Happy Ever After by C.C. MacDonald

I feel so mixed about this book even though towards the end I couldn’t wait to find out what happened. The problem for me is that both main protagonists are unlikable. Bit like Gone Girl. Charlie is a total prat but I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him when Naomi was upset because they couldn’t afford the 5-bedroom house by the sea she’d told all her posh London friends she was buying. You’re in your thirties with one child! Most people of your age are lucky to get on the housing ladder. She’s greedy and needy and is putting too much pressure on him. They’ve bought a stupid house that needs too much renovation. She doesn’t seem to do anything to help apart from moan about the pigeons. She can’t even spend a day with her daughter without getting in a tizz. Get real Naomi. I almost gave up half way through but then the plot got really clever and twisty and the second half of the book was brilliant. I think the annoying slow start may put people off but stick with it. It’s edge of the seat stuff at the end.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for allowing me to read along with the other Pigeons and the author.

Everything My Mother Taught Me by Alice Hoffman

In this haunting short story of loyalty and betrayal, a young woman in early 1900s Massachusetts discovers that in navigating her treacherous coming-of-age, she must find her voice first.

For fatefully observant Adeline, growing up carries an ominous warning from her adulterous mother: don’t say a word. Adeline vows to never speak again. But that’s not her only secret. After her mother takes a housekeeping job at a lighthouse off the tip of Cape Ann, a local woman vanishes. The key to the mystery lies with Adeline, the silent witness. New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman crafts a beautiful, heart-wrenching short story.

Alice Hoffman’s Everything My Mother Taught Me is part of Inheritance, a collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single setting. By yourself, behind closed doors, or shared with someone you trust.

Everything

Beautiful, heartfelt, sad, uplifting – everything I expect from my favourite author in the world ever – Alice Hoffman. I don’t really know what else to say. Just read it. And then read her other works if you haven’t already.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

I loved this book more than I can say. If I could give it 10 stars I would. I was so engrossed in the story and couldn’t wait for the next stave to be delivered (I was reading through Pigeonhole). At one point I wanted to buy the book so I could read to the end only to discover it had not yet been published. In fact I am still so full of the tale of Bess, Alexandra and Clara/Charlotte that I am struggling to read another book yet. I cannot imagine what it must have been like having to place your new born baby in The Foundling hospital because you were too poor to look after her. But then to save for years to reclaim her only to find that she had already been claimed by someone pretending to be you. Poor Bess. Alexandra’s plight was different. Having myself been brought up by a mother who didn’t leave the house for over 35 years due to agoraphobia (though it was more complicated than just that) I sometimes got mad with Alexandra because I know how damaging it is to instil fear into your child. I understand she couldn’t go out but not to allow her ‘daughter’ to go to the park with Doctor Mead and Eliza and then normalise it isn’t fair. Anyway I could go on. The story is wonderful and the characters rich. Occasionally it was a teeny bit far fetched but hey this is fiction, not real life.
Many thanks to the Pigeonhole for giving me the opportunity to read alongside my fellow Pigeons and the author. We love you all.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

A group of thirty-somethings who were all at Oxford University together share a holiday lodge in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to see in the New Year. Apart from the ‘friends’ the only other people are Heather and Doug who run the place, Iain the handyman who lives off-site and two strange Icelandics who shouldn’t really be there at all. Hats off to Lucy Foley for creating a group of so-called old buddies who are so unlikable that we would be quite happy if more than one of them got bumped off. One does wonder how any of them got into Oxford, especially Miranda – maybe Daddy had some influential friends. Most of us (thanks to The Pigeonhole for giving us the opportunity for reading along with the other Pigeons) guessed (or hoped) who the victim was, but a stunning twist near the end made it much harder to guess who the killer was. I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t wait for the next stave to be delivered – I woke up at 5.30am and read the last part before I even had a cup of tea. Brilliant. And thanks to the author for taking part in our ‘comments’. We can be a hard lot to please, us Pigeons, but you excelled yourself.

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

If you are wondering why I gave this book four stars instead of five I will endeavour to explain. Close to Home was the first and it was fab. As well as finding out the truth about what happened to Daisy, we also learnt about the police officers and detectives – Adam Fawley of course, Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer plus a few others less ‘important’. In book 2 In The Dark, we had another crime to solve but also more intrigue amongst the officers and more reveals of their relationships and back stories. But it was Book 3 No Way Out that was the real crescendo – the best story yet plus more about the main protagonists. So Book 4 was always going to be doomed to fade in comparison. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it was – but we learn very little more about Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer and what we learn about Fawley is more about his wife. Also the plotline wasn’t quite as gripping for me. However, I am still looking forward to Book 5. One thing that was really impressive about the four books is that looking back they didn’t blend into one another as so many series often do.

No Way Out by Cara Hunter

This book was even more stunning than the last two. I devoured it in two sittings. It was so emotional what with the death of the first child and then wondering whether Matty would survive. Where were the parents? Some of the fire scenes were very upsetting (I have always hated the idea of people dying in a fire since I was a child – I suppose everyone does but it became a bit of a phobia so I don’t like to read about it). The backstory was a really good way of telling us what happened as there were things the police would never know. We even think that Matty might have been involved because of his jealousy of little Zachary (no spoilers but we realise that this is just bravado). At one stage I had to ask my son (he’s 33) if he had ever played Minecraft – I can’t believe kids play this stuff. Now I can’t wait to read the next novel in the series.

