This page consists of a selection of novels that having read them I have immediately developed the urge to make everyone else read them too.
Publication Date: Available Now from OneWorld publications
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child.
The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.
I can’t really do anything except give this book the highest rating because it was a trip. A Fever Dream indeed. Beautiful writing and a story that I feel you will either adore or go “What the all heck was that?” Actually you may have the what the all heck moment adoringly or otherwise.
A woman lies in a bed. A boy listens to her story, sometimes encouraging sometimes dismissing that which she is telling him as unimportant. He wants her to see “the moment” she wants to come to some understanding of what is happening. Samanta Schweblin weaves an aura around the reader that is so immersive a lot of the time you feel like you may just be dreaming you are reading a book. It is insane and yet highly beautifully compelling, both in descriptive sense and in substance.
There is a central theme which I won’t tell you, but you never really feel that this theme is its purpose. You are pulled into the narrative and just kind of hover there, waiting to see where it goes, what this boy actually wants, who they are, what their connection is, both to each other and to the wider world. It is often tense, distinctly creepy on occasion, thought provoking and ultimately haunting.
A difficult one to review with any real practicality – to be honest you just have to try it for yourselves I can’t think of one way to offer reasons why you would love it or not love it. Although if you must have everything tied up in a neat bow at the end of every book you read this one will almost certainly not be for you.
Anyone who has read the positively brilliant (yet divisive) “I’m Thinking Of Ending Things” by Iain Reid could maybe imagine what Fever Dream is like although they are two very very different books. But both left me with the same sense of melancholy and the same feeling that my mind was going to worry at various angles of the story at all times of the day and night. That ended up being true of Iain Reid’s novel I guess I’m about to find out if that is the case with Fever Dream.
In the end though, Fever Dream is a story of the type I love to find – stretching my reading comfort zone, making me consider the words on the page, assess the whole thing again based on where things are left and in the coming to those moments experiencing a truly talented writer at work.
Yes I’m going to say highly recommended. I don’t think really I can do anything else.
Publication Date: Available Now from Avon
John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.
A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move.
DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again. But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next.
Least of all Heck…
Back to being hooked by Heck then – and I STILL need to catch up on the first books in this series – I came in at book 4 and immediately purchased books 1-3 and now after this thrill ride I’m eyeing them up and wondering if I can ignore what I’m supposed to be doing today…
Anyway, in Ashes to Ashes, Heck is about to have to go home – but first he has a massively heart stopping confrontation with a violent dangerous man – Sagan – torturer and enforcer, about to become nemesis, so before you even can take a breath you are thrown around wildly like the plane has just lost pressure. Talk about easing you in gently…or in the case of Paul Finch hitting you over the head with a mallet and dragging you kicking and screaming down the street (you’ll go willingly)
Ashes to Ashes is an electrifying ride, hot hot hot (yes as well as Sagan there is an anonymous someone who has a flame thrower and isn’t afraid to use it) but also a cleverly plotted crime drama and a masterful character piece – Heck’s ongoing personal life is full of intrigue and genuine reality, then you have the investigative side which is never anything less than gripping.
Yes there is a lot of violence and the author pulls no punches – if that sort of thing bothers you just don’t read this – but for me it adds to the authenticity, realistically torture and murder which do sadly happen in life are never going to be prettily puppies and kittens related, so you just have to go with the flow.
And it is a beautifully addictive flow too – didn’t take me long to bang out this read, I could barely put it down once I picked it up, something that happens when I read this author hence I’m somewhat of a fan.
More Heck please. Just for the heck of it…
You can Purchase Ashes to Ashes HERE
Publication Date: 4th May 2017 from Corvus
Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin.
Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making.
Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…
Dead Letters was TOTALLY unexpected. In a great way for me but I should caution, the context in the marketing seems to be gearing it towards thriller or a typical psychological thriller audience (which I am too so I would probably have loved that also) but Dead Letters is far more on the side of literary mystery and family saga than it is sudden thrills or huge plot twists. So going into it with an open viewpoint will make a difference I feel.
This was beautiful writing, beautiful plotting and a slow burner, a true character drama centering on twins – Ava and Zelda – the potential death of one and the coming to terms of the other. When Zelda seemingly dies in a fire, Ava finally returns to her home after a self imposed exile – Zelda it turns out has left her a series of clues, an A-Z that she must follow to discover exactly what happened.
What follows is a journey through the lives of these sisters, their family ties and influences, their own relationships both with each other and those around them. Ava deals with her unwell mother, starts getting sucked back into her old routines, all the while looking for that truth, the thing that will let her move forward. It is beautifully done, cleverly intricate, a gorgeous unravelling of a tangled and poignant family dynamic.
Brimming with atmosphere, filled with an eclectic cast of often divisive characters, Dead Letters is a wonderfully layered mystery, an emotive family drama with a melancholy, noir tone to the writing that just sucks you right in. I loved it.
You can purchase Dead Letters HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer
Homicide detective Frost Easton doesn’t like coincidences. When a series of bizarre deaths rock San Francisco—as seemingly random women suffer violent psychotic breaks—Frost looks for a connection that leads him to psychiatrist Francesca Stein. Frankie’s controversial therapy helps people erase their most terrifying memories…and all the victims were her patients.
As Frost and Frankie carry out their own investigations, the case becomes increasingly personal—and dangerous. Long-submerged secrets surface as someone called the Night Bird taunts the pair with cryptic messages pertaining to the deaths. Soon Frankie is forced to confront strange gaps in her own memory, and Frost faces a killer who knows the detective’s worst fears.
As the body count rises and the Night Bird circles ever closer, a dedicated cop and a brilliant doctor race to solve the puzzle before a cunning killer claims another victim
Truth be told I’m a bit of Freeman fan, especially of the Stride novels, so I was really quite excited to read The Night Bird which appears to be the first in a new series. And we ALL know how much I love a new series to love, so the outlook was good with little chance of rain.
Well except within the setting, where rain occurred.
Anyway I digress – The Night Bird is a truly excellent crime novel with an intricately woven plot and an eerie sense to it that doesn’t bode well if you don’t like to sleep with the lights on. Brian Freeman mixes a good old fashioned and terribly well done crime story into a huge dose of psychologically thrilling themes, adds some truly creepy set pieces and a whole plethora of intriguing characters then shakes them all up into The Night Bird.
Frost Easton is an immediately engaging main protagonist, having suffered a huge loss he now is a dedicated investigator – thrown in together somewhat with Francesca Stein, a psychiatrist whose patients seem to be suffering horrific psychotic breaks due to her innovative but controversial treatment – together and separately they try to work out what is going on.
That forms the basis, but then things get more complicated, definitely more frightening and its one of those books you just want to read cover to cover without drawing breath. Some of the scenes in The Night Bird will have you randomly glancing over your shoulder, the whole thing is beautifully constructed and highly compelling throughout.
Some of the themes explored are really gripping – memory, murder, familial relationship, just the tip of the iceberg. The story fairly rocks along, throwing in some lovely twists and keeping the reader off kilter until all is finally revealed. Great writing, great storytelling, just plain great.
You can purchase The Night Bird HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from John Murray
Never outlive your ability to survive a fight.
Twenty years retired, David Cartwright can still spot when the stoats are on his trail.
Radioactive secrets and unfinished business go with the territory on Spook Street: he’s always known there would be an accounting. And he’s not as defenceless as they might think.
Jackson Lamb worked with Cartwright back in the day. He knows better than most that this is no vulnerable old man. ‘Nasty old spook with blood on his hands’ would be a more accurate description.
‘The old bastard’ has raised his grandson with a head full of guts and glory. But far from joining the myths and legends of Spook Street, River Cartwright is consigned to Lamb’s team of pen-pushing no-hopers at Slough House.
So it’s Lamb they call to identify the body when Cartwright’s panic button raises the alarm at Service HQ.
And Lamb who will do whatever he thinks necessary, to protect an agent in peril . . .
Mick Herron just writes THE best spy and espionage series in the world. When I read Slow Horses I was slowly enveloped into this world, I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Quirky, funny, emotional, with characters that just leap off the page, it is entirely beautiful to read and so intensely absorbing that it takes an age to come back to reality.
This instalment finds River worried about family – and in a family of spies it ain’t the usual worry. Changes have been afoot at Slough House due to previous events and gosh how I love the descriptive scenes of what goes on within, its like coming home after a long trip away. Here, with a hard hitting opening that the author then brings back to his meandering, gorgeously plotted, slow burn to the finale, Spook Street takes the quality of this series up a notch. Well several notches.
I mean really its just great great writing. Witty, ironic, intelligent you name something you want from a book its probably in here. HUGELY entertaining conversational pieces are embedded within the wider story which is utterly gripping, totally captivating and ultimately satisfying. This author knows how to put a finish on things.
I genuinely cannot recommend this series highly enough.
You can purchase Spook Street HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Headline
Source: Review Copy
My name is Flora Dane and I was kidnapped from a beach on spring break. I spent 472 days with my captor before I was found.
I spent the last five years trying to reacquaint myself with the rhythms of my life. But everything is different. I’ve had to learn how to protect myself in this dangerous new world.
There are other predators out there and I’ll do anything to stop them. Am I a victim or a vigilante? Detective D. D. Warren doesn’t know. Sometimes neither do I.
A truly addictive read from the pen of Lisa Gardner here, an author I’m a huge fan of especially the Raine/Quincy novels (of which there is a new one coming YAY) Up until this point I had not been QUITE as enamoured of the DD Warren novels but for me Find Her brought this series into its own.
