ARC REVIEW: The Birthday – by Carol Wyer @bookouture

Title: The Birthday
(Detective Natalie Ward #1)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 27th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 4th 2018
Pages: 316

“You work with what you’ve been given. Don’t turn your attention to what might happen. It hasn’t yet.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have really enjoyed Carol Wyer’s books so far, so of course I knew I had to try out her new detective series as soon as I heard about it. And who can resist that cover and blurb?! I was looking forward to reading The Birthday and while not perfect, it was without doubt a good start of a new series. Of course the writing is just as strong as ever, with a quality I have become used to and a way to charm you into flipping page after page without putting the book down. The case in The Birthday is both intriguing and will chill you to the bone… Child kidnappings are always so hard to read about, especially if there are multiple lives on the line. The things that happen in this detective thriller will give any parent nightmares, and even childless readers will be emotionally invested. There is definitely a lot to love in The Birthday, so why didn’t I rate it higher? Well, this mostly has to do with the new main character we meet. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect to the new detective or most of her team. Instead of refreshing and interesting, I found especially Natalie Ward to be mostly cliche and I really do hate cheating characters. There was nothing ‘new’ this team added to the genre for me, nothing original to cause a spark. I am willing to give detective Natalie Ward and her team a second chance though, mostly because the writing, plot development and suspense are spot on. And there are without doubt a few twists hidden in there that will manage to surprise you!

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The five-year-old Ava Sawyer went missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre two years ago, and not a trace of her whereabouts are found during all that time. But then her body is finally found, and not long after another little girl goes missing. A girl who strangely had attended the exact same birthday party where Ava had disappeared… Detective Natalie Ward and her team will have to work hard to discover if the two cases are related, and who is behind it all. The clock is ticking, as the killer doesn’t seem to be stopping on his own…

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As I said before, there is a lot to love in The Birthday. The writing is solid and engaging, making you fly through the pages. The plot is interesting, suspenseful and has just the right amount of twists for me. I did guess part of the ending, but overall you are left in the dark most of the time. My only problem was with the new detective and her team; I simply wasn’t able to warm up to her and found both her personal life and way of investigating to be mostly cliche or at least not that original. I’m still curious about the sequel though.


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WWW Wednesdays #186 – September 5th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading The Chaos Of Stars by Kiersten White, which doesn’t only have a gorgeous cover, but is also written by an author I’ve been really excited about to read more of. I’m also starting Toxic by Lydia Kang soon, which has to be one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen so far this year. It’s a new sci-fi story coming out in November and not my typical genre, but I’m keeping fingers and toes crossed I’ll enjoy it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson (3/5 stars) REVIEW 09/09
I personally wasn’t a fan of the Swedish POV especially in the first half of the book, although I did grow to like Holger Two. Things also improved in the second half as the different storylines merged and the story started to flow better. Still, it was hard to connect to some of the characters and the story did drag considerably at points. It was nice to see how everything did fit together and how small their worlds ended up being, although I don’t think it was exactly credible.

2. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (3/5 stars) REVIEW 13/09
I’m not sure if it was the original hype around I Let You Go making me set my expectations too high or this being unpopular opinion time again, but sadly I didn’t end up having the reading experience I was expecting. The biggest obstacle was the fact that I guessed the big reveal really early on… It was just too easy to figure out the key information after the initial surprise was revealed, and this was quite a let down for me. I also had problems with the two leading detectives of the case; I couldn’t warm up to them and I always hate cheating main characters.

3. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/09
I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story despite a love triangle and the presence of a vampire! There is just something about the writing style that draws you right in and makes you fly through the pages. I literally finished this story in one sitting. Highly entertaining, addictive and just enough magic and supernatural atmosphere to keep that delicate balance with the romance elements.

4. Claw The System by Francesco Marciuliano (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/09
Poems From The Cat Uprising is divided in parts, each related to a different step of the ‘uprising’. There are many many cat photos to enjoy, most of them related to the text or poems, some funny and others simply beautiful. I would have liked to see more ‘cat’ perspective in the poems, but I still had a blast reading this title. There are definitely a few very funny moments included inClaw The System, a dry and sarcastic kind of humor I personally really appreciate.

5. The Lying King by Alex Beard (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/09
While I like the simplicity of the cover, I don’t think the same style works as well for the picture book itself. I personally found the illustrations too simple and bare; there is a lot of white on some of the pages and I don’t think it will be all that attractive for children. As for the story: the idea behind The Lying King is clever and it has a strong moral message. Still, I don’t think that children will actually be able to pick up on that message from reading this story. I felt that it was told in a too ‘adult’ way to be able to actually work as a way to teach children not to lie.

6. The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/09
The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo had me hook, line and sinker. Not only was I impressed by the writing style right from the very first page, it was the story itself that fascinated me as well. The idea of the biography, the aged actress finally revealing all about her past… Everything just clicked for me. The character development in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is simply sublime. I never imagined enjoying this book so much, but this is one of those books that you just HAVE to try even if you aren’t sure the genre would be for you. Trust me, you will regret it if you don’t.

7. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman (2/5 stars) REVIEW 14/09
I never got used to the writing style or tone, which of course made it harder to connect to the story. Secondly, I had a huge problem with Piper Kerman herself. She comes over as someone mostly self-centered, who sees herself as someone above the rest and doesn’t seem to want to admit what she did back in 1993 was wrong. Reading about her views on the prison world made me cringe at points, and while it was interesting to learn more about some of the inmates, I felt it lacked coherence and the story just didn’t flow for me.

8. The Birthday by Carol Wyer (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 08/09
I have really enjoyed Carol Wyer’s books so far, so of course I had to try out her new detective series so far. The writing is just as strong as ever and the case is both intriguing and chills you to the bone… But sadly I wasn’t able to connect to the new detective or most of her team as all. Instead of refreshing, I found her mostly cliche and I really hate cheating characters. I am willing to give her a second chance though, mostly because the writing, plot development and suspense is spot on.

9. Father Christmas And Me by Matt Haig (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/09
I know Christmas is still far away, but I just HAD to request a copy of this one when I saw it on NG a while back. There was something about the illustrations that caught my eye, and I’m definitely glad my request was granted. What a delightful Christmas-themed story! This is perfect for the middle grade target group, with an interesting plot, a relatable main character they can see themselves in and just enough action to keep them invested in the story. I didn’t realize before this was the third book of a series, but I was still able to enjoy this story to the fullest.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Of course all my next reads are N.E.W.T. titles as well… Basically, I’m only reading books that fit the readathon prompts this month. These next four are all an attempt of getting all those Acceptable grades in and basically passing all Hogwarts subjects like a true Ravenclaw and with my inner Hermione speaking. 😉 First up is Gone To Ground by Rachel Amphlett, which I’m sure will be yet another winner to what has been a fantastic series so far. I also want to read both All The Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin and The Ballroom by Anna Hope, which have don’t seem all that known. And of course, I’m dying to finally pick up the third book of a new favorite series of mine: Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton.


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Teaser Tuesdays #187 – September 4th: The Birthday

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’m currently reading the first book of a new detective series that is coming out later this month. I’m always excited to see something new by Carol Wyer popping up, so of course I couldn’t resist The Birthday either. And so far I’m finding myself flying through it!

My teaser (5%):

“Tony stood up again, shook his head and ran his hand through his hair before patting Bob on the back. He lifted his mobile to his ear. The men retreated from the spot and stood like sentinels, heads bowed, unwilling to look at what they’d uncovered.”

What are you reading right now?


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