Book Review: Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well

image– Nancy Atherton

Upon receiving this book, and looking at it on goodreads, I realised that it was sort of part of a big series. Number 19, in fact, of the ‘Aunt Dimity’ series. I was a little worried about whether I would be lost in all the characters, but I think I managed quite well as the story got going! When given a sequel to review I would usually read the earlier books, but with 18 before this one, I figured that would take too long… This series seems to be the sort of one where each storyline is completely different, with just small points that may be mentioned from a previous one. It doesn’t seem that important to have read them all!

When a strapping young Australian named Jack MacBride arrives in Finch to wrap up his late uncle’s affairs, heads turn in the sleepy English village. But when Lori volunteers to help Jack clear out his uncle’s overgrown garden, they discover something even more shocking than a stranger turning up in Finch.

After Lori laughingly tosses a coin into the garden’s old well and makes a wish, she is baffled to find that the wish seems to have come true. Word spreads, and the villagers turn out in droves to make wishes of their own. But as they soon learn, one person’s wish is another person’s worst nightmare and the village is thrown into chaos.

As more and more wishes come true, Lori resolves to find out what’s really going on. Is handsome Jack somehow tricking his neighbors? Or are they fooling themselves? With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help, Lori discovers that the truth is even more marvelous than a magical wishing well.

When I realised who Aunt Dimity was, it did make me a bit wary. I thought the whole story was just going to be a bit daft to be honest! If, like me, you hadn’t delved into this series before, all you need to know is that Aunt Dimity was a friend of Lori’s mother. Her ghost lives on through a journal, and this is how Lori communicates with her. However, it wasn’t actually that crazy – I was surprised!

This book has a good mystery – though not the kind I’m used to reading – as well as a view into the lovely English village life. Instead of hunting for a killer, Lori is trying to figure out why wishes are coming true. It can’t be magic, right?

Everyone knows everything about each other in Finch, you can’t keep anything a secret, so when Jack turns up, the villagers don’t know what to think.

I for one enjoyed reading about the characters. They all had their own little story, and although we only get glimpses the majority in this book, I imagine each book in the series will delve into each person at one point! They all seemed pretty likeable.

This mystery won’t appeal to all, and if you’re looking for something juicy then keep looking! Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well is an easy read, with a small mystery going on. Maybe not as action-packed as the mystery books I would usually read, but enjoyable nevertheless! I may have to read through some more in the Aunt Dimity series!

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Books in May.

The monthly ‘series’ is staying, but I’m changing the layout of the post again… I also want to add that I am not affiliated with Goodreads in any way – I use their links because I find it a very useful resource for reviews/ratings/recommendations! Anyway, there’s a little extra at the end of the post!

Books that I’ve read this month:

My reviews:
The Lost & The Dead Ground – Claire McGowan
The Georgraphy of You and Me – Jennifer E. Smith

I didn’t read much this month – most of the time felt like it was taken up reading the Animal Behaviour book! In reality, that was only up until the 6th May as that was when the exam was. I did however have two more assignments to complete before the 16th May and so reading wasn’t really possible! My favourite book from this month was The Dead Ground. I love a good young adult book, but I love crime/thriller/mystery even more.

Favourite book related things from the internet:

# You know you’re a book nerd if…
# Cassandra Clare talks to Glamour about City of Heavenly Fire (I need to buy this book!)
# I definitely need this bookmark – guilty as charged! ‘Fell Asleep Here’
# You need to read Becca’s post about the dreaded words…“Books are boring”.
# Can mind maps improve your writing? – Maybe I should try mind maps to get blog posts out!


# 28 Relatable Book Quotes

I’m liking this layout, and I am going to stick to this form of post for my ‘Books in…’ series. What do you think?

Book Review: The Geography of You and Me*

image– Jennifer E. Smith

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Now when I spotted this one on Bookbridgr, I just had to get it! I haven’t read a good young adult book in a while, and I figured this would hit the spot. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve never read any of Smith’s books previously, but I may just have to check them out now!

