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Book Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

Book Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

 

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Published: 03 October 2019 (HQ)

Bad people win. They win all the time.

Rain Winter was outraged by the not-guilty verdict that allowed Steve Markham to get away with killing his wife and their unborn child. Her investigation of the murder had left her with no doubts about his guilt, the injustice of his freedom and the inevitable media circus that gifted him the celebrity spotlight leaving her feeling sickened and powerless. Taking time out from journalism to care for her husband and baby seemed like a welcome and necessary step, a break from all the madness. But now Markham’s dead. Butchered by the same method he used to get rid of his family. And word is that it’s not the only time this vigilante has acted. That the first was actually Eugene Kreskey, the man who tried to abduct her as a child. The man who killed one of her friends and tortured the other.

If there’s a link, a story, she needs to find it. All of a sudden, she’s right back in, bringing to light all kinds of secrets that should have stayed buried. Especially her own.

 

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Book Review: Rise Against (The Foundling, #4) by Hailey Edwards

Book Review: Rise Against (The Foundling, #4) by Hailey Edwards

Rise Against by Hailey Edwards

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published: 22nd August 2019 (Piatkus)

 

Luce: ‘Didn’t your mother teach you to wait until you’re invited in to enter a room?’

Santiago: ‘No. My mother ate one of my siblings because she wasn’t a fan of uneven numbers.’

 

After what felt like a slight wobble in Death Knell, this is a blinding return to form. Fourth and penultimate book in the Foundling Series, this instalment gives us a Luce who seems ready to be herself, finally reconciled with who she is as both human and charun. The theme of self understanding and self acceptance has been important throughout the series, but it’s especially relevant as things begin to escalate out of control. Luce has found her own way to deal with each aspect of her character, including the treacherous remnant of Conquest, always eager to resume control. Now that the dangerous, more powerful part of herself is needed for the fight, she must let it out more often. It’s a slippery slope that might well lead to oblivion. But while Luce has been knocked down hard by all the revelations, betrayals, and losses, this book is about her finding a sense of peace with it all. Or at least an accommodation. And there’s a reason for that beyond the simple passing of time. There are no more closed eyes, there’s no more holding back. It feels like the calm before the storm. Like the end is coming…

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Book Review: The Nickel Boys

Book Review: The Nickel Boys

 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published: 1st August 2019 (Little, Brown Book Group)

‘Even in death the boys were trouble.’

The Nickel Boys opens with an unearthing of bones. In this physical evidence, held and photographed and catalogued, is an impossibility: denial. Cue shock and horror at this ‘revelation’, a ‘hidden’ past in the form of dead black boys.
Book Review: My Dark Vanessa

Book Review: My Dark Vanessa

 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: 23 January 2020 (4th Estate)

“I think we’re very similar, Nessa,” he whispers. “From the way you write, I can tell you’re a dark romantic like me. You like dark things.”

Vanessa Wye is a teacher’s pet. Or a ‘classroom pet’ as Mr. Noyes remarks when he catches 15 year old Vanessa and 45 year old Jacob Strane together. The comment given with laugh that might as well have been a nudge and a wink. In her first term at a new prep school, away from home, and without anyone to talk to, Vanessa is struggling to keep up. And she’s just lost her best friend to a boy, of all things. But her English teacher really gets her. He gives her books to read. Books that seem to hold special relevance, that resonate with the way she’s feeling, that give her new ways of thinking about herself. Books like Nabokov’s Lolita, an immediate favourite. He makes her feel special. And if sometimes she’s not entirely certain about the things that happen between them, if they maybe go a bit further than she was expecting…well, that’s ok because afterwards she’s almost definitely sure she wanted it to happen. That’s what he tells her anyway. And she believes him, because they’re in love…

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The Exiled

The Exiled

The Exiled by David Barbaree

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

 

According to Suetonius, Emperor Nero committed suicide on hearing the troop of cavalry who were coming to arrest him arrive at the villa in which he was hiding: ‘Hark to the sound I hear! It is the hooves of galloping horses‘.

Their orders: take him alive.

But it was too late.

A letter, which had arrived moments before the soldiers, informed Nero that he had been declared a public enemy by the Senate and was to be punished in the ‘ancient style’ (stripped naked, head thrust into a wooden fork, flogged to death with sticks). And so, to avoid that dire fate, Nero:

‘with the help of his secretary Epaphroditus, […] stabbed himself in the throat and was already half-dead when a cavalry officer entered […] he died, with eyes glazed and bulging from their sockets, a sight which horrified everybody present’ (Suetonius, Nero, 49).

Now that’s all well and good, perhaps true or perhaps not, but either way David Barbaree is having none of it. His Nero is taken that day, and tortured, but remains alive…

It’s an idea with a long tradition, with men proclaiming themselves ‘Nero’ almost from the moment of the emperor’s death in 68 CE. A rather problematic issue for the new dynasty, as you might imagine. And it’s precisely this that forms the basis of the book. Here, the rise of a False Nero complicates an already dangerous civil war in Parthia, the deadly threads of these plots weaving through the highest echelons of Roman politics.

This is a world of prophesy, conspiracy, and secrets. Danger abounds. But they don’t know what we know, that the real Nero lives… and still has moves to make. Let the games begin.

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ENDGAME (Fawkes and Baxter, #3)

ENDGAME (Fawkes and Baxter, #3)

Endgame by Daniel Cole

My rating: 5 of 5 Stars

The title says it all: Endgame.

This is where it all comes together. Where questions and relationships are resolved. Where things… END????!!!

 

As usual, Daniel Cole opens with an author’s note. In the previous books this was used more as an amusing intro to his irreverent style, and that’s still the case here, but primarily it’s a warning to readers that this is the finale of a trilogy.  There is so much in Endgame that directly references the past, bringing together plot and character arcs, throwing in cheeky Easter eggs, relying heavily on backstory, that without reading the first two books, you’d be missing half the story. At least. I had read both Ragdoll and Hangman before but I STILL did a reread to refresh the details. In any case, both previous books are 5 star reads, genuinely good fun. Just like this, they’re dark and gory, funny and clever. Start with Ragdoll and work your way through, you won’t regret it.

For those that are up-to-date, I’m going to keep this review as free of spoilers as possible. I mean, the blurb lets you know that the entire plot revolves around the death of a certain character so there’s not much I can do about that, but rest easy that there nothing else in here to ruin your read….

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NOTHING TO HIDE (DC CONSTANCE FAIRCHILD, #2)

NOTHING TO HIDE (DC CONSTANCE FAIRCHILD, #2)

Nothing to Hide by James Oswald

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A cracking second investigation for DC Constance Fairchild, promising a hit for James Oswald’s new series.

DC Constance Fairchild is back in London… and back in trouble. Or maybe still in trouble, it’s hard to tell. It’s bad enough that her suspension’s not been lifted, that she’s on the receiving end of serious attitude from other police for rocking the boat, and that the gutter press won’t leave her alone, but now there’s a crime scene right outside her flat. She’s been told to leave it, to keep a low profile, but after finding some poor boy dying beneath the rubbish, she’s not about to let that stand. Especially when she discovers that he’s far from the first. But she has no idea that this is an investigation that’s going to take her to the darkest of places, a fight for her very survival…

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