Book Review: We All Die In The End by Elizabeth Merry

My first review for Indie Only Month 2020 is Elizabeth Merry’s collection of interconnected tales, We All Die In The End. My thanks to Elizabeth for providing me with a copy of the collection in return for an honest review. 

 

You can find my Afternoon Tea interview with Elizabeth Merry here.  We All Die In The End can be found on Amazon and Goodreads.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Perfect summer reading if you enjoy real-life styled tales, some light, some dark, all compelling, evocative and well-written. A fantastic read. 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

This is a diverse collection of interlinked stories set in a small, seaside town in Ireland. Some of them verge on the macabre; others deal with abusive relationships and many of them are grim. But there is humour here too – although it is dark humour.

There’s Sadie, avoiding her mother’s advice:
“Sadie said nothing. She trimmed the fat off the kidneys and the liver, her fingers curling away from the soft, red slither and she held her breath against the faint smell of blood. Madge lifted her walking-stick and rattled it against the leg of the table.”

And poor, wee Andy, struggling with a teenage girlfriend and their baby daughter:
“Andy felt the unhappiness grow in his chest again. It was heavy and he fought against it. No, he said to himself. No. He held his arms up and out in front of him and made soft, crooning, engine noises.”

And then there is recovering alcoholic, Arthur:
“So, I watched Lydia and waited for some bloody nuisance of a child to come screeching after her but no child came. Well, that didn’t make any sense but then Lydia stopped and I saw her speak to the doll. Oho, Arthur, I said to myself and I threw down the cigarette. Oho, I said, what’s this? What have we here?”

Just a couple of the strange and interesting characters in this ebook available on Amazon Kindle.

Favourite Quote

What does it matter?  What does any of it matter?  We all die in the end.

(From We All Die In The End by Elizabeth Merry)

Review

I really enjoyed reading this collection of nineteen interconnected short stories. I loved how a mention of one character in one story sets up another story, in a very loose, roundabout sort of way as the stories themselves are all separate.  It gave great fluidity to the book, and once I started reading I found it very difficult to stop.  The stories were compelling and addictive, and the characters so well-devised that I found myself gripped, wondering where the next story was going to go. The connections between the characters come in the form of family ties, friends, neighbours and work colleagues, giving a cross-section of the population of a small Irish coastal town.

A wide variety of topics and themes are covered: infidelity, the struggles of young parents, crime, mental health issues, religion and spiritualism, dreams and first kisses, sadness, manipulation, regret, guilt, love, fear…There’s a little bit of violence in a handful of the stories, and adult themes and bad language gets a mention a few times as well, but there is nothing graphic and it’s not overused.  It adds to the stories rather than detracts from them, and I think it is always worth pointing that out.

As I’ve already said, all the characters have depth and authenticity.  It doesn’t take long for the author to present the reader with fully-fleshed people, and it is the thoughts and emotions of these people that bring these stories to life.  The author has a great grasp of people and captures wonderfully the two faces of an individual – the one they show to the world and their real self.  And it is the secret side of themselves, what they think, what goes on in their homes once their doors are locked and curtains closed that ensure the reader keeps reading.  Not everyone we meet is likeable, not everyone we meet is nice.  There are characters with ugly personalities and brutal ways, but there are others just trying to make it through the day or realise their dreams.

The descriptions of the town, especially down by the sea (the beach, the pier, the harbour) and the pub, are so clear and evocative that I could easily imagine them as I worked my way through each story.  Indeed, the whole town felt very real, I could picture the different houses and flats, and the different rooms within each, quite clearly.

The tension of some of the situations some of the characters find themselves in is palpable, and some of the twists that unfurl aren’t predictable but make perfect sense for the characters they happen to.  In essence, these stories are about people; they’re not real, but they could very easily be, and they serve to remind us, we don’t really know other people as well as we sometimes think.  A fantastic read.