Tense, claustrophobic, a really serious page turner, Find Her has all the elements of a classic crime novel with added pizazz and some truly atmospheric and heart stopping writing. Flora Dane is a remarkable character, the descriptive sense of her was pitch perfect and her ordeal and life changing experience extraordinarily compelling.
I also felt a lot more connected to DD throughout this instalment, all of a sudden she clicked for me and I engaged fully with her and her life and background. Her frustrations with Flora here were my frustrations and the fact that she is not entirely up to par fitness wise only added to the overall sense of urgency that Lisa Gardner brings to this story.
In fact if you have not read this series before I would say this would be an excellent starting point – it may make you want to go backwards (and you’ll enjoy the previous books too) but it will (almost) certainly make you want to move forwards, especially if you are a huge crime fan looking for your next fix.
I like a multi layered tale, a more than just the facts narrative and the exploration of victimology and the aftermath of trauma are done so well here, you can feel the emotional highs and lows, the author bringing a huge amount of authenticity to the tale. The victim advocate angle was great, Samuel Keynes being one of my favourite characters in this and I hope we get to meet him again.
Plenty of twists and turns, a thoughtful and considered underlying tone, taut plotting and a brilliantly focused finale means Find Her comes highly recommended from me.
You can Purchase Find Her HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Harvil Secker
Source: Purchased Copy
Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.
Historical Crime Fiction has to be bang on the money for me to love it as it is not my favourite genre to dive into, I like DNA and technology and all that jazz- well what can I say. A Rising Man IS bang on the money in every single way you can possibly think of. And then probably a few more too.
From the very start I was hook line and sinkered into this one – beautifully portraying a place and time, brilliantly authentic and multi layered characters and a real page turner of a murder mystery, A Rising Man really hit the spot when it comes to my reading addiction. It has taken me ages to get to it and that’ll teach me. Although hopefully now it means I’m closer to the next in the series. Clouds. Silver linings. All that.
Full of rich detail and endlessly compelling, the writing here is sublime. The historical facts interwoven with the fictional story, hitting perfect pitch when it comes to pacing, I’m a little in awe of how easily and how completely I lived in this world during the reading of it. Oh I could probably bang on a bit about the plot detail and tell you stuff but really there is no need when all you have to do is pick this one up and live it for yourself.
I’d do it if I were you. I’m just saying. Some books feed into the reasons why we read. A Rising Man is one of those. Loved it.
HIGHLY recommended. With capital letters and everything.
You can Purchase A Rising Man HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder.
Antoinette Conway, the tough, abrasive detective from The Secret Place, is still on the Murder squad, but only just. She’s partnered up with Stephen Moran now, and that’s going well – but the rest of her working life isn’t. Antoinette doesn’t play well with others, and there’s a vicious running campaign in the squad to get rid of her. She and Stephen pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers’ tiff, but gradually they realise there’s more going on: someone on their own squad is trying to push them towards the obvious solution, away from nagging questions. They have to work out whether this is just an escalation in the drive to get rid of her – or whether there’s something deeper and darker going on.
I’m a huge fan of Tana French – for me she sits up there with King as the author I look to for the reads that just drag me under.The Dublin Murder Squad series has been an absolute delight and an absolutely killer set of reads and The Tresspasser just adds into that.
I love how the characters flow during the series, often a drop in character from the previous novel becomes the focus for the next – in The Tresspasser two of my favourites return in the form of Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran, now working together on the squad and facing a daunting task in their hunt for a killer.
This is literary crime right at the top of the tree for me – beautifully written, beautifully plotted, stunning character depth and just such a page turner, could not put this down for the LIFE of me. The relationship between Antoinette and Stephen is fascinating, complex and built beautifully throughout the story, interwoven with the mystery element, the current case, which is as twisty as they come. The Trespasser is a perfect storm of a story, combining drama, unpredictable turns, unlikely hero’s and divisive characters both good guy and bad. So very very compelling all the way.
Loved it. The entire series is highly recommended by me.
You can Purchase The Trespasser HERE
Publication date: Available now from Pan Macmillan
Chicago, 1928. In the stifling summer heat three disturbing events take place. A clique of city leaders is poisoned in a fancy hotel. A white gangster is found mutilated in an alleyway in the Blackbelt. And a famous heiress vanishes without a trace.
Pinkerton detectives Michael Talbot and Ida Davis are hired to find the missing heiress by the girl’s troubled mother. But it proves harder than expected to find a face that is known across the city, and Ida must elicit the help of her friend Louis Armstrong.
While the police take little interest in the Blackbelt murder, Jacob Russo, crime scene photographer, can’t get the dead man’s image out of his head, and so he embarks on his own investigation.
I was a HUGE fan of The Axemans Jazz so to say I was a little excited to read this would be putting it mildly.
And my word if Ray Celestin hasnt gone and done it again. The mix of historical fact and fiction is utterly compelling (Louis Armstrong!) and I was so happy to be reading about Michael and Ida again, two characters I fell in love with in the first novel. The same evocative writing style, with perhaps an even more compelling plot made Dead Mans Blues a really top notch read.
The author weaves real life events into the narrative seamlessly making the fictional parts all the more authentic feeling – yes he takes some liberties with the actual timing but any fan of the era or of Mr Armstrong will see the progression and the inspirations here. That aside though, this tale of murder and mayhem is beautifully plotted and very compelling, the sense of the time is evoked in dramatic and gorgeous fashion throughout the telling.
Really really REALLY excellent.
Highly Recommended once more. And luckily for me there will BE more.
You can purchase Dead Mans Blues HERE
Publication Date: 30th June 2016 from Harvill Secker
This was meant to be the perfect trip.
The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.
A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.
Except things don’t go as planned.
Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.
Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that her sleep problems might be driving her mad or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness…
Another page turning thrill ride with a claustrophobic vibe from the pen of Ruth Ware who wrote one of my favourite darkly delicious tales of last year – rather than a dark dark wood this time we are on a dark dark boat where there is no hope of escape for anyone, least of all the reader. Immediately absorbing.
Poor Lo. I felt for her. So sure that she has witnessed a murder -but the woman who disappeared had seemingly failed to actually appear in the first place, nobody knows a thing about her – so what is a girl to do? Well drink a bit more, sob a bit then determinedly set out to track down a murderer. Who may or may not exist. For me The Woman in Cabin 10 was a homage to the classic locked room mystery and beautifully done. Plus seriously addictive.
VERY Christie Ms Ware – give us a limited number of suspects within a confined space, rock the boat a bit (yes I did do that) spin things around,make our main character sympathetically prone to being a bit daft and you have all the elements of a brilliant read that throws you right into the action and gets the little grey cells working overtime. Poirot would of course have solved it within pages and then waddled around being super important before gathering everyone together and revealing all – Lo however has to use her own wit and judgment, and is battling other demons that threaten to overwhelm her. So the outcome is never certain and indeed it might all be a storm in a teacup…
Clever, twisty, paced to perfection, surprising and intriguing, The Woman In Cabin 10 is perfect summer reading. Although if you DO read it on a beach, slather on the sun cream. You won’t be moving until you are done and we wouldnt want any painful consequences.
You can purchase The Woman in Cabin 10 HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Corvus
Source: Review Copy
Did she leave or was she taken?
The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.
To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…
Distress Signals is the perfect storm (yes I really did that) when it comes to psychological thrillers, of which I read an awful lot (sometimes a truly AWFUL lot) this genre being the one exploding everywhere for quite some time now – so to bring to that something that is entirely intelligent, brilliantly plotted throughout and engaging to the point of genius is quite a feat. Hmm.
So with Distress Signals (and trust me you couldn’t pay me a million pounds to get on a cruise ship right now) we have Adam whose girlfriend has disappeared into thin air. Unable to convince anyone that something awful has happened and with no hope of official investigation, he takes it upon himself to find out the truth…risking an emerging career and almost everything else to do so.
With a sharp eye towards character and plotting, Catherine Ryan Howard takes you around the houses, overseas and back again, weaving a twisty tale of relationships gone wrong, secrets hidden and opportunities lost. Beautifully constructed, a web of intrigue with an atmospheric and often downright creepy tone, several strands come together to form a really addictive whole. What I particularly liked about it and what made it stand out for me was the completely cohesive plot – the little nuances, the clever distractions, the colliding of several different events, so that you keep turning those pages to find out the outcome, which may end up surprising you utterly. Its just damned clever and if there was one talent I wish I had, its this one. Sadly no, so you writers will have to keep writing them and I’ll just have to keep finding them.
This reminded me in sense and feeling of Day Four from Sarah Lotz – the cruise ship element of course feeding into that rather random comparison seeing as how Day Four is fantasy and Distress Signals is very very firmly set in reality , but its the atmospheric sense I’m talking about. That thing where you know there is something just around the corner but you can’t QUITE see what it is, that right there is what makes a psychological thriller crackle and pop. Distress Signals crackled and popped more than a whole boxful of Rice Crispies and is a lot more delicious to boot.
(Oh and just on a personal note – I see on Amazon that this book apparently has a “Twist you wont see coming” – PLEASE stop it publicity bods really. Let people enjoy the read, not spend the entirety looking for a twist that may or may not ultimately satisfy. Distress Signals really, the whole THING is a twist. In that its blinking good and the author didn’t need to use any ridiculously unlikely plot devices to achieve that. )
Loved it. Highly Recommended.
You can purchase Distress Signals HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Indigo
Source: Purchased Copy
Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .
For me this book was pretty incredible. It takes focus and an ability to not keep diving under the duvet every time something downright creepy occurs (sometimes I did well other times I eyed the novel from a place of safety somewhere full of light) – The Dead House is a multi-layered tale that can be interpreted in many different ways all the way through. As such its bound to divide opinion – for me it was brilliant in both concept and execution, I immersed myself in this one and came out the other side of it very disturbed and slightly tearful.
So “The Dead House” taken on one level is the tale of one girls descent into madness. As such it is emotionally resonant and incredibly moving. But this novel allows for many possibilities all of which are explored, often in the scariest way and there is the absolute hook and what makes it so addictive and clever.
Told in retrospect, many years after an event – through Kaitlyn’s diary, “found footage” medical transcripts and various police interviews, the story of Carly Johnson begins to emerge one brutal step at a time. We first meet Kaitlyn when she tells us “I curse anyone who reads this book. Screw you. Happy Reading” – Right there I was hooked. Kaitlyn is our anchor here, for the most part it is her story. Sharing a body with her “sister” Carly who lives and breathes the day while Kaitlyn is entirely a child of the night, she is visceral and intriguing, sympathetic and violently alive. I loved her. Carly is seen entirely through the eyes of others, Kaitlyn included, the other half that creates the whole.
Speaking to mental illness in quite an innovative way by offering a sense of what Dissociative Identity Disorder might be like (from the authors note at the end it seems she has some experience of this) but also wrapping that up in a story that may (or may not) have a supernatural or other worldly element, allowing the reader to dissect and decide alongside the wider cast of the novel, made this an often brutal but always engaging story from the haunting beginning to the sob inducing conclusion.
The construct was fascinating, allowing as it did several opinions to emerge. I was especially taken by Dr Lansing, who actually I think got a bad rap sometimes, her attempts to help Carly (Kaitlyin) formed some of my most emotion inducing moments of this read – I often wanted to scream at her NO LISTEN TO WHAT SHE IS TELLING YOU. But of course science doesn’t allow for anything other than logical explanations. This and many other themes are explored within the narrative and I loved every minute of it. The minutes I wasnt hiding under the duvet….
Overall a really really good story and absolutely great writing that absorbs you into Carly’s (Kaitlyn’s) world and holds you there aghast. I’m not sure what I made of the resolution but its one that will stay with me. For that reason its a highly recommended from me.
You can purchase “The Dead House” HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Headline
Source: Review copy. Purchased copy
The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.
A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.
To the one man who understands her.
Gives her shelter.
Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.
He’s the head of her new family.
And when Harm’s family is threatened, Marnie Rome is about to find out that everything tastes like fear..
Looking back to when the blog was in its infancy, one of the very first advance novels I read was Sarah Hilary’s “Someone Elses Skin” – later to become winner of the 2015 Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year – so began a readers love affair with a new crime fiction series. The day I met Marnie Rome is one I genuinely have not forgotten – not only because it WAS one of the first times I was reading something long before it was published but because of the sheer emotional impact of the story, the writing and the character.
No Other Darkness followed in which the depth of writing went up a notch, the character came into her own, I also fell for Noah and again Sarah Hilary took me to a dark dark place – one of brutal reality, no punches held, no quarter given and managed to make me cry. (Yes I’m a big big baby I cannot lie)
So here we are at Tastes Like Fear then – a novel I am late in reviewing, many have come before me to tell you how great it is, one of my favourite reviews of it can be found HERE
Yes Emma she got tea all over me too!
Sarah Hilary is an incredible writer tis true – but being an incredible writer does not necessarily mean you can tell a STORY – the main thing is Ms Hilary tells a brilliantly plotted, deep, beautifully written, emotionally resonant STORY. Every single time. She messes with her characters (and therefore her readers) she points out flaws in our society with an insightful eye whilst keeping it entertaining, addictive and entirely believable. It is a talent. A rarer one than you might think.
Harm is scary. He is drop down, drop dead scary. There is that. But even MORE scary is the fact that he could be oh so real, the girls he manipulates could be within your eyeline, the person standing behind you in the bus queue could be hiding the darkest secret and you would never know it – this author brings all those possibilities to creepy, delightful life. Those deeper darker things stay with you long after reading any one of her novels and Tastes Like Fear is the best yet.
Reading is very subjective – this is a discussion I’ve had with friends recently – what speaks to one of us may disappoint the next – but for ME the type and quality of fiction that Sarah Hilary (and others) are producing is the type and quality that I love, read for, live for, want on my bookshelves to return to.
Tastes Like Fear is immense. And clever. And Highly Recommended by me. For what its worth.
You can purchase “Tastes Like Fear” HERE
Publication Date: 3rd May 2016 from Hodder and Staughton
Source: Publisher Review Copy
A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.
A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.
After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free. But for how long?
And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened…
This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.
Redemption Road, put simply, is an incredible novel.
While I was in it I was IN it, this is intensely absorbing writing with a depth to it that is utterly and completely gripping – the characters, the story, the sense of place and time, ALL of it bang on the money creating a perfect storm. Coming out the other side of this I am truly appreciative of levels, nuances, poetry of prose and just sheer genuis of construction that goes into creating a genuinely brilliant book and understanding more how rarely it is actually done.
Elizabeth Black is truly memorable as a character, layer upon layer of conflict and memory bring her to the moment we meet her, she is sympathetic, strong, focused and keeps you with her all the way. If it was just her this would be marvellous but it is not. ALL the characters are given the same treatment, the boy, the cop, Liz, the unknown killer, the supporting cast that go on a journey with them, most especially young Channing who I wept for many times.
John Hart takes you down some dark roads and explores some deeply emotive themes, there is not one moment in this story that is not insightful, engaging, often horrifying, always always authentic and every chapter is emotionally charged and will get you right in the gut. For that reason it is a read that I drip fed to myself a few chapters at a time, I wanted to get over one thing before I faced the next. The story twists and turns its way to one of the most heart stopping and heart wrenching conclusions I have read in forever. If you read to feel, you’ll feel it all with Redemption Road.
For me personally there are very few novelists that can pull this off the way John Hart has here. In fact only two spring to mind, John Connolly and more recently Rod Reynolds – I’m sure there are more and I want to find them. Because this, again, is why I read. To find the books that will stay with me, linger in the memory, make me wonder occasionally what might have happened next. And most of all tell a truly bewitching story that holds you in its grasp.
Redemption Road has all that in spades – and then some. For that reason it comes Highly Recommended from me. Really, its a no brainer.
You can purchase Redemption Road HERE
Publication Date: April 19th from Randomhouse Childrens (Delacorte Press)
There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.
Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night.
The Darkest Corners is that kind of atmospheric, cleverly twisted type of Young Adult novel that I’m very fond of when done really well and in this case it was done really well.
Tessa and Callie were best friends until one dark night that has reverberated down the years until the point where we join the story which finds Tessa going back to Fayette to face down her demons whilst dealing with the loss of her father. Secrets still bubble below the surface, dangerous secrets that could have widespread consequences.
I loved the vibe that Kara Thomas has brought to these indeed very dark corners – a character driven tale of monsters hiding in plain sight and childish memories given adult context. Tessa and Callie both have changed perceptions, having drifted apart they need to come back together in order to discover the truth but when everyone has something to hide its not that easy.
Some emotional and thought provoking themes run through the narrative, giving pause for consideration, whilst the author tells a damn fine and addictive story – some lovely little twists and turns take you down many paths until the ultimate and unexpected conclusion. In short an absolutely terrific psychological thriller that whilst aimed at the YA market is a fantastic read for fans of this genre whatever age they may be. A definite page turner with some clever construction, some wonderful writing and in the end the only thing that really matters – a darn good yarn. With a definitive creepy factor. I loved it.
You can Purchase “The Darkest Corners” HERE
Publication Date: 24th March from Randomhouse (Cornerstone)
If your husband was murdered,
And you were a witness,
How do you explain it when he appears on your nanny cam?
You thought you trusted him.
Now you can’t even trust yourself.
Fool me Once. Or if you are Harlan Coben fool me once, then again, then just when I’ve got a grip on things do it again. Yep that master of the double triple quadruple twist is back and on top form here with this novel – in which I smugly assumed several times that I knew where it was going then Mr Coben basically went “ha ha ha NO because see?” Sigh.
Anyway, this was great. A one sitting read, fairly bombs along, great characters, a twisted story in multiple layers and yet of course if only you could bring yourself to stop looking left when you should be looking right, everything would be incredibly simple. But there you have the genius of this kind of storytelling and it is a sheer joy to watch unfold.
Maya has lost her husband after losing her sister, she is a mother and an ex soldier, suffering from trauma – it is hardly strange that when her dead husband appears to be very much alive via her nanny cam she doubts herself and all those around her. As she starts to unravel the mystery of his death (or not as the case may be) things are only going to get more strange and obscure. But Maya is pretty determined…
Harlan Coben mixes it up with an eclectic and fascinating cast of characters, a mystery that would give Agatha Christie writers envy and a fast paced ever developing plot that keeps you hopping madly from one foot to the other. Just for larks he throws in some thought provoking themes within the narrative which gives it even more of an edge then basically messes with your head for a bit before dumping a killer ending on you.
Clever. Very very clever. Loved it. More like this one please.
You can purchase “Fool me Once” HERE.
Publication Date: 22nd March 2016 from Gallery Threshold
The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
Now anyone that follows my reviews (thank you!) will know that I’m a huge fan of twisty tales, those stories with incredibly well drawn characters that keep you on your toes for the entire time and hopefully surprise you at the end.
