The Education of a Coroner

The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating DeathThe Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death by John Bateson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are tired of TV shows getting it all wrong and sugar coating what a real coroner does, read this book and you will come to a new understanding of how it all works. Ken Holmes built his career in Marin County and has been through it all. This collection of his experiences is not only interesting, difficult to read at times, perhaps, but also makes you think about the realities of the world we live in.

From inner office politics to the actual hands on job of dealing with bodies and investigating, the author leaves nothing out of this gritty book. I found that once I began reading this, it was impossible to put down. The pages flew by until I reached the end. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that these cases could be real, but they do say that truth is stranger than fiction. The level of human depravity and violence that Ken encountered day to day would break most people. You have to respect him for what he’s seen during his career.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book filled with interesting details that will likely make most people stop and think, perhaps even appreciate the lives we lives each day. This is eye opening and terrifying, well-written and thought provoking. Definitely worth the time to read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Why do you read?

books and flowers

As an author, I am always curious about what motivates people to read. I’ve done posts before about how people choose books, about covers and colors and what you seek in a blurb, but this post poses a simpler question with perhaps an opportunity for more complex answers.

Why do you read?

Sometimes I read to learn, sometimes to go on an adventure in a far away place I will probably never get to in real life. Occasionally, I read because it is such a part of me. Whereas some people enjoy movies, music or the theatre, favourite sports or socialising with others, I like books. I love the feel of them, the scent of them, the way they make you feel like someone understands when no one else does.

Sometimes I read to improve my craft. There are so many reasons. I also love the feeling of finding a new book–you know the rush of wondering what is inside the cover and if it will be as good as it sounds. The excitement of a new book can be better than…

My heart flutters and I dance from foot to foot until I can get the book home and see what it has to offer. I might be a little obsessed.

So what about you? What makes you return to the pages of a book? Why do you read?

The Big Little Festival

The Big Little Festival (Rabbit's Leap, Book 2)The Big Little Festival by Kellie Hailes

Join the whole village at The Big Little Festival for the perfect summer day out!

With only weeks until the little Devon village of Rabbit’s Leap holds its first ever festival, Jody McArthur is desperate. She – more than anyone – wants to raise the funds to rebuild the local swimming pool and when she fell pregnant with her twin boys, it was the village who was there to support her. So, to stop disaster in its tracks, she brings in bigshot London events manager Christian Middlemore to make The Big Little Festival the huge success everyone deserves.

But Jody is totally unprepared for the impact reserved-but-gorgeous Christian has on Rabbit’s Leap – and her heart! Except Jody has avoided relationships for so long, and anyway, she’s sure romance between a country-born-and-bred single mum and a career-focused city boy would be impossible – wouldn’t it?

As tensions rise along with the home baked scones and miles and miles of bunting, Jody is about to find out!

The second book set in the picture-perfect Rabbit’s Leap, this little village is where love blooms!–from goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was adorable and a fun way to pass a couple of lazy afternoons. I liked Jody and Christian both and they had plenty of chemistry to keep the romance reader in me happy. There are a lot of small, English village romances to choose from these days, but I thought this one was better than most. These characters had real struggles to overcome and mistakes in their past that haunted them. It was nice to see some depth rather than the fluff that a lot of romances are made up of.

The twin boys were fun and I enjoyed their antics, having twin boys of my own, I could relate to the things the main character went through and how she felt about the possibility of a new relationship. The author did a great job with descriptions and I like the way she made the secondary characters feel so real and full of life.

This is a really cute story with a bit of steam and a story line that won’t let you down. Recommended for those who like romance with a cosy feel.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Leave the Night on

Leave The Night On (Cottonbloom, #4)Leave The Night On by Laura Trentham

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge–life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiance’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage–and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?–Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a great book! It is no secret that I have issues with a lot of romance novels because I feel like they aren’t really going anywhere or because I feel like they have all been done before, but this one I loved.

The romance between Sutton and Wyatt was electric from the beginning and the other elements of the story that included his family and her relationship with her best friend made this one worth reading. In fact, I read it nearly in one sitting, not wanting to put it down to get back to real life.

I love the kind of romance that starts out as a slow sizzle and builds and builds, taking the reader along for the ride and this novel does that perfectly. I didn’t feel the sex scenes were added as an afterthought, they were perfect for the book and matched the personalities of the characters. I was rooting for their love affair from the very beginning and was satisfied with the way things worked out for everyone involved in the story.

The author is great at dialogue and the characters felt very real. I like the way she expressed their emotions through their actions as well as through their thoughts. Reading this book made me forget about everything else for a while. That’s how I measure a good novel. I was sad when it was finished because I wanted more.

A small town. well–two I guess, actually, and characters that will touch your heart. Definitely recommended for those who love romance.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Hum if You don’t Know the Words

Hum If You Don’t Know the WordsHum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Perfect for readers of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum if You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book is based on tragic events, the author did a good job of making it beautiful, too. The novel has more than one main story line to follow, although one is focused on more than the other. If you are familiar with any of the events that this book is centered around in South Africa, then you will probably go into this knowing that some parts of it will be difficult to read. That said, this is an engaging, interesting book with a lot to recommend it.

I felt horrible for what the characters had to go through, but the author was also good at helping the reader retain hope that something might change for them in the future. This book prompted me to learn more about the actual events the book mentions and I found there was a lot that I didn’t know. It’s great when a fiction novel can be so realistic that it makes you feel things on the deepest level, and this book certainly did that for me.