Lucy and Owen are both likeable in my opinion. They meet in New York, but soon enough they’re both travelling in different parts of the world, hundreds of miles away from each other. The story is told from both perspectives, and I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot recently, but I usually dislike this. Here, it definitely worked. I wanted to see how each person was getting on, so the dual perspective was a plus. I also enjoyed the writing. It felt sort of young and free, and definitely easy to read.

Lucy is finally getting to explore Europe, as her parents have done throughout her childhood. She’s trying to deal with moving to a new country, fitting in at school and getting used to the new cultures that she’s just been thrown into. Owen and his father are trying to move on from his mother’s death. Travelling the US, they try to find a place to settle. With two different past stories, the book has a little more depth than just the usual teenage romance. As well as dealing with their own troubles, Lucy and Owen are attempting to stay in contact. Long distance relationships aren’t always easy (I should know, being in one!) but this shows that if you care, you can make it work.

I finished the book whilst on my train back up to Carlisle (university) and I was struggling towards the end. I just got all emotional! This book reminds me of John Green, though 10x better. I enjoyed his books, but I don’t believe they are worth the hype. This book would be worth the hype.

*Thank you to Bookbridgr and Headline for the chance to review this book!

Book Review: The Paula Maguire Series.*

– Claire McGowan

I’m reviewing these together because I read them both in quick succession, and it just makes sense to put them together. Now I was given the opportunity to receive and review The Dead Ground* by Headline and Bookbridgr. When I discovered that it was a sequel to The Lost, I just had to buy it and read them in order of course! I have to say, I am glad that I did buy The Lost!

The series follows Paula Maguire, a forensic psychologist, who has been living and working in London, helping the police with missing persons cases. In this series, we see her return to Northern Ireland, her homeland, to help the team of police and detectives from both sides of Ireland.

image– The Lost

When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.

Two girls have gone missing in Ballyterrin, and Paula is drafted in to help uncover the mystery. Her job is to find out about the girls, and figure out any connections between the two disappearances. Paula has avoided her hometown for years, not wanting to bring up her dark past. She has her own reasons to be working with the missing persons unit. The main reason for coming back was to help her father out. Once back in town, people from Paula’s past start to appear, and although unwelcome at first, they soon become a great deal of help to her. I found Paula to be a very strong character, and definitely likeable. She knows what she’s talking about it this kind of situation, having worked on many teenage missing persons cases. If Paula has a hunch, she will work with that, even if it is against orders and means a little sneaking around! Sometimes, finding the lost is more important than anything else.

The story very much shows the tensions between the police and detectives from across the border, being set after the troubles in Northern Ireland. With the team being made up of mixed religions due to the cases occurring around the border, it wasn’t always easy and friendly. I thought this added even more realism to the story because it shows people with differences coming together and, despite tensions still rising, they get the jobs done.

Paula as a character has tons of depth. As you’re reading, you can feel the emotions that she’s feeling, and the struggles between certain decisions. The Lost was a brilliant first look into the life of Paula Maguire.

image– The Dead Ground

A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all.

Now, The Dead Ground, where do I start? The Lost was good… The Dead Ground was brilliant. Paula is still in Ballyterrin, despite not originally planning on staying for long. This book focuses on pregnancy, babies and abortions. The disagreements between catholic and protestant about abortions plays a big part in the story, and though disturbing at times, I thought the book was great. Babies are going missing, and Paula needs to find out just who is taking them.

Crime books are popular, and it’s hard to find a completely unique story line. The stories in this series have probably been done countless times before, but Claire McGowan writes with such detail, insight and depth that, throughout the books, I never felt like I had read something similar before. Almost every chapter provided some form of suspense or mystery – I was hooked all the way through.

One thing that I really liked about these books is that it felt real. No investigation was perfect. I can’t say I know what it is like in real life, but seeing the process build up and break down again and again, from bad leads or hunches that turned out to be wrong, just felt so much more realistic than the cases being solved quickly.