There have been rumblings that this type of story has now been done to death, that there are no surprises, nothing new. Well whilst J T Ellison has not necessarily done something new here what she HAS done is written a corker of a psychological thriller, with some intensely disturbing yet loveable characters, subtle twists that make you crazy and created a brilliantly atmospheric page turner.
Aubrey is entirely fascinating – dealing with the loss of her husband, facing down an uncertain future and haunted by a challenging childhood. We first meet her just as Josh is being officially declared dead, from there things just start happening, she keeps seeing familiar faces but is someone watching her or is she going crazy? Frankly I think I’ve gone crazy trying to get a handle on her, but this is the beauty of this kind of novel when it is done this well.
Aubrey is not alone in the fascinating character department. As we start getting snippets of the past, time hopping to start bringing the bigger picture into focus, we have Mother in Law Daisy who has never liked Aubrey, new man in her life Chase, best friend Meghan and indeed Josh himself. Weaving an intricate web around this bunch, J T Ellison creates a truly engaging tale of human nature and nurture, reminding us once again that you can never really know someone when it comes to their inner thoughts or motives. Clever, unpredictable and GREAT fun to read.
You may or may not see the end coming, but it doesnt matter – in “No One Knows” the solution could be anything – some seriously twisted people in here – JUST the way I like it.
You can Purchase No One Knows HERE
Publication Date: 25th Feb from Orion
Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways.
I’m a little in love with this book. It is something different, and not so much about the surface of it but oh so much about the many layers underneath, thought provoking, haunting (sometimes literally) and full of descriptive authenticity that shines from every page.
Jonathan Dark is a police detective with a difference who is determined to save Maria from a stalker who has killed before. Maria has regained her sight but finds she does not wish to use it – meanwhile another London is hidden just beneath the bright lights and both of them come to know it..
Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts is a remarkable read in a lot of ways, a definite page turner but also often gently lulling you along – like the river running through it, the narrative bends first one way then another, taking you on a dark yet often humerous journey, focused on the senses and the writing is really quite beautiful.
Add to that a bit of a rip roarer of a plot that is highly engaging and works its way up to a frantic chase to the finish, some really strangely wonderful and eclectic characters and a genuinely intriguing and atmospheric styling and you have a really marvellous read.
I was a fan of The Beauty of Murder, this authors first novel – with Jonathan Dark she has continued that gorgeous speculative storytelling and created a wonderful new mythology – hopefully one that we will learn more about in future novels.
Yep I’m definitely a little in love with this book.
You can order Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Vintage
Some memories are too powerful to live only in the past.
During a ferocious storm, a red-haired stranger appears in the garden of a small farming cottage. Eliza and her parents take him in. But very soon, it’s clear he has no intention of leaving.
A century later, Mary and Graham have experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Now, escaping the memories and the headlines, they have found an idyllic new home in rural Suffolk. A cottage, a beautiful garden. The perfect place to forget. To move on. But life doesn’t always work that way.
The one thing “The Stopped Heart” has achieved is to ensure that I read this authors back catalogue. This is some beautiful writing right here.
It is a story full of atmosphere, a truly emotional look at love, loss, life, death and all the stuff inbetween. Julie Myerson weaves a haunting and evocative web here as we learn about Mary, living with devastation, caught up in the moment unable to move on. Alongside her and us the readers, is Eliza, 100 years earlier, about to experience some devastation of her own.
As the narrative links the two characters, through event and circumstance, through emotion and a hint of other, Julie Myerson writes with true sense of feeling, painting a real picture of different lives lived in the same area many years apart. Tragedy links the two – this is both horrific and very real throughout – you know that something is coming for Eliza but trust me you will not be prepared. And Mary, her loss is tangible, you can taste it – as she struggles to maintain her relationship with her Husband, also grieving, as she tries to find some semblance of a life worth living, this is beautifully done.
This is about memory. About events echoing down the ages. About hearts broken into a million pieces and the struggle to mend them. I loved it.
You can purchase The Stopped Heart HERE
Publication Date: March 3rd 2016 from Corvus
Source: Publisher review copy
Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.
But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.
When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.
In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…
Bone By Bone is both a top psychological thriller and an emotional and hard hitting look at the insidious nature of bullying – it is a bit of a page turner I read 3/4 of this in one sitting and it is scary and realistic – the realism making it more scary than if it were complete fantasy or even read as being slightly unlikely.
Autumn is being bullied at school, her mother tries to put a stop to it and ends up making it worse after one definitive and far reaching decision made in the spur of the moment.
The nature of this novel, in that it shows the slow downward spiral of a mother and daughter whom the system lets down, is extremely topical and very haunting. As they struggle to deal with knock after knock, you will be absolutely glued to the pages, in disbelief and horror at how quickly one seemingly small incident can escalate into a targeted campaign of fear. The actions of the school, of the bully, of his Dad, of the other parents, all cleverly interwoven into the underlying sense of unease will really hit home and Sanjida Kay has a keen eye for the small details that really matter when it comes to telling a story.
One of the things I thought was particularly intriguing about Bone By Bone was the way it looked at many facets, the ending may be unexpected but feels absolutely right and whilst bullying is, by its very nature, a most horrific thing, there are often multiple layers at play and this novel speaks to that very well.
Excellent. Highly Recommended.
You can pre-order Bone By Bone here
Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer
In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in – and betray his own kind.
Admittedly “Brilliance” is a book that I totally went for on impulse – I wasn’t sure if it would be for me – turns out it was ABSOLUTELY for me. Although its a little simple to say Brilliance is Brilliant – that really is entirely the truth.
For a start it is an absolute thrill ride start to finish, with incredibly impactful action scenes that really get the blood up interspersed with quieter focus on the backstory and the mythology the author is creating – its a perfect mix really and as such is the most addictive novel I have read in months.
The “Brilliants” or twists as they can be known are a really fantastic creation – because they could so easily be real, it gives the story an absolutely realistic feel, a basis in possibility that keeps the whole thing grounded. You can really get into it and wonder at the thought which makes it even more of an enjoyable read. They can’t do magic, they just see things differently, interpret differently, have expanded intelligence, therefore ARE different. I found the many facets of that completely fascinating and the different elements are seamlessy interwoven into the narrrative.
And Nick Cooper is a really well imagined and easy to love “anti” hero – a man who kills, a man who hunts but who you totally believe in so when his world is shattered you are right there with him. There are themes of intolerance and discrimination in the story, the character is used to perfection to highlight this – the rather nasty side of human nature that is suspicious of those different from “us” – so there is lots to think about as well. As Nick goes from hunter to hunted to something else entirely, it is completely compelling and so so soooooooo much of a page turner.
Simply excellent. I have book 2 lined up on my kindle, sadly it will have to wait a short while but I WILL be reading it in plenty of time for Book 3 due in January. I can’t wait. I’m a fan. And this HAS to be a movie surely? The Girl Who Walks Through Walls could carry that film all by herself and this novel is peppered with such characters. Mucho fun. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Pan Macmillan
Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.
Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.
Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.
When I read “The Invisible Library” last year it was a purely pleasurable read, one that I absorbed in one sitting – a darkly humerous and incredibly clever tale of a super Library overseeing a range of worlds, all of them different in their own way – and followed the story of Irene as she went after a particular book in a particular place (yes I’m trying to NOT with the spoilers) . Highly imaginative, if you love reading and books generally then you can’t possibly go wrong here, these are stories that speak to stories and as such are better than chocolate.
The follow up – The Masked City – if anything is even better. We know the eclectic and highly entertaining cast of characters and due to the mythology Genevieve Cogman can do with them as she likes – and she does! Kai was one of my favourites from The Invisible Library and this time he is in peril, Irene is determined to go to his rescue no matter the cost and it is a rich gallop of a tale that absorbs you into a magical yet often brutally realistic world and engages you utterly.
Irene is a kick ass super heroine when it comes to the books and she is not too shabby when it comes to the physical either, she has a great depth to her character and as such is the perfect anchor for such a mystical and fun tale. I’m also a big fan of the Fae as a concept – they are entirely fascinating, cleverly intriguing and you never know quite what is going to happen. All the various factions and interactions are really well done, we fairly race along to an ending that had me absolutely desperate for more.
Overall this series (which I hope will run for a while) is really superb ESPECIALLY as I say if you are a total bookworm as many of us are. You can nod along sagely at the lovely little book asides and overall I’m just a little in love with these.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: January 28th 2016 from Hodder and Staughton/Mulholland
Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.
One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.
But some people have their own ideas of what justice means…
This is book 5 in the McAvoy series and I’ve been a pretty quiet fan of it throughout to be honest, I have a little collection on my (one of many) bookshelves and when I got the chance to read Dead Pretty early there was just no way I was turning that down.
There is a peculiar brilliance to David Mark’s writing that just gives this particular crime series an oddly magical edge over most of the others out there – addictive quality in spades but also deeply fascinating character studies and a main protagonist to die for -the uniquely defined gentle giant that is DS Aector McAvoy. His personality and that of those around him (particularly wife Roisin and his boss Trish Pharoah) really resonates – you will be immersed before you know it into their world, where violence is often rife and walking the moral line is not always easy.
In “Dead Pretty” Aector is searching for a missing girl, resolutely and with determination. Then another girl is found murdered, a body is discovered on another estate – on top of that Trish is behaving quite oddly after her career has taken a hit from a rather enigmatic and intriguing recently released prisoner. This sets the scene for a truly riveting story, absolutely chocka block full of nail biting moments (I’m not even exaggerating I did really bite nails!) but also plenty of the more contemplative and thoughtful introspection that I’ve come to expect and love from this author.
Its a heady mix for sure for any crime fiction fan – and actually for anyone, why limit the field – they are intuitively done so you can start anywhere but also will be completely rewarded by reading in order, so take your pick. Having followed Aector from his first appearance back in The Dark Winter I am still completely in love with him and his supporting cast of highly alluring friends and family – with Dead Pretty David Mark has taken it up a notch if that is even possible so all of these come highly recommended from me.
And do hurry along another one. Yes I do sometimes wish there was a magic book fairy who could grant book wishes. This is one of those times – I finished this earlier today in a rush of adrenalin and a lot of crossed fingers for the outcome I hoped for – what I got was **redacted** and it was blinking brilliant!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: September 10th From Orion
The morning it all started, newspaper reporter David Harwood had plenty to worry about. A single parent with no job, forced to return with his young son to the small town of Promise Falls to live with his parents, the future wasn’t looking too rosy. So when his mother asked him to look in on his cousin Marla, who was still not quite right after losing her baby, it was almost a relief to put the disaster his own life had become to one side.
The relief wouldn’t last long.
Broken Promise see’s the indomitable Linwood Barclay back on top form – in this case starting a series which having read this makes me VERY happy.
David has returned home and is stuck living with his parents along with his young son, after the job he came back to disappears. Running an errand one day, he discovers his cousin looking after a baby – strange as her child died at birth – her story of an Angel delivering the child sets David off to find the parents, but what he finds is horrific and begins a difficult chain of events.
Truly addictive is a tag that I’ve applied to the majority of this author’s thrillers – they rock along dragging you in their wake, with twists and turns galore, some tremendously fascinating characters – and in the case of “Broken Promise” a multi layered tale encompassing not only the story at hand but setting things up for future tales from the town of Promise Falls.
The author constructs so well, each little piece of the puzzle leading into the next keeping you avidly turning the pages. It is unpredictable, especially in this case the wider plot that will obviously continue – here I was especially fond of David as an anchor character for everything else, he is very likeable and easy to travel the road with so I hope he continues to be our main point of reference.
I don’t want to say too much on plot – the main points for Broken Promise are in the blurb – but you will find a terrifically well imagined and authentic story and one that will DEFINITELY have you dying to read the next one whenever that may be. The resolution to this specific mystery is done but oh boy, there are SO many things I’m desperate to know.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Macmillan
Source: Purchased Copy
Ani FaNelli is the woman you love to hate. The woman who has it all. But behind the meticulously crafted façade lies the darkest and most violent of pasts . . .
When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violent incident that took place when she was a teenager, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she’s come since then. She’ll even let the production company film her wedding to the wealthy Luke Harrison, the final step in her transformation.
But as the wedding and filming converge, Ani’s immaculate façade begins to crack, and she soon realises that there’s always a price to pay for perfection.
Luckiest Girl Alive resonated with me. It was one of those novels that at points I had to force myself to keep reading, not due to it being bad but due to it being too real. Not perhaps with some of the circumstances but with the descriptive sense of emotion.
The main character, yes rather a silly name Tifani Fanelli – known when we first meet her as Ani – is eminently unlikeable. This continues throughout the book. She’s about to marry a rich guy and the first part of the novel focuses very much on her reasons for doing this and her constant struggle to seem as if she “fits in” to that world. She is sarcastic, seemingly selfish and as I said terrifically unlikeable in a lot of ways. And honestly I never truly warmed up to her…
About to film a documentary – a “retrospective” on an incident at a private school she used to attend, we start to get some of her backstory. Gain a better understanding of her – whilst she perhaps was always annoyingly needy the fear factor came later, as we see her as a teenager this comes more into focus. There are some emotive themes here which I won’t go into as I don’t want to spoil it – but Jessica Knoll does a great job of showing us then and now, the nuances of what have brought her to this point.
Some of the most powerful scenes in this book happen in one spot – when Ani is telling her story of that day to camera and we finally see the end game fallout – but this point IS more powerful due to the slow build up preceding it, both in the present time and in the past – getting a feeling for all those involved, and even hints of the aftermath that has followed Ani ever since.
The reveal moment is not what this book is all about though and that was something else I loved about it. It is a tool to allow the character to choose her path through life – the path of least resistance or a possible one to real happiness and acceptance. What happens after the reveal is just as important, or perhaps even more so, than what has gone before it. The true unpredictability of this one is not WHAT happened but what eventually Tifani will choose because of it.
There is a sentence in this book that stayed with me.
“You only scream when you’re finally safe.”
I get that.
I would definitely recommend this one – not as the next Gone Girl – SERIOUSLY publicity people ENOUGH already you are doing this book AND Gone Girl no favours whatsoever – but as a strong and resonant character piece that talks about truth and consequences, puts one human being into a major spotlight warts and all, where the huge event in her life is not necessarily the one that defined her and her choices are up for the harshest scrutiny. You may not like Tifani but you will want her to be ok. Whether or not in the end you think she will be I guess will come down to your own feelings and the path you may have taken. Food for thought indeed.
Great book. One I will return to.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Sphere.
Source: Harrogate review copy – thanks to Steph Rothwell for sending to me.
What if you began to suspect your child of an unspeakable crime?
When Dawn introduces her family to her new boyfriend, Rud, they hide their unsettled feelings because they’re glad that Dawn, always an awkward child, seems to have finally blossomed.
Then Dawn’s parents are savagely beaten in their own bed, and though Hanna survives, Rud stands trial for Joe’s murder. Hanna knows that if she could only remember the details of that traumatic night, she could ensure her husband’s murderer remains in jail. But Hanna hadn’t realised that those memories may cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her daughter…
If She Did It is a very tense and often claustrophobic family drama/psychological thriller, told from the point of view of Hanna – recovering from a traumatic event in which she lost her husband, an event she has no specific memory of, the possibility that her own daughter may have been involved in that violent night haunts her – however much she tries to believe that it is not, could not be true.
There is a beautiful depth here – both to the psychology of the characters and to the unfolding story itself – as Hanna starts getting flashes of insight, under pressure from all quarters to remember – it is very gripping and extremely thought provoking. Hanna’s inner turmoil is fascinating as she swings first one way then the other – as a reader you get very involved in all of her ups and downs.
Then there is the theme of mothers and daughters – as Hanna looks back over her relationship with both Dawn (the daughter causing concern) and her sister Iris, as well as the differing attitudes she and her Husband Joe had in their upbringing, a picture starts to emerge of a troubled girl – possibly even dangerous. Dangerous enough to kill? Well therein lies one of the great threads here, just like Hanna you will not be able to make up your mind.
Jessica Treadway manages to ask the hard questions as she spins this wonderfully complex web – just how far would you go to protect your child, is love enough, that age old nature v nurture debate. That Dawn has issues is never in question – but just how deep rooted these are, that is the heart and soul here, the hook that will keep you turning those pages to find out If She Did It.
Brilliant stuff. An intelligent and emotive novel that also stands out as a top notch mystery, a dilemma to get your reading teeth into and one that will leave you with a lot to think about.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Pan Macmillan
Source: Publisher Review Copy
The Sanctum is a luxurious, self-sustaining survival condominium situated underground in rural Maine. It’s a plush bolt-hole for the rich and paranoid – a place where they can wait out the apocalypse in style. When a devastating super-flu virus hits the States, several families race to reach it. All have their own motivations for entering The Sanctum. All are hiding secrets.
But when the door locks and someone dies, they realize the greatest threat to their survival may not be above ground – it may already be inside . . .
First of all a warning: Under Ground induces claustrophobia. Unless you have chocolate. Chocolate helps.
The Sanctum is an underground bunker system meant to be utilised if the world faces an apocalypse (and let’s face it, nothing so great in a book as a good apocalypse, apart from perhaps a story about people trapped underground DURING a possible apocalypse so you have no actual clue what is going on above at all) This novel explores themes of survival and personality within the context of a gorgeously tighty knitted locked room mystery.
An eclectic cast of characters arrive at The Sanctum, desperate to be safe from a creeping virus that is seemingly about to wipe out humanity. But things are not as expected, nothing works as it should and rather than living in the lap of luxury whilst all those left behind die horribly, the group find themselves facing hurdle after hurdle. When it becomes clear that they are quite literally locked in, things go downhill fast especially as there seems to be one amongst them who likes to kill…Talk about Karma. Money can’t buy everything you know.
Under Ground reminded me a bit of those old school horror movies – various characters creeping around in the dark, stalked by a killer, playing the blame game – pick your survivor, choose your bad guy, hope to God the REALLY ANNOYING character dies early and basically just have a rip roaring reading time.
In this case collaborating authors Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg have turned all that on it’s head and managed to write a truly disturbing character drama that shows the darker side of humanity where at some point it always is every man for himself. The intricacies of the relationships between our protagonists is beautifully drawn as loyalties ebb and flow, it is immensely entertaining, deeply fascinating as a snapshot of human existence and always always spot on the money when it comes to knocking the reader of their game. When you think you know everything you find you know nothing.
As they all descend into their own version of madness it is absolutely gripping, you’d really love to look away but you just can’t – completely engrossing, I was riveted. And more than a little freaked out.
There is a throwback feel to this – a Dorothy Sayers and Charlotte Armstrong type vibe when it comes to the mystery element but brought bang up to date with added blood and guts. One of those novels you would LOVE to see translated into film, I’m fairly sure this will haunt my dreams for a while.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin
Source: Purchased Copy
Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.
When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their ‘for ever’ home, they believe their dreams have come true.
Yet the boxes aren’t even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.
Loved this book. Hated the characters (not all of them!)which I’m sure was intentional on behalf of the author, but seriously this is skill.
Two women a year apart, the same house. Christy moves into her dream home, snapped up at a bargain price, only to discover herself in the middle of a rather tense atmosphere. This seems to be linked to previous occupants, The Frasers of the title, who did a moonlight flit one night never to be heard from again…As both Christy and Amber Fraser tell us their tales of woe, there is a nasty truth hovering in the background.
Jeez I detested Amber with every fibre of my being. And to be fair Christy didn’t exactly make herself likeable (God did I feel for her ever patient husband Joe) but they were both extraordinarily fascinating. Add to that Louise Candlish has created a gorgeously insightful snapshot of one street and the intricacies of all the relationships that keeps you avidly turning those pages to see what they will get up to next.
This is a kind of psychological thriller/domestic drama/character piece mash up that works extremely well. From Rob the enigmatic and much maligned neighbour, to Christy and her, well frankly, complete and utter inability to keep her nose out of other people’s business – and beyond to the neighbours and friends that live on the street, this is a genuinely riveting tale which will keep you guessing.
I now know why the Fraser’s so suddenly departed – and the journey to discovery was terrific every step of the way. Go find out for yourself!
Happy Reading Folks
Publication Date: Available Now from Harper Collins UK Avon
Escape and they’ll kill your family.
The cruellest game. The highest stakes. Only she can bring his family back alive …
Blimey that was a read and a half. Or more even. BAM starts off at a hell of a pace, never lets up and is utterly gripping. If EVER a novel should be made into a movie this one is it – but still as a written story it stands tall as a really really excellently addictive and breathtaking thriller.
So Chris comes home to find his family missing – and heads straight into a nightmare. On the run, but not able to attempt escape, his only hope is a woman who has her own agenda and may not necessarily be any help at all…
This really is a relentless read that unfolds at breakneck speed, no time to take a breath, really well written to keep you on the edge of your seat through the whole hectic glorious rush of it all. Really great bad guys (always a plus in a thriller), a family in peril (gulp) and a deliciously drawn anti-heroine in Rose who you may well end up caring about more than all the others put together.
I think this one was even better for me due to a lot of it being set around Snowden, an area I know well and which the author brings to vivid life in his eclectically descriptive way that made me feel I was right there. It just gave an added extra to the whole feel of it.
Overall then a superb read. Absolutely highly recommended especially if you like your thrillers served hot.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin (Michael Joseph)
Source: Purchased Copy
Annie has a secret. But if she’s not going to tell, we won’t either. It’s a heart-breaking secret she wishes she didn’t have – yet Annie isn’t broken, not quite yet. Especially now there’s someone out there who seems determined to fix her.
Kate has run away. But she’s not going to tell us why – that would defeat the point of running, wouldn’t it? It’s proving difficult to reinvent herself, however, with one person always on her mind.
I’d heard great things about this novel from several trusted sources so it accidentally dropped into my basket during a recent book shopping trip – and boy was I in for a treat.
This is simply superb – totally captivating, storytelling genius, with unforgettable characters that I loved with all my heart. Two brilliantly drawn and utterly gripping strong female leads, with a supporting cast that makes for a rollicking good read, often darkly humerous and completely addictive from first page to last.
Kate has run away from her life and is living incognito on a farm – Annie is facing huge potentially life changing differences in hers – told in alternating chapters between the two we start to learn about their current lives, their past lives, their friendships and the reasons behind their actions. It is perfectly paced, perfectly constructed and is one of those novels that you just know you will remember for the rest of your life and probably read several times.
The mystery element is intriguing – you know there are secrets hovering just below the surface but you tend to forget about those as you get totally caught up in the lives of these two women, one of whom has a dark past and you watch them head into an uncertain future. There is a beautifully done romantic aspect (and I usually don’t do romance but this was authentic and rather lovely) but added to that is a story of deep friendships and lasting ties which is emotionally stunning. The vibrant characters live and breathe in your imagination as you read, there really is no downside.
And gosh if that was not enough the author floored me with a beautiful little twisty turn that I absolutely did not see coming. Yes, mea culpa this time I was caught out but it is so brilliantly perfect that I’m not even cross with myself. I had to put the book down for a moment while my brain caught up to the authors genius, then I rocketed through the rest in record time, couldn’t wait to see how it all panned out for Kate and Annie.
Plus horses. The book has horses. Really is there anything else to say?
Sheer brilliance. Highly HIGHLY recommended.
Happy Reading Folks
Publication Date: 2nd June 2015 from Diversion Books.
They know her as Kali. She is there to see them off into the afterlife with kindness, with efficiency, and with two needles. She’s been a part of the right-to-die movement for years, an integral member, complicit in the deaths of twenty-seven men and women, all suffering from terminal illnesses. And she just helped the wrong patient.
The Euthanist is probably the biggest page turner of the year for me so far, I practically inhaled it because of its utterly addictive quality.
Kali helps people die. Only if they are dying anyway and only if she is convinced that it is truly what they want. Then one day, one client does something completely unexpected. At that point Kali is pulled this way and that, through drama after crisis after drama – and into an ever changing situation that is completely gripping and so compelling that you will come out of the other side feeling like you have run a marathon.
I loved it – because it is not what you think it will be – things change fast, the author keeps you right on your toes. There are some brilliantly depicted characters, not the least of whom is Kali, I guess whether or not you sympathise with her might well depend on how well your beliefs match hers. I can’t really talk about anyone else without giving something away and this novel is most definitely best read cold.
This is a psychological thriller with heart and soul and a very fascinating premise that will keep you up until all hours until you can finally find out what the heck is going on. Some emotional subjects tackled well within the narrative, something to think about while you are following Kali around as she faces emotional turmoil and is given something to think about herself…
Really excellent construction, spot on pacing and pitch perfect reveal moments make this an absolute must read for psychological thriller fans.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 30th June 2015 from St Martin’s Press (Minotaur) UK Title “Hunted” from Macmillan.
Source: Netgalley (Minotaur)
Reeve LeClaire is a college student, dammit, not Daryl Wayne Flint’s victim. Not anymore—not when Reeve is finally recovering a life of her own after four years of captivity. For all that Flint seems like a model patient, he has long been planning his next move. When the moment arrives, he gets clean away from the hospital before the alarm even sounds. And Reeve is shocked out of her new life by her worst nightmare: Her kidnapper has escaped.
So I adored “The Edge of Normal” which was the first novel featuring main protagonist Reeve – survivor of a long term and violent kidnapping when we meet her in book one she sets out to help another victim come to terms with her life after trauma. It was a novel that was full of psychological depth and completely addictive.
Moving onto “What Doesnt Kill Her” then (UK Title “Hunted”) Reeve is enjoying a fairly normal life – more centred, not so on the edge, but still haunted by her past. When her kidnapper escapes however she is drawn back into a place she thought she has moved on from, determined to help the investigators track him down, it turns out she has some intriguing insights.
This really is a brilliant book – the characters pop, the action when it comes is fast and furious, the psychological depth is once more pitch perfect allowing a terrific yin/yang between character drama and thriller.
Reeve is brilliant- she is flawed of course, who wouldnt be if they had her experience – but she has definitely learned and developed from the time when she was known as “Edgy Reggie” into an impressive young woman whose bravery is both inspiring and absolutely authentic.
The tale fairly rollicks along at a gorgeous pace, it has a very dark heart and a killer who makes you want to hide under the bed. And lets not even talk about his mother…
Admittedly after “The Edge of Normal” I did not expect to meet Reeve again – now Carla Norton has given us a continuation of her story it feels absolutely right, this novel too has set things up so we can keep following along with her and this makes me inordinately pleased. In fact I simply MUST know what is next for Reeve and if the series continues at this standard it is fast going to be in my top 5 must read series. Probably already is actually..
Excellent. Really excellent and if you are a fan of Crime fiction and like it to have a dark cutting edge and a character you can truly root for, then the Reeve LeClaire books are definitely for you.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now (Kindle) Sept 3rd (Hardback) from Ebury Published in the US by Mulholland
Source: Netgalley via Ebury publishing
When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community’s darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.
It is a strange old world when a book that is about teenagers running literally wild is the most beautifully written novel you have read in a long time. But that is how “When we were Animals” was for me.
It drew me in like magic – Lumen is a beacon, her story strange and full of wonder, a coming of age tale set in a small town somewhere that could be anywhere but where puberty happens differently. And yet in a lot of ways it happens just as it does everywhere else…
During the full moon cycles in the town where Lumen lives, some of the kids run wild. Known as breachers, they stalk the streets, animalistic, unclothed, they fight, they run, they indulge any urge until the sun rises. It starts suddenly it stops suddenly. All the children go through it, a rite of passage into adulthood. Well except apparently for Lumen’s mother, she too believes she will be immune…
Oh where to start. Well for one thing the writing is pure poetry. Gorgeous prose, descriptively vivid and imaginative, allegorical genius and utterly utterly compelling. I lived and breathed within the pages every time I turned to it, it is immersive and totally insane, elegant yet very very wild.
Lumen grows up, we see her growing up, she is telling the tale from a distance- married now and with a son of her own, she no longer lives in the place she was from but she has certainly taken the heart of it with her it seems. I was surprised, delighted, melancholy and contemplative at various times during the reading of it, the author has a way of making you feel his characters emotions and making you feel your own.
When I was done with it I had a strange yearning. For what I’m not sure, but this this is a story that will stay with me for a long time. If you read the blurb and are expecting a werewolf novel or a tale about monsters then look away now – there is horror to be had here, as well as some harsh life realities and
some beautiful affirmations, but Joshua Gaylord’s animals are all too human. They consist of the urges that lie in all of us, somewhere lurking beneath the surface.