Rating

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Favourite Books from 5 Years of Indie Only Month


For my first bookish-themed post for Indie Only Month 2019, I thought I would look back at some of my favourite reads from previous years.  I’ve been dedicating the month of July to indie authors and indie publishers since 2014, and from looking at the books listed below, the challenge has helped me to discover some great book series over the last five years…

Indie Only Month 2014

One of my favourite reads from Indie Only Month 2014 was Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland.  Self-published before attaining almost* every writers dream – getting discovered by a traditional publisher – this book introduced me to her work.

[* I say almost, because I’m aware there are plenty of indie authors out there who are not only happy remaining in control of their writer career, but who are also very success at it.]

You can read my review of Hollowland here.

Indie Only Month 2015

In 2015 I discovered Amber Lynn’s Avery Clavens series. For that year’s Indie Only Month, I read the first two books, Not In My Job Description and Just Another Day at the Office.  Here’s a quote from my review of Book 1:

The plot and subplots worked well and came together in spectacular fashion.

I remember bits and pieces from this series (most notably that, for some reason, I didn’t read the last book), but the quote above has persuaded me that it might be a good idea to go back and re-read it from beginning to end.

You can read my review of Not In My Job Description here, and Just Another Day At The Office here.

Indie Only Month 2016

It was during Indie Only Month 2016 that I read, reviewed and fell in love with the Earthen Witch books by Sarah Doughty, reading Just Breathe and Focus, and ensuring that the following Indie Only Month, I read the third book in the series, Listen.

You can read my review of Just Breathe here, and Focus here.

Indie Only Month 2017

2017’s challenge month introduced me to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover mysteries, one of my favourite cosy mystery series.  Each year since, I have read and reviewed – and thoroughly enjoyed – one book from the series for Indie Only Month – as well as more throughout the year.  I can’t get enough of them!

You can read my review of the first Myrtle Clover story I read, A Body In The Backyard, here.

Indie Only Month 2018

From last year’s list, two stories really stand out: Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Grant, which was a thoroughly entertaining read, and Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons, a paranormal mystery that once it got going, I struggled to put it down.

You can read my review of Not Famous in Hollywood here, and Winter Prey here.

Book Review: The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton

The Case of the Bygone Brother is the first book in the Alex O’Hara series by Diane Burton

Summary (from Goodreads)

After taking over O’Hara Palzetti, Confidential Investigations from her dad and his partner, Alex O’Hara’s bottom line has taken a plunge. So when a femme fatale offers her the case of a lifetime along with a huge advance, Alex sees her finances on a definite upswing. But someone doesn’t want her to find the long-lost brother. Complicating matters is the return of Alex’s old heartthrob, Nick Palzetti. Is he really there just to see her or does he have an ulterior motive? The Lake Michigan resort town of Fair Haven is abuzz with the news that O’Hara Palzetti are together again.

Favourite Quote

While my cheeks burned at the memory of that unwanted kiss, I silently cursed my fair Irish complexion.  Genetics betrayed me every time.  “Knuckle-dragger is right,” I said.  “I guess you didn’t stay long enough to see me deck him.”

Review

This is an entertaining little read; romance, suspense, humour, danger…it has everything an interesting cosy mystery needs.

I liked both Alex O’Hara and Nick Palzetti.  She’s determined to make it on her own and is a right little miss independent, while he just wants to protect her and keep her safe.  So, of course, this creates a great deal of tension between the main characters.

The pace felt a little off (too fast) towards the end but throughout the rest of the book, the story moved along at a good pace.  There were enough plot twists and turns to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.  Fair Haven was the perfect setting for this story, with it’s small shops and people who know everyone else (and everyone else’s business).  There were a number of references, especially close to the beginning that were reminiscent of old-school detective novels, which I found charming.

The second book in the series is The Case of the Fabulous Fiance, which sounds just as entertaining as the first.

