The New Girl by Harriet Walker – Review

About The Book

She’s borrowed your life. What if she decides to keep it?

Glamorous Margot Jones is the fashion editor at glossy women’s magazine Haute, and pregnant with her first child. Margot’s used to her carefully curated life being the object of other women’s envy – who wouldn’t want her successful career, loving husband, beautiful house and stylish wardrobe? 

Maggie, a freelance journalist, certainly knows she doesn’t measure up. So when Margot gets in touch to suggest she apply for her maternity cover at Haute, Maggie seizes the chance at living a better life – even if it’s only temporary.

But the simultaneous arrival of Margot’s baby and a brutal end to her oldest friendship sends Margot into a spiral of suspicion and paranoia. Are Maggie’s motives as innocent as they seem? And what happens at the end of the year when Margot wants her old life back – especially if Maggie decides she doesn’t want to leave?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Secret Readers. The New Girl was a book that I wouldn’t usually read, I prefer my books to be a little grittier. But the synopsis intrigued me with hints of trouble in the past, a broken friendship and a threat that many career women who are on maternity leave must feel.

At first it’s told by two view points, Margot who is on maternity leave with her first child and Maggie the woman who has filled her position. I liked both of them, appreciated Maggie’s enthusiasm and Margot’s fear over being replaced and her hurt at the way her school friend Winnie has severed connection. I liked her more and understood her feelings when events that happened when she was at school were slowly revealed.

When Winnie appeared the novel became a lot more sinister. It was via Winnie that I got to understand Margot more, especially with what happened when they were at school. I could see how Margot felt threatened but I could also see the pain that Winnie felt. I wasn’t sure what she could be capable of. I could also appreciate how much Maggie helped her, albeit unintentionally, with not knowing the connection that she had with Margot.

This was a novel about friendship, loyalty and envy. It was also about guilt and insecurity and how both could affect judgement. It also taught me a little about the fashion industry, something I know absolutely nothing about. 

I’m glad I decided to read something a little different, this was a book that I really enjoyed.   

The Burning Men by Will Shindler – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When a development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters runs in to save a man spotted at the window.

They come out without a body. They quit the service. They plan never to speak to each other again.

Five years later one of them is set alight at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did that night. What they chose over their duty. And there are still three men left to burn . . .

DI Alex Finn and his new partner DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the next man faces the fire.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Burning Men is a new crime thriller series and I don’t think I will be the only one who will be pleased that Finn, Paulsen and the rest of the team will be returning. This a partnership which has plenty of potential. Not only are they dedicated officers who are determined to solve a case they also have personal lives and problems that I am interested in. 

They do seem an unlikely pair but are forced to work together when the team that they are part of is struggling with other cases. They don’t connect immediately, there are issues and I think there will be many more as the series progresses. I expect clashes but also friendship that will include colleagues Ojo and Skegman.

The case itself was an intriguing one. Fire fighters who made a spur of the moment decision that whilst it brought benefits also brought danger. There were quite graphic scenes of what a body looks like after a fire, I’m only glad that I couldn’t smell the scenes as well as visualise them. 

A brilliant debut with an ending that I definitely didn’t expect.

Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora Braid for twelve years. 

But she can’t resist. She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except…

There’s something terribly wrong. 

Flora looks the same, only older – just as Beth would have expected. It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.
They are no taller, no older.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Sophie Hannah is always an author I enjoy, mainly because you can always rely on her to deliver something a little different. I have never read a storyline like this before and I had no idea which way it would go. Every solution I came up with was wrong.

The characterisation is very strong, particularly Beth and my favourite of them all her daughter Zannah. I thought she was brilliant, the way she managed to convince her father that her mother had a point, there was something not quite right with the Braids. But more so, her takedown of the teacher, which made me smile all day.

When, finally, the truth was revealed I went cold, this was evil control and I really hope there is nobody who has had to deal with a situation like this in real life. It is difficult to review without spoilers but if you choose to read this you won’t be disappointed.

My Top Ten Books of 2019

The time has come again to face an impossible task of narrowing the 117 books I have read into a top ten list. As always it was difficult to do but I have managed and I will list them in no particular order. Apart from my favourite book of the year which I will reveal at the end. You can see my review for each book by clicking on the title.

Expectation by Anna Hope.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman.

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Red Snow by Will Dean

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron

On My Life by Angela Clarke

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman

My Book of 2019

Turbulent Wake by Paul. E Hardisty

Many Rivers To Cross by Peter Robinson – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

A skinny young boy is found dead – his body carelessly stuffed into wheelie bin.

Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called to investigate. Who is the boy, and where did he come from? Was he discarded as rubbish, or left as a warning to someone? He looks Middle Eastern, but no one on the East Side Estate has seen him before.

As the local press seize upon an illegal immigrant angle, and the national media the story of another stabbing, the police are called to investigate a less newsworthy death: a middle-aged heroin addict found dead of an overdose in another estate, scheduled for redevelopment.

Banks finds the threads of each case seem to be connected to the other, and to the dark side of organised crime in Eastvale. Does another thread link to his friend Zelda, who is facing her own dark side? 

The truth may be more complex – or much simpler – than it seems . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Pigeonhole. Many Rivers To Cross is the latest novel in the Inspector Banks series. I found it slightly different to the previous books. Banks seemed to feature less with more focus on Gerry and Annie. When he does appear though, you still see his love of music and fine wine. My thoughts about his character though are changing with each novel. Maybe because of the TV series but also because his increasing loneliness makes him more vulnerable and a little needy with the women he knows.

There is also more focus on modern day news than in previous books. Politics, particularly Brexit, human trafficking, drugs and racism. All of which is seen daily in the news. One of these topics in particular, is covered more than the others and its heartbreaking and unfortunately very real.

One of the more interesting parts of the novel was Zelda’s story. She was a character I really liked. What she went through before her arrival in the UK was horrific and I can see her appearing in a few novels in the future.

This series has the potential to be successful for years to come. I can see it changing, some characters appearing more as Banks gets closer to retirement age but there are still plenty of stories there.

Peter Robinson will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 7th October .