#BookReview of – Undying Book 1 – The Kinship of DJinns and Book 2 – My Uncle’s Son By  Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed @AmbreenHameed1 #UmzaHameed

Undying Book 1 – The Kinship of DJinns and Book 2 – My Uncle’s Son
By Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A romance that puts traditions and modern ways of living at juxtopositions to create the tensions, wrapped around a volatile political landscape. The book shows inner lives of two sisters and there’s a touch of magic intertwined in there too. Pretty good for a debut and the books are better than I thought they were going to be.
Take a look at the blurbs in both books and then my review.
Thanks to Uzma Hameed for asking me to review their books via the Contact option on my blog.

Undying Duo pic

Blurb – Book 1

UNDYING Book 1: The Kinship of Djinns“Sibling rivalry, evolutionary science, theatre, film and even magic all have a part to play in Ambreen and Uzma Hameed’s exuberant tale of a romantic triangle… UNDYING is huge fun. Its sitcom style comedy and affectionate satire deepen into a mystery that explores what unites and divides us, in families and communities, and asks how art, science and religion try to make sense of a violent and unjust world.” Boyd Tonkin, Former Chair of Judges, Man Booker International Prize

It is 1998 and the leader of the free world is under fire after an affair with a young intern. Meanwhile, in a corner of South London, the Malik sisters have also committed a sin: they are in their thirties and still not married. Now the unexpected return of their childhood playmate spells the chance of a happy ending: but only for one of them. And this time, younger sister Zarina is determined she won’t be second in line to Sufya, the eldest – even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices. But as tensions rise across the Muslim world, sibling rivalry and Sufi spells are not the only forces with which the three lovers must contend.

Blurb – Book 2

UNDYING Book 2: My Uncle's SonChristmas 1998 approaches and the Malik sisters struggle to come to terms with Heathrow’s disappearance. A series of unanswered questions leads Sufya on a journey across the Holy Land. Back in South London, Zarina believes she is receiving messages from beyond the grave. As the leader of the free world sends bombs down on Baghdad, anger boils over in the Muslim community. The family falls under suspicion and both sisters must pick a side.

My Uncle’s Son is the thrilling conclusion to UNDYING.

Review

The books are best read when they are read sequentially. Both books are predominently about Sufya and Zarina and their lives in 1998. They are modern Muslims who are just trying to get on with their lives. The sisters have, according to their religion, committed a sin by still not being married and it is more than frowned upon as they are in their thirties. There is also the question of career/interest choice as Sufya is into scientific writing, which seems more palatable than Zarina and her interest in theatre. The book deals with the differences in attitudes between younger Muslim’s and those with more traditional views. This sort of tension creates interest and shows some of the almost juxtopositions that traditonal and modern generations sit at. There is also, however the ties that bind them together. It’s a pretty intense read, that can at times be gripping and is mostly a good read.

This is a love story that rails against traditional Muslim values. There is also some humour, but it isn’t without its darkness that looms as it doesn’t only show the moderate, but also some of the extremes too with the backdrop of some beautiful scenery.
There are also the political attitudes of the time to the affair of Clinton and Lewinsky, war, suicide bombers that are touched upon.

The title of the second book – My Uncle’s Son is the concluding part of this story. You can’t read one without the other if you want to know the ending. The title – My Uncle’s Son is the title of a film as many potential cast assemble, as this book is a bit more about the arts industry, which book 1 touches upon.

There’s a character – Heathrow, or H, who goes missing. This is a character that runs through both books. The book examines and questions how you’d feel if someone you knew wore explosives. 

Both books, intriguingly (and sometimes this works better than other times), looks at genetics in primates and humans. It offers up some thought-provoking points, especially at the parts where this doesn’t get readers too bogged down. It is an intriguing and certainly different way that the characters, mostly Sufya and Zarina, try to understand what is happening in the world as they try to make sense of it all and the enormity of the violence that is harbouring in some people.

The themes of the first book link up well in the second book, tying them both together, which I thought was good and keeps Zarina and Sufya headstrong about their views on marriage, including arranged marriage.