In The Dark by Cara Hunter

Another brilliant book from Cara Hunter. I started this book the night before last but then I had a day off work and I literally just sat at home and read to the end. So intricately put together and I love the way the detectives and PCs are growing in character. After a while you start to question everyone and everything. Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? Is anyone telling the truth? Who really are the victims here? I can’t wait to read the next in the series No Way Out. In fact I’ve just purchased it for my Kindle.

Close To Home by Cara Hunter

This is the first time I’ve given five stars to a book in ages but Close To Home is worth every star. It was absolutely riveting. I read it with The Pigeonhole (many thanks to them and to my fellow Pigeons and Cara who was commenting along with us). I rarely give five stars to any detective novel but this was something else. On a couple of occasions I stayed up till midnight to get the following day’s stave – including the final part. The ending was unexpected but I can’t say more because that would give away spoilers. Poor Adam and Alex (their back story) and poor Leo is all I’m going to say. You never know who’s innocent and who’s guilty but Barry and Sharon are ghastly though I’m not sure Sharon deserves everything that’s coming to her. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Even Stranger by Marilyn Messik

“I thought I’d knocked him out, but in a flash he’d turned on to all fours and was crawling swiftly, spider-like, back towards us. He still held the knife, so I set fire to the handle. The wood flamed and he hissed in pain but didn’t let go. It was all turning rather awkward.”

Having first met Stella as a child in Relatively Strange we now encounter her once again as an adult in the early 70s in Even Stranger. She is trying hard not to stand out by keeping her powers hidden as much as possible. From book one we know she can fly (though it’s more difficult when you’re bigger), move objects and use her mind to read other people’s. Following a series of unremarkable and often unsuccessful jobs, she decides to start her own service business. Whatever you need doing Stella will do it – from typing and research to picking up children and house sitting dogs (more of the latter later).

It’s been six years since her debacle with a group of people with similar abilities including the Peacock sisters, Gloria, Ed and Hamlet (a giant dog) plus Sam who they rescued from a dangerous government research facility looking into children with psi powers. Stella is aided in her new venture by her eccentric 83 year old aunt Kitty and Brenda who is employed to help them. There is also a snooty Borzoi (whom she acquired from a recently deceased client). I said there would be another dog. In this book Stella pits her wits and powers against three different foes and puts herself in danger as a result. Oh yes and there’s a new romance!! And creepy dolls.

It’s yet again a fabulous roller-coaster ride. Please don’t try to rationalise her powers – this is psi-fi and you need accept them from day one or you’ll be disappointed. I love Stella and her family and can’t wait for book three.

The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan

Having read Her Name Was Rose I was already a fan of Claire Allan. However, I didn’t like this book as much as I hoped I would. Like is a strange word to use as it’s the harrowing tale of Joe McKee, a paedophile, who was loved and admired in his community, except by his daughter and step-daughter who both hated him. When he is dying they are asked to come and look after him but neither of them are understandably keen. What makes this book stand out though is the relationship between the two women – they hate each other. Joe left his wife and daughter Ciara to be with Natalie who has a daughter Heidi. But Natalie dies soon after and Heidi has to stay with Joe, who doesn’t seem to have to legally adopt her or even apply to the court. Heidi’s natural grandparents feel they are too old and their house is too small to take Heidi. And that’s the bit that really annoyed me. If she were my granddaughter, I would take her in no matter how small my house or how old I was. Heidi is not a toddler. They would manage. Instead they leave her with a man who has already left one family and terrifies Heidi. Most of the story revolves around Ciara and Heidi fighting which got a bit tiresome after a while. There a few other characters who get involved when Joe dies and a number of clever twists but for me it wasn’t enough.
Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a review.

The Crown Agent by Stephen O’Rourke

Dr Mungo Lyon, an Edinburgh surgeon, is barred from practice following his (minor) involvement in the Burke and Hare case. However, when he is caught up in a strange adventure that takes him to Glasgow and Jamaica, his skill as a surgeon is not the only skill he will need. He will need to use his intelligence and keep his wits about him as he is chased, shot at, accused of murder and taken prisoner on a ship bound for the other side of the world. Never knowing who he can trust and who is a villain, Mungo finds himself trying to solve the case almost single-handed. There are many surprises along the way and even the possibility of a romance. Murder, smuggling and treason – they are all here in this rip-roaring tale of adventure and derring-do.

Many thanks to the Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

The Dilemma by BA Paris

I can’t believe I’m only giving this three stars as it’s so well written, heart-breaking and sad. It’s a tale of family love, separation, sorrow, misunderstanding and tragedy. That should make a wonderful read, shouldn’t it? But something is missing. Once we discover the two threads that form the basis of the story it just dragged and dragged till in the end I just wanted to scream ‘just tell her and get it over with’. I waited for the twist that would surely come. But no. It really went out not with a bang but a whimper.

But the other things that frustrated me. The party. I just didn’t get it. Twenty years she had waited for a birthday party that would make up for the wonderful wedding she never had. It made her look a bit bonkers to be honest. They could have renewed their vows after 10 years or so. We got married in a registry office and renewed our vows after twenty five years in church because my husband knew it meant a lot to me (no wedding dress or anything over the top). Then there was Adam’s treatment of her in the first few years. She forgave him so easily and put it down to his youth. Really? More selfishness.

Having said that I rocketed through it in two sittings but it would have been better if the whole thing had been cut by half. Then it would have been at least 4 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC.