My Rating: 5 Stars
A great story-line, a fresh and original idea: a great novel. Have you ever thought about the day of your death? Have you considered the consequences, how that little piece of information could influence the rest of your life?
In the year of 1969, four siblings are told by a fortune-teller the exact date of their demise. In time, the brothers Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya follow their own lives, considering their choices, their actions and choosing the opposite in desperate attempt to avoid fate. But can you really or everything is already laid down for you?
This debut novel is everything I could want in a novel. It's original, attention-grabbing and it makes the reader question what exactly is fate and if it exists or not.
The plot is brilliant; it's well-developed and beautifully told. The novel is divided into sections: the lives of Simon and Klara; and those of Varya and Daniel, which leaves enough space to get to know them individually throughout the novel. It does make you think and question if we truly have a hand in our fate if we know when we're going to die what and how we would live our lives. One of the first lessons of this novel for me: some things aren't meant to be known.
The style of writing is melodically beautiful; Benjamin is a great storyteller. For me, it's a very important factor to grab my attention right from the beginning of a book and Benjamin makes it seem effortless. The details of the characters and their lives are revealed slowly, in a very subtle, involving way.
The characters are complex and have a great depth to them. The sections of the novel were well thought and the reader gets to see the two sides of the coin: the siblings that moved away and take the foreknowledge seriously and the other two that stay with their family and take a more grounded approach to life, trying not to give the foreknowledge a lot of thought. Even though there are four siblings, I really enjoyed reading about the connection between Simon and Klara. They leave together to San Francisco which shows their great connection and their closeness.
As characters, they are all different and all aspire for different paths: Simon dreams of living in a big city where he has the freedom to be himself without the pressure of his parents, and Klara the quiet and obsessed with magic dreams of showing her talents to a big public no matter the cost. Varya and Daniel have a more grounded approach and both take careers dedicated to helping others and researching longevity. As they didn’t have the chance to “escape”, they are envious of the freedom that their siblings have. But in the end, everything comes together perfectly and family wins.
The author did a brilliant job in representing the family and how the foreknowledge influences their choices. Even though at times there are reckless and act without thinking, they are making choices and take chances that they might never have taken without that knowledge. The way they rationalise and the way they consider their options made me consider how would I react or even do in a similar situation if I knew the date of my death.
I recommend this book to all the lovers of fiction that enjoy a new concept, a fresh narrator and a brilliant story.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Penguin Group Putnam and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
I absolutely love and admire Miss Phyrne Fisher. A woman wise beyond her years with modern vision and temperament; what is there not to love?
The story starts as a murder mystery always starts: a death. A sweet, innocent fairy-story writer/illustrator is found dead. This time, Miss Fisher will jump into the world of magazine publishing and investigate deeply to find the truth. As the staff isn’t at all helpful, she works together with the police to see the matter solved and justice done. However, she is also involved in a second case, of a more personal nature. Her lover Lin Chung travelled to China a few weeks before and no one has heard from him since. In a family ruled by secrets and dark intents, will Miss Fisher be able to rescue her lover before it’s too late?
This was a deep and complex novel, just how I like them. There are two different plots in the story: the writer’s murder and the disappearance of Phyrne’s lover in China. The author did a great job in developing these two different cases in one story without them getting mixed up together or leaving loose endings. The first plot is steady-paced, very “according to the law” procedure (suspect interviews, taking evidence, analyzing patterns); but the second plot is where the juicy things happen. The tempo is a lot quicker, full of suspense and action. In addition, since it’s a more personal case, Miss Fisher works alone which makes things a lot more interesting.
The characters are memorable. I really enjoy Miss Phyrne Fisher as the main character, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the determination of iron, she will do everything to protect the people she loves and lives by her own rules. She is a strong woman with a matching temper, not afraid to make her opinions known, to call out injustice and of breaking the rules every now and then. She is the opposite of what a woman should be back in 1928. Dot is a great companion and a lovely character too. Lin Chung is, as I imagine him, very handsome and sweet but at the same time, he hides a few secrets of his own. He’s daring and interesting which is why I enjoyed the chemistry between Phyrne and him so much.
A great read that I recommend to fans of strong female protagonists and of a great murder mystery!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great read! A mix between different genres that blend perfectly together and with a style of writing that got me hooked from the beginning.
Arriving in a new school, Annie feels out of place. When she meets Elsie, she is forced to become her best friend. Her new friend soon begins to reveal that her character isn’t at all pleasant: she is controlling, spiteful and demanding, but at the same time, she is violently bullied. When Annie ends her relationship with Elsie and joins the opposition, things take a turn for the worse: Elsie dies of influenza… and she comes back to haunt Annie. How do you release a vengeful ghost when its anger is aimed at you?
This suspenseful novel is a page-turner with brilliant descriptions and amazing characters.
The setting was very well picked; the reader is taken back to 1918 during the World War I where political tension runs high, the talk of war is current and the Germans are considered the enemy. The descriptions allow the reader to live the story instead of just reading it. The storyline is solid and its depth reveals a few brutal events and behaviours that took place during that time. There is a mix of genres that is perfectly balanced and they all come together to create a historical ghost story.
The novel is fast-paced; I couldn’t find a moment it slowed down even for a moment, one of the reasons the book was so hard to put down.
The characters are the best element in the novel for me. They are very well developed and defined not only in behaviour but also in dialogue and their actions. I must admit I found it impressing that the author managed to do this with so many characters and not once lose track or diminish their presence in the story. Elsie is a character that I couldn’t help but sympathise with. In my opinion, her actions and behaviour come from her lack of attention and acceptance and her loneliness. If she never got anything positive out of human interaction, she wouldn’t know how to actually establish contact in a friendly way in the first place. She has a difficult character, but she was also a victim. Annie is a good main character and she struggles to fit in. In the end, she chooses to be part of the bullies group and it becomes her downfall. She does learn from it though, which was a satisfying point personally. Annie and Elsie are the pole opposites of each other both in personality and behaviour, like good and evil. However, I think the point of the author is that none is really good and no one is really evil, at least not without good reason.
A great read, one that I recommend to all the fans of a good ghost story with historical highlights.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Clarion Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A tasty cosy mystery with a murder dessert coming right up! A great story!
Becoming the chef of a cafe in the quiet town of Hampden Green is the next best thing to Ben Hunter, who is in need to of a quiet place to learn how to control his temper. As he struggles to adjust to the little town and its people, he receives the visit of Detective Inspector Slaterry. There has been a murder and the suspicion falls on the new guy in town. As Ben investigates, he discovers that the journey to the truth has more layers than a wedding cake.
A tasty mystery that I enjoyed greatly! The storyline is solid and engaging; the mystery is well thought and developed with a great ending with twists and spikes of action. The style of writing is fresh, simple and it appeals to the attention of the reader.
The descriptions are so well-made that I got hungry with the descriptions of the dishes, I really felt like I was right there beside Ben watching him cook. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author has a background in gastronomy due to all the juicy details of the art of cooking. The geographic setting was a good choice: the quiet little town where nothing ever happens until it does. The description of it though is the perfect picture; it's colourful and the people a bit reserved but altogether nice and full of secrets.
The characters are very well-developed and they all play a part in the storyline. Ben is a great main character. I was surprised to read a cosy mystery with a male lead, it’s a different and refreshing approach. Francis is very entertaining and I do feel for him when his good intentions come up short.
As a debut novel, it was quite good and I will keep a look out for the sequels to come and follow more of Ben’s adventures.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Maze. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.