This was a totally alluring piece of storytelling. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It won’t be for everyone. But it was definitely for me.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: May 26th From Grand Central Publishing
“A soft breeze fluttered the white, blue, and red Russian flag in front of the U.N. mission. I remember when the Soviet hammer and sickle flew there. I kind of miss the Cold War. But I think it’s back.”
After a showdown with the notorious Yemeni terrorist known as The Panther, John Corey has left the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and returned home to New York City, taking a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. Although Corey’s new assignment with the DSG-surveilling Russian diplomats working at the U.N. Mission-is thought to be “a quiet end,” he is more than happy to be out from under the thumb of the FBI and free from the bureaucracy of office life.
But Corey realizes something the U.S. government doesn’t: The all-too-real threat of a newly resurgent Russia.
Oh John Corey how I adore you.
Nelson De Mille writes extraordinarily accomplished thrillers every time and he has a plethora of great recurring characters to entice the readers in (John Sutter and Paul Brenner being two other faves of mine) but the John Corey series is the one that has a special place in my heart down solely to that character.
Each of the Corey books can be read as standalones but I would definitely recommend reading in order if at all possible due to the brilliant character development (or more perhaps that John stays beautifully the same while all others around him roll their eyes) and because his journey through various law enforcement agencies is really quite ironically witty and seeing it all pan out is one of the great joys of reading these novels. Plum Island is where you need to start…
In this instalment he is working on surveillance, keeping an eye on some suspicious Russian officials living in the US. However as anyone who reads these knows, John Corey lives life in the fast lane – wherever he goes trouble is sure to follow (a lot of it he gets into all by himself) and when he loses sight of one of his targets there is no way in heck he is going home until he tracks him down again. So begins a really tense and exciting adventure and this author being who he is, there is no guarantee of a win for the good guys.
The thing that makes this novel and the ones before it such scintillating reads is the exquisite mixture of thrills and laughs. John Corey has a disparaging wit that just makes you smile then the next moment he is all focus and action as the danger zone hits – you will hover between the edge of your seat and relaxing into a wry smile as he waxes lyrical over his own situation and personality. I love it – really really terrific reading.
If you like a wisecracking protagonist then John Corey is for you – if you like a well constructed and actually thrilling thriller then the situations he finds himself in are for you. If you like a good mix of characters all extremely well drawn, some peripheral, some who turn up often then you will love it.
Its not as if these are popcorn thrillers either – if you are looking for something a little deeper you will find that here as well – Nelson De Mille using his characters and settings to explore wider worldwide issues and certainly he brings a lot of emotional impact to his storytelling.
In Radiant Angel he uses two “scenes” if you like – following John Corey but then in parts following the Russians – this gives a stark and exciting edge to proceedings as the reader is allowed some insight into whether any of the actions John and his compatriots are taking are likely to be of any use. It adds to the drama and stimulus of the read perfectly. Really really gripping stuff.
Overall then, the author has hit the mark for me once again. Long live John Corey!
Happy Reading Folks!
*Note: UK Title may be different. I believe it will be “A Quiet End”
Publication Date: Available Now from Orbit
Source: Purchased Copy
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.
The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
Well I LOVED this one. In a kind of a love hate fashion. It broke my heart into little pieces at the end there…and somewhere around the midway point as well.
In Feed we are post zombie apocalypse – the dead no longer stay dead due to a virus that arose from curing the common cold. In this world bloggers are the newshounds, traditional news reporting being practically over. Licensed, followed, life for a blogger is all about the market share and the ratings. Enter Georgia and Shaun Mason – invited to follow a presidential campaign. During this they discover a conspiracy that may cost them everything.
For a zombie novel this packed a hell of an emotional punch – whilst being written in a very matter of fact almost documentary style for the most part, there is a brilliant emotive edge embedded into every single paragraph. I loved the Masons – their relationship, with each other and the world around them, the ever expanding cast of characters they interact with all being very well drawn and intriguing.
One of the huge strengths of this novel for me was the world building – descriptively brilliant, feeling authentic and realistic in its scientific basis but still very much focusing on the human aspect – the two sides to the coin so to speak are interwoven in fine fashion to give a solid backdrop to the drama going on.
Character building is just as good – I adored both Georgia and Shaun (And Buffy, Rick, Steve, et al) and became very emotionally involved with them during the reading. The author does a fine job of making you care and gives a great mix of action and thrills to keep you on the edge of your seat a lot of the time.
The themes explored are as wide as they are deep – reporting integrity, political agenda’s, rights and responsibilities in a world gone mad – using characters whose job it is to get the news out there as the main protagonists for this story works extraordinarily well and allows many different aspects to be explored. It was fascinating, scary, sad and extremely intriguing from first page to last.
All in all then definitely on my favourites list. But oh that ending killed me. I am torn between diving straight into “Deadline”, book two of the series and hiding under my duvet for a couple of weeks until my heart rate slows. We’ll see.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Bloomsbury
Source: Purchased Copy
When 15-year-old Carolyn moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the junior class at Adams High School. A good student and natural athlete, she’s immediately welcomed by the school’s cliques. She’s even nominated to the homecoming court and begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival.
Well Jeez Louise, what a darkly unrelenting, brilliantly emotional and utterly authentic book that was. This one incidentally is another one that author Louise O Neill insisted I read – yep thanks Louise. As with “Bright Places” you’ve managed to find me another story that has left me emotionally traumatised. You and I are going to fall out (keep ’em coming)
So “Weightless” then deals in a unique way with the subject of bullying in the modern era, but it is so much more than that. A picture of life in a town where everyone knows everyone else, into this scenario comes Carolyn, new to the town, new to the school who immediately gains popularity and notoriety. But here is the thing when you are an interloper into a place like this, that has its own rhythms, a way of life that is smooth and knowable – make one wrong move and there is nowhere to run.
Written in a style that allows you to see things both from a distance and close up – our narrator is never named, she is “we” – observing these rhythms, sometimes involved, sometimes not, painting a picture for the reader of a place, a time and a girl – a picture that is utterly compelling, often melancholy and leading inexorably towards a conclusion that will hit you right where it hurts. You are aware very early on that things will not turn out well for Carolyn but the writing and the construction of this story is so vivid and engaging that you still kind of don’t see it coming.
I was enthralled and often horrified, the thing that struck me most about “Weightless” is the sheer atmosphere of the piece – you are immersed into this town and this way of life without even realising it. Sarah Bannan has a way with words that just works on so many levels that I still feel like I’ve been turned inside out emotionally. It is possibly the most definitive fiction I’ve read with bullying as one of its themes – clever use of language, stark realism and a refusal to sugar coat any part of it makes this an absolute must read for teenagers and their parents alike.
Our narrator is really a most terrific creation considering you have no idea who she is – whilst she makes intensely canny observations about the things going on and what comes later, she also serves to remind the reader that nothing is ever black and white. Shades of grey are everywhere, nowhere more than during life in High School, where despite the cliques and the popularity stakes and everything else, ultimately they are all just children still – coming of age in today’s world where social media and constant communication means that nothing ever belongs solely just to you but is often out there for the world to see. She also reminds us of the benefit of hindsight and how nuances of memory can change things from reality into something much more dramatic. EVERYTHING is magnified beyond the norm during these formative years, everything felt more deeply, the end of the world caused by what to an adult might be a most minor thing. By writing the book in the way she has, using a really genuinely intelligent storytelling technique the author has created something different and in this readers opinion very special.
Go read it. Go read it now.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Macmillan UK/Grand Central Publishing U.S.
Amos Decker is a former professional football player whose career was ended by a terrible hit. Now a police detective, Amos is still haunted by a side effect from the accident he can never forget. One night Decker comes home from a stakeout to find his wife, young daughter and brother-in-law horrifically murdered. Obviously scarred and nearly broken, Decker has to use his skills as a detective and his unusual brain capacity to try and catch the monster who killed his family.
I love David Baldacci books, he always manages to hook you straight in, twist you around some then spit you out the other side feeling like you’ve been on a reading rollercoaster. Always with the great characters and he is a really terrific storyteller.
With “Memory Man” Mr Baldacci has really outdone himself as far as my enjoyment of his books goes – With Amos Decker he has created a character that I have fallen hopelessly utterly in love with and oh thank HEAVENS its a new series and not a standalone.
So slight fangirl moment aside, Memory Man is quite a haunting and evocative thriller, taking on as it does that terrible thing a school shooting, but in this case mixing it up with a series of other horrific events, one of which is the murder of Amos Decker’s family some years ago. Something he has never recovered from, the killer having never been caught.
I’ll not really go into more plot detail than that – this is a typically well constructed tale from this author with his trademark writing style that is highly addictive and compelling all the way. There are twists and turns galore, but with a very authentic feel to it and the further in you get the less you will want to put it down.
As for Amos, well. A brilliant main protagonist, a man who is a savant, memory perfect which is not the most comfortable of things especially considering his tragic background. His observations, reactions, interactions with other people are beautifully woven giving a real sense of a man in anguish who cannot forget one single moment of it. Imagine if you will, suffering a tragedy that time can’t help heal – the memory of it will simply never fade. Then try and think how you could live with that and you have some idea of where Amos starts and ends.
So a real anchor around which other terrific characters ebb and flow, the mystery opens up and with every new revelation you are more and more immersed into this world. The ending was heart stoppingly good and seriously I simply cannot wait for another instalment.
