Monday, 14 November 2022

Book Review: WOLF PACK by Will Dean (Tuva Moodyson #5)



Author: Will Dean

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Read: September 2022

Expected publication: out now



Book Description:


A closed community

Rose Farm is home to a group of survivalists, completely cut off from the outside world. Until now.

A missing person

A young woman goes missing within the perimeter of the farm compound. Can Tuva talk her way inside the tight-knit group to find her story?

A frantic search

As Tuva attempts to unmask the culprit, she gains unique access to the residents. But soon she finds herself in danger of the pack turning against her – will she make her way back to safety so she can expose the truth?

Will Dean’s most heart-pounding Tuva Moodyson thriller yet takes Tuva to her absolute limits in exposing a heinous crime, and in her own personal life. Can she, and will she, do the right thing?

My musings:


Oh how I love Tuva Moodyson! This series is just getting better and better.


Tuva has had her fair share of tragedy and is still reeling from the incident that almost killed her lover and put her in a coma. She now feels like she has little to lose, which is perhaps the reason she throws herself headlong into trying to solve another mystery, consequences be damned. A young woman has gone missing up near the mysterious Rose Farm, and no one is talking. It’s the sort of challenge Tuva cannot resist, even if it puts herself in danger.


With Tuva, Dean has created a strong, enigmatic, kick-ass female character who has not only overcome adversity (Tuva is deaf), but also never shies away from setting injustices right. Supported by a cast of weird and wonderful characters, and a remote, small-town setting, this series never disappoints. Over the previous four books, we have become very familiar with the small forest town of Gavrik and its inhabitants, and they all make a disappearance here. Whether it’s the creepy wood-turning sisters you’ve been hoping to catch up with, or the whiff of Tammy’s amazing cooking, Dean makes sure they are not forgotten.


I felt sad for Tuva in this one, because part of her bravery and determination not to back down reflects her inner loneliness after the tragedy that stole the love of her life from her. So perhaps this is the reason this book seemed more melancholy to me than its predecessors, even though it’s a solid mystery with lots of action and nail-biting scenes where Tuva puts herself in danger. For me, it’s the characters and the setting that make this series so irresistible, though of course I’m not knocking the well-plotted mystery that holds it all together (which I won’t go into here because it’s best to delve in blind for maximum surprise value).


The Tuva Moodyson series remains one of my favourite crime series and one I can’t get enough of. I hope that we will see a lot more of Tuva in future.


Thank you to Netgalley and Oneworld Publications for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Introducing my favorite book of 2022: THE WINNERS by Fredrik Backman (BEARTOWN #3)



Author:  Fredrik Backman

Read: November 2022

Expected publication: out now

My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ all the stars!

My musings:


I would give this book 100 stars if I could!


If I thought that Beartown ripped out my heart and broke it into a million pieces, then Backman’s latest instalment in the series just ground them to fine dust. At least now I know to stock up on tissues before starting any of his books!


I don’t even know where to begin with a review because it’s difficult to express how much I loved this book. After the three Beartown novels, I almost feel part of the community. I’m not sure how Backman does it, but his characters are so well drawn that they are totally real to me. Often, characters remain a hazy outline, but this cast is as vivid in my mind as people I have known all my life.


With the Beartown themes of community, parenthood, coming of age, friendships and the fine threads that connect us all to one another, there wasn’t many tissues left in the box by the time I finished reading. Backman’s writing resonates deeply with me, as do his characters.


THE WINNERS is set 2 years after the events in BEARTOWN, and we get to find out how all our favourite characters have fared in that time. There are a few surprises in store, but one thing has not changed – the rivalry between the two hockey clubs of Beartown and Hed. As someone who knows nothing about hockey and isn’t particularly sports orientated, even I soon realised how much the sport reflected the hopes and dreams of the community, and was swept away by their love for the sport. As hockey gets embroiled in the political power games of influential people trying to make Beartown and Hed’s animosity work in their favour, the simmering tension is about to erupt into violence. With the constant foreshadowing in the story, I knew that something terrible was about to happen, which had me torn between reading quickly to find the answers and savouring the story. Backman injects so many snippets of insight and wisdom into his stories that touched me deeply, drawing out emotions that are often repressed or overlooked.


