Book Review | The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman

Goodreads Blurb:

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

My Thoughts:

I picked this one up after a recommendation from my Mum, and I am so thankful for it! The premise intrigued me, and (as always) I was in the mood for some mystery. The Thursday Murder Club ticked all those boxes and more (plus some I hadn’t even been looking for). This was a wonderful read – it was warm, funny, and suspenseful with a cast of vibrant characters, a few of which I would love to meet.

The Thursday Murder Club was such a wonderful read. For me, reading it felt like you were having a conversation with a friend, well multiple friends. The novel was written from multiple points of view. As I read further, I got to know each character and their motivations well, as well as their quirks, and some secrets that the other characters may never find out. This multi point of view style allowed for twists and cliff hangers to really shine, making this a real page turner once I was in the depths of the mystery.

I think one of my favourite features of this novel. They were all lovely to read about, and they had a great sense of humour making this at times laugh out loud funny. Each had their own unique speciality from their careers before they moved into the retirement village, and really added to the clever plotting of the novel. Character and setting both, were charming and warm hearted, and made this a unique ‘comfy’ murder mystery.

I highly recommend this novel to those who love a murder mystery with clever plotting and a cast of quick-witted characters, that when put together make for a warm-hearted and funny tale.

Book Review | The Map to You, Rachel Stockbridge

Goodreads Blurb:

Sasha Deforest always seems to fall hardest for girls she can’t have. And she’s never fallen harder than she has for her tough, stubborn best friend Kinsey. Sasha can’t help all the outrageously flirty things that come out of her mouth when they’re together, even if Kinsey always plays it off as a running joke. Sasha doesn’t really mind, though. She likes that they’re just friends. It’s easy. Uncomplicated. And it means she has an excuse not to open up about her troubled family life back home.

Kinsey Han has been nursing one hell of a crush on sweet, sarcastic Sasha for the better part of the last year. Not that she’d ever let Sasha know it. Kinsey tends to express herself by frowning and ordering her loved ones around. Even if she thought Sasha meant all the flirty nonsense she’s always coming up with, Kinsey could never be the kind of cheerful, outgoing woman Sasha deserves to be with. It’s better for everyone if Kinsey keeps her true feelings to herself.

But when Sasha drops everything to drive Kinsey 600 miles to deal with a family emergency, things get complicated. The more time they spend together, the harder it is for Kinsey to keep her feelings for Sasha buried—and the harder it is for Sasha to remember why it’s so important to keep Kinsey at arm’s length. If they continue to conceal the depths of their feelings for each other, they’d be missing out on falling in love with the one person who could truly get them. But taking that chance also means opening themselves up to heartbreak. And neither is sure they’re willing to risk losing the other forever. 

My Thoughts:

I finished this one yesterday on the train back from visiting my Mum for the weekend, and it was the perfect travel read to take me back to Melbourne – a fictional road trip for a ‘road trip’ of my own. The Map to You was such a sweet read which made me laugh, cry, and feel the need to close my eReader occasionally to take a breath when the characters were just being way too adorable (or at times frustrating) for me to cope.

In The Map to You Rachel Stockbridge has created a collection of vibrant characters all with their own unique perspectives and backgrounds. I loved getting to know the two main characters Sasha and Kinsey through their point of view chapters. Their differences in personality and interests, as well as the way that each character deals with their emotions is wonderfully written.

The dual narration was perfect for this story, with each narrator having a deeper insight into the thoughts and feelings of that character, and so making the complications throughout the novel even more impactful. Especially with a romance, knowing what both characters are thinking or feeling before the other character knows makes for an interesting and at times suspenseful read.

The plot for The Map to You was engaging and entertaining and played with some of my favourite romance tropes. It was also nice reading a queer romance where those involved were already out to those who mattered to them, and so the focus could be on the romance plot. Don’t get me wrong, I love a ‘coming out’ novel, but it was a nice change from what I usually read. This was especially as while the queer characters were confident in their sexuality and who they were, they still had similar, very human insecurities as portrayed in more mainstream romance stories.

This novel is about love, trust, and learning how to be yourself when all you want is to be anyone else. If you are looking for a sweet queer romance story with great characters, an entertaining yet emotional plot, and more wonderfully cheesy pickup lines than you can poke a stick at, this is for you!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 25th January 2022.

