Book Review: Who Killed Anne-Marie? by C.M. Thompson

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Hookline Books.

Daniel and Anne-Marie’s marriage isn’t just on the rocks, it’s about to go six feet under. Anne Marie Mills is out of work, out of love and out of whisky. Everyone else is out of patience. When Anne-Marie is found dead who is to blame? The neighbours who despised her drunken rants? The husband who wondered how much more he could take? Or is there another killer in the neighbourhood?

My Photo [Who Killed].jpg

I thought the beginning of Who Killed Anne-Marie? was really interesting because the narrative switches frequently between Daniel’s perspective and Anne-Marie’s perspective on their crumbling marriage, which makes it difficult to know who is worse, who enables who, and who abuses who – a fascinating idea.

As the title suggests, Who Killed Anne-Marie? is a murder-mystery novel. I actually liked that Anne-Marie’s death was revealed in the title, as I was alert to characters’ speech and actions, in order to pick up on possible clues in advance.

Another interesting aspect of Who Killed Anne-Marie? is that all the characters are horrible. Daniel is cruel, Anne-Marie is a violent drunk, Anne-Marie’s mother is bitter and angry, and Anne-Marie’s brother is selfish. Plus, all of the neighbours on the street are flawed too. This, I think, both helps and hinders the narrative. On the one hand, it made the murder mystery intriguing because the book was filled with seemingly hundreds of people who would be happier if Anne-Marie were dead. On the other hand, it was difficult to get read the book at times because it was so depressing. Also, I found it hard to sympathise or support any of the characters – including the police officers investigating her death – because all the characters were either overly harsh and horrible, or somewhat under-developed.

Whilst I admit I think Who Killed Anne-Marie? could have benefited from some glimpses of humour or some lighter moments, I nonetheless found it an enjoyable read.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

The Good Friend is a brand new thriller / psychological drama novel by Jo Baldwin about love, lies, and obsession.

Once upon a time they were best friends.

They were all friends.

So when Jenny moved to Australia to focus on her swimming career, she not only lost Kath, but her soulmate Tom. It was for the best. Or so they said.

The Good Friend is about Jenny, her ex-boyfriend Tom, and her best friend Kath, who also happens to be Tom’s wife. Jenny decides to visit Kath and Tom in rural France. Initially, the two women instantly reconnect and enjoy the friendship they had as teenagers. However, some strange and malicious behaviour soon leads Jenny to suspect something is wrong with her friend.

I really enjoyed The Good Friend. A lot.

As I was reading, I was struck by the lengths a supposed friend goes to in order to destroy somebody else’s life. It was incredibly uncomfortable to read, but enthralling at the same time. This was helped by the fact that the chapters end on cliff-hangers, to increase tension.

I thought the writing was good, particularly Baldwin’s creative use of imagery, which really helped to make the descriptions as vivid as possible.

I loved the Kath’s deviancy (I do like a well-fleshed out villain), even if some of her actions were a little predictable.

Personally, I think Kath could have been even more manipulative and obsessive. For example, if Kath had begun to dress like Jenny, or copy her body language slightly, this would emphasise just how obsessed Kath is with Jenny’s life and Jenny’s personality, making The Good Friend an even creepier read.

Following on from this, I thought Jenny was a little too self-aware at times of Kath’s manipulation over her life and family. I think it would have been more sinister to reveal Kath’s true intentions, if Jenny had been kept completely unaware to begin with, thinking Kath was just being a Good Friend.

These are small criticisms however, as I did really enjoy reading The Good Friend and would definitely read a sequel, if it existed.

Star Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick by Hattie Holden-Edmonds

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is the second novel written by Hattie Holden-Edmonds.

Oskar is the ultimate teenage loner who thrives on painting other people’s misery. However, after a ‘not-so-routine’ eye test, his bleak perspective is transformed after trying on a pair of very unusual lenses. The world he sees is filled with beautiful colours, happiness, and wonder – not what Oskar wants at all.

my-photo-oskar

The story is original and interesting, and I enjoyed the wry tone Hattie uses.

As the title would suggest, the book centres on Oskar Dunkelblick. Hattie does a great job at making him the focus of the novel, as his character is incredibly interesting and detailed.

Oskar is quite a remarkable person; he enjoys tragedies, misery, is fascinated by diseases and is generally an oddball. He reminded me of Alex from A Clockwork Orange, and though he might be cruel at times, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Oskar’s personality.

