SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke gets in your eyes: and other stories from the crematorium by Caitlin Doughty is a non-fiction work which looks at life working at a crematorium.

It is almost like a collection of non-fiction short stories surrounding Doughty work within the crematorium, all of which were interesting and curious. I have never really thought about what happened at a place like that and who would want to work there but this provides a great insight. It makes you think about the events of a funeral/cremation and how they have evolved and changed over time and between cultures.

Although this book has a lot to do with death it doesn’t really fell a heavy book to read and is an interesting read, this is likely due to Doughty humour throughout as well as her engaging writing style. It is full of facts about what happens in a crematorium and what has changed (and what Doughty feels should change) as well as practices in some other cultures surrounding the dead.

It is the mix between the facts and Doughty personal experience as a crematorium worker which was made this a great book, in my opinion. It made it feel more understandable and intriguing. I liked the fact the book was split up into different chapters or stories as it felt easier to read and more engaging.

This book is entertaining, morbid and factual allowing you to learn about something new while you read! I would recommend!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

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A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci

A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci is the second book that features FBI agent Atlee Pine. This novel follows Agent Pine as she tried to find out what happened one fateful night when she was 6 years old and her twin sister Mercy was taken and Pine herself was left for dead. When she oversteps her mark on an arrest she is given a leave of absence which she uses as a perfect opportunity to try to figure out what actually happened all those years ago.

A Minute to Midnight

I picked this book up when I was browsing one day and it caught my eye immediately, I love investigative books and this one seemed to be one that I would like. Upon reading my initial thoughts were correct.

I feel that as soon as I began reading I was gripped on the story and wanted to find out what happened to Pine and her sister. In the beginning of the book we find out Pine is visiting a criminal in a Colorado maximum security prison who she beleives knows something about what happens and he plays mind games with her which proves to be frustrating to Pine. I thought this was an interesting way to begin. As Pine already believes she has found someone who knows something the book takes off from there and with Pine being given leave of absence brings an opportunity for us to follow her journey to the truth.

As she delves back into her past her memory of that night are hazy but she meets up with people who knew her parents and family or lived in the area at the time. She uncovers shocking surprises and secrets which makes her question her parents and her own past. What did she really know about her family?

As all of this goes on a string of murders begin to occur in her hometown which as an FBI agent she helps out with. It makes you as the reader think about whether the current crimes were connected to those of the past.

Atlee Pine is a strong female FBI Agent who I found was a character I wanted to stay with and was likeable. You want to help her find the truth and seeing the main lead of the book as a female FBI agent was great! as Pine reflects on her memories of the event that lead to her sister being taken you want to help her to find the truth. The book shows how she has never really gotten over what happened that night and not knowing what happened to her twin sister was affecting her. This book allows insight into why Pine is the agent she is today!

I found this book an easy read in the sense that the book made me want to turn the pages. I wanted to find out what happened on the next page and chapter! It was a thriller full of great twists and turns which proved to be a compulsive read. The first in the Atlee Pine books, Long Road to Mercy, is for sure on my to read list after reading this! (although I would say I didn’t find I was missing anything huge without reading in the correct order but I would recommend doing so!)

I found Baldacci writing to be engaging and easy to comprehend. With a book about discovering something that happened in the past it can sometimes become a confusing read with different timelines and tenses but this book never had that problem! I like that the chapters were not too big and allowed me to see progress clearly.

I would recommend this book for sure, especially to those who like a book with twists, turns, investigations and crime!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

Lincoln Rhyme Series by Jeffrey Deaver

The Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffrey Deaver conisists of 16 novels, which were the basis for a TV series that was realeased in January 2020.

Lincoln Rhyme #9 and #11

I am not going to lie and say I have read all 16 (but I will one day be able to say that). I have read two of the series that I was fortunate to have won in a competition. The two I have read, The Burning Wire and The Skin Collector, I loved and has made me add the other 14 books to my TBR list. (the list just got a whole lot longer:))

Lincoln Rhyme is a former NYPD homicide detective, forensic anaylist and crimanalist who after being injured during an investigation becomes a quadriplegic. He is now a forensic consultant who works from a state of the art lab in his own home. He works alongside Amelia Sachs who acts as his eyes as she walks through crime scenes and helps to solve the crimes they are faced with.

The Burning Wire was the fist one I read which also happened to be the 9th in the series. For this reason I was skeptical about how much I would understand or engage with the characters having missed out on the previous 8 books. I would say the main story of the killers whose weapon was electricity was one I found unique and made me want to read on but there was a sub-plot based around the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to get away from Lincoln Rhyme which I felt a bit of background knowledge could have been useful. Saying that, I still enjoyed the book a lot and it didn’t really affect my reading enjoyment.