You can find where to pre-order your own copy of The Map to You by Rachel Stockbridge here!

Book Review | Judgement Dave, Si Clarke

Goodreads Blurb:

This time, the universe puts the cat in catastrophe.

Plucked from her home on Earth and ending up aboard a strange spaceship in an even stranger universe, Lem and the misfit crew of the Teapot have more than enough trouble on their hands… and then they receive an urgent last-minute call to save a race of cat-people from certain destruction.

Stuck with a disaster-platypus of a project manager and an entire race of people seemingly determined to thwart their own rescue, the Teapot’s crew face the impossible job of herding cats and helping evacuate the planet before it’s blown to smithereens.

Can Lem and the gang avert disaster and save this race of infuriating cat-people?

My Thoughts:

When I say that I love a sequel, I love a sequel, and well, this one? It was an absolutely wonderful read. Judgement Dave had all the suspense, charm, humour, and warm fuzzies as The Left Hand of Dog (TLHoD) and more. The ragtag team from the first novel are back, and things have somehow become crazier in the time between when TLHoD finished and Judgement Dave starts. My gosh I loved it too, I went from reading a chapter or two each night, to reading about 60% of the novel in one night – but I really didn’t want it to end!

I am honestly not one-hundred percent sure where to start with this review, as I have so much about this novel that I loved, but I do have to start somewhere, right? This is something small, but there is something Si Clarke did with her sequel that I really loved and think it is something more series – especially sci-fi and fantasy series – should do. Clarke added a ‘Previously On…’ at the beginning of the novel with a recap of what happened in TLHoD. I haven’t seen this done before and it was a really nice touch.

I am still in awe of Clarke’s imaginative flair, and possibly even more so after reading Judgement Dave. The creativity that goes into the characters and the world they live in is almost magical, but the worlds themselves feel so real. The characters are all unique and through their differences they make for a vibrant read. The diversity within this novel doesn’t feel in any way forced to me. The way Clarke addresses more serious topics of race, sexuality, and internal biases (known and unknown) through this more light-hearted lens of the fictional world she has created is very cleverly done.

As a whole, Judgement Dave presented me with the characters I already loved so much alongside new characters where it only took me a few chapters to want to scream at them to listen. Every few pages I just needed to take a breath to calm my frustrations with certain characters, but in saying that, the warmth and heart of the misfit team was a perfect relief. I loved reading more of their dynamic and how they work together using their strengths to continue with the mission even when all feels hopeless.

The plot of Judgement Daves picks up pretty quickly, and once I was immersed in the story I wasn’t getting out any time soon. I love the urgency and panic of reading a time reliant conclusion. I felt like I was rushing around with the team as they tried to complete their mission before the deadline. So the closer to the deadline the team got the more nervous I became.

Judgement Dave is both a heart wrenching and heart warming tale that celebrates the uniqueness of a person and how they can use that for good. It is a tale of friendship, teamwork, and beating the odds in the face of a seemingly impossible task. I laughed, I cried, and I tried not to let the nervousness get to me. I highly recommend this to sci-fi lovers who are looking for something which explores very real and sometimes dark themes with a balance of light-hearted moments. Read this if you are looking for a novel with wonderfully divers characters, and if you are after a novel which is in itself, is a warm hug when you need it, even if some moments in the novel called for the hug in the first place.

Please Note: There are a few trigger warnings for this novel which are listed at the beginning of the book. I will list them under the read more below for your information.

Thank you to BookSirens, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 25th January 2022.

You can find where to pre-order your own copy of Judgement Dave by Si Clarke here!

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Book Review | The Left Hand of Dog, Si Clarke

Goodreads Blurb:

Escaping intergalactic kidnappers has never been quite so ridiculous.

When Lem and her faithful dog, Spock, retreat from the city for a few days of hiking in Algonquin Park, the last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by aliens. No, scratch that. The last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by a bunch of strangely adorable intergalactic bounty hunters aboard a ship called the Teapot.

After Lem falls in with an unlikely group of allies – including a talking horse, a sarcastic robot, an overly anxious giant parrot, and a cloud of sentient glitter gas – the gang must devise a cunning plan to escape their captors and make it back home safely.

But things won’t be as easy as they first seem. Lost in deep space and running out of fuel, this chaotic crew are faced with the daunting task of navigating an alien planet, breaking into a space station, and discovering the real reason they’re all there…

My Thoughts:

This was exactly the book I needed right now. The type I could get completely caught up in. When I say I love Sci-Fi as a genre, this is the kind of Sci-Fi I mean. Why would I read about intergalactic space wars (but no issues if that is what you love), when I could read about a rag tag group of kidnapped aliens – and one human and her dog – as they become allies and then unlikely friends in their bid to escape? Good question methinks! (In a similar vein, I do much prefer Doctor Who over Star Wars – but I digress.)

It didn’t take me long to realise I would absolutely love this novel. Within the first chapter Lem, and her dog Spock get abducted by aliens, and from there things just kept getting stranger and stranger. Wonderfully so, which I loved! Every alien Lem meets is a vibrant and individual character who has been beautifully imagined and brought to life on the page. Especially with the AI implanted in Lem’s watch to help translate, which is kept on figurative mode – which means that rather than stating an exact translation which in a lot of cases would make little sense without context, the watch finds the closest point of reference in Lem’s subconscious and uses that as the translation. At first this led to some rather confusing dialogue between the different species, but as I read further and I became familiar with the ‘translations’ and speaking patterns for each character I found them more charming than confusing. My favourite had to be the AI speaking for Spock, Lem’s dog, Spock’s dialogue, while only comprising for 2-4 word phrases, they felt accurate, and were very amusing.

The story as a whole was such a fun read. Lem’s initial confusion at the whole, almost ridiculous, situation was comically narrated and had me grinning and sometimes laughing with her reactions to certain events. Throughout the story there was also a wonderful collection of references to other Sci-Fi greats – though I am sure I didn’t pick them all, I definitely got quite a few (especially the Doctor Who ones). These were beautifully and naturally threaded throughout the text both in AI translated dialogue and in Lem’s own thoughts. I am sure I will find any I missed in my reread of this wonderful tale.

While this was a fun and at places a rather farfetched story, with friendship, humour, and banter at the forefront, this novel also touches on the complex questions of gender, sexuality, identity, family, and home in a meaningful and insightful way. I love it when an author can create such positive messages in genre fiction like this. It just makes me love this story and its characters even more. I highly recommend this read for lovers of fun, exciting, and at times beautifully strange Sci-Fi at it’s best.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher BooksGoSocial who sent me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy) in exchange for an honest review. This title was published 17th August 2021.

Book Review | The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley

Goodreads Blurb:
1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

My Thoughts:
I picked up The Watchmaker of Filigree Street at the airport based solely on the beauty of the cover. After reading the blurb I knew I couldn’t walk away. The entire thing intrigued me, and the flight home was all the better for it. For a novel I that knew little about before I read it, it really exceeded any expectations I did have.

Thaniel Steepleton seems like the kind of character that things just don’t happen to. So when his apartment is broken into and a mysterious pocketwatch is left on his pillow, Thaniel isn”t sure what to think. That is until the pocket watch saves his life and Thaniel decides to investigate. From here, you step – with Thaniel – into the world of Mori Keita, a Japanese watchmaker.

It is difficult not to get completely caught up in the world and characters that Natasha Pulley has created here. The intricacies of the story are carefully crafted so that the story unfolds slowly but surely, and in such a way that you easily get happily lost there. So much so that the ending creeps up on you when you least want it to. As you want to stay with those characters as long as possible.

There is something so enchanting about the way that Pulley draws you in enough to hold you there and carry you gently through the story. There is a beautiful charm to her words that makes you feel welcome within the story itself, but still keeps the secrects needed to keep you wondering. Some of the secrets are not only held by the text but the characters as well as they try and navigate mysteries as well as their own feelings. The romances that unfold slowly and carefully through the pages of the novel help for revelations nearing the end to be gently and beautifully revealed. There is nothing forced about it, something which has helped this novel to become one of my favourites.

Pulley builds her characters in this novel in such a way that you not only want to follow their journey, but you also want understand the way that they are, and why. There are little nuances to each character that bring them out of the page, and that can make you both love them and question them at the same time. It is these little mysteries that cause you to stay invested right to the end.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street really is something special. The story and characters have stuck with me since the day I first read this novel. The unique charm, and intricate mystery makes The Watchmaker of Filigree Street a must read for anyone who is ready to let themselves get completely caught up in a beautifully crafted story.