Hi and welcome to #BiteSizeSaturday! Today I’d like to talk Viper Books. Viper brightened my bookish days last year with fantastic thrillers such as Who We Were and The Resident, and this year they have been knocking it out of the park and it’s only February! So I absolutely had to take a minute to talk about these two debut novels that were both five-star reads for me.
The Appeal by Janice Hallett is a total mindfuck of a book, pardon my French. If you harbour a secret dream of becoming a master sleuth, this is the book that will show you whether or not you’re cut out for it. You get to join two investigators (law students) as they plough through emails and texts sent between members of an amateur theatre society. Someone has been murdered, someone went to prison for it, the killer is still at large, and it is your job to figure out who’s who. Utterly brilliant, I tell you! This is a book to go into blind and just go with the flow. There’s a whole cast of characters throw at you at once, which might seem overwhelming, but trust me, you’ll be fine, if my brainfoggy mind could make sense of it, you can too! Just mark the page listing all the characters (or take a photo like I did), so you can come back it to when you’re unsure about a character or a relationship.
The Appeal is a quick read, hugely entertaining, and sometimes kind of frustrating because you know the answers are right in front of you but you just can’t see them. A novel approach to the traditional mystery / crime thriller, The Appeal is a cracking debut and an absolute joy to get stuck in and I can’t recommend it enough!
I read Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker through the Pigeonhole app, which, frankly, was both a joy and a curse. It’s always nice to read a book with a bunch of other readers, especially when you’re all loving it, and reading in staves means you have something to look forward to every day. However, if I’d had the whole book at my disposal I’m sure I would have binged the crap out of it! It was so addictive!
Kim, heavily pregnant and out with her kids, gets distracted for a second and “Mummy” sees and decides to act, snatching little five-year-old Tonya from the shop, because surely she would make a much better mum. While Kim’s world collapses around her, Mummy finally has her heart’s desire, or has she?
Kim is “from the wrong side of the tracks”. In her desperation to find Tonya she doesn’t show herself as the fragile weepy mum the public can get behind and root for. She shouts, she curses, she wears the wrong clothes for interviews, and people don’t look beyond appearances, people forget she’s just a young woman who’s had the most enormous shock and is yearning for her little girl. People start calling her “scummy mummy” and she is scorned and mocked and it broke my heart.
Mummy is a fascinating character. She’s mysterious and clearly a few cans short of a six-pack to be honest, and the early glimpses the reader gets of her backstory just create more questions instead of answering them. She’s looking to turn Tonya into the perfect daughter she has always wanted, but Tonya is a feisty one and she doesn’t want to call a strange woman mummy so she won’t.
Call Me Mummy is compelling and tense and shocking and absolutely gut-wrenching. I hung onto Tina’s every word. She has a clear no-nonsense way of writing, yet in parts so stunningly beautiful I found myself rereading certain passages again and again. Another cracking debut, one that made me cry but also laugh, and really, what more can you hope for in a book?
There you have it, two outstanding Viper debut novels I highly recommend! Both are out now in hardcover and digital formats, and Call Me Mummy is also available as audiobook.