Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Book Review: A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy!

For the past two weeks, I've been poorly as all heck. Much like a character in the book, I've been "surrounded by piles of crumpled white tissues, littering the room as though it were a graveyard for doves". Just add a selection of lukewarm cups of tea and ice lolly wrappers, and that's been my life. I set this scene to tell you that A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy* has been wonderful company.




The only way is murder...

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he's lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what's real - and what's just for the cameras.


I've read my fair share of reality TV books written by various cast members of Jersey Shore, so I was immediately intrigued when I read the blurb for Elizabeth Mundy's third Lena Szarka cosy crime novel. Although Made in Chelsea has never been my reality TV show of choice, I recognised enough to enjoy the commentary on these slightly tragic public figures. And I actually enjoyed this murder storyline more than the art thievery of the last book (review here), although I'm not really sure what that says about me...

While I did think I knew who the murderer was, with only a few wobbles in my certainty, boy was I wrong! A Messy Affair is another example of Mundy's fantastic plotting. Everything connects. Whatever is introduced to the story, no matter how seemingly random, is brought back in later. Red herrings are my least favourite part of any crime story and Mundy makes sure that everything has a place in the overall story. Twists and turns galore!

My favourite thing about series is that you get to really know the characters. I really liked Lena and Sarika's personalities when I read the last book and they continued to be wonderful as I got to know them more. While they grow and are changed by the events that have happened in previous books, they also stay the same at the core. No unrealistic personality shifts here. And fingers crossed for more Mrs Kingston in the next book, I love the retired investigative journalist!

Everything I enjoyed in the last book; the writing, the diversity, the cleaning inspiration, it was all here again. I would've liked a little more of discussion in regards to the sex work storyline, but this is a light-hearted read, maybe not the place for deep-diving into the way immigrants are treated in the sex industry.

You can find A Messy Affair here! Or if you want to go back to the start; the first book, In Strangers' Houses is here and the second, A Clean Canvas is here!

"Cleaning is the best time to solve crimes, It frees up your mind to new possibilities."

Do you watch reality TV? Would you read a book about it (plus murder)?

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Books I Read in 2019!

2019 was the year of the reading/ blogging slump for me. My average rating was 3.1 stars! So rather than going into 2020 with a year of reading wrap-ups weighing me down, (except February and March which is here), I'm just going to let it go. You can see everything I read on this Twitter thread and I'll be doing some reviews in the next couple months but lets just wrap-up with some stats!



In 2019 I read 50 books, and according to Goodreads, that figured out at 15,017 pages. The longest being Bleak House by Charles Dickens at 1036 pages, and one star! That was required reading

I only rated 4 books as 
I rated 7 books as 
I rated 13 books as 
I rated 9 books as 
And only 1 book as 



I normally do a top three of the year but since I only rated 4 books as five stars? They're my top four! Sanctuary by V.V. James (review here), Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff (review here), Regeneration by Pat Barker and Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton!

What were your favourite reads of 2019?

Friday, 22 November 2019

Books I Read in February & March!

I didn't finish a single book in January, which is actually the first month in five years that I haven't. 2019 in general has been a slow year for reading and blogging, but I finished seven books in February in March and some of them were pretty good! And some of them weren't for me, so lets talk about that!



Date With Death by Julia Chapman
This was one of the few books I bought last year but I actually ended up listening to the audiobook from the library for this one! It had all the makings of a good cosy crime; a small town, a few brutal murders, a tall, dark and mysterious gentleman and a main character with an interesting job (a dating agency!) but in the end, this wasn't for me. I just can’t quite put my finger on it, but I didn't click with the main character and that's a really important part of cosy crime for me.

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout*
This was a good YA thriller, which is not a genre that seems to excel when aimed at that age. However, the only take away I had from it was that there were a lot of opinions on therapy and mental health that didn't feel good. In fact, there are at least six terrible takes that I noted on how embarrassed and angry the main character is when her family thinks she needs help (after she gets amnesia and her friend goes missing). I was truly surprised when I found out that this was only published five years ago because it all seemed very early-2000s. It was a shame because the actually thriller aspect was well thought out and pretty clever.


Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson 
This is required reading for my university module and while I didn't enjoy it, I can see why we're studying it. It's a strange mix of life-writing and fiction, and I did find the perspective of being a gay woman with a very religious upbringing quite interesting.


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare co-wrote my favourite middle-grade books; the Magisterium series, so I was pretty willing to give her original solo series a try. I did and this was quite a fun romp into the 2000s, and it is very 2000s, complete with shaming a girl for wearing a thong. I think if I read it as a teen, I probably would've loved it, but I'm 25 now and without nostalgia, this was just alright. I thought it would appeal to me more since I love urban fantasy but hey, not everything is for everyone.
I was initially interested in continuing the series, especially because they do apparently get better, but I think I'm going to wrap it up and unhaul the three books I have. I'd rather continue series that I really want to read.
"If there was such a thing as terminal literalism, you'd have died in childhood."


Regeneration by Pat Barker
I'm going to have to do a full blog post on this one as it is a truly incredible book. A fictionalised account of real people in WWI dealing with shell-shock. I wanted to pick this up and read it again the second I finished, and I still want to re-read months later!


Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
I found this while trawling Amazon for more books like Autoboyography by Christina Lauren because I needed more M/M romance in my life. This appealed and luckily I didn't have any kind of book buying ban on myself this year because I don't think I'd have got out of my slump without it!
It's a very cute, 200-page fluff-fest. I just wish there was more depth to it. I think the main issue for me, apart from how short it is, was that the narrative is split between four characters and chapters were often split between two or three of them. It was a lot of flipping from one point of view to another.
On the other hand, there is an openly bisexual character, with mentions of pansexuality and how sexuality can be a spectrum, which I really appreciated in a book aimed at younger teens. And it was dang cute.
"-If your life were a teen comedy, tonight would be your night. It would be the climax of your young life."


Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
This is a book that has been on my radar for a couple years, I even mentioned it in a blog post way back in 2015! In the end though, I'm glad I didn't buy it and just borrowed it from my library because it just didn't end up being what I expected. Despite the name being a pun, the funeral home aspect barely played into the narrative. It was an interesting read but I'm not going to search it out again.



Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Monday, 28 October 2019

My Hallowreadathon TBR!

The nights darken, the sweets are ready for the trick-or-treaters and the sixth Hallowreadathon approaches. So I've piled up truly too many books that fit the challenges so I have lots to choose from! Hopefully if you're taking part, this might give you a few last minute ideas. Don't forget to follow the official Twitter and use the #Hallowreadathon to be in with a chance of winning a spooky care package!



1. Read a book with witches!
This challenge was inspired by the amount of amazing witch books on my TBR and I absolutely wanted an excuse to buy some off my wishlist. I've covered my bases with adult fantasy books; Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanA Secret History of Witches by Louisa MorganThe Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag and The Witches Daughter by Paula Brackston. A couple young adult; Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan (I met her at the Edinburgh Lit Festival and really loved her talk about the book) and Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. And even a historical reimagining with Her Kind by Niamh Boyce*.

Honourable mentions of books about witches that I've read and enjoyed: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff (my review here), Sanctuary by V.V. James(my review here) and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett.




2. Read a book with black on the cover!
When I picked this challenge I didn't realise that pretty much every book has black on the cover! So I scanned my shelves for books that were almost all black on the cover. These are the ones that stick out and gave me a halloween vibe! Again I've got some young adult books; The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout* and Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. As well as some adult: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli*, Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso, Murder by the Minister by Helen Cox* and The Craftsman by Sharon J. Bolton*. All suitably spooky in my opinion!



3. Read two books!
I always add some shorter books to my TBR for readathons because I'm not a particularly quick reader and two book in two days, especially weekdays, is a lot! I apparently read a lot of witch books as a kid and I'm very tempted to re-read some of my old favourites! So I have a separate pile of these like; Witch Child by Celia Rees, Gobbolino the Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams and Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson.


What will you be reading this Halloween?

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