I can confidently say that THE WINNERS is my favourite book for 2022 and one that I will revisit again when the open wounds in my heart are no longer so raw and I can savour the fine details I may have overlooked. Please note that this is not a stand-alone novel and needs to be read in the right order of the Beartown series to make sense and to get the full value out of this wonderful tale. I loved every minute of it and was sad to say good-bye to characters who feel like good old friends – I will miss them. A truly wonderful book! If you haven’t discovered this series yet, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Book Review: FOUND OBJECT by Anne Frasier



Author:  Anne Frasier

Publisher:  Thomas & Mercer

Read: June 2022

Expected publication: out now




Book Description:



Culpable in an exposΓ© gone tragically wrong, investigative journalist Jupiter Bellarose takes her boss’s advice: head back to her hometown for a fluff piece and get her world in balance. But in Savannah, the past is waiting.

Twenty years ago Jupiter’s mother, actress and celebrated beauty Marie Nova, was murdered, leaving many in her wake: Jupiter’s father, who has erased memories of his wife’s murder with alcohol. The matriarch of the cosmetics company who helped make Marie a star—and who takes every opportunity to reopen old wounds. Then there’s the fragile cop with blood on his hands, and the killer whose confession no longer seems convincing.

With so many lingering questions, Jupiter must revisit the grisly event that has influenced every decision in her life. Maybe her homecoming will bring closure.

My musings:


The past catches up with a young investigative journalist when she returns to her old hometown, revisiting the memories of her mother’s brutal murder, in this intriguing mystery by Anne Frasier.


Jupiter Bellarose suffers the same consequences as many of her fictional protagonist counterparts when she is forced to face her childhood demons and return to her old hometown. Perhaps Jupiter has a more compelling reason than most to stay away, seeing that she was the one who first stumbled across the horrific crime scene, seeing her own mother Marie Nova decapitated in their home’s front yard. Who would ever want to revisit those memories? But after her last disastrous assignment, Jupiter needs a break, and visiting her father seems like a good idea at the time. Of course, as soon as she arrives, old memories come crashing down on her, facing her to confront her demons. Now an adult used to investigate and analyse clues, Jupiter realises that some things regarding her mother’s death don’t add up. And she starts asking questions …


FOUND OBJECTS drew me in straight away and I was thoroughly intrigued by the horrific mystery surrounding Marie Nova’s murder. I also really liked Jupiter as a main protagonist. With the right balance of past trauma and the inquisitive mind of an investigative journalist, her motivation for getting answers seemed genuine and she was well fleshed out to be believable and sympathetic. Having witnessed her mother’s murder gave Jupiter a vulnerable side that made me root for her the whole way, and I was as eager to get answers as she was.


As with many small-town mysteries, everyone seemed to be hiding something, including Jupiter’s father. Flashbacks to the past gave some background regarding Marie Nova, whose character was just as intriguing as that of her daughter. This was my first book by the author, and I enjoyed her writing style, especially her characterisations of the whole cast, making it impossible not to get emotionally involved. Perhaps there were a few too many plot twists towards the end, stretching credibility, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it kept me interested. 




FOUND OBJECTS will appeal to readers who enjoy small-town mysteries driven by scarred protagonists whose past is about to come crashing down on them. There are lots of secrets and lies and plenty of plot twists. If you are able to suspend disbelief a little bit, then I can thoroughly recommend this book.



Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.


Reading from my TBR pile: small town mysteries


EXILES by Jane Harper


I have been (not so) patiently waiting for another Aaron Falk novel, and finally it is here! Of course I had to rush out and get it as soon as it hit the shelves. Harper has once again chosen an atmospheric setting for her novel, this time in a picturesque wine growing region of SA. As usual, her descriptive writing transported me straight into the landscape, and I could picture it all vividly, yearning to be part of the cosy dinners and glasses of wine Aaron enjoys with his friends.