Definitely the best crime/mystery that I have read in a while, and I wholeheartedly recommend! Now, when’s the third coming out? 😉

Book Review: The Forbidden Tomb

image– Chris Kuzneski

The Hunters are an elite team, made up of an ex-soldier, historian, computer whiz, weapons expert and a thief. Bringing their skills together, they set out to find history’s lost treasures. The Forbidden Tomb follows their journey as they try to find the tomb of Alexander the Great.

I am still reeling from the ending of this book. Yep.

After reading The Hunters, I just knew that I had to read the second book. Now I just feel the need to read all of Kuzneski’s books! The team is the same as those in the first one and they’re back on a new mission, aiming to find the tomb of Alexander the Great. This elite team of five bring together their own special expertise, each one determined to uncover the great mystery of Alexander the Great’s tomb. An ancient map helps to guide them along the way and throughout the mission they do whatever it takes to get the result wanted.

With a skilled team, finding the tomb can’t be that difficult… right? Of course, the team hits some trouble and all is not as it first seems. Someone is protecting the whereabouts of the tomb, but why?

I’ve surprised myself by really enjoying these books, because they do actually have a fair bit of history in them. I feel like I’m learning just like the team are when Jasmine is talking about the finds. The book contains intelligence, and it isn’t just an action-packed thriller/mystery. There’s so much more in the story. I would say that the characters don’t have a lot of depth to them, but we know just enough to know what each person is like and what they’re thinking. Furthermore, the depth of the storyline vastly makes up for that! The different characters in the team all balance each other out and you can really imagine it working in real life.

At one point I was actually in shock. I did not expect it at all, and that’s all I can say! I had to put the book down after that chapter just to regain my composure! Oh and the epilogue, well, I just need to get the rest of this story! With twists and turns throughout, you will struggle to put this book down! It isn’t often that I give a book 5 stars on Goodreads, but this one earned them!

Also, I’ve just seen that Chris Kuzneski has signed a movie deal for The Hunters! That’s awesome news!

Book Review: The Shock of The Fall

image– Nathan Filer

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness.

Matthew is a 19 year old with a mental illness. He lost his younger brother when they were both children, and Simon lives on in Matthew’s head. Matthew’s voice in the book is quite hard to get to grips with at first in my opinion. His thoughts are confusing, and you’re never really sure whether he’s talking the truth. It had me reading on because I wanted to make sense of it. As a result, the writing itself was very disjointed, and whilst I occasionally found it difficult to read, I felt like it really fit in with the story, and with Matthew having schizophrenia. Everything pulled together to make the story flow.

This book was a weird one for me. I was expecting quite an easy read, but I clearly hadn’t looked at the descriptions/reviews in enough depth! I feel like this review is terrible, but this book just wasn’t what I was expecting at all! I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as I expected to considering all the rave reviews it had!

Books in April

A little different again… Click the images for my review!

I’m a little slow with getting reviews up this month – I read the last three books whilst away in Finland! The reviews for the bottom two books will be written and uploaded this following week!

Book Tour: The Forbidden Tomb

imageHere I have the last post on The Forbidden Tomb book tour! The Forbidden Tomb is the second book in ‘The Hunters’. Check out the other 5 stops to read some great posts about the book and Chris Kuzneski’s inspirations! You can find the list of blogs at the bottom of this post!

Today I’m bringing you an extract from The Forbidden Tomb, but first, let’s talk about the book! The Hunters are an elite team, made up of an ex-soldier, historian, computer whiz, weapons expert and a thief. Bringing their skills together, they set out to find history’s lost treasures. The Forbidden Tomb follows their journey as they try to find the tomb of Alexander the Great.

This book contains the perfect amount of mystery, adventure, thrills and twists. The writing is fantastic, and you feel like you’re right there with the characters. I have a full review coming up so keep an eye out for that!

Enjoy the extract!

