Review of Deadlight Hall by Sarah Rayne (Nell West #5) – 5 Stars

Deadlight Hall (Nell West/Michael Flint #5)Deadlight Hall by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel continues as entry #5 in the Nell West series and we catch up with Nell and Michael a little after the events of “The Whispering”. In this story, Michael takes the forefront of the strange circumstances with Nell becoming more of the second character and completing the secondary research investigation role. I really enjoyed the author’s ability to switch back and forth making two strong protagonists, that’s strengths differ and keep the series fresh and alive.

In this novel, Rayne also continues along the war theme, this time it is Nazi Germany that is the focus. To be honest the book blurb captures the essence of this story better than I could word it: Leo Rosendale’s childhood was blighted by a macabre tragedy in the grim Deadlight Hall – twin girls vanished, their fate never discovered. What took place there, one long-ago midnight? Michael and his fiancée Nell are unprepared for the shocking truth.

The historical sections of this novel really stand out, very well researched and enjoyable. The novel takes us through various histories of Deadlight hall from the 1870s, the 1940s war evacuation, and then into modern times. The story from Leo’s childhood being the most dramatic of the three storylines. I absolutely love the description of the old house and the wartime era, rules and superstitions captured in this novel really made the storyline vivid.

I think Rayne has done a great job of developing Michael and Nell’s personal relationship too. For returning readers it is handled very well and the progression can be seen, but it’s also not distracting and confusing for first-time readers. Although I would recommend reading the series in order, I think the users could read out of order without too much of a worry. For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie.

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Review of The Sin Eater by Sarah Rayne – 5 stars

The Sin EaterThe Sin Eater by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second of the Nell West series by Sarah Rayne (Property of a Lady being the first) and whilst they still have the historical fiction and modern day interlinked storylines that Rayne seems to do brilliantly, they aren’t quite as dark and unnerving as her standalone novels (such as House of the Lost). I did make the mistake of not reading the stories in the correct order and whilst this doesn’t detract too much from the story as it’s quite strong on its own, I do wish I had read them in the correct order as I think the character development of Nell and Michael is such a good minor storyline and would have been better to have read it in the correct order.

In the modern storyline we go with antiques dealer Nell to a Large London house. We meet troubled Benedict Doyle who has inherited the house from his great-grandfather. Benedict finds the house the house disturbing and soon finds himself having troubled dreams featuring the previous occupant, but the events he is dreaming about seem so real. When these dream events are revealed to Michael Flint (Oxford Don who featured in the first novel), his interest is piqued and he starts to research the historical facts behind Benedict’s dreams.

The second storyline for me, made this novel and is why I’ve given it five stars. The story follows Declan and Colm whom move from their Irish home to London city and get caught up in a situation and a world that they never expected to find themselves in.

Other reviewers have complained that Rayne’s writing style has changed with the Nell West series and whilst I agree she has reduced a lot of the darker elements of her writing, I think if anything she has increased the mystery elements of these novels. The storylines are very sharp, intricate and clever, this one surrounds a chess piece yet it is so well written you cannot help but get swept up in the storyline.

I also think Rayne’s characters are evolving, in this novel you really feel sorry for Benedict; his mental condition and how he is suffering as he tries to split what is real from what is imaginary. I actually finished this book a little while ago but the story and characters still feel very vivid and I think that is a sign of how well the story has been told.

For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie.

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Review of Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels – 5 Stars

Confessions of a GPConfessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Benjamin Daniels takes us right off the pages this book and into his GP surgery. This book is a combination of fly on the wall to some of his daily patient gripes but also an honest reflection of how doctors feel about the situations they find themselves in all as part of their job.

The humour in this book is above all the best thing, scenes such as the young doctor declaring he knew how to “save” someone in a pizza shop (who turned out to just be incredibly intoxicated). There are also several moral dilemmas included in this book that Benjamin had to face – for example if you are called out to do a house-call on a convicted paedophile, how would you feel about helping him? These really got me thinking just what would I do in these types of situations.

Daniels writing style is really laid back and very easy to read and the book isn’t filled with loads of technical nonsense that only other doctors could understand. It is just an interesting account of all the goings on a young doctor goes through while finding his feet in the medical industry. It feels very honest and pragmatic approach to the topics, patients and experiences.

As you can probably tell I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I passed it onto my husband who very rarely would read something like this, he also read it and really enjoyed it.