The magical and psychological elements of the narrative were okay, if a little lost on me, and personally, the idea of seeing the continuous beauty within life came across slightly little wishy-washy, but that’s personal preference. 

I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Oskar’s past – they were well integrated into the narrative and the scenes recounting how he controlled and altered the life of his ex-friend Franz were some of my favourite parts. The flashbacks helped demonstrate how Oskar’s prickly personality has been formed by a tragic upbringing and past relationships.

However, despite these sadder scenes, The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is definitely less bleak than A Clockwork Orange. The ending was surprisingly happy, and Hattie even includes a small, sweet, love story.

I’m curious to learn why the book was set in Germany with German characters – it certainly made a change from typical young adult fiction which always tends to take place in an English or American setting. If you know why it was set in Germany, do let me know!

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Urbane Publications.

Chasing Monsters is the debut crime thriller novel by writer Paul Harrison. Harrison has spent much of his career working within the criminal justice system in the UK as a police officer, and has gained a remarkable insight into some shockingly violent criminals.

Chasing Monsters is set in a quiet suburb of Bridlington, where nothing much happens. However, after a mutilated body is discovered, the Eastborough Police Force is forced into action. As the number of murder victims begins to increase rapidly, DI Will Scott is put in charge of the investigation in a race against the clock to catch the killer responsible.

As a quick first impression, the genre of Chasing Monsters surprised me because of its use of supernatural language and imagery both in the title and book cover. You could be forgiven for thinking the book was a new fantasy / horror. The plot did have a small supernatural / religious undertone however, which may be foregrounded in later books and would explain this style of branding.

I also think it could be worth the author having another proofread of Chasing Monsters, as there were a few phrases that weren’t entirely clear, as well as some spelling / grammar oddities, which can be easy to miss!

Nonetheless, Harrison has written a good debut novel.

First of all, it’s set in Yorkshire – the perfect way to my heart, as a West Yorkshire lass myself!

It’s also evident he knows a lot about the subject matter; crime scenes, police protocol and murder victims’ bodies are always described with clear detail. In particular, the graphic descriptions of the mutilated bodies were always fantastically gruesome and I was left quite astounded that someone could think up such creative … murder methods.

As a reader, I could definitely feel the pressure building for DI Will Scott, as he desperately wants to stop the murder spree but can’t find new leads quick enough before the next body turns up, which I’m sure echoes the stressful nature of police work in real life.

Chasing Monsters gives nothing away early; the culprit is only revealed at the very end of the book, so if you enjoy a long, suspenseful wait then this would be a good book for you.

Personally, I think the book could have benefited from a few more hints at the murderer’s identity – dropped in subtly, of course.

In my ever so humble opinion, Paul Harrison has transitioned well from writing about true crimes to fictional ones, and Chasing Monsters was an enjoyable debut novel that I’m sure others will enjoy too.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Killer Reads Publishing.

Perfect Dead is a crime novel by Scottish writer Jackie Baldwin. It is the second in her new series.

Perfect Dead follows ex-priest DI Frank Farrell, as he finds himself on the trail of a vicious killer in rural Scotland. It leads to the investigation of Ivy House, which is home to ‘The Collective’, a commune of artists prepared to do anything to keep their secrets hidden.

My Photo [Perfect Dead]

Although Perfect Dead is the sequel to Baldwin’s debut novel, Dead Man’s Prayer – a novel I have not read – this didn’t impede my understanding. Admittedly, it took me a little longer to fully understand Frank Farrell’s background. However, the events from Dead Man’s Prayer were sufficiently alluded to, to make it clear what had happened up until this point.

It was well-written and there was a good, slow-burning hook, which I’m sure will intrigue readers.

I liked the elements of the book that explored the possibility of staged suicides and premeditated murders; these are classic crime genre conventions and they were suitably entertaining to read about. Clearly, Baldwin’s own experience working as a Criminal and Family Law solicitor has informed this novel.

Unfortunately, I found it quite difficult to keep track of characters because they were referred to, sometimes with their surnames only, other times with their first names only. Also, there were a lot of characters. Whilst this might be explained as a reflection of the crowded bustle of a busy police station, and an indication of my newness to Baldwin’s series, I wonder whether this makes the series less accessible for new readers to join in along the way. My advice would be to refer to characters in a consistent way throughout.

Subsequently, a lack of understanding of the characters meant I cared less about the detectives’ private lives. Again, perhaps this is because I’ve joined a series without reading the first book, but I didn’t feel that Frank’s personal live significantly contributed to the overall narrative.

If this sounds overly critical, I apologise. I shall mention some further positives.

Perfect Deadwas a slow-burning suspense that, in style, reminded me other crime thrillers I heavily enjoyed, such as Find Her by Lisa Gardner and The Teacher by Katerina Diamond.

It also had a quick and dramatic ending.

Overall, Perfect Dead was a good read, but I don’t think it was fully the book for me.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Tubing by K.A. McKeagney

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

Tubing is a mystery and thriller novel by K.A. McKeagney.

After a chance encounter with a mysterious man on a tube train, Polly’s mundane London life is turned upside down. The man leaves before she finds out his name, and so Polly becomes desperate to see him again. As she does so, she discovers the underground phenomenon ‘Tubing’, where complete strangers organise illicit sexual encounters on commuter tube trains, but doesn’t realise she’s placing herself in danger.

My Photo [Tubing]

Tubing is marketed as a thriller. I thought it was a thriller.

There’s also a lot of sex. A lot.

I’d never heard of ‘tubing’ before this book – it’s a rather weird phenomenon (sorry) and I sincerely hope it isn’t real – so for me, the sex scenes didn’t add anything.

Excluding the gratuitous sex scenes, Tubing was easy to read, and I thought the pacing was well-balanced.

Polly’s characterisation was also well-layered; we learn different things about her background such as her struggles with an eating disorder and the way her cruel, hypochondriac mother treats her – I loved this, it reminded me of Camille’s mother from Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

I really liked how Polly became more paranoid and suspicious of those around her as the novel progressed. It makes you wonder how much is happening in real life, and how much is simply happening inside her head.

However, I didn’t like Charlotte’s character. She was meant to be a bit snobbish and a bit devious, but I wasn’t convinced by her motivations – she felt like a weaker or unclear character.

Suddenly, Tubing moves from sex to thriller; there is an increasing number of mysterious deaths and possible suicides along the tube lines Polly normally travels. The theme of suicide here was eye-opening and shocking. Suicide on the tubes is a traumatic – and very real – issue and some of McKeagney’s descriptions were more graphic than I anticipated.

When the connections between the events on the London Underground and Polly’s own life were finally revealed, they were a good shock.

The ending was also justified, enjoyable, and satisfying.

I did enjoy the thriller moments of Tubing but I didn’t like that the premise was built around sex with strangers. I probably should have researched the book better beforehand!

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

Being Simon Haines, by Tom MacAulay, is a difficult book to categorise. It tells the tale of Simon Haines, an ambitious lawyer chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. Simon is awaiting the results of a potential partnership with Fiennes & Plunkett, and decides to travel to Cuba to pass the time in an attempt to rediscover youthful enthusiasm and gather a clear mind before news that might change his life forever.

My Photo [Being Simon Haines]

Although not being able to pinpoint the genre of the book, I quite enjoyed Being Simon Haines.

It was well written, which made it incredibly easy to follow the two storylines presented – Simon’s current life in London, and his past life as a young adult.

I liked the flashback sequences most because, as a student myself, the first-person narrative perspective of a young adult was easier to understand than the first-person perspective of a city lawyer.

I struggled with the occasional legalistic jargon, but I don’t think this particularly hindered the book. They say to write about what you know; MacAulay is a solicitor from North London, so it is unsurprising that these things should feature in Being Simon Haines.

I liked MacAulay’s development of characters too – Plunkett is a ridiculous boss with meticulous standards who only communicates in whispers, Giles is a bumbling assistant who only ever seems to make mistakes, and Dan is a laddish best friend with many attractive qualities. The only puzzle seems to be: who is Simon Haines?

I noticed my perception of Simon change throughout the book, as more information was drip-fed – at certain points I felt supportive of him, and at others I felt downright aversion towards him. Whether this was intended or not, I thought it cleverly challenged the notion that comes with a lot of books which is “they’re the main character therefore I have to like them”.

Overall, I don’t think Being Simon Haines is a book I’d have normally have chosen. However, what it is is an interesting exploration of a man with a dream, and the consequences that come with pursuing ambitions – no matter what the cost.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.