The book also questions whether love can conquer all, even when all around can be so brutal and relationships can be tough as can finding your own way of life, that may go against a traditional grain. It is this, going against the grain that perhaps shows change and how there are modern Muslims living life their own way and makes Zarina and Sufya’s characters most interesting and wills you on in the hope they succeed.

The second book is a very good conclusion to this duo of books that has passion, anger, violence and love throughout.

#BookReview by Lou – The New Home By Chris Merritt @DrCJMerritt @bookouture #PsychologicalThriller #Thriller

The New Home
By Chris Merritt

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The New Home is a stand-alone psychological thriller that has a quiet intensity propelling the pages to turn and will keep you guessing. FInd out more in the blurb and then my full review,
First, thanks to Bookouture and Chris Merritt for the book and allowing me to review.

The New Home

Blurb

The New HomeFreya loves her new home on a quiet suburban street. And her beautiful neighbour Emily is everything she’s ever wanted in a best friend. Finally, she has somebody to share her secrets with over a glass of wine. But as Freya watches her new friend setting the table for dinner one evening, she sees something shocking that makes her think that Emily’s life might not be as perfect as it seems. Days later, Emily and her daughter vanish…

When you meet Emily’s husband, you will think you know what he’s hiding.

You will ask yourself whether Emily and Freya really did meet by chance.

You will think you know what happened to Emily and her little girl the night they went missing.

But when you discover the truth, it will shake you to your core and you will lie awake at night wondering if you can ever really trust the people in the house next door…

Review

Jack and his fiancee, Freya have moved to Sunningdale Road to Weybridge, a London suburb. They move to a house, which should have been wonderful. A new home also brings new neighbours to get to know. These are Emily and Michael and their daughter Thea. There is also Cathy to meet, along the way. Things seem like they could be okay, even though Emily and Michael’s relationship have strains within it due to bereavement of a miscarriage, which Emily are trying to talk through with therapist, Laurence.
There is also control within relationships and delusion that are some of the other meaty themes dealt with in the threads of the book.

 Emily and Thea go missing and the search, reported on the news, is on. As time goes on, the mystery to the disappearance of them deepens, and also feels more sinister and at times, spine-tinglingly so. The quiet intensity also builds, that wraps around this psychological thriller that keeps you guessing to the end and leave you thinking about it for a while after, since what seems like a nice neighbourhood has darkness within it.

On another note, this book may be also good for book clubs as it holds plenty to discuss within the themes raised and character behaviours.

Read to the very end and find an author’s note about the themes dealt with in this book and holds an important message for readers.

This is the author’s first standalone novel. He is known more for writing series and it absolutely does not disappoint!

 

#BookReview By Lou of Murder In An Irish Bookshop @canelo_co @CaneloCrime @lovebooksgroup @lovebookstours #CrimeFiction #CozyCrime #CosyCrime

Murder In An Irish Bookshop
By Carlene O’Connor

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Today I am on the blog tour and closing it for cosy mystery – Murder In An Irish Bookshop, a book that takes murder mystery readers to a fictional community where the Garda are kept busy in a small village community.
Thanks to publishers – Canelo for providing a book and thanks to Love Books Group for inviting me to the blog tour. Discover more about the book below in the blurb and thoughts about it in my review below…

Murder In An Irish Bookshop cover

Blurb

Canelo Cover Image spec with Guides

Join a bestselling author and travel to County Cork in Ireland to solve a bookish mystery full of twists in a cozy whodunit perfect for fans of  Sheila Connolly, Kate Carlisle, and Laura Childs!

Between training the new town garda and trying to set a wedding date with her fiancé, Macdara Flannery, Siobhán O’Sullivan is feeling a bit overwhelmed. She’s looking forward to visiting the new bookshop and curling up with an exciting novel—only to discover the shelves contain nothing but Literature with a capital L. The owner not only refuses to stock romances, mysteries, and science fiction, but won’t even let customers enter his store unless they can quote James Joyce or Sean Hennessey.  
 