Rating

I read The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton via Wattpad

Book Review: Raining Men and Corpses by Anne. R. Tan

Raining Men and Corpses is the first book in the Raina Sun Mysteries by Anne R Tan.

Summary (from Smashwords)

When it rains, it pours … and this amateur sleuth may be in over her head.

Graduate student Raina Sun is trying to keep her head above water as the bills roll in when her dashing college adviser cons her out of several months of rent. Her quest to retrieve the money sets in motion a streak of even worse luck.

First, she stumbles on her advisor’s dead body and becomes a suspect in his murder. Next, the only man she’s ever loved reappears as the lead detective to the case. Raina’s having trouble interpreting his signals–does he want to reignite their passion, or just stay close to his prime suspect?

Her life careens further out of control when her grandma shows up at Raina’s postage-stamp-sized apartment, dragging a red suitcase and trouble of her own. As Raina summons her sleuthing skills, she discovers that when it comes to murder, there may be no place for an amateur.

Favourite Quote

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with the human embodiment of milk and cookies?

Review

What really caught my attention about this series were the fun covers and the light-hearted, murder-related names for the books. They looked and sounded entertaining; other titles include Gusty Lovers and Cadavers, Breezy Friends and Bodies, Barmy Darlings and Deaths, and Sunny Mates and Murders.  There was no way I was going to miss giving the first book in the series a try.  And of course, by this point I already had high hopes for this story…

What did I like about the book?  The main character, Raina, is from an Asian American background, which is very fresh and exciting, and rather unusual for cosy mysteries.  It was nice to read something so different.

What didn’t I like so much?  I found this book a little slow going, not because of the pace, but because I just couldn’t seem to get into it and when I did, it didn’t hold my attention for too long.  That being said, I was interested in finding out who murdered Holden (I had guessed who the culprit was), so carried on reading until the end.  I wasn’t really a big fan of many of the characters, the exception being Raina’s grandmother, Po Po.  She was fantastic.

Will I be reading the second book in the Raina Sun Mysteries, Gusty Lovers and Cadavers?  I’m not sure, although looking at its reviews on Goodreads, its average rating is higher than Raining Men and Corpses so I might succumb.  Have you read this book / series?  If so, what were your thoughts?

Rating

My rating: 2.5 / 5

 

I downloaded a copy of Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R Tan for FREE via Smashwords

What’s coming up at Sammi Loves Books…

As we move towards the end of June, the season of reading challenges approaches here at Sammi Loves Books. Yay!

July is Indie Only Month

August is Historical Fiction Month

And as always, I’m really excited! 🙂

July is “Indie Only Month” at Sammi Loves Books!

Indie Only

We are almost at that time of year again…yep, a whole month of Indie authors and indie books.  I thought I would put up this post now, so that I can start planning the TBR list and the subsequent review list.

So, if there are any indie authors out there who would like to see a review of their work on Sammi Loves Books, please get in touch, via the comments on this site or by using the form on the contact me page.

This year, I am doing things a little differently, and opening the field wider than in the two previous years I have done it.  Why?  To ensure I am giving myself the maximum opportunity to come across new writers 🙂

This list outlines what I am looking for:

  • Fiction, of any length
  • poetry collections
  • short story / flash fiction / micro fictions collections
  • As long as it is not too long, I will review work published on a website / blog – don’t forget to include the website link to what it is you want reviewing 🙂
  • Work published on Wattpad
  • I will also be open to reviewing spoken word / audio books – for example, poetry or flash fiction uploaded to YouTube

Ideally, all works should be completed rather than being serialised, but if the opening chapters work well as a stand alone piece and give a good idea of the story, I will definitely give it a go.

When it comes to e-books, I most often tend to lean towards those published via Smashwords (especially in epub format) although I do sometimes read iBooks.  It is much rarer for me to read Kindle books, but never say never!