Despite the idyllic landscape, it’s not all peace and happiness here, because at the heart of the story lie two unsolved mysteries: the hit and run of a respected local accountant, and the mysterious disappearance of a young mother at last year’s wine fair. Even though the deaths have been ruled unconnected, in a small town like Marralee everyone is related or connected in some way. Falk, who is visiting to attend the christening of his good mate’s son, cannot help but observe different people’s reactions to the anniversary of the young woman’s disappearance. And of course Falk’s sharp mind immediately picks up a few discrepancies along the way …

EXILES follows in the vein of Harper’s previous novels – slow burning, character driven and atmospheric. The clues are metered out carefully, for the reader to slowly join together the dots just as Falk does, and yet I was still surprised by the final reveal, which is why I am not a detective! I enjoyed the insights into Falk’s personal life just as much as the unravelling of the mystery, and whilst I hope that he will finally find companionship and happiness, I am also loathe to let him retire back into the ether of fictional characters. I hope this is not the last we will see of Falk!




Reid is a PI investigating a suspicious car crash for an insurance company, which brings him back to his old hometown of Manson, a place he had vowed never to revisit. When his investigations unearth a connection to the cold case of two missing local teenagers, he suddenly comes face to face with some of his own demons that made him leave town all those years ago.

Pomare usually writes a good mystery, and THE WRONG WOMAN was no exception. I really enjoyed Reid’s POV and felt that he made a good main protagonist who carried the story well and had just enough baggage to make him interesting, but not too much to make him the stereotypical tortured detective type. I admit that I initially struggled with the character of Eshana, who didn’t quite ring true for me. However, as the story progressed, it offered enough mystery and suspense to keep me intrigued and forget about my misgivings.

I can’t say much more without giving anything away, just that some of the final reveals were sinister and troubling but provided me with a satisfying finale that tied up all loose ends. A quick, intriguing story that made for perfect weekend reading. If you like small town mysteries and people trying to solve a cold case, then you can’t go wrong with this one.


TREASURE & DIRT by Chris Hammer


I believe that Chris Hammer’s latest novel has been published under the title OPAL COUNTRY overseas, which perhaps gives a better description of what this book is about. Set in the opal fields in outback NSW, it focuses on the investigation into the death of an opal miner, found crucified in his own mine in Finnigans Gap. This time it is not Martin Sarsden who delves into the mystery but homicide detective Ivan Lucic from Sydney, aided by local policewoman Nell Buchanan.


In typical Hammer style, the novel is gritty and atmospheric, intricately plotted and with more threads than grandma’s Persian rug. There’s conspiracy and politics, money and power, crossing and double crossing, and the ruthlessness and desolation that characterises a small mining town in the middle of nowhere.


Whilst I love Hammer’s descriptive writing, I’ll be totally honest with you to say that I found the plot a bit too convoluted in the end, with too many characters and side stories to keep track of. Don’t read this if you want a light, relaxing weekend escape. However, if you want atmosphere, then you’ve come to the right place. Hammer captures it all: the heat, the flies, the suspicion among miners, the bleak and barren outback landscape. Everyone here has a past and a secret (or two), including our detectives, and we will get to find out about all of them.


I loved the atmospheric setting and found it authentic (having had a few friends who have mined opals in similar places), and the mystery surrounding the dead man’s past was intriguing. Towards the end, there was a bit too much politics and double crossing for me, but perhaps I should not have read it between night shifts, when my brainpower is at its lowest ebb. If you have enjoyed the Martin Sarsden series, then you will most likely like TREASURE & DIRT in all its gritty glory.


Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Reading from my TBR pile: 5-star book alert!

5-star reviews are the hardest to write, because how could I do a book justice that has given me such pleasure and touched me so deeply? So I am going to keep these short and sweet and urge you to pick them up and judge for yourself!

STAY AWAKE by Megan Goldin


There is a good reason why Megan Goldin is one of my favourite thriller writers. I think that THE ESCAPE ROOM is still one of my all-time-favourite books and one that stands out from the rest, but her latest book is not far behind. It only took a few pages into STAY AWAKE to find myself utterly absorbed by the disjointed reality of Liv’s world.