I found this book a page turner which is the best kind of book in my opinion. In this novel there is a killer whose unique weapon is electricity. I found this quite a different weapon of choice compared to others in different books which I liked and it felt new to me. Reading how something most of us take for granted can be turned into a weapon and seeing how Rhyme and his team tackled finding this killer was really engaging.

I have to admit I am not sure how much I loved the little bits of input about the watchmaker story line. I get that it is more of a bigger picture moment but I felt it kind of stunted the flow of the book. This could have just been due to the fact I hadn’t read previous books but I felt it took away a bit from the investigation ongoing.

I liked how we got to read this book from different points of view, I personally find this more engaging as we see differences within the characters and there perception of what is happening around them.

I was a fan on the character of Lincoln Rhyme and how even though he was a quadriplegic he is still one of the best in his field of work. How he utilises help from people and equipment was fascinating to read. I felt that this book showed some vulnerability in Lincoln which was nice to see that he wasn’t just a crime solving machine.

The second book was The Skin Collector, this is the 11th installment in the series.

This installment I also found to be a real page turner and I loved getting to read about Rhyme taking on another criminal. In this book the weapon of choice was poison, which was administered via an unvoluntary tattoo by the criminal. I also found this quite a unique way to poison someone and I hadn’t really read of that before which was intriguing. The killer leaves messages with these tattoos and we are able to read as Rhyme and his team try to find the killer and what these messages mean.

I was a fan of this book as well, and I think it gave more of an insight into Rhyme as a Character and more about how he works with his team to find out who is responsible for these crimes. This installment has links back to The Bone Collector which was the very first book in the series which I liked, even though I haven’t read the first one. I liked how even though it was the 11th in a series it is still connected to the book 10 books prior.

I felt this book gave more of an insight into Amelia Sachs as we see her connection with 19 year old Pam whom Sachs has taken under her wing. This relationship does make referals to previous books however I didn’t feel as though I couldn’t understand the relationship and I still enjoyed it!

There is also a TV series, Lincoln Rhyme Hunt for the Bone Collector, which was released in January 2020 which I haven’t watched yet but I do intend to! Comment below if you have seen it !

I feel that book books were skillfully told, with twist and turns to keep your pages turning with them. I would recommend to read these, especially to those who enjoy mystery, thriller crime books!

Many Thanks, Caitlin x

(PS feel free to leave a comment or like !)

This Splintered Silence – Mini Review

This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson is a YA Science Fiction novel set on the Lusca Space Station. Ever since every first generation crew member was killed by a deadly virus Lindley Hamilton has had to step up and become commander like her mother. Lindley and her 5 fellow friends step up to become the people in charge and we follow Lindley’s journey as she faces challenge after challenge. After members of the surviving population start to die she must figure out why and how to stop more deaths.

I really enjoyed this book and I was quite surprised that I did. I am not usually a fan of science fiction books or books set in the future however this book had mystery and suspense throughout. As we read we find out what exactly is happening on the space station alongside Lindley and are given no extra information which allows the reader to find out what has actually happened right at the end of the book at the same time as the characters. The story line is engaging and well thought out with challenges such as lack of water that is generally only something that relates to being in space.

Lindley Hamilton is a strong female lead in this novel and we see how she changes after every new challenge appears. She is vulnerable like everyone else and we do get to see that side of her as she copes with becoming commander so young and with little inexperience. Her mother greatly influences her time as commander and we can see how she puts this into practice. Although all the first gen crew members and the survivors parents are no longer there we can see how they are helping the characters every day. She has been thrown into a very intense role and we get the chance to see inside her head and understand exactly what she is feeling and thinking.

I really liked the characterisation in this book. They are realistic and genuine. They are not all portrayed as completly capable and knowledgable and we can see the strain the deaths have put on them. As new deaths appear and challenges including low food and water supplies we see how the relationships between the characters change. This novel is strongly character based which I enjoyed as you got to see them grow. The novel often focuses more on the characters reactions (mainly Lindley as it is written from her POV) that the actual events themselves which is an intriguing read.

The structure of this novel is something I really enjoyed as well. It is written in short chapters which often makes me read more in a sitting. If I am reading and decide to stop I often say to myself ‘the next chapters only a couple pages long, I will read that and then stop’. I rarely say that once as well. It think this obviously says something about the story as I don’t want to put the book down however shows how the writer can use the structure to this advantage.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to readers of YA, Science Fiction or Mystery novels as it contains elements of all. I would also recommend this book to readers who like a strong character based book like myself. I really enjoyed this book and the style of writing and I would love to read more from this novel in the future!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have every read this book or have any Science Fiction recommendations)