Prologue
Tuesday, April 11
Bahariya Oasis, Egypt
(180 miles southwest of Cairo)

The desert didn’t scare him. He knew the dangers of hiking alone in the Sahara, but he had been doing it for so many years that he was prepared for anything.
At least, he thought he was.
A veteran explorer with more than two decades of experience, Dr Cyril Manjani had taken all the necessary precautions before leaving camp. He had notified his team of his travel plans and told them when he would return. He had packed food, water, a GPS unit and a compass, and even some glow sticks in case his flashlight failed. They were the same essentials that he always packed before his nightly walks.
His hike had nothing to do with adventure.
He just needed some time to think.
An expert in Egyptology, Manjani had handpicked the members of his team. Though most were graduate students, they represented the cream of the academic crop from some of the world’s finest schools. Together, they covered a wide range of scholarly pursuits that might come in handy on his latest expedition.
Manjani didn’t want identical opinions on this project.
He needed unique perspectives in multiple fields.
They had been toiling in the desert for three long weeks before things started to get interesting. First they had discovered a stone wall around the perimeter of an ancient site. Then came a series of small huts that had been almost perfectly preserved under the sand. Eventually they had found a much larger structure housing the desiccated remains of several soldiers and a mishmash of objects from several ancient cultures.
That had been yesterday.
Today’s discovery was even more exciting – so much so that he had refused to leave it at camp.
Resting atop a towering dune, Manjani drank from his thermos before tightening the drawstrings around his neck. The April breeze was chilly, and he was grateful for the warmth of his tea and his jacket. Staring out across the vast emptiness of the Sahara, he felt a sense of wonder wash over him. Undulating waves of sand stretched out for miles in every direction. Most saw the bleak terrain as an adversary that must be overcome, but Manjani saw it as a place of opportunity. The landscape was literally filled with the answers to mysteries that had gone unsolved for centuries.
These were the moments he cherished most.
Nothing stirred his emotions in quite the same way.
Manjani checked his watch. He had planned to be gone for ninety minutes at most, and he was quickly running out of time. Before heading back, he turned his attention to the nighttime sky. He was always amazed by how much the city lights obscured his view of the heavens. But out here, in the heart of the desert, the celestial bodies glowed against the darkest black he had ever seen. The contrast was so great that he swore he could see stars he had never seen before.
Though he would have preferred to stay on the dune a little longer, gazing at the panorama above, he felt a sudden chill run up his spine. He pulled his drawstrings tighter and cursed under his breath. He knew a sudden drop in temperature often preceded drastic changes in the weather, and out here, in the middle of nowhere, those changes
could be deadly.
Wasting no time, he started his journey back.
The closer he got to camp, the more the breeze picked up strength.
He covered his eyes as sand pelted his face, stinging like hordes of microscopic insects. The wind whistled past his ears, drowning out all other sounds around him. Despite the clear sky, Manjani could sense that things were about to turn nasty. As he crested the final dune, he was glad his journey was nearly over.
Unfortunately, his nightmare had just begun.
As the camp came into view, so did the carnage. At first, Manjani assumed that his colleagues’ excitement – and the case of brandy that they had insisted on bringing – had gotten the better of them. They appeared to be frolicking about the camp in a state of mass delirium, yelling and tripping over each other like teenagers on spring break. But looking closer, he suddenly realized his mistake. Their movement was an act of desperation, not celebration. Their screams were born of terror, not triumph.
All caused by the demons that swarmed the camp.
Everywhere he looked, cloaked men set upon the members of his team like bloodthirsty butchers. Manjani could not hear the cries of pain above the wailing gusts, but he didn’t have to. He could see the murderous rampage unfold in front of him. He watched in horror as his comrades were mercilessly dispatched, the assassins striking them down with methodical precision. Their deaths were slow and agonizing, inflicted with startling ease by the razor-sharp blades wielded by the intruders.
Familiar with the folklore of the region, Manjani had heard the stories of bogeymen that guarded the desert, but he had paid little attention to the tales. People had been disappearing in the Sahara since the beginning of time, and he had refused to believe that they had all suffered a violent death at the hands of monsters.
Now he wasn’t so sure.
In his heart he yearned to charge forward, to defend the men and women whom he had convinced to join him on his quest. But in his head he understood that it was a fool’s errand – one that would result in certain death. Without weapons or training, there was nothing he could do against these armed savages. Charging into camp would not save his friends; it would only ensure that he died with them. He realized the only people he could possibly save were those who might have fled before the slaughter.
Though he was ill-equipped to take on the approaching sandstorm, there was no way he could risk returning to the camp for additional supplies. He would have to face the elements with only what he carried on his back. It was a daunting proposition. Manjani knew that desert winds had killed fitter, more prepared men than he. Given the distance to the nearest settlement, he gave himself a ten percent chance of survival, at best.
But those odds were much better than the ones he faced in camp.
That was a war he couldn’t win, and Manjani knew it. He would rather die searching for others who might have escaped – colleagues who lacked his experience with desert survival or equipment of any kind. He owed his team that much. Their lives now rested on him, as did the legacy of those who had already perished.
Someone needed to tell the world what had happened here.
Someone needed to know what he had found.