I love thrillers that rely strongly on the doubt cast on the main protagonist’s mental state. Liv, a traumatised woman who forgets everything that has happened to her as soon as she falls asleep, is a perfect candidate to star in that category of unreliable narrators. With every plot twist, I admired the author for being able to create such an intricate, multi-layered and challenging novel without ever losing credibility. Every time I was briefly concerned that a thread would be left hanging or would stretch credibility too far, I was soon reassured by the background detail that made it all perfectly plausible and tied things up nicely in the end.


Liv’s world is like a crazy kaleidoscope of disjointed images and unanswered questions that consumed me until I had reached the end and finally found out the answers. It was lucky that I read this book on holidays, because I was loathe to put it down. With a perfect blend between action and mystery, Goldin again delivers a psychological thriller so carefully constructed that I never had a chance to guess the culprit – all my theories were totally wrong. I loved every minute of this novel and can’t wait to see what Goldin will come up with next.

WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME by Gillian McAllister


Can you stop a murder after it has already happened? This may seem like a silly question, until you get lost in Jen’s reality after she witnesses her teenage son committing a heinous crime. But when she wakes up the next day, her family act as if nothing is wrong. Just as Jen thinks she has suffered a horrible nightmare or some psychological breakdown, her gaze lands on the calendar – and she finds out that it is now the day before yesterday.

This premise may sound very confusing, but I guarantee you that it is one of the most original stories I have come across this year. Can a mother’s love be strong enough to create a time-loop, allowing you to go back to the past to try and prevent a terrible thing from happening to your child? Jen is about to find out.

WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME is not your typical time travel story. It’s also a most unusual mystery, since it investigates the cause of the crime going back to its origins. As Jen goes further and further back in time, she will uncover a lot of things she never knew about her family. I loved everything about this book, and it kept me totally spellbound until I found out the answers. Despite warnings from other readers that the story would be too confusing to follow on audio, I thoroughly enjoyed my audio version and was so engrossed that I had no trouble at all with the unusual timeline.

Time travel books require a lot of skill to stay believable, and I am happy to report that McAllister has nailed it. Not only was her story utterly intriguing, but it also touched my heart, just as Diane Chamberlain’s THE DREAM DAUGHTER did (where a mother time travels to the future to find a medical cure for her child’s heart condition). I was so taken by it that it was a no-brainer it would end up on my favourites list. One of the cleverest, most original books I have read in a long time, exploring the boundaries of a mother’s love and how far she would go to save her child. Beautifully written and intricately plotted, I fully recommend it to everyone who is looking for a thriller that stands out from the fray.



I read this book ages ago, but at the time I was left so emotionally drained that I could not find adequate words to review it. DAMNATION SPRING is the sort of atmospheric, character driven novel that makes its way right into your heart until its characters feel like real life people.


Set in the 1970’s, the novel explores the fate of a magnificent forest from the perspective of the people living there – the tree loggers whose livelihood depends on it, and the infancy of the environmental movement, recognising the forest’s value as well as the damage done by the poisons used by the logging companies for exfoliating the trees. Now, in 2022, we may think that this is a no-brainer, but Davidson explores both sides with such insight and compassion that each voice has value, and the reader gets an insight into both worlds. With the advantage of hindsight on my side, I really appreciated the different perspectives presented, who signal a significant shift in thinking in that era, and the obstacles faced by people trying to be open minded and fight against the power of the logging companies that are fixated only on profit.


There were many moments when the novel struck a chord deep within me, especially the brave women fighting for their families and the fate of the trees. I even shed a few tears, and had the worst book hangover that prevented me from reading anything else for a while.


DAMNATION SPRING is the type of book that stays in your mind long after the last page has been turned, especially its emotional imprint. I loved the way it challenged me to understand various points of view and offered an insight into a life totally foreign to me. I also loved the descriptive writing, which captured the scene so beautifully, both people’s lives as well as its forest setting. The book will appeal to readers who love a slow-burning story rich in detail, emotion and description that will carry you off to another place.