Emotionally moving and thought provoking, this is a book that will stay with you once you finish reading it. I believe this is the kind of book that you will want others to read and would be a great choice to share with reading groups and book clubs. You won’t run out of things to discuss once you finish reading this.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Child by Fiona Barton

The ChildThe Child by Fiona Barton

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…–goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a phenomenal book if you enjoy mysteries. I love it when I can’t figure out the mystery in a book until the very end, and this is like that. Throughout reading this I guessed a lot, was wrong quite often on what I thought was going on, and then was satisfied at the ending when I found out there was even more to it than I had originally thought. So…it’s a great book.

Right away when you begin reading this, you know that there is something strange going on, but it isn’t immediately clear what is at the heart of it all. I liked the way the author combined many different story lines to create a complex book with a lot going on in it. Her characters are strong and memorable and the past meets with the present in just the right way to make the book work.

Fiona Barton takes a strong plot and makes it that much stronger by using well-designed characters and a descriptive setting that makes it easy to imagine being there, right alongside the action. The relationships she creates are believable and last in the memory of the reader long after the last page has been read.

Highly recommended for those who love mysteries.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Reported Missing by Sarah Wray

Reported MissingReported Missing by Sarah Wray

Four months ago, Rebecca Pendle’s husband disappeared. So did 14-year-old Kayleigh Jackson.

Just a coincidence? Rebecca wants to believe so… But as the police start to draw parallels between Chris and Kayleigh, it’s getting harder for her to trust his innocence.

Faced with an angry town that believes Chris has abducted the teenager, Rebecca tries to discover the truth.

But what she finds shocks her more than she ever thought. How well does she really know the man she loves?

A completely gripping, suspenseful thriller, with a shocking twist. Fans of Louise Jensen, K.L Slater and and The Girl on the Train will be hooked until the very last page. –goodreads

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book had a really interesting premise, but I was never sure that it lived up to the potential of the idea.

Whilst I didn’t expect the tone of this book to be light and happy based on the subject matter, I wasn’t prepared for it to be as dark and gloomy as it was. The main character wasn’t the type that I felt close to throughout the story, and I felt like the author took this too slow. I kept wanting something major to happen that would keep me hooked and turning pages, but it never happened. Even when the truth was revealed toward the end, I kind of just shrugged. It felt like effort to get there, so it wasn’t all that enjoyable.

This wasn’t a bad book, but I certainly wouldn’t say it was one of the better psychological thrillers that I’ve read, either. The story moved from one event to another, but without much excitement and at a relatively slow pace. Perhaps if I could have felt more connected to the main character I would have enjoyed it more. I was hoping for a better turnout at the ending, perhaps a surprise that I didn’t see coming, but that didn’t happen either.

It is a thought provoking book, but one that I wouldn’t read again.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief (The Curious Affair Of, #1)The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle

Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .

Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .

For several years Miss Lane was companion, amanuensis, collaborator and friend to the lady known to the Psychical Societs only as Miss X – until she discovered that Miss X was actually a fraud.

Now she works with Mr Jasper Jesperson as a consulting detective, but the cases are not as plentiful as they might be and money is getting tight – until a case that reaches across the entirety of London lands in their laps.

It concerns a somnambulist, the disappearance of several mediums, and a cat stuck up a tree . . . the links with the cat are negligible, but there is only one team that can investigate the seemingly supernatural disappearances of the psychics and defy the nefarious purpose behind them.

Jesperson and Lane, at your service.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books set in the age of spiritualism and this novel was perfect to satisfy that kind of reader craving. The plot works with an interesting idea that the author took to the next level, providing the reader with a richly detailed atmosphere and a story that won’t let go of you once it grabs your attention. If you like literature set in Victorian times, this will be one that you don’t want to miss.

This book takes you on a perilous journey, slowly building up the mystery with the introduction of new characters and impossible to figure out situations. I liked that the author took the time to create a good, solid background for her characters before she set out to solve the mystery. I felt like these characters were old friends and there is a certain sly humour to her work that keeps you smiling even at the most intense points in the novel.

Overall, this was a great book that kept me fascinated from the first page to the last and I look forward to hearing the thoughts and opinions of others who have read it. Definitely recommended for the amateur sleuths out there.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Toward a Secret Sky

Toward a Secret SkyToward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by what a great book with an intriguing story line this turned out to be. Sometimes I pick up a YA novel and just struggle the whole time to connect to the characters and get into it, but this one was different. I liked Maren, the main character right away and feeling close to her led me to enjoy the rest of the book. There is a bit of a Twilight feel to this–especially when one considers how Maren feels during the absence of her love interest, but it was different enough that it didn’t feel like a copy.

There is plenty of action in this novel to keep you going and the romance is sweet, but not overdone–as in it doesn’t take centre focus on every page of the book. I liked the way the author portrayed the secondary characters as well. No one felt like useless padding and everyone served a clearly defines purpose within the story.

I am looking forward to seeing where she goes with this series, and to reading the next book. If you want a book that will keep you busy for hours and make you feel things–this is a good one to choose. The descriptions were lovely, the story was exciting and the ending made me want more.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Twilight Wife

The Twilight WifeThe Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting mystery with a few unexpected twists that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

The first couple of chapters in this book drew me in and I was hooked by the third. I liked the main character right away and wanted to know what was going on with her. After she began discovering that things weren’t as they seemed, my curiosity grew and the pages started flying by. This is a very exciting book from the beginning and only gets better as you get farther into it.

I love psychological suspense books that keep you guessing at what is really going on all the way to the end, and this one does that well. Even when you think you have it figured out, there is still something left to be revealed around every corner.

If you love the kind of books where you and the main character have to figure out the mystery together, this would be a good one to pick. Recommended.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.