into it but once I did it was great fun. I had never heard of the Modesty Blaise books even though they were published over a period of around forty years. They did feel a little dated with the style of writing and the illustrations but it didn’t stop me enjoying the four different stories that are in this collection.
Ripper Jax, the first story in this collection was my favourite one, it was a good introduction to Modesty and Willie. There wasn’t really any mention of how they met or previous missions so I just read each of the stories as stand alone. The main point that came across in each story was that every member of the team were loyal to their friends and devoted to each other. If they owed a favour or somebody was in trouble they would try their hardest to rectify the situation.
I imagine that the series has a big following for those that love this type of fiction, for me it was a complete change. Not something I would read regularly but one that I would dip into every now and again.

With thanks to Titan Books for the copy received.

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay.

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Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.

But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…

My review:
It is a long time since I read a full book in one day but this novel was impossible to put down for long. I think the reason was due to the subject matter, bullying.
It is told by both mother and daughters point of view. Autumn was trying her hardest to keep things from Laura but was understandably struggling. She didn’t agree with the way that Laura was dealing with it, feeling that it made it worse for her. Laura knew that she had made a big mistake but guilt and fear made it difficult for her to ask anybody close to her for help. Levi did have his problems, these became more evident towards the end but it wasn’t just him doing the bullying. Other children and their parents were just as cruel. Laura was also being bullied although in a different way to Autumn. Her bully was ensuring that she would be isolated and helpless in every way.
I found it at times to be really intimidating. Laura and Autumn shouldn’t have had to go through what they did, but sadly it happens and the author has done a fantastic job of highlighting the situation that some families must be going through.

With thanks to the Corvus for the copy received.

Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov

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A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a brilliant but erratic psychologist who has an agenda of her own, and her annotations paint a much darker picture. As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened on one fateful overseas assignment but who is the real terrorist. Peopled by a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters, whose reliability as narrators is always questioned, and with a multi-layered plot heaving with unexpected and often shocking developments, Jihadi: A Love Story is an intelligent thriller that asks big questions. Complex, intriguing and intricately woven, this is an astonishing debut that explores the nature of good and evil alongside notions of nationalism, terrorism and fidelity, and, above all, the fragility of the human mind.

My review:

Jihadi will probably be one of those novels that I will be thinking about long after I finished it. I will say that it’s not the easiest novel that I’ve read, it was much easier to read with no background noise, that way I didn’t miss anything.
The book is mainly about Thelonius, Fatima and Mike, how they connected and the consequences on their lives. And throughout the whole novel is a second narrator. At first you don’t realise who this person is, just somebody a little annoying who places a few notes. These contradict the accounts from other people and there are constant references to The White Album by The Beatles. I found this quite confusing, I don’t know the album so didn’t really understand the connection. When I realised who the narrator was I was flicking back the pages to see what I had missed. The same happened with The Raisin. The scenes featuring Thelonius and The Raisin were one of the most fascinating, and at times, upsetting in the book.
Fatima was completely out of her depth and trying to do the best for her mother and younger sister but didn’t realise the danger that she was in until it was far too late. I loved her strength of character and how she refused to change her story to match that of the heavyset woman, one of the more dangerous characters to feature in the novel. I found both her and her husband very intimidating.
I like to think that there would only ever be one Mike but I suspect that I might be disappointed. He was the complete opposite to his brother who had a conscience and tried to do the right thing. Thelonius and Fatima came from different countries and different cultures but they shared the same belief about their countries leaders. The author doesn’t take sides at all, instead he shows that there are good and bad people on both sides of the conflict.
The most heartbreaking parts of this novel I was reading whilst sat on a train, that was thankfully very quiet.

Thanks to Orenda Books for the copy received. The detail of the blog tour are below.

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The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes by Michael Kurland

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Fine and Dandy chorine Lydia Laurent’s strangled, nude body, accompanied by two complete suits of clothing, has been found in Central Park, and now Two-Headed Mary and Billie Trask are missing too. Since the police are as helpless as they always are in 1935, it falls to New York World columnist Alexander Brass and his cheerfully wide-eyed sidekick Morgan DeWitt to dig up the truth

My thoughts:

The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes is the second stand alone novel to feature Brass, Morgan and Gloria. I hadn’t read the first book or any of the series featuring Professor Moriarty but I plan to do so very soon.
Morgan is a trusted employee of Brass alongside Gloria and Garrett. He is a struggling novelist who relies on his tact and wit to stay in employment. He isn’t a New Yorker and doesn’t understand the Broadway slang. So he is initially very confused when the team are asked to look into the disappearance of ‘Two Headed Mary’ and whether it is linked to the disappearance of Billie Trask and the murder of Lydia Laurant. Luckily Brass understood, and offered to help. They found that people were more willing to talk to them rather than the police.
I loved the humour throughout the novel, there are some cracking one liners, mainly from Morgan when he is describing the people of New York. The names of the characters as well, ‘Pearly’ Gates is just one of many. It’s also very descriptive, I could imagine New York in the 1930s, recovering from the depression and prohibition. The theatre district and the bars/diners all feature strongly along with the people connected to both.
I loved this book, the author combines crime and humour very well.

I am very grateful to Titan Books for sending me this book to review, and for  the introduction to an author I had never read before.