#BeatTheBacklog 2022- January-A voyage into the TBR mountain… @OwlBeSatReading

In an effort to make some kind of dent in my to-be-read pile, I’m joining in with the challenge set by Lisa at Owl Be Sat Reading and this is how I got on in January.Β 

Book 1: MANU JOSEPH- MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 Satirical, clever and witty…

Β On the day that Hindu nationalists and their controversial leader have won a spectacular election victory, a large apartment building collapses in Mumbai. The rescue operation finds only one survivor, a man trapped under a beam, mumbling in delirium. But what he is saying is that two people are on their way to carry out a terror attack. Not only must they get him out, the police must find out what he knows, and act quickly. A young woman, Akhila Iyer, a medical student but also a notorious prankster, has rushed to the scene. She is small and light enough to crawl along to the tunnel to the dying man to administer painkillers as they try to dig him out of the rubble. Akhila is the only link between him and the police, hearing what he is whispering. Elsewhere, a young intelligence agent, Mukundan, is assigned to shadow the two terror suspects, one of whom is a teenager and the sweetheart of her street, the enigmatic Laila. And so the chase is on.Β 

Book 2: NAOMI BOOTH- EXIT MANAGEMENT.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 This took the reader in an unexpected direction, with plenty of high intensity emotion along the way. Beautifully written and I loved the interweaving of Hungarian history which added another dimension to the book…Β 

Callum has been given an opportunity: Jozsefs house is the perfect place to live plenty of room, a sought-after London location and filled with priceless works of art. All that Jozsef asks in return is for some company while hes ill and the promise that if it all gets too much, someone will be there to help him at the end. Its fortunate then, when Callum meets Lauren who works in Human Resources and specialises in getting rid of people. Jozsef welcomes them both inside, and so begins a deadly spiral of violence. Pushed ever onwards by the poison of ambition, and haunted by losses from the past, these characters are drawn together in a catastrophe of endings.

Book 3: POLIS LOIZOU- THE WAY IT BREAKS.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A beautiful slow burn of a novel, sensitively exploring human emotion and sexuality, set against the vivid description of its Cyprus setting…

Orestis is a young man who refuses to accept his lot in life. He wants a better job, a toned body, his own place, a brighter future. On a night out, he bumps into an old school friend, who lands him an interview at her father’s five-star hotel. Orestis feels he is finally on the path to success. That is, until he becomes acquainted with a high-end gigolo who draws him onto a different path – one that leads to a wealthy Belorusian trophy wife named Darya. Before long, Orestis’ destiny drifts even further out of his control.

Book 4: VICTORIA MAS- THE MAD WOMEN’S BALL.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 Vividly descriptive, dark and compelling…

The SalpΓͺtriΓ¨re asylum, 1885. All of Paris is in thrall to Doctor Charcot and his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad or hysterical, outcasts from society. But the truth is much more complicated – for these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives or strong-willed daughters. Once a year a grand ball is held at the hospital. For the Parisian elite, the Mad Women’s Ball is the highlight of the social season; for the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope. GeneviΓ¨ve is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister, she has shunned religion and placed her faith in Doctor Charcot and his new science. But everything begins to change when she meets EugΓ©nie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family. Because EugΓ©nie has a secret, and she needs GeneviΓ¨ve’s help. Their fates will collide on the night of the Mad Women’s Ball…

Book 5: CASSANDRA KHAW- NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH.

🌟🌟 – Oh dear…

Cat joins her old friends, who are in search of the perfect wedding venue, to spend the night in a Heian-era manor in Japan. Trapped in webs of love, responsibility and yesterdays, they walk into a haunted house with their hearts full of ghosts. This mansion is long abandoned, but it is hungry for new guests, and welcomes them all – welcomes the demons inside them – because it is built on foundations of sacrifice and bone. Their night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare as the house draws them into its embrace. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart. And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

BOOK 6: TESS MCWATT- THE SNOW LINE

🌟🌟🌟 Smacked of pretentiousness. Did like the vivid depiction of location though. 

Four strangers from around the world arrive in India for a wedding. Together, they climb a mountain ― but will they see the same thing from the top? Londoner Reema, who left India before she could speak, is searching for a sign that will help her make a life-changing decision. In pensioner Jackson’s suitcase is something he must let go of, but is he strong enough? Together with two unlikely companions, they take a road trip up a mountain deep in the Himalayas, heading for the snow line ― the place where the ice begins. But even standing in the same place, surrounded by magnificent views, they see things differently. As they ascend higher and higher, they must learn to cross the lines that divide them.

BOOK 7: KWON YEO-SUN- LEMON

🌟🌟🌟🌟- Multi layered in a condensed page count and enjoyed the structure of this one…

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold. Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

BOOK 8: LIAM MCILVANNEY- THE QUAKER

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Absolutely superb- loved the reworking of the infamous Bible John case. Brilliant characterisation & evocation of the period, & a singularly unique police protagonist. Will be reading follow up #TheHeretic soon!

It is 1969 and Glasgow has been brought to its knees by a serial killer spreading fear throughout the city. The Quaker has taken three women from the same nightclub and brutally murdered them in the backstreets. Now, six months later, the police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. They call in DI McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands. But his arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon another woman is found murdered in a run-down tenement flat. And McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city and his life forever.

BOOK 9: CALEB AZUMAH NELSON- OPEN WATER

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 How can I have not read this book sooner? So quietly understated, with lyrical and just utterly mesmeric prose. I was transfixed…

Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.

BOOK 10: GREG BUCHANAN – SIXTEEN HORSES

🌟🌟🌟 Promised so much but all ended up with a highly predictable ending. Some nice flowery touches to the prose, so definitely more ‘lover’s crime fiction, but was a tad disappointed overall.Β 

Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations – all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself. In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries – no matter the cost.

9 comments

  1. Got quite excited there for a moment about the Heian era mansion and ghosts, but I see it wasn’t worth the effort… Ah well, still sounds like you had some good reads to make up for it.

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