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Liz Loves Books.Com.

Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere.  All views my own. Mostly.

Currently reading

Killfile: A Novel
Christopher Farnsworth
Impact (Outer Earth)
Rob Boffard
The American Girl
Kate Horsley
Angela Slatter

The Stepmother.

The Stepmother: A gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist - Claire Seeber

Really enjoyed The Stepmother – one of those books you read fast so you can find out what the heck is going on, with lots of lovely little twists and turns and some pretty creepy moments too (birds *shiver*) – really hits the spot for an afternoons reading in the sun. Or as we are in the UK the rain. Either way…


So Claire Seeber takes on the cliche of the Evil Stepmother and turns it a little on its head with what is basically a modern day reimagining  of Snow White if Snow White was likely slightly tainted, not quite so innocent and her Stepmother might not be so bad after all…or also could possibly be the b**** from hell. Or something. Very clever and very readable and a lot of fun.


Also though there is some real insight to be had here into the difficulties of integrating families post divorce – these days the family you start with might not be the family you end up with and even with the best intentions, human nature and emotion being what it is means that there is often a rocky road ahead and I ain’t talking about the ice cream. Whilst entertaining us with a banging good tale of mothers, daughters, husbands, sons and the witch like neighbour from down the way (no dwarves though I’m afraid) Claire Seeber manages to also weave into the narrative some definitive real life issues that a lot of people will recognise.


Overall it was pretty darn good. I had a good reading time with The Stepmother, it gave pause for thought whilst also being really entertaining and intriguing. Good finish too no disappointment.


Recommended for fans of the psychological thriller and possibly for fans of adult fairtytales with bite.


Ragdoll: A Novel - Daniel H Cole

Ha! Ragdoll is Fast, funny, brilliantly unpredictable and scarily horrific.


Loved it.


One of those books that a lot of people are talking about and you go hmm. Can it really be that good? Well if you like your crime novels to be indecently clever, terribly addictive, with a twist of horror and a huge dose of dark humour then yep it really can be that good.


It was.


ANYWAY characters? Yep got some of those in here, some utterly fantastic ones, none of whom seem to follow your usual tropes or if they do they do so in irregular and unlikely fashion. With style. Wolfe well, you never really know what he is going to do. It makes it beautifully engaging. Taking a cue from a note from the author , I thought Wolfe was a bit Jack Bauer on acid with better occasional wisecracks. I fell a little in love. Emily Baxter his one time sidekick is  well, she just is. Then the whole police team around those two have their own little weather patterns and externally you have news people(including wife Andrea – oops I mean EX of course) and possible victims and what have you, all entirely fascinating. Even if some of them did make me want to hide under the bed never to emerge again.


The dialogue crackles, the plot is beautifully woven to keep you guessing, although I gave up guessing around the middle of the book and just went along for the ride. It was a topsy turvy joy of a read that never once let up  in quality or stimulation  and it was a rocking rollercoaster from start to finish.  With body parts. And blood. And death. And giggles. And Wolfe.


And WHAT an ending.


Ragdoll? Yep yep and yep. Is what I have to say. This time the hype for me was justified. Its just good fun people! Even if the subject matter is the stuff of nightmares. Oh and by the way, great take on human nature here. If you are thinking this is all popcorn no depth think again. Works on many levels. Many many levels. Can’t wait for more from Daniel Cole.


Saving Sophie...

Saving Sophie: A gripping psychological thriller with a brilliant twist - Sam Carrington

Saving Sophie is the type of psychological thriller that I love for an afternoons reading – fast paced, intriguing, devisive characters and a terrific mystery element.


I read it cover to cover in one go pretty much, totally immersed as Karen struggles with agrophobia whilst trying to work out if her daughter Sophie is in any real danger after a night out goes horribly wrong. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, a fascinating look at family and friendship ties and a cleverly embedded whodunnit for you to get your brain around.


I can’t say I particularly liked any of the characters, but thats no bad thing – human beings are inherently selfish a lot of the time and it gives a touch of realism to a crime story. Whilst its not perfect (I did find it a little hard to swallow how long anyone took to tell the police something important that could save their lives and my little mobile phone bugbear turned up a couple of times) Saving Sophie is a blinder of a read in the addictive stakes and the conclusion was edge of seat good.


I also liked how Sam Carrington tackled agrophobia which is crippling, not allowing any sudden miracle cures which trust me I’ve seen in other books – in this one it is a mountain for Karen to climb if she IS to save Sophie, and speaks well to the underlying theme of how far would or could you go for the ones you love.


Overall a great read, certainly setting me up to read whatever comes next.

Recommended for fans of this genre.

Out of Bounds.

Out of Bounds (Karen Pirie) - Val McDermid

Reviewing Val McDermid is becoming a tough job, at some point you run out of superlatives, you repeat yourself and can’t really think of any other way of saying that the novels are top notch brilliantly written gems of crime fiction and if you are a crime fiction fan you should just read them all. Fairly sure I’ve just repeated myself again from any number of the last few times I’ve reviewed.


ANYWAY whilst I never thought that Karen Pirie would engage me as heavily as Tony Hill always has, in Out of Bounds that connection became complete. I loved this one, it was particularly addictive even for a novel from this author and I pretty much read this in one sitting. With her usual insightful and witty eye towards characters and setting, a twisty tale that is still completely believable and a bang on the money fascinating plot Out of Bounds gets a huge tick from me. On every level.


Karen as a character, well, you can’t help but dig in deep right alongside her – her way of dealing with personal tragedy, her way of rampaging through the white noise towards the truth of the matter and her ever growing relationships with those around her just give a hugely gripping anchor to the wider narrative, where in the mystery elements Val McDermid gives your brain a work out.


Overall Out of Bounds is one of my favourites to date, simply because of the storytelling. And storytelling is of course where the heart lives for us readers. So carry on please Ms McDermid – more Karen, more Tony, frankly more of whatever you’d like to throw at us. I’ve yet to be even vaguely disappointed.


Poison City. Bang on the money.

Poison City (London Tau) - Paul Crilley

Poison City is adorable…


Oh who am I kidding? Poison City is fricking nuts, completely utterly beautifully crazy. With dog.


I loved every minute of it. Urban fantasy at its brilliant best with a banging addictive story, characters to die for and thought provoking, intensely insightful glances at human nature in all its terrible glory. With vampires.


This is like Urban Fantasy Noir – its kind of like one of those old school detective stories, where the bars are smoky, the conversation is peppered with underlying feeling, the investigator is enigmatic and focused and there is always some kind of huge blow up fight at the end. Only with added Angels. And other things. And the fight is really on from first page to last…


It rocks along, the dialogue is sharp and funny, the world building is incredibly imaginative with a truly authentic feel  considering theres a fae market down the road – the setting is pure joy, the whole thing comes alive around you while you read. Those are the best books right? Also whenever dog is around he steals the limelight and frankly he should have his own sidekick comic or something. Really. I do feel like I should send Paul Crilley ALL the sherry.


If this was just a tale of adventure that would have been pure class but the thing about Poison City is it is EMOTIONAL seriously seriously heart wrenchingly emotional at times. I won’t give anything away but there are moments in Poison City that I felt right down in my soul. My engagement with London and his search for his daughters killer was a complete one. Bonded now we are.


As for Armitage well. Amazing you know she’s…actually I’ll let you find out for yourself….


Brilliant characters, utterly clever plotting, a world you both want to live in and run screaming away from, Poison City is my new favourite thing. Bring on the next book…I’ll start queuing now if necessary get ye behind me people!


The war is coming…


Highly Recommended.


With Dog.

Crash Land...

Crash Land - Doug Johnstone

Read this on the train yesterday.

Really thought it was great, great story, divisive characters, poignant setting. Full review nearer publication.


Caraval - Stephanie G. Garber
  Thoroughly enjoyed this one - pure magic. A lot of fun. I can see why the comparisons to The Night Circus but I think if you are expecting it to be like that you'll be disappointed somewhat, this is its own thing with a different heart. But gorgeous.

More to follow when I do more of my "Ones to watch in 2017" teasers on the blog and full review nearer publication.

But if you like YA/Fantasy with a touch of addictive soul then you'll love this.


The Hummingbirds Cage

The Hummingbird's Cage - Tamara Dietrich

The Hummingbirds cage was a game of two halves for me. Well a beginning, middle and end.

The beginning I thought was stunningly good -as an authentic, hard hitting and hugely emotional look at domestic violence and control told by one of its victims I was immediately horrifed and engaged by the story flowing out in front of me. Joanna is caught in a web and escape seems impossible until one day she just goes for it taking her young daughter with her. In this part of the novel Tamara Dietrich uses the little nuances, the small details seemingly dropped into the narrative to make you feel every moment of Joanna's anguish both physical and mental - clever immersive writing indeed.

Then the story took a turn that I thought was very clever but ultimately took me a step away from the emotional core of what had gone before. I became interested more in the construction and where the author might be going and speculated somewhat wildly which actually for me personally didnt work as well. My interest waned as things became clearer instead of the other way around. The quality did not dip it was one of those things where its not doing what you want it to do so you get vaguely grumpy with it. Subjective - a writer can only write their story and a reader can only take what they do from it. Still I wish the initial WOW had stuck with me.

Back on track later and Tamara Dietrich gives us a mixed but emotive ending which pulled me right back in so overall I would recommend this one as everyone else may read it differently. The writing is beautiful, the character building is quirky in places but excellent and the story is for the most part an addictive rollercoaster ride of emotion.

A lot of big sellers based on domestic violence this year. The Hummingbirds Cage sits somewhere in the middle of the pack for me - the subject matter is tackled sensitively and realistically but the direction the story went was different (probably a good thing I will say you won't read one like this) and didn't quite hit all the sweet spots for me as a reader.

Give it a go. An interesting one for discussion...

The Family Man.

The Family Man - T. J. Lebbon, HarperCollins Publishers Limited, Mark Meadows

The Hunt, the previous novel to this, I read in one huge gulp of a sitting and actually the same thing just happened so really, Mr Lebbon it could be said writes utterly banging unputdownable thrillers.


The first part of this story had me putting my hands over my eyes going NO NO JUST DON’T DO IT YOU FOOL whilst our main protagonist Dom considers a risky, unlikely and totally out of the blue plan from one of his friends. Then I spent the next part of the book hanging on by my fingernails whilst things took a terrible turn for Dom and suddenly his family are in mortal danger. Just goes to show, you should never trust your friends. Or something.


As for the last bit well. Killer. Loved it. So really the whole thing was terrific. Opening salvo to insanely exciting finish. Tis what a good thriller should be for sure. Plus the author sneaks some devilish little plot twists in there to keep you on your toes in case you thought you knew what was going on.


Addictive writing style, utterly absorbing story, if you need to actually sleep at night don’t start this one late. Thats all really.


Highly Recommended

Ravage. A half review...

Ravage: A Scarred Souls Novel - Tillie Cole

Ravage was an interesting read for me - I have not read the other books in this series but that did not actually matter I found as this was a rounded story in and of itself. I was not sure what to expect going in, but I found myself utterly hooked.

It is very dark. Some dark subject matter and some deeply violent and intense emotional prose that really digs deep - for that reason it certainly won't be for everyone. I do feel I'd like to go back and read the previous novels now to see what the picture looks like as a whole, Tillie Cole has a certain lilt to her writing style that really is very good but I'm not sure I'd like to live in her head!

Overall recommended and I will write a fuller, more frank review for the blog soon - I think I'm going to leave that until after I have had time to pick up and read the other books.

A Line of Blood...

A Line of Blood - Ben McPherson

In ye olde Domestic Noir genre you get a mish mash of reads, some good, some bad, some really excellent and not many done by male authors. Although a few. If A Line of Blood is anything to go by then perhaps more should be entering the fray.

What I loved about it was it was so much more about the dysfunctional family than it was about the possible crime. The next door neighbour kills himself (probably, or did he?) his body is discovered by Alex and son Max and then off we go - into a tale of 3 people, Husband, Wife, Child, all of whom are entirely disturbing and completely frustrating. In a good reading way. I wanted to slap the lot of them frankly but I could NOT look away from the drama unfolding.

Told by Alex, the story goes on a beautifully constructed twisty path of domestic insanity where everyone is hiding something and nobody is entirely trustworthy. Quite aside from the "who did what to who" where no possibility seems too unreasonable, you have some very insightful and thought provoking character studies, an addictively absorbing style of writing (yes Millicent your name by the end was tattooed on my soul) and quite honestly no idea where it was all going to end.

Those are the best stories right? Right.

Clever writing, clever plotting, divisive and undeniably unlikeable characters who will get stuck in your head, when it comes to this particular popular sub genre this is the way to do it.

Highly Recommended.

Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone: A Novel - Lisa Unger

Ink and Bone is the very definition of a page turner – its kind of crime fiction, kind of other, with a banging main protagonist in Finley, a girl who has a lot more about her than is first apparent. Gripping from the very first page I rattled through this one over one night then was late for work. Luckily for me work is very forgiving…


This is also quite an emotional thriller, involving as it does a missing child and Lisa Unger captures the horror and the heartache of those left behind really well, some of it was heartbreaking to read. Around that she builds a beautifully addictive mystery element and gives us Finley to guide us through. There are some real edge of the seat moments, some really really tear jerking moments and a whole cast of characters that are full of depth and entirely fascinating.


Some twists and turns, some beautifully immersive descriptive prose along with a really well plotted and well drawn storyline, Ink and Bone was a book worth staying up for.

I’m assuming (hoping?) that this will be the start of a series because it was really great, I can definitely see this expanding into a great ongoing thing – if that happens I’ll be first in line each time.

The Perfect Girl. But is she?

The Perfect Girl: A Novel - Gilly MacMillan

As a huge fan of “Burnt Paper Sky” I had that little worry that the second novel could not possibly be as good but noooooooo worries there – The Perfect Girl is a bang on target read, addictive, emotional, very intense at times with some really fascinating characters and a story with a few little twists in the tale…

So Zoe then, she was a pretty typical teenager except for her outstanding musical talent, but the typical teenager part threatened to destroy all that when one night at a party ended in tragedy. When we come into the picture, Zoe is about to give the first performance of her new life but by the end of this night tragedy will strike once again. Zoe it seems may be less on the perfect side and more on the dangerous…

Gilly Macmillan uses the multiple viewpoint plot device to perfection in “The Perfect Girl” – we hear from Zoe, from her Aunt, from her lawyer, all building a picture, not only of the present events but the past that lead them here. There is plenty of intricate character study running through the narrative, still waters run deep in this one, it is endlessly intriguing, often very melancholy and absolutely authentic.

I read it fast, this is one you won’t want to put down until you find out what the finale will bring – it had one of those classic thought provoking endings that stay with you. In a way it is a story about “what if” those little decisions made that change so much of the bigger picture and at the heart of it sits Zoe, prodigy, musical genius but very much still just a girl growing up.

Really very excellent. Very excellent indeed.

Highly Recommended

Dance with the Dead - Found my new favourite crime thing.

Dance With the Dead: A PC Donal Lynch Thriller - James Nally

So one day not so long back I accidentally bought a book when doing some online shopping for , well not books (yes EVERY TIME I tell myself I’ll just have a QUICK look see whats about but I’m accident prone) – anyway that book just happened to be Alone with the Dead – the first Donal Lynch novel – and turns out I fell immediately in love with this character (you can see review for that on goodreads ) and all the rest. So when I spotted the sequel on Netgalley there was no stopping me.

Once again it was a banging read. Brilliant crime fiction with added “other” – possibly – or maybe Donal is just disturbed – he is certainly disturbingly hilarious at times- the dark often inappropriately laugh out loud moments James Nally brings to the table just makes the whole thing more addictive.

With “Dance with the Dead” we have a multi layered plot that speaks to Donal’s own background (and by the way his brother Fintan is a bloody marvel of a character seriously) and adds a possible serial killer into the mix all whilst the poor guy is trying to redeem himself within the police force. The crime elements of the plot are brilliantly imagined and ever so fascinating, there is huge depth to both character and setting that really rings true, even given the wilder elements. The fact that it is all set in the 90’s just makes it even better, James Nally builds his story around real life events going on in the background and it works extraordinarily well.

For me, this is classic crime fiction with a twist – I love the twist – and I love that Donal is so beautifully rubbish in his brilliance – his attempts at fanning the flames of a possible romance in this instalment made me smile such a lot. Also the relationships he builds with family and the people around him make a great backdrop to the individual crime stories told, you just want to keep reading for many different reasons.

Book one was great. Book two was better. I think I may have found my new favourite crime thing.

Highly Recommended

The Comet Seekers

The Comet Seekers: A Novel - Helen Sedgwick

Loved LOVED this. Full review to follow.

After Alice - Fun but not Wicked fun.

After Alice: A Novel - Gregory Maguire

I’m a huge fan of the Oz retelling, where the wicked witch was perhaps not quite so wicked after all – I’ve read the books I’ve seen the musical and done my fair share of singing (badly) along to Defying Gravity – so I was really looking forward to seeing what Mr Maguire did with another classical favourite, Alice in Wonderland.


Well it was not as good. For me it didn’t quite hit the highs of Wicked – but still it was an enjoyable little reimagining, following Ada as she follows Alice down that rabbit hole. What I did like was the attempt made to keep it true to the original in style and substance especially in the writing, although I think possibly this made it a little drier and over wordy than it needed to be or would  have been if he had just said sod it I’m writing  something completely different.


What worked? Well it had that magical quality during the “wonderland” portions of the story and I grew rather fond of Ada along the way. What was maybe not so good? The “those left behind” portions dragged a little especially with regard to Lydia, I kept wanting to return to Ada.


That said, I did get caught up in it and I read it fast – one sitting on Saturday night. I think a lot of whether you will enjoy this or not will come down to your love (or not) of literary language and your personal relationship with the original work by Lewis Carroll. Me? I enjoyed it. I didnt adore it but it was a fun read.