image

You can buy the book here:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

About this author:
Chris Kuzneski (born in 1969) is a New York Times bestselling American author. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages and have been published in more than 40 countries. His works have also been named a Literary Guild’s featured selection and honored by the Florida Book Awards. Due to his success in the United Kingdom, his books are released in the British market several months before they are published in America

Contact the Author:
Website : http://www.chriskuzneski.com/
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/chriskuzneski.books
Twitter : http://twitter.com/ChrisKuzneski

Thanks to Chris Kuzneski, Headline and BookBridgr for letting me take part in this book tour!

Book Review: A Girl By Any Other Name

image– M.K. Schiller

Everyone tells him he needs to move on, but how can a man function without his heart?

Caleb is 10 years old when he first meets Sylvie, and doesn’t want anything to do with her. She’s weird, and gets him into trouble. At 12 years old they become friends, and by 14 he’s in love. At 16 years old, she dies. However, Caleb doesn’t believe it, thus story focuses on his struggle to find information on her disappearance.

In the present, it has been 9 years since Sylvie’s disappearance and Caleb is a college instructor. The story is told from his perspective, and the time shifts between the past and the present. I thought this worked really well, and I really enjoyed getting glimpses of Caleb and Sylvia’s childhood and seeing their relationship evolve.

Now I really enjoyed this book at the beginning – it had me hooked almost immediately. In the present, I actually found Caleb to be quite annoying, and far too clingy! That really did put me off. He was fine in the first half, but I definitely felt like I could connect more with the young Caleb. Sylvie was more of a mystery – something was strange about her as a child, but Caleb never found out what. This all becomes clear in the second half of the book.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. The characters did annoy me a little towards the end, but it didn’t ruin the story for me.

Book Review: That Dark Remembered Day*

image– Tom Vowler

This book has had some good reviews, but I’m quite sad to say that I just couldn’t really get into it!

A son returns to the small town where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of almost every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally, the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day’s tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep?

So the book is split into four parts. We first meet Stephen in the present day. Then we get sent into the Summer of 1982, told by his mother. Part three still brings us the memories of 1982, but this time told by his father. Part four then goes back to Stephen and the present day. Now this effect is one that I only really appreciated when I’d finished the entire book.

Throughout, I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters and I think that’s why I struggled to get through the story. The descriptions were brilliant, but it was just all descriptive… It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that we actually got an idea of what happened that summer. In fact, it was in the last 60 or so pages, and my paperback copy had 305 pages altogether.

For me, this book didn’t have enough action. It’s described as a crime book, and of course it tells us about a crime and the effects that it had, but yeah… Just a little too slowly paced for me!

I hate it when I don’t enjoy a book but I guess this one just wasn’t one for me. As I said in the beginning, there are quite a few reviews from people who really enjoyed it.

*This book was sent to me to review, thanks to Headline and BookBridgr.


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