Despite the owner deliberately limiting his clientele, he’s hosting a reading and autographing event featuring up and coming Irish writers who will be taking up residency in Kilbane for a month. Among them is indie author Deirdre Walsh, who spends more time complaining about the unfairness of the publishing industry and megastar bestsellers instead of her own creative works, causing a heated debate among the writers. She seems to have a particular distaste for the novels of Nessa Lamb.
 
Then Deirdre’s body is found the next day in the back of the store—with pages torn from Nessa’s books stuffed in her mouth. Now, Siobhán must uncover which of Kilbane’s literary guests took Deirdre’s criticisms so personally they’d engage in foul play . . .

Review

A murder in a bookshop!!! Who’d have thought it….
Murder in an Irish Bookshop is set in a small village in County Cork and has some Irish flare to it. There’s a new bookshop all set for its grand opening day event, but it doesn’t go to plan from the start and people have to be turned away, due to a murder having been committed. It then lies with the Garda to unpick the lies, secrets and red-herrings to work out who and why a murder happened and why on that particular day.

Siobhán O’Sullivan is engaged to Detective Sergeant Macdara Flannery and there’s new trainee Aretta Dabiri. The relationships and dynamics between each other and their families provide another thread and it’s okay not to have read the previous books yet as the author ensures readers are all nicely caught up enough and it’s not too challenging to follow, and the murder mystery itself is a new one. At certain points the mystery does really slow down, but thankfully doesn’t quite stall and also then picks up again to grab interest all over again.

This definitely sits well in the cosy murder category as readers get to snoop round the village and its community of residents and their quirks and charm. It is, despite a murder occurring, warm and heartfelt, especially within the families, plus there is some humour within it.

#BookReview by Lou of A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore @Rachelhore @simonschusterUK @rararesources #SpyFiction #CrimeFiction #HistoricalFiction

A Beautiful Spy
By Rachel Hore

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It gives me pleasure to announce that I am closing the blog tour for A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore. It shows the perilous and dark corners of the world in a mysterious and intense fashion. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing a print copy of the book and for Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the blog tour. Find out more about the author and her book, as well as the rest of my thoughts in the review…

A Beautiful Spy

About the Author

Rachel Hore author photoRachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia until deciding to become a full-time writer. She is the Sunday Times (London) bestselling author of ten novels, including The Love Child. She is married to the writer D.J. Taylor and they have three sons. 

Blurb

A Beautiful SpyMinnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928…

Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.

Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

Review

Minnie Gray is the main protagonist, with the book predominantely sweeping through the 1930’s, but also hitting on more modern times every so often. In 1928, Minnie wants more for her life and she certainly isn’t into meeting the Chamberlains, even though they were increasingly making their mark in the House of Commons. Life moves swiftly on from that time and readers learn about Minnie and her upbringing. What she hadn’t initially realised was that her connections then were to change the course of her life. Through her connections, she certainly becomes far removed from being a dutiful and stay at home wife. She has the opportunity to be a government spy, with the remit to spy on Communist Russia and to delve deeper into UK supporters of the regime.

There’s a bit of glamour that’s in the backdrop of a deeper, darker world and has her eyes opened wide to what the propaganda really means and where meetings take place in places where no one would normally suspect anything untoward could possibly happen.

The book shows how dangerous some politics are, especially by those with no alliegence to a country. It also sets out how people are taken in by clever propaganda. There are comparison’s that can be made into the book that can be made today and not only just with Russia, but with anywhere that has a more nationalist party. Although the book is set in the past and is about the dark, dangerous, yet exciting world for a fictional protagonist, there are some lines here and there that can be linked to certain aspects of today’s world and also the world of so-called unlikely leaders being voted into power. The book doesn’t delve too much into the roads of Communism, as Communism, as readers will know, doesn’t start there, there are other books that demonstrate this, this shows more when Communism has already got its grip.

