The July Girls ARC Review


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Blurb:
Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.
Addie has a secret. On th emorning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.
Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives.

Book Information:
Publication date: July 25, 2019
Format: Hardback, eBook and Audiobook also available
Price: £18.99
Publisher: Wildfire
Author: Phoebe Locke

My Review

I haven’t read Locke’s first book, The Tall Man, but after reading The July Girls you can bet I’m definitely interested in reading it now.

You all know how much I love a good thriller, and Lock did not disappoint. The premise was promising enough but it was Addie’s narrative voice that really made this book a gem for me. The story is told from her perspective from the age of 10 all the way to following after secondary school, divided into sections for a different time period each. The fact that this is told over a decade was a wise decision on Locke’s part. This is the sort of crime that needs time to mature, too often I read things where serial killers accomplish numbers in such a short time period that I’m left wondering how there’s anyone alive in their towns, but this is different, it’s careful and well thought out.

This, of course, makes it, as I love to say, deliciously creepy to read. Like any solid thriller, it’s not too easy to figure it out, you expect some misdirection but I have to say I was definitely pleased that though I knew I was being misdirected I still hadn’t fully grasped the whodunit part, at least not in its entirety and haha oh, she’s a clever one because I DID not see that twist coming.

It was great, and if you want to know what it was, well, you’ll have to read it, won’t you?

I definitely have to say this will be on my list of favorite thriller reads of 2019 and Addie has been one of the best narrators that I’ve read in a thriller to date.

She’s so honest and consistently stuck between a rock and a hard place that you can’t help but want the best for her while simultaneously reading as tragedy keeps surrounding her story.

Jessie was by far one of the most complex characters of the story. A big sister who loves her little sister more than the world and who has tried to protect her at any cost.

I also loved how their father was portrayed, he wasn’t a good father, but, there were times where Addie still felt love for him, just as many of us have felt with conflicted feelings when it comes to our own parents, no matter the aspect.

There’s such a varied cast of characters and I loved Lock’s vivid and bright writing style. I read this in one Saturday, unable to put it down.

 

About the Author

Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of the full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in Cabridgeshire. The July Girls follows Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller The Tall Man

 

**Thanks so much to Jen Harlow and Wildfire, an imprint of Headline Books for sending me an ARC to review. In return, I have published an honest review of The July Girls**

My Top 5 Mystery Picks

Another Monday! There will be a day of Mini Reviews this week, I finished a couple and didn’t feel like only having review posts so I’m shoving some eARCs together while Stardust will get its own review post. But for now….

TIME TO GET OUR MYSTERY ON

These are in no particular order, I love them all, I’m a mystery lover.

5. Loves Music, Loves to Dance


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This was the first ‘proper’ mystery [and kind of a thriller] that I read, stepping away from the loving childhood mysteries like Hank the Cowdog the crime sleuthing ranch dog. Anyway, this isn’t a literary masterpiece but it was absolutely entertaining and terrifying to read for me. I remember reading this and having to keep the light on afterwards, jumping at the sounds in the night [let me also let you all know that I’m a huge scaredy cat, I was convinced I was going to get brutally murdered because I watched too much Law and Order SVU too much in my teens so don’t use me as a gage on how scary something is]. There’s a serial killer targeting women through the personals in the newspapers, and his signature is always the same, but will our detective be able to solve the crime, or will she be another victim?

4. The Comforters


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So! This was a new author for me! I just read her first novel The Comforters, as all Scottish libraries have received new centenarian editions of her novels like the one pictured. I really want to read more of her, this one was so quirky and I loved it, it was a more modern sounding Agatha Christie though they were really almost contemporaries as their timelines did cross. She also doesn’t seem to make religious jibes which was pretty brave for a female author at the time, so, I ended up having quite a lot of respect for her. If you’re an Agatha Christie fan, you may like her, but they’re definitely two different authors!

3. The Hounds of Baskervilles


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I had to add some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the mix. I loved reading this book in English class in HS, and I’ve seen like ever variation of Sherlock Holmes that exists except for like 2, and that’s not for lack of trying! I really do believe that there is something great about Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, a man who isn’t weighed down by the certain aspects of humanity that usually make for a great protagonist, and instead of making the book ‘worse’ it’s one of the reasons most people love it. I also can’t help but love Dr. Watson, I would say this is also a good first Sherlock Holmes book for those looking to get into it, and I do know that some people can find it a bit wordy. Not difficult, just tedious perhaps.

2. Dead Man’s Blues


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I have recently gushed over this one and if you’re interested in it, I went ahead and linked my review to it. This had it all for me, jazz, Louis Armstrong, murder, historical fiction with a lot of good research about the Mafia in Chicago at the time (as well as just being ON point with the music history as well). The structure of the book even tries to replicate a jazz song. [For those curious, my grad work was all about jazz music in WWI and WWII in the U.K. and Paris, so, super fan girl] This was better than its predecessor The Axeman’s Jazz though I did really enjoy that too, and you don’t need to read it if you want to read this one, the characters are the same but any mention of the first book is explained so you’re not left scratching your head. Not to mention it doesn’t hurt that Ray Celestin is friendly and so helpful with answering questions!

1. Murder on the Orient Express


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Hahaha did you all think I wasn’t going to add her, or did you think it was going to be 5 Agatha Christie books? Oh, there’ll be a top 5 Agatha Christie books but not this post, and I actually wanted to put two but felt it was unfair as the other books on this list are great too. So, I’ve chosen Murder on the Orient Express for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s one of her most iconic books and I do absolutely love it. Secondly, this book is not at all like her others as far as the ending goes and so for those two reasons it beat out Death on the Nile for my pick for this list. She’s our Queen of Mystery and this was part of her Golden Age. I love Hercule Poirot the most out of her different series. Ms. Marple is definitely a badass but, I always enjoy the Poirot novels more. Christie also does some awesome short stories and standalone novels as well and you never have to read the other Poirots to pick up any of them which is great.

So there you all have, my top 5 mystery pics!! As you’re reading this, I’m probably at Captain Marvel, so…

Toodles!

Dead Man’s Blues


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First off! I was scared when I saw this book was longer than the first and I remembered the pacing issue I had with it at times.

Bottom line on pacing? I had nothing to worry about.

I also was a bit timid, wondering if this was going to be very formulaic in the end, and of course, there should be something consistent in mysteries/crime, but I pretty much had nothing to worry about. I would say this work was the perfecting of his first book in this quartet and I CANNOT wait to read the third one now.

I was on the edge of my seat the last 75 pages or so, and I was actually super mad and was going to give a piece of my mind over something that crushed my soul that happened in the book [no spoilers so you’ll have to read and guess what part it was] but he just did right by the readers and everything fell into place and instead of getting mad I was doing some odd jazz hands because I was too tired to let out a fangirl squeal.

Pros:
– Pacing is so much better, that the 475 pages did not feel sluggish or unnecessary
– We get to grow closer to Ida as readers, you really start rooting for her even more as the first novel was more like root for Michael (and Ida).
– Louis Armstrong returns though not as much, BUT, when he does appear it doesn’t feel like he was detracting from the story at all
– Al Capone is in this
– Cute scrappy Doggo
– Celestin has found his groove and this novel is better than Axeman’s Jazz not only in pacing but in the investigative bits, the first novel felt like maybe he was taking too long to set up, this time he hit the ground running and you weren’t waiting around for something to happen.
– The minor characters served a much greater purpose and tied in with the main characters brilliantly

Cons:
– If you don’t like the ‘gimmick’ of having Louis Armstrong or Al Capone in a book, you’ll hate this lol
– There’s less Michael and he seems to fade into the background a little
– It was intense at times
– He takes a few small liberties with history but he does correctly tell you the layout of events at the back of the book, which didn’t bother me, but could bother some (nothing crazily drastic mind you)
– He trips your heart out, stuffs it in a bag with some rocks and throws it over the Hoover Dam

I can’t really find too many faults with this one, I’ve given it five stars on GoodReads and added it to my favorites shelf, I thought he fixed every problem I had with The Axeman’s Jazz and I can’t wait until my library gets the third book of the City Blues Quartet; The Mobster’s Lament, coming out March 21 in the UK, it’s set in New York this time and we’ll be dealing with Castello and having Ida and Michael continue on as the two main protagonists. (The 3rd Skull in the featured image is the one that will be on the cover of The Mobster’s Lament)

My Love Affair with Agatha Christie

[I hope that picture terrifies you as much as it terrifies me]

Everyone has their niches of reading and mystery novels really attend to attract a crowd, and I am so very much a part of that crowd. The first mystery/crime novel I ever read was actually a Mary Higgins Clark book, Loves Music, Loves to Dance but that was only the beginning. Eventually, there was a kindle sale and I found myself buying Five Little Pigs, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

There’s something about getting lost in a novel where you’re kept on your toes and it’s a race to see if you can figure out ‘whodunit’ before it’s revealed by the Author. It’s like a battle of wits in a way, and one I admittedly am not great at, I get too lost in the story in the characters and I half forget what I was supposed to be doing the whole time besides thinking ‘it can’t be them, can it?! And what about the cousin, what will happen to them after this is all over?!’

This is the year I’ve decided to try and tackle as many of her books as possible, they’re the books I read while I waited in the car pick-up line for Mini-me, while I’m waiting in the doctor’s office and when I just don’t feel like tackling whatever large behemoth I checked out when left alone and unsupervised in the library. I’ve even joined a reading group on GoodReads who share the same goal as me.

What I love about Agatha Christie is that she became prolific and simply snubbed her nose at the fact that she was a woman writing, in her time, gritty mystery novels. She didn’t shy away from things that others might have, including the death of a child in her Hallowe’en Party. She was methodical and brilliant and oh sure I love Vanity Fair and I bleed Slytherin silver and green, but she’s always there at the top of my to-read shelf, my gateway drug to branching out and reading more mystery novels and being addicted to so many crime shows I daresay. It is also in thanks to Agatha Christie that I’ve discovered Muriel Sparks and her mystery novels are totally the bee’s knees too.

So, Happy Valentine’s to the best Valentine, Agatha Christie and all her mystery books! In fact, today I just finished reading another one of her books, so boom, screw chocolates, give me murder and whodunit.

Mini Review Day

I’ve finished 3 ARCs/Free Readers this week so I’ve decided it’s just best to do them in one fell swoop.

I’ll just go in the order that I finished them.

  1. Boneseeker: Here Walk the Dead

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    I think it was my overall lack of belief that Holmes would have a daughter that had made me skeptical of this book of Arabella, but if he ever would have been written to have one, no doubt she would have similar emotional issues just like Brynn has written Arabella. Henry is nice, he’s real, and he’s also quick to show his emotions which makes a nice contrast. I was actually SO disappointed that the one thing that seemed plausible for her to feel in regards to being conventional in a role as a wife was suddenly just changed for the love of Henry.She had a really nice writing voice but she was just a bit too all over the place. Really, having Holmes’s daughter and Reich Brides in the same novel is just too much for me. I will be going back to read the first book because if it’s paced more evenly and has a less ludicrous plot, then I will totally enjoy it more. And I did give this three stars because I did enjoy it, it just wasn’t out of the water amazing because of the issues I had with it personally. [SideNote: The author liked my review on GoodReads and all I thought was ‘oh god does she secretly hate me now’ lol] If it wasn’t for her writing style I probably would have given this 2.5.I read this as a free reader copy from Netgalley and was not paid or swayed in any other way on my rating and opinion of this book.
  2.  Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire

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    It took me until 25% to actually get into this book. For those of you who have seen Hot Fuzz, it’s that type of humor and with that type of level of gore at times as well! The problem for me was that I liked it when I had it in my hands but didn’t want to pick it up again when I put it down, until 25% and then I really got into it and just accepted the humor for what it was. At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but either way, in the end, I really enjoyed this! Some nice use of misdirection, some annoying characters that were blessedly meant to be annoying and a whole gang of ridiculous constables that had me chuckling at times. I can’t imagine how Inspector Church didn’t smack them all about. Also, I feel like everything I read lately is the Late 1800s-WWI/WWII era, I don’t know how this happened. If you enjoy a mystery novel that doesn’t mind taking a laugh and not being too serious, I would recommend this. It is the first in the series so no stepping into the middle and being confused for me.I read this as a free reader copy from Netgalley and was not paid or swayed in any other way on my rating and opinion of this book.
  3. Hashtag Authentic

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    If you’re not interested in Instagram or tips about it then I wouldn’t recommend this. If you are, then I would highly recommend this, Sara has a really nice writing voice and I have a sneaking suspicion she’d write a pretty good motivational speaker book. It’s a quick pleasant read and as someone who is trying to interact more with a certain community via Instagram, I found this helpful and even bookmarked a few pages to go back to! I’ve rated this on how useful and enjoyable it was to me, it’s not meant to be a literary masterpiece and she gives you exactly what she says she will as far as content goes. [Kudos to this being a short read!]Again, if you’re NOT interested in building up your Instagram/or doing it via help from an Instagram coach, it will be a horrible read for you. There’s nothing mind-blowing in here, some of it is very obvious and if you already have a style on Instagram, keep it, no need to lose your voice to find it/find a different one if you’re happy lol.

Stalking Jack the Ripper

I did it, I finally grabbed it off my TBR list.

Also, I picked the featured image from the French cover cause let’s face it, it is totally awesome.

So, what did I think?

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Three cups of coffee…or tea, depending on my mood…chocolate has caffeine in it so guess it could be hot chocolate too. WHATEVER TICKLES YOUR FANCY.

Alright, I’m gonna bullet point this shit here, we’ll start off nice.

The Positives:
– Mansicalco gives us people with different sets of issues mental health wise that you normally don’t encounter. [Audrey’s Father, no this isn’t a spoiler, it’s set out from the get-go.]
– Nice descriptions of clothes, I really wanted to go buy some Victorian-era clothing after this and play dress up like it’s the late 1800s.
– Uncle J. Wadsworth is the man.
– Cousin Liza was the gift I didn’t know I needed
– I liked the ending for certain characters that I shall not disclose in case you haven’t read it yet.
– You don’t get many mystery YA so this was nice.
– The lab was cool

The Negatives:
– I disliked Audrey Rose from start to finish. Who describes their own hair as raven colored.
– I’m never a fan of first-person p.o.v. for a Mystery novel.
– Though I loved the descriptions of the clothes if I heard about that riding habit one more damned time I was going to snap like dear ol’ Jack.
– It was so predictable I guessed the whodunnit in the first 2 chapters, which, was a letdown but also it was nice cause I never figure things out guys, I’m not sure how I’ve made it this far in life.
– I didn’t like Thomas
– #TeamBlackburn, fight me
– The last-minute addition of something ‘supernatural’ was not fun, would have been better if she’d kept it out unless it grows in the other books, in which case, genius
– Audrey Rose was ….I’m sorry I already said I didn’t like her but I really didn’t like her. Except when she was focusing on her darker and ‘science-y’ thoughts.
– Thomas wasn’t charming. He was a prick. BUT I like that the author didn’t hide that this was a known fact lol so I guess this point cancels itself out.
– I hated Audrey Rose.

I could give you all lists of reasons why I didn’t like her but I hated and I mean hated how she felt she had to point out she liked pretty things and science and that both were okay only to be like ‘oh but I’m a tomboy and can’t possibly be like other girls though I just went gaga over some pretty fabric, because I have a scientific mind!’  Yea. Okay. You do you boo.

Overall I needed to remember that this was written for YA and it was quick, and, if I hated it that badly I wouldn’t be saying I plan on eventually reading the next one, and I do…eventually!

Solidly 3/5 so despite my complaints, there we have it!

Also if you enjoyed this book and want a more supernatural feel (no Jack the Ripper but still a bit of a mystery!), I recommend the Camille Duology!

Going forward into February

Hey guys!

Okay first, I’ll do a sum up of my January!

Also, I’ll have The Parisians review up tomorrow!

What I read:
(Oh what’s that, you’d like some blurbs, hahahahaha. No. But! If you look on my Reviews page you’ll see most of these on there and I’ve linked Goodreads if you click on the titles)

1. The Prince’s Boy

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Genre: [Gay] Romance (light/fluffy not erotic)/Historical Fiction
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2. The Light Blue Book: 500 Years of Gaelic Love and Transgressive Verse


Genre: Poetry
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(I rate poetry on a different scale)

 

3. This Side of Paradise


Genre: Classics
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4. The Crystal Cave


Genre: Fantasy
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5. Lord Edgware Dies


Genre: Murder Mystery
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6. Danger on the Downs (eARC)


Genre: Murder Mystery
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7. The Axeman’s Jazz


Genre: Murder Mystery/Thriller (I am sensing a pattern here)
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8. The Memory of Lost Dreams (e’ARC’)


Genre: Sci-fi
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9. The Alienist


Genre: Murder Mystery/Thriller
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10. The Parisians (eARC)


Genre: Historical Fiction/Espionage
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Also Read:
1. Bedknob and Broomstick (Mini Me’s read aloud pick)


Genre: Children’s Classic
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2. Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor Vol. 5 The Twist (Comic)


Genre: Comic-Dr.Who
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Total Tally: 12

**What have I got for February?**

Currently Reading:

1. Stalking Jack the Ripper

 

2. Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire (e’ARC’)

Looking A little Ahead:

1. Eden Chip (e’ARC’) (”< Means it’s just really a free reading copy but is listed as an ARC)


Genre: Sci-fi

 

2. The Book of Dust


Genre: Fantasy

 

3.  Dead Man’s blues


Genre: Murder Mystery/Thriller

 

4. The Hound of Death


Genre: Murder Mystery

I also have Becoming Michelle Obama, Ready Player One, Metro 2034 (may be pushed back to March) and so many others to hopefully get through in February!

What are you all planning on reading? What was your January total??