There you have it.  My plans for 2016’s Indie Only Month.  We still have a few weeks to go but I am excited all ready! 🙂


If you would like to see what was read and reviewed in past challenges, check out these links:

Indie Only 2015

Indie Only 2014


I write book reviews because I love reading, but also because I believe in supporting other writers.  If you think the same way as me, please be sure to return the favour: follow one of my blogs (Sammi Loves Books / Sammi Scribbles), follow me on Wattpad or read, rate, review and vote on stories I’ve written – see here.  

The world is a much better place when we help each other out!

Book Review: Just Another Day at the Office by Amber Lynn

Just Another Day at the Office is the second book in the Avery Clavens series by Amber Lynn.

After the success of her first mission in Not In My Job Description, Avery is back and this time working as an FBI agent.  Nate has sort of moved into her apartment, and he is her new partner.

Their first assignment as FBI partners sees them sent to a small government think-tank town in the middle of Montana.  It seems that someone has been stealing and selling secret advances in technology that the scientists have spent a lot of time, money and effort on.  So Nate and Avery are going in undercover to find out who is behind it and stop them.

It sounds easy…

I really enjoyed the first book in the series but was pleasantly surprised to see a paranormal twist in this one, which only made the story more interesting and entertaining.  I have found these books very readable, and I have been completely pulled into the series.

Over the course of the story, we meet an eclectic group of people, and a very intelligent robot named Vinnie, and the strange town in which the story is set adds another layer of interest.  Avery’s quirky personality is unusual for a main character and yet she can be quite amusing, and Nate’s patience with her is endearing.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Working Through the Weekend.  I downloaded a copy of Just Another Day at the Office by Amber Lynn for free from Smashwords.

Book Review: Not In My Job Description by Amber Lynn

Not In My Job Description is the first of the Avery Clavens novels by Amber Lynn.

Avery Clavens lives in New York City and works as a computer specialist for a government agency, only no one she knows outside of work knows it.  Her family and friends all think she works in a library.

Avery’s life is pretty uneventful, which is just the way she likes it.  She goes to work, she comes home.  She goes to the gym, she comes home.  She watches hockey and periodically meets up with her best friend, Frannie.  That is Avery’s life: ordered and simple.

But things are about to change.  A blind date and a surprising twist in a case she has been working on will turn Avery’s life upside down.  Her quiet, boring existence is about to become far more complicated than she is used to.

I enjoyed reading Not In My Job Description.  Avery’s story was captivating and I couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to turn out for her.  The plot and subplots worked well and came together in spectacular fashion.  The pace of the story was good, but I found it a little word-heavy in places, but that didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of it.  The characters were interesting, and on the whole believable, making it an interesting first book in a series, one that makes you want to continue reading to see what happens next.

I downloaded a copy of Not In My Job Description by Amber Lynn for free from Smashwords.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Just Another Day At the Office.

Indie Only Month…It’s that time again!

Indie Only

The picture says it all – July is Indie Only month at Sammi Loves Books, and so I shall only be reviewing independently published stories by indie authors for the entire month.

I have spent the last few days planning my reading for July – yes, I am trying to be more organised than last year! 🙂

For more information, check out the Indie Only Month page, comment below or contact me via the contact me page.

Indie Only Update

Trust that as soon as I decide to set myself a reading challenge that is supposed to last the entire month, a million and one things crop up!

Now, the majority of these ‘things’ are my own fault, and based around my own writing (if your interested to learn exactly what these things are, check out my writing blog here.   Hint: it might have something to do with my series, The Andromache Jones Mysteries).

Rest assured that I have only been reading Indie authored / published stories this month, and hopefully over the next few days or so, I will begin to get my reviews posted here.

I am still aiming to have at least eight reviews in total for ‘Indie Only’ month and I have currently got four reads under my belt.  It’s not outstanding, but it is in line with my usual reading pace.

If you have any recommendations for Indie Only month, please comment below or use the form on the ‘Contact Me’ page.