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Review of How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst – 5 Stars

How I Lost YouHow I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I even opened this book I was hooked, of all the taglines I have seen this has got to be one of the best – “They told her she killed her baby, She served her time, What if they lied?”
This book is about a woman named Susan Webster who is accused of killing her baby Dylan whilst suffering from terrible post-partum depression. Susan has no recollection of the incident but all those around her; doctors, police & even her husband tell her she has done this terrible crime. When she gets out of prison and starts her new life as Emma she receives a photo of a small child claiming to be Dylan. Throwing her fresh start out the window Susan (with some help from a journalist and her previous prison inmate) begins to hunt down the truth. Can she find it in the web of lies that surrounds her?
This is Jenny Blackhurst’s debut novel and she hasn’t half burst her way onto the crime fiction scene. Her writing style is very fluid, sharp and clear keeping you gripped from the very first page. Loads of twists and turns and hints of information and characters dropped in at just the right time. So many underlying secrets that you can’t tell who is a goodie and who is a baddie.
Psychological thriller huge genre with similar stories out there yet this still stands out very much on its own as a great storyline and excellent writing. If you liked Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson style of suspense writing then I think you will enjoy this novel.
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Wow! Dazzling Debut Novel. Can’t wait to read more from this author.

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Review of Servants by Lucy Lethbridge

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern TimesServants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is made up from a wide range of sources showing the history of servants and those that have spent life in service. The book includes not only those in service and their memories but also their employers. The book also includes various size households showing a vast array of living throughout the classes and ages.
One of the things I liked most about this book was the author’s writing style, incredibly interesting, informative but not patronising. All the source data provided was very clear but did not read like a PhD textbook!
This thing about this book is, it is really thought-provoking. You start to think that these roles in so many cases are still taken for granted: – cooking, cleaning, childcare, gardening, caretaking, nursing etc. Yet they are so critical. Obviously, there are some things in place now to help these roles (couldn’t live without my Dyson!). The book also does give you an appreciation for society and how it has evolved in the past 100 years or so.
Overall this is a very insightful and informative book and I would recommend to anyone that has an interest in social classes, Victorian history or even just a big Downton Abbey fan .

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Review of Miss peregrines home for peculiar children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Miss peregrines home for peculiar children is based on a young boy called Jacob and the stories he was told by his grandfather. When his grandfather passes away in unusual circumstances Jacob begins to question the events his grandfather he was told about. When a psychologist suggests that Jacob goes to the remote Scottish Island that his grandfather based the stories on Jacob knows he has to go and find out the truth.
This book will really appeal to fans of Harry Potter and X-men stories. Something that is a little different but told from the viewpoint of someone that seems to be normal, finding out the truth about himself. Yet it is darker than either of those tales, almost in the genre of horror.
Ransom Riggs has quite a quirky writing style and I really enjoyed it. The use of the images throughout the book was so sinister and intriguing. It was a really refreshing approach to story-telling, which I really enjoyed.
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Review of The Creeps by John Connolly – 5 stars

The Creeps (Samuel Johnson, #3)The Creeps by John Connolly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Samuel Johnson thought he was destined to live his happy ever after. He has his best friend (faithful dog Boswell), one of the prettiest girls in town (who is actually a spoilt brat) and his mum has allowed his two (demon) friends to live with him, he’s even been asked to open a brand new toy shop that is opening in town (the price of fame). Yet there is a lot that isn’t quite right in the quiet town of Biddlecombe, and the question is can Samuel and Boswell save the town (and the girl Samuel really loves) before disaster strikes.

Okay, so I have a confession to make, I didn’t actually read the back of this book before I bought it. I have read a fair few of John Connolly’s other books and had assumed this would just be the same as those. How wrong I was! For a starter, this is a book in part of a series (whoops) and secondly this book is like no other book I have ever read. It is a laugh-out-loud comic genius. Incredibly stupid in many places, yet surprisingly sophisticated and sarcastic in others. Ridiculous to the point you will question your own madness while reading yet something keeps you turning those pages over and over.

So what is it that keeps you reading? The characters, well… Samuel who is the star of this book is boring and plain, in fact, his dog Boswell is far more interesting. Yet, in this book you need that character to keep sane, especially with friendly (and evil) demons to contend with and of course the dwarves (also known as S.O.D.S. Stars of Diminished Stature) all stealing the comedy show.

This clever novel combines dark humour, sadistic storyline and mind-boggling madness so intriguingly well, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

I was thinking what this book is similar too and of course having not yet read the first two books in the series, can’t suggest those. However, it does have a few similarities with Neil Gaiman’s fantastic novel “The Graveyard”, perhaps slightly more adult but that similar dark comedy vein running through both.

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See below for my:

Review of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman