Let the dead speak by Jane Casey

Synopsis

Chloe Emery comes home to find there’s blood everywhere and her mum’s missing. She is interviewed by Maeve Kerrigan- a newly promoted Detective Sergeant who suspects that Chloe is keeping secrets.

 

Casey introduces Chloe and her troubled relationship with her stepmother Belinda straightaway, as Chloe is still thinking about some of the comments that Belinda has made when she returns home. Casey writes the first chapter from Chloe’s third person point of view, and allows us to see that Chloe sees the world in a slightly different way to many people. Chloe is not confident about reading other people’s reactions to her.

The majority of the novel is from Maeve’s first person point of view, and she’s quite a astute observer of those around her.  Maeve doesn’t have a lot of time for her DC Georgia, considering her to only really respect those who can advance her career within the police.

Casey creates a well structured and complex mystery, with a interesting central investigator in Maeve. I found myself feeling tremendous sympathy for Chloe, and her friend as well. Casey isn’t heavy handed with her characters, creating some distinct and memorable people within the novel.

Crazy is my superpower by AJ Mendez Brooks

I was a great admirer of AJ during her time in the WWE, as her character was a lot of fun to watch, and she was incredibly impressive within the ring. I was interested to learn more about her background, when I discovered the book, to see what had shaped her into the determined figure she seemed to be within the WWE Divas.

The first thing I loved about the way that the book was written was that it was very honest, with a dry wit running throughout. The details about her family background, particularly the section about her father nearly dropping a television set on her mother during a intense fight and then smashing it against a wall because AJ defended her, are dealt with candidly. Her father and mother clearly have had their own difficulties, but I never got the impression that AJ ever feels much anger towards them, for her unconventional childhood. The family evidently moved quite a lot, and there is a very affectionate portrait of the time that she lived with her grandparents on their farm. I loved a anecdote about her grandmother dealing with a rooster that they owned when it went to an neighbouring farm, and telling her 'You never betray a Mendez woman'.

AJ seemingly has always agreed with her father's idea of how to deal with people, adopting his philosophy 'Life is like a wheel. Some days you're on top and some days you're on bottom. What's the fucking difference?'. It's shown particularly when she relates the days she worked as a checkout girl, and allowed at least one elderly couple to use expired vouchers to buy essential items.

It was interesting to learn a little more about the WWE, and she talks about how protective some of the wrestlers were about her. In one ancedote Mark Henry lifted a crew guy off his feet, when the man was ogling AJ in the middle of stretching in preparation for a match. Beth Phoenix was evidently supportive as well, as AJ relates a behind the scenes conversation she heard Beth having with the Head of Talent Relations, telling him 'That was just her 3rd match in one night, and they were all great matches. I hope I'm not the only one who noticed that.' It was also touching to see exactly how close she really was with Kaitlyn, I had realised that they were genuine friends from AJ's reaction to Kaitlyn winning NXT season 3.

AJ ultimately comes across as a highly relatable woman, who has managed to deal with various difficulties in her early life with humour, grace and determination. I admire her even more than I did, when I just knew her as the WWE wrestler.

The book deals with serious and evidently life shaping events and issues, with a light humorous writing style. There are various laugh out moments, and she is definitely a writer I would read again.

Copy Cat by Alex Lake

Synopsis

Sarah Haveant is contacted by a old school friend Rachel via Facebook, who is moving back to their hometown, and wants to meet up. However her friend is confused about which Facebook profile is really Sarah's, letting Sarah know that someone has set up a fake profile in her name complete with family photos, some of which were taken inside her house and very recently as well.

Lake creates a good deal of tension, and kept me guessing about what is really happening for the majority of the novel. Sarah is not only confronted by a fake facebook profile, but someone is sending emails in her name to her friends, via a alternate address. They send a email to the person taking care of her children, claiming that she is sending a 'uncle' to pick them up so that she can get to her ill father, when her father has been dead for years.

Sarah becomes suspicious of Rachel when she discovers that Rachel married one of her former boyfriends Matt Landay, who was possessive during their relationship. Sarah's husband doesn't do much to ease her suspicions, as he turns to Rachel for advice, about Sarah's mental state, asking Rachel because she's a therapist by profession. The marriage suffers a further blow when Sarah's adultery comes to light.

Lake uses the revelation of Sarah's adultery to start a new section of the book, as the family decide to go to visit Ben's mother and father in England. Sarah has a brief sense of hope that things might go back to normal, but the tension is racheted up again when her tormentor arrives in London too.

Lake's descriptive style allows her to create graphic scenes, especially in the final part of the novel when the tormentor is revealed and takes their final revenge on Sarah. Lake feeds the perspective of the tormentor through the novel, giving hints about who is behind it all.

The novel ends on a cliff hanger, and I would be very interested to see if Lake will pick up this story at some point in the future.

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

Synopsis: Kate is turning forty, and has been a fan of Austen's work for most of her life. She has a dysfunctional family, is closest to her grandmother, and feels that her mother's not the most stable of people, and uses Austen as a way to escape. Just before she turns forty she receives a assignment to write about the fact that women are marrying for money once again, due to the financial climate.

After the death of her grandmother, Kate decides to try to find herself a rich husband, taking off for the places that the wealthy tend to congregate, such as St Moritz and Palm Beach.

I found it hard to relate to Kate, at first. It's clear that Izzo is a fan of Austen herself, and Kate resembles Elizabeth Bennet in some ways. She is supposed to be a family oriented person, who is driven but doesn't really have Elizabeth's wit in my opinion, although she does have a tendency to quickly form opinions of people. She comes across two men that seemingly fit her criteria, a American named Scott and a Russian Vlad Mihailov. The man that is perfect for her, Griff, is dismissed by Kate, after their initial encounter during which she insults his clothing, and the next meeting doesn't go well, as he doesn't seem to be ready to accept any apology that she makes.

It's a good light hearted read, that pulls you along, despite the fact that it's easy enough to predict where Kate will end up, if you have read any of this type of book before.