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 !)

‘Hands Up’ by Stephen Clark

Hands Up’ by Stephen Clark is a crime/police procedural novel that deals with domestic storylines. It is a book that focuses on the death of a young, unarmed black male who was killed by a white police officer. When I was sent this book by the author to read and share my opinion I was very happy as this sounded like the very type of book I would like to read. All of these opinions are my own!
This is a serious topic that many people can feel effected by. This book is emotive, powerful and gripping. From the moment I was sent it I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know more and find out the conclusions to the storylines.
I found the writing itself engaging as it used language that matched the story and it was not filled with complex words. Occasionally authors will use big complex words to seem more professor but it effects the impact of Thier sorry if you have to read the same thing multiple times to be able to understand it. I did not have that issue with this book and I was able to engage and be fully present with the story.

I liked the fact it dealt with a thought provoking issue and didn’t shy away from the realities. It is not only about unlawful brutality by police but faces issues such as racial divide, police corruption, self harm, drug use and gang culture. Due to this the book can be intense but that isn’t a negative, these are serious topics that need to have a platform and if that is in a fictional book then so be it. I felt it was authentic and could be a real event.
It sharesa story, although fictional, that is similar to those we have all heard of on the news. It was structured in a way that we heard from three main viewpoints throughout the event, the aftermath and the conclusion. We hear from Jade (the sister of the young male (Tyrell) killed), Ryan (the cop who killed him) and Kelly (the parent of Tyrell and jade who has come back after leaving his family years ago).
I liked this as you saw the views from very different views which helped to build reasoning to your own thoughts as you read. It was also nice to hear from Ryan’s pint of view and not just the victim family as it shows that he didn’t just kill. There was a reason and influence by others and we also get the chance to see how he is coping with the events and that it didn’t just happen and that’s that.

The main characters whose viewpoints we hear are strong characters. They all provide different aspects of the event and I really like the way in which Clark has written this book. I think the characters are well developed and realistic. Jade I liked. She was a sister hurt by her brothers death and I felt that anger and upset through Clarks words. Although not necessarily to me I feel that she could be relatable to a large amount of people. She dealt with huge loss. I feel like saying that Ryan is likeable is wrong as he is the culprit in this book, but I did think he was. He was a man that, yes commited a horrible crime that cannot be condoned, was influenced by his corrupt partner and from the outset knew and took responsibilities for his accent. Kelly is a character is did not particularly like. I however do not think this is a bad thing. You need to have character you don’t connect with to add the tension to the book. He had previously left his family after being involved in gangs and when he comes back he claimed he had changed but had he really?. The other characters in the book are all vital parts who we get to meet through these three and although their views are not used as a voice for the story they are just as important to convey the realistic and thought provoking aspect of the book.

One thing I would say is that I’m not sure how I felt about the way thing went in part two between certain characters (you will know once you read it). I mean it’s not a negative thing and maybe it’s just because I wasn’t expecting it but still I felt it lessened the impact of the story just a little. There are other benefits to it however with it bringing the two ”sides” together but I still not 100% how I felt. I’m not sure if it was a real connection or if it was all part of a scheme and that could be completely what the author intended for the reader to feel. So they can make thier own mind up.

Overall ,I would rate this book highly and would recommend that you read this! Even if you don’t like police procedural books this is one that isn’t solely about that. I don’t think you can easily categorise this and there is almost something for everyone!
Again thanks again to Stephen Clark for sending me the book for this honest review. Again everything in this review is my honest opinion.

Codename Villanelle

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

The first installment of Luke Jennings Killing Eve series introduces us to one of the world’s most skilled assassin’s, Villanelle. Villanelle is a codename for the assassin who lives a luxurious life thanks to her special skills murdering the worlds richest and most powerful. Eve Polastri is a former MI6 operative who is hired to track and find the assassin responsible for the murder of an influential Russian politition. Eve lives a quiet and fairly unextraordinary life accepts the job and her life changes forever as a game of cat and mouse plays out between Villanelle and Eve.

This book is the basis of the hit TV series of the same name; Killing Eve. If I’m being honest I feel as though the TV series was actually better than the book and this surprised me. Don’t get me wrong I liked the book but it didn’t seem to provide the same sort of tension or excitement as the TV series and I usually find it the opposite.

I didn’t feel as though I was on the edge of my seat the same as other novels I have read and maybe it was because I have already seen the TV show (definitely did it in the wrong order) I felt as though I had no input on the characters.

I like the characters of the book and feel they are really interesting however I do feel they have some flaws. Villanelle is described as someone who cares for no-one and only mimics feelings yet she has a companian throughout.

The end of the book I found frustrating and that’s only because I don’t particularly like big cliffhangers which this book definitely has. That is completely a personal opinion and some people really like the tension of a cliffhanger but I just get annoyed.

Overall, I think that the book was good but I did prefer the TV series.

Many thanks, Caitlin X

The Book of Hidden Things

The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri is his debute English novel.

It is a fantasy novel which follows 4 childhood friends as they discover more and more about the town they lived in and themselves. They have a pact where every year they meet at a restaurant in their childhood town and when Art (one of the friends) doesn’t turn up events start to mirror those of 20 years ago. He is the one member who insisted on this pact and when he doesn’t show it is worrying. The 3 friends stay in town and investigate his disappearance.

I really enjoyed this book and I loved the mystery to it. As I read I continued to wonder what was going to happen next which I think is great in a book. Although this is a fantasy book it isn’t really heavy on fantasy element. Towards the end there is more of those elements however there is more of a focus on the characters.

I thought the characters were realistic and well written but at times they are not all likeable. Which I don’t think is a bad thing. In life there are people that you like and those not so much and therefore having this in the book almost makes it more realistic. It looks at the relationship between the character in depth which is something I really enjoyed. They are not perfect and they all have flaws and do things we really hate about them. I also like this about the characters as it adds dimension to the book.

I really like this book and would recommend it to those who not only like fantasy novels but also phycological thriller and mysteries.

Many thanks, Caitlin X
(Ps please comment if you have read this book or are going to)

Libraries

Libraries are places where I generally don’t go to but there isn’t really a specific reason as to why not. I think libraries are a great opportunity to let people read without paying the prices for individual books.

Wills Memorial Library

I remember being in primary school and taking a class trip to the local library. I was always to excited to choose a book and look at all the options. Even if someone in my class didn’t like to read they generally liked to go through the books and choose one. Whether that be a comic style book or a novel style book. I think at that age libraries are great as not only do the kids get out of class they also choose a book that they want to read and can start to see a style that suits them.

I think libraries should be used more often and I am someone who should use one more as well. I admit I should use them more! Not only is there a variety of books there is also staff there to help you. If you’re looking for a specific book and you can help it or you just want some advice on books there is someone there to help you and answer your questions. If you’re not sure how the library organised then just ask and the staff can explain everything you need to know.

However, they are not always up to date with new releases so if you’re looking for a newly published book then this might not be your best option. It also depends the size of the library whether they have as many books on offer. There is also the issue of the book your wanting already having been taken out by someone else.

I would say that overall libraries are a great service and should be used more to allow more people to enjoy reading. It provides books alongside a quiet place to enjoy them. So I hope that more people use them and I will be!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment your opinion on libraries or any alternatives)

The Lincoln Rhyme Series

Recently on twitter @LoveBooksGroup ran a competition to win two books from the Lincoln Rhyme Series and one from the Katheryn Dance Series by Jeffery Deaver, alongside different teas and a cute notebook, and I was lucky enough to win. (Many thanks to @LoveBooksGroup).

I had never heard of this author or this series before seeing this competition and once I had read a little about them I was very interested.

Jeffery Deaver is a former journalist and attorney who is an international best seller and has released over 35 novels. He mainly writes mystery/crime novels but he has also released a non-fiction book that looks at law.

The Lincoln Rhyme series is focused on the central character of Lincoln Rhyme who is a former NYPD homicide detective who is now a forensic consultant with the department. This change of role was due to an accident which resulted in Rhyme becoming a quadriplegic. He is partnered with Amelia Sachs who acts as his eyes as she walks through the crime scene.

Personally, I really liked the concept of these books as I love crime novels but having the main character as a quadriplegic is not only a great way to show disability is not something to shy away from when writing and having the main character quadriplegic hightens this but also it lets you see the stories and crime scenes from a different view as he uses his partner as his eyes.

I have not yet read them but I can’t wait! The two books from this series are; The Burning Wire and The Skin Collector.

The third book I was lucky enough to win was Roadside Crosses which is an installment in Deavers Kathryn Dance series. Kathryn Dance is a Special Agent in the Central Bureau of Investigation of the state of California. This character was originally introduced in one of the Lincoln Rhyme novels before Deaver went and dedicated a new series to her. Kathryn Dance is an expert in Kensics and interrogation and is originally assigned to interogate Daniel Pell, a convicted murderer.

As you can imagine this is also a series that I am interested in reading as I also love any book that has a spy aspect to it, and although she isn’t a spy she is a special agent so close enough!

I also was sent 4 different types of tea from ‘eteaket’ and a cute notebook.

Again thanks to LoveBooksGroup and I recommend you follow them on twitter!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(ps please comment if you have read any of the books from these series’ or by the author Jeffery Deaver.)

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

‘Imaginary Friend’ is a book written by Stephen Chbosky which is due to be released in October. This is a release I am scored about as Chbosky first novel ‘Perks of being a Wallflower’ was a great read that I loved.

‘Perks of being a wallflower’ was then made into a film which Chbosky wrote and directed himself. Since then he has written screenplays such as The live action Beauty and the Beast.

‘Imaginary Friends’ is his second novel and follows Kate Reese. Kate is a single mother who flees an abusive relationship by moving to a new town and starting over with her son. But Mill Grove, Pennsylvania is not the place they thought it would be… after her son disappears into the woods their life begins to unravel. This disappearance is strangely familiar with a similar occurrence happening 50 years prior. When he returns 6 days later it is a relief to find him unharmed but he isn’t the same as he was before. He doesn’t come back alone and is accompanied with a voice only he can hear.

This book is thrilling and eery with a masterpiece of imagination and emotion.

I was lucky enough to be sent a link to where I could read the first couple of chapters and so far I am liking it and can’t wait till October. As with every post I will say that reading is entirely a personal choice and which books you like could be completely different to other so although I am recommending it if you don’t like it that’s fine too,

If you would like to get an extract from this book follow this link!

http://netgal.ly/CIsH6X

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you read the extract and your opinion so far!)

Perfect Crime

‘Perfect Crime’ by Helen Fields is the 5th instalment in the DI Callanach Series. It focuses on Luc as he continues his life as a detective in Scotland whilst being haunted by his past.

I love this series anyway as it is well written with great characters in my favourite genre and this instalment was no different. I enjoyed seeing the comradery between the officers at MIT and how these relationships have evolved throughout the series.

The characters are realistic and are not represented as perfect and the best police officer. They have their fair share of problems and we get to see them cope with this. I really like Callanach and Turner but in this book I felt myself becoming frustrated with their relationship. They want to be more than friends but it doesn’t quite happen. Maybe this was the writers intention and if so it worked but I just wanted something to happen between them! I like to see other characters like Tripp and lively make an appearance where we get to see them evolve as they spend more time in MIT.

You get to see MIT investigate a series of suspicious ‘suicides’ and as more and more deaths occur we see them work through the all the outcomes. I like to read these parts of the book as much as the personal stories of the characters as I find it provides a balance between the excitement and the sincere.

It is well structured and well written and engaging. I read this book pretty quickly as I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to continue to read more and more to see what happens next.

I would highly recommend this book and the series as you will get the chance to see the characters evolve and develop. ( although I would say that you don’t have to)There is also another instalment due to be released in 2020 and I also can’t wait to read that!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have ever read these books or have any other recommendations. )

Song of the Dead, Douglas Lindsay

Song of the Dead by Douglas Lindsay is a crime fiction novel that is the first installment of the DI Westphall series. It follows DI Westphall as he investigates a strange case. What happens when a man who died 12 years ago walks into a police station in Estonia? As the case unravels DI Westphall begins to realize the amount of secrets that led to this mysterious case.

The book is set in the Scottish Highlands and features scenes in various places around Scotland and in Estonia. I enjoy reading books that are set in Scotland as I often feel I can relate to them more being Scottish myself.

The idea of someone who was declared dead 12 years prior walks into an Estonian police station with only half his organs seems unbelievable but Douglas Lindsay writes it in such a way that it is completely plausible. The book is structured well with fairly short chapters which I prefer to huge long sections!

I enjoyed this book and I would like to read the next one. I felt the characters were likable and the main Character being realistic. DI Westphall seems to live in the land of the living and the dead but this seems normal for him. He used to work for the Secret Service but due to a fear of flying he decided to leave and work as a DI in Scotland. I ofund this fear to be a good part of the character as often in crime novels the policeman is portrayed to be this intelligent, brave man that is scared of nothing. This help to make him seem more human and real.

The book makes you think about possible connections and outcomes of the case alongside DI Westphall and I believe that this therefore engages you in the book. You want to read on and find out exactly what happened all those years ago. I found the book quite atmospheric even although it is a crime fiction novel.

There is a good balance between the investigation and the characters which I really enjoyed as I could learn more about the case whilst becoming invested in the characters themselves.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book especially if you enjoy reading crime fiction. It is gripping and immersive and keeps you reading till you have finished the book. I am definatly putting the secong installment on my ‘To Be Read’ list!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment if you have ever read this book or have any other crime fiction recommendations)