The book is a slow suspense, but none-the-less gripping, especially for those readers who find the life of a spy and keeping identities hidden, fascinating. This book is a bit different from some spy fiction in that it doesn’t totally glamourise it and can show what an anxiety inducing life it can be and how challenging it can be, and yet change a person a bit, as demonstrated in the tastes of books Minnie used to like, compared to her tastes since becoming a spy as her worldly view has changed. The book isn’t all blazing guns and gadgets either. There is however, intelligence and a life of characters that seems plausible, and there is the wrangling of Minnie and a glimmer of desire to be set free by MI5 to lead a life outside spying, but she has proven herself well and to be valuable and stays, but things get ever more dangerous…. until a point when, finally, readers will be able to breath again, as can the woman, who led a double life.

Time moves forwards to the 1940’s and Minnie’s life has changed again, as does the pace and tone, but some histories in life can’t totally be erased and nor can the residue, certain parts of life leave behind…

This is, overall, a fascinating and intense book that leaves you wondering what next for this “Beautiful Spy”, at each turn…

Social Media Links

Visit her at RachelHore.co.uk and connect with her on Twitter @RachelHore.

 

#BookReview by Lou of False Truth – A Joe Wilde Investigation by C.D. Steele #CDSteele @BookGuild #CrimeFiction #PrivateInvestigatorFiction

False Truth
By C.D. Steele

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

False Truth is a book full of mystery and just when you suspect what happened, something else does, creating the most unexpected twists that grip in a sensational story.

Thanks to C.D. Steele for contacting me to review and gifting me his book – False Truth.

False Truth

Blurb

Private Investigator and former MI6 agent Joe Wilde is hired by Sally Devlin to investigate her son’s disappearance. Liam Devlin was a rising football star. His car was found abandoned at Lea Bridge in Hackney, a known suicide spot, six weeks prior. With help from friend and retired MI6 Data Technician Mark Thompson, Joe uncovers a huge secret in Liam’s life. Putting the pieces together, he starts to suspect that this case is far more complex than he originally envisioned. Falling ever deeper into his own investigations, Joe meets with the detective in charge of the case, D. I. Carl Whatmore, who does not take kindly to Joe getting involved. As Joe and D. I. Whatmore go head-to-head in their own investigations, more lives are put in danger. But who will crack the case? Only time will tell…

Review

Joe Wilde is a Private Investigator who is a former MI6 agent, which makes him intriguing from the outset. He has other friends from MI6 who help him in cases. This time, a meaty case turns up, one that isn’t trying to find out whether a lover is cheating on their partner or not. Sally Devlin hires him because her son, Liam, considered a rising star in football has disappeared, all they’ve got is his car that turns up at Lea Bridge.

There’s also a political element to the book as Joe’s friend Phil Harkes works for MI5 in counter-terrorism, after much time in MI6 and had been working on a case where an MP was murdered.

Working relationships are often interesting to read about and there are certainly differences between Joe Wilde and Detective Inspector Carl Whatmore, who’s path he has to cross as he wonders what he wants with the Liam case.

Readers really get a sense of walking in the shoes of a P.I. as he knocks door to door (readers certainly won’t forget Joe Wilde’s name with the number of times he has to introduce himself. At first I thought this was exessive, until I thought about it and it actually gives a real sense of realism), to try and find people who knew something and to piece bits of info together. It’s worth staying with…

The case gets more intriguing the more the leads build and even takes Joe to Paraguay, where the mystery to his disappearance continues and the intrigue notches up as there appears there may be more than meets the eye. Then the mystery racks a further notch and the twists and turns that come, become tight and the pace quickens.

#Review by Lou of The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman for #BlogTour @richardosman @VikingBooks @penguinrandom @EllieeHud #TheManWhoDiedTwice #TeamOsman #CrimeFiction

The Man Who Died Twice
By Richard Osman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review written by – Louise (Lou) – Day 4 of the blog tour

Blog tour 1 copy

Firstly I am astonished and so excited to have in my grasp, as proof copy of The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman, but does it live up to his debut – The Thursday Murder Club, which was so fantastic and captured my heart? YES, YES, YES! I am captured all over again by this book and from the first page! He’s only written 2 novels and it feels like I’ve been reading them for ages because of the long lasting effect. I had high expectations. Who wouldn’t after all the success of The Thursday Murder Club and my expectations have been met, so I am very excited to tell you about this unputdownable book. It’s a phrase used a lot, but it really is and is another Must Read from Richard Osman. 
Put it this way. I read it in a couple of days. It would have been one, but I thought I should give my cat a bit of attention and also sleep, even though I did end up reading into the wee small hours.
Please follow down to the blurb and my full review of the book that takes the Thursday Murder Club to darker places and with many, many murders and a whole lot of intrigue and humour…
Before I do, I thank those behind Team Osman at Viking Books who gifted me a proof copy  and for inviting me to the blog tour.
Now, I leave you with the blurb and the rest of my review and a pic of the book I also bought with spredges.

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Blurb

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can the Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Review

The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club Book 2)For a second book, this is absolutely sublime and is just as wise and witty and just as excellent as the first book. I already know I would love to read the third book in this terrific series.
Firstly I love that it starts the following Thursday. That’s a great place to start if ever I saw one for a sequel. The gang of retirees are still sitting around in their retirement home discussing cold cases in their own formed club – The Thursday Murder Club, that is full of characters that are so easy to invest in and want to know more about, and one in-particular has a very interesting past indeed and quite some connections, which shows a life drawn into the darker corners.

There are many bodies, a life in danger and diamonds, so therefore a case to be solved and The Thursday Murder Club, using all their skills before retirement and all their wiley ways get deeply involved, but rather differently from the first book, now that they are established. It also takes one of them on quite the unexpected adventure on the Channel Tunnel. It’s all easy to get hooked into.

The mystery all begins when Elizabeth recieves a letter from an old colleague/friend, who she hasn’t seen since 1981. It piques my interest a lot. There within lies a great mystery full of tightly constructed twists and turns. The Thursday Murder Club, after all, have a wish for something exciting to happen again. Anything, it would seem.
They do indeed have the taste for live mysteries to weedle themselves into being involved now, instead of sitting around just discussing them for their amusement.

The conversation is humorous, pretty realistic and brings not only some lightness, but also the desire of wanting to stay up-to-date with tech, but in their own manner. Now she’s wondering whether to be on Instagram or have a dog. What a choice to make!
The tone of writing is just sublime and my goodness, all of the dialogue is spot-on, whether its serious, pregamatic or comical to the onlookers. It’s so expertly done and well concieved.
The creation of Joyce is still as fabulous as ever! Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron are also very welcome to see return.

The story also shows, like the first one, that older people had a life outside a retirement village and they have an interest in the world, when in one. Elizabeth for one is an interesting character with quite an intriguing past, that is delved into more in this book. Readers also get to see a number of Joyce’s likes in life, a lot involving the BBC, which adds entertainment and interest as well as a number of people and shows folk would be familiar with. It fits with the characters and in part, is perhaps rather (and nicely) shrood on Richard Osman’s part. He is an incredibly clever man after all.

There is a nice nod to independent bookshops and a direct message within this to the public, which I wholeheartedly approve of. It is also enjoyable reading about Ibrahim’s visit to one and picks up a book you would perhaps not instantly think he would, until something happens to him…

DCI Chris Hudson and PC Donna Freitas are friends and colleagues and he can’t stop waxing lyrical about her mum, perhaps to the point of obsession in a funny way. They are also after Connie, a drug dealer/wholesaler.
When they are with the group that makes up The Thursday Murder Club, they, as ever, have to put up with them wanting everything solved instantly, or even yesterday, especially when it comes to one of their friends.
There are, it turns out there are many ways that The Thursday Murder Club can help, both on the case with the skills and connections they possess and also in their  personal lives, especially Ibrahim, as the book continues its theme of loneliness. It makes a stark and really important point that it can hit people at any age and not just that of retired people. It’s weaved into the plot so well.

I think this should be made into a film too as it goes. Hopefully Steven Spielberg is looking at this book too. I also hope Richard Osman writes more of The Thursday Club. I’d be more than happy to keep reading and reviewing them.