Fragile by Sarah Hilary – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperately trying to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easily they can be to break . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series is one of the few that I am up to date with and I am a huge fan of her writing and her characters so was looking forward to reading Fragile which is a standalone novel. A few days after finishing it I am still trying to understand my feelings regarding the characters. All of them have given me something to think about. The title of the novel is the best way I have of describing all of them.

There aren’t many characters in the novel but all of them had an impact, especially the women. Nell featured more than Meaghan and Carolyn but I found that every time each of them appeared I found myself analysing them and trying to work out what damage they had caused but also how they had suffered due to others. I tried not to judge but with at least one of the characters it was difficult.

There was an often overwhelming sense of pain and loneliness evident from all of them. This doesn’t make it a depressing novel, but it did make me think about how many in our ‘care’ system are damaged by the ones who have the power to make a difference. Unfortunately much of the storyline is sadly believable and I dread to think what some children in care go through and the reasons why they are there. 

Fragile isn’t a quick read but it is a mesmerising one and the author has proven that she is just as good as writing standalone fiction as well as her series. This reader is certainly looking forward to what will be next.

The Cookbook Of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When Gill and Gabe’s elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth. 

A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down – and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I wanted to read this book as soon as I read the synopsis, it sounded so different to the books I usually read. I know, after finishing it, that it will be one of those books that I will be thinking about for a long time.

A family who are grieving, where each family member is grieving  in their own way. Gabe is in England, where Dougie died, trying to understand why. He spends hours on the internet looking at equipment, the rescuers,similar cases and drinking heavily with Rosa who was Dougie’s girlfriend and who was rescued from the cave where Dougie died. Gill is trying to convince herself and her desperately ill daughter Sylvie that Dougie is still alive by writing him letters. And she is cooking some unusual dishes and making them extremely personal. Teddy is grieving alone. Trying to support his mother and sister, missing his father and brother and convincing an oblivious PapaBee to help him. 

Whilst I had a lot of sympathy for all of them it was Teddy who touched my heart. Always having to fight a lot more for attention when life was normal it was even harder for him with a brother dead and a sister who would prefer to be. He is determined to find out why Sylvie was refusing to eat and whilst he seems to be failing she is listening and it is evident that she was a lot stronger than her parents think. 

I also had a lot of appreciation of the storyline involving PapaBee. It was easy to see his confusion and the chaos it caused but I felt that his situation was handled with a lot of honesty and I could visualise clearly the sometimes humorous, sometimes worrying scenes.

It could have been depressing but it wasn’t. Instead it felt like an honest approach to grief with the memories, acceptance and guilt at occasionally being able to laugh or for a few minutes have what seems to be a normal day.

Absolutely wonderful, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to everybody.

Diving For Pearls by Jamie O’ Connell – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city.

A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets.

But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Diving for Pearls is a novel about a crime but is completely different too many of the others that I have read. In this novel the crime, the death of a young Emirati woman, is very much in the background. Instead the focus is on those who are linked by her death. Either as a brother, friend, lover or the handful of people who have only had a tenuous link. The story is told by all of these, and also by a couple who never met her, but were connected through other people.

Most of the novel takes place in Dubai, but there is also an Irish link. These parts felt quite refreshing, amusing and heartwarming after reading about the methods used by the police as they tried to find out who had killed the daughter of an extremely wealthy and powerful local. The methods that the police used when questioning the people they had decided were involved in the death were horrifying. I felt that they needed to be seen to be doing something and the easiest and most preferable option was that the person responsible was somebody from another country.

I have only ever seen the airport in Dubai and I remember being fascinated by the what you could buy there. From the description of the malls I had the feeling that this was life for some in Dubai, if they were lucky enough.But you also see how much of it was a sham. Many people run out of money and just leave what possessions they cannot carry. The people who have come into the country for work have their passports taken and can’t leave again. If things go badly wrong their embassies won’t help them. They are often with employers who mistreat them, poor wages, or differing types if abuse. Gete was lucky in some ways, others in the novel, like Tahir and Lydia were not as fortunate.

Don’t Ask by Paul Carroll – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A DNA ancestry test opens up a Pandora’s Box of secrets. 

When Elsa Watson takes a DNA ancestry test out of idle curiosity she little imagines the devastating consequences she is about to unleash. 

Two families become reluctantly entwined as inconvenient truths and long suppressed memories resurface. 

A #whodunnit with a difference, Don’t Ask visits the glam rock Seventies, Britpop, Operation Yewtree and #metoo within its alternating past and present chapter structure.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Despite this book not falling into my usual choice of genre it appealed to me  because of the genealogy and DNA link. I have been tracing my ancestry for years and had often thought about doing one of the tests that are available. This book has made me think that I may not like what I find in my past.

Two families who initially have nothing in common appear to have a major link when Elsa uses a DNA a tracing kit that she received as a freebie. She is astonished, extremely upset and then elated over what she finds out. But she becomes obsessed and unhinged, not realising the damage that she is causing to her family and the family that she finds.

Covering the decades and with different narrators the details surrounding Elsa and Toora’s families is revealed. Some of it was expected but a lot was a surprise to me and more complex than I expected it to be. It was fascinating to read the details concerning the band and their fans. And the way different people coped.

It is rare for me to have such strong feelings regarding characters. Most of them in this novel were unlikeable, I think the only ones I really liked were Judy, Toora, Angie and Jean. Another my thoughts changed dramatically towards the end when I saw a different side to them.

A subject matter that always seems to be in the media now, it felt like an honest portrayal of the more dubious side to fame.

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

NO CRIME CAN STAY HIDDEN FOREVER

When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.

With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases – and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a few of Kathy Reich’s books and watched the TV series Bones which was based on them but it was a bit of a a surprise to see that The Bone Code was the 20th book in the series. I don’t want to think about how many I need to catch up on!

The two main threads in this novel are totally different. One concerned bodies that were found in containers with similar circumstances, in different countries and years apart and the other was one which concerned capnocytophaga. It takes place after the Covid 19 pandemic and  it felt a little strange reading about a post covid world when we are still living in one. Reading about a new threat made me a little uncomfortable, it was a reminder that this could be the way life could be for many years to come. It was the storyline concerning the bodies in the containers that I enjoyed the most. 

There is a lot of medical terminology in this book, most of which I didn’t understand. I was relieved that the author simplified some of it for other characters in the book. And for this reader! 

It is evident that Tempe hasn’t changed throughout this series. The determination to bring closure to a case, her sense of humour and loyalty towards friends and colleagues. There were parts that made me laugh, especially her accounts of air travel with Birdie, her telephone conversations with Ryan and her thoughts regarding most of the police.

Whilst I haven’t read every book it didn’t take me long to remember who the recurring characters were and get immersed into Tempe’s life. I adore her relationship with Ryan and Birdie Cat and loved every scene they were together in.