Terrific terrific stuff! Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 23rd April 2015 from Harvill Secker.
Source: Publisher Review Copy
As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.
Oh not sure where to begin with this one – you know sometimes you read a book that just touches your heart for reasons you can’t really put into words – well “The Gracekeepers” is just such a novel, beautifully written, highly compelling with such wonderful characters and setting that you just sink into it and leave the real world behind.
Where you will find yourself is within a post apocalyptic setting where most of the earth is covered with water, small pieces of land dotted around. The inhabitants are divided into two groups – those who live on the sea (Damplings) and those that live on the land (Landlockers). Through the experiences of North and Callanish and a few others this world comes to life – these two are about to be brought together unexpectedly and with enigmatic consequences.
I truly adored this story from the moment I picked it up. The prose is so gorgeous that you can’t help but savour every word. The world building is absolutely amazing – the author painting a vivid and colourful picture of life on the water and on the land, allowing her characters to live and breathe and tell the tale. The two women, North and Callanish are simply magnificent, so utterly engaging and completely absorbing that you kind of inhale them in and feel every moment with them.
The tale itself is magical and I won’t give anything away – this is old school storytelling at its very best, an elegant mixture of characterisation and circumstance that come together to create a simply marvellous read that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.
A book for the soul – certainly a book for my soul, I am bereft now I have left it behind and this is one I will return to again and again. Because it feels like there will be something new to discover each time.
Highly Recommended. No way on earth this is not going to be in my Top 10 for the year.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer
Dr. Christopher Kellan spends his days at Loveland Psychiatric Hospital, overseeing a unit known as Alpha Twelve, home to the most deranged and psychotic killers imaginable. His newest patient, Donny Ray Smith, is accused of murdering ten young girls and making their bodies disappear. But during his first encounter with Donny, Christopher finds something else unsettling: the man looks familiar.
By far one of the best books I have read this year, Twisted is a gripping and utterly addictive tale that will absolutely mess with your head. If you think back to being a youngster when you played that silly game of spinning yourself around faster and faster then attempting to walk – thats about the feeling you will have after finishing this novel. And probably quite a few times during the reading of it.
So I can’t say too much about the plot – and I recommend you do not read any in depth reviews of this story before diving in – but basically we follow along with Dr Christopher Kellan as he tries to disentangle the enigma that is Donny Ray Smith, a new patient on his Psychiatric ward. Dr Kellan is under some pressure to diagnose, but the further he delves into Donny’s story the more things get a bit, well, crazy.
This is a pure rollercoaster ride, all the way start to finish. Highly disturbing in parts, turning you first one way then the other and as soon as you think you’ve got a handle on things, nope – you are turning another corner, finding another mystery, feeling a bit bemused and definitely bedraggled. Sheer brilliance really, because it is not as if it is a messy convoluted plot. Yes I know that sounds contradictory but you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Perfectly constructed, elegantly written in a way that simply does not allow you room to manoevre, you are just caught up in the tale and pulled ever further into the whirlpool of Dr Kellan’s world and that of those around him – really terrific characterisation just puts a cherry right on top of the cake.
Of course with a book this good you worry on the journey that the ending might not live up to the promise, not so here – from first page to last this is storytelling genius, intelligent, emotive and utterly compelling, oh what a tangled web this author has woven around the reader – excellent excellent stuff.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Headline
The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?
This one I requested via Bookbridgr because all the people I trust in the reading world were raving about it – it is my first novel from Karen Maitland and certainly not my last – whilst it would not normally be within my “comfort” zone, historical fiction not being my first choice, the witchcraft aspect pulled me in and I really really enjoyed it.
There is a beautiful mix of magic and mundane here as we follow Robert, who’s wife Edith is very ill. Enter into the mix an attractive widow, throw in some exceptional circumstances and a hint of nefarious doings and you have a tremendously wonderful story that keeps you turning the pages wondering what on earth is going on.
The historical element is terrific – authentic feeling and clever, the normal extremely difficult day to day lives mixing up with the supernatural elements really really well, I was just utterly enthralled throughout. I especially loved the little “Witch” facts at the beginning of each chapter, if I’m ever concerned about being cursed I think I shall return to this book for hints and tips. 🙂
Karen Maitland has spun a terrific yarn here – addictive writing and a haunting and wonderful sense of place and time, I am not sure why I have not read her before. My latest book buying spree will sort that out quick smart.
Publication Date: Available Now from Randomhouse UK Ebury Publishing
Thomas Fool is an Information Man, an investigator tasked with cataloging and filing reports on the endless stream of violence and brutality that flows through Hell. His job holds no reward or satisfaction, because Hell has rules but no justice. Each new crime is stamped “Do Not Investigate” and dutifully filed away in the depths of the Bureaucracy. But when an important political delegation arrives and a human is found murdered in a horrific manner—extravagant even by Hell’s standards—everything changes.
So, The Devil’s Detective then – a brilliantly imaginative, darkly violent yet very compelling tale, taking us on a round trip to Hell and back…
Honestly even though this was Hell quite literally, it was so entertaining you ALMOST want to live there…only almost mind. We meet Thomas Fool, he is an information man. When you land in Hell you have no memory of what you have done to deserve being there – you are allocated a role in “life” and that is it. The conditions are truly terrible, there is damnation around every corner and the only hope of escape is to be elevated by the Angels, a random happening that has no rhyme nor reason. Thomas investigates crime. Sort of. Mostly he stamps things and sends them back but suddenly a murder occurs that must seemingly be actually solved. Thus starts a real awakening for Thomas and a truly rip roaring and often scary adventure for us.
First of all I have to give a nod to the terrific world building here – the Heaven/Hell dynamic is beautifully drawn, a political landscape with its own hierarchy, even if it makes no sense to anyone in it. Descriptively speaking you will definitely feel the heat – there is a devilishly twisted landscape to be found with surprises everywhere, magnificently twisted creatures inhabiting every corner and an ever ebbing and flowing landscape brought to vivid horrific life.
Then there are some really really great characters. I adored Fool, the way he talked himself in and out of things without really understanding why, falling from one moment to another, developing friendships (almost unheard of) questioning the law (not always a good idea) but ending up absolutely determined to do his job. For a tale such as this there is a lot of emotion to be had there (I was gutted at some of the things that happened and mad as, well, hell, about others) the character arcs are utterly gripping and very original.
It is a heady mix of crime, horror and fantasy – not easy to pull off but done elegantly here – I wouldnt really like to put a label on it at all. We have an enigmatically drawn mystery, a true horror movie feel alongside an almost urban fantasy. Hell may be Hell but there is a lot of worldly comparisons to be made, the demons aside (or maybe not who knows what lurks in our shadows?) and as such the whole thing is grounded and eminently readable.
I loved it. The only thing now is, will there be more? I want more. For a start I havent been to Heaven yet…
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication date: August 27th 2015 from Little Brown UK
Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.
But what really happened that fateful afternoon?
Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?
The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
An absolutely brilliant page turner this, focussing very much on character rather than mystery (although the mystery element is also superb) as we delve into the heads, hearts and minds of a group of people caught up in a child abduction case.
When Rachel lets Ben out of her sight for a few moments, he disappears apparently into thin air. Following the ensuing police investigation and how it affects not only the family but the officers involved, this is an emotional rollercoaster of a read that utterly grips you from the very first page.
Rachel is an elegantly drawn character who is both sympathetic yet often incomprehensible – it is easy to understand why the general public turn on her. Gilly Macmillan has taken a story that could be straight out of the news and given us a fictional insight behind the scenes of such a traumatic event. It brought to mind a very obvious real life case which caught the public imagination, lets face it we’ve all done it, that little voyeuristic leaning. Seeing someone being interviewed on the news and thinking “ooh they look suspicious”. In “Burnt Paper Sky” you see it from all sides, from many angles and most of all get a real feel for how that can make an already stressful time that much worse.
Then we have Jim Clemo, in charge of the investigation, a man who we see in the aftermath as haunted and broken – as we look back over the details the reasons for this become apparent. It is beautifully constructed and has huge psychological depth. Jim I did sympathise with throughout, genuinely determined to find Ben at all costs, still his own personality traits often interfere with what might be logical. Authentic and totally believable, it was heart wrenching stuff.
Looking at the mystery element (what DID happen to Ben) this is woven into the plot seemlessly – whilst the characters and what they are going through are key, each little insight into them (not only our two main protagonists but the wider family and the other officers involved) gives another clue to a possible outcome, another step on the ladder to discovering what happened on that afternoon. Again realistically drawn, there is nothing here that is thrown in for the sake of it or to create red herrings, it is simply a good story that could easily be completely true.
Mostly this novel will have you questioning – the next time you see a breaking news story a little like this one (sadly I feel that this is bound to happen) you may look at things differently. After all if YOUR life was thrown under such a spotlight, where every nuance and every action was dissected and taken apart, how would you look to the outside world? We all have our secrets, we all make errors in judgement. If that one error led to a tragedy, could anyone really blame you more than you would blame yourself?
Whose Side are you on? Well Ben’s of course. But that won’t stop you going back and forth on the other players in the drama – guilty or innocent they will all get into your head and stay there. Brilliantly done.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Hodder and Staughton
Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose’s identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father’s past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?
So I have to say first, that this book was written in first draft form when Helena was 13. Now upon publication she is 15. While we chew over that for a moment I have to say if this is the level she is writing at right now, good golly miss molly I’m dying to know what we’ll be seeing a few years down the line…
Anyway more to the point – I thought this was brilliant and loved it with a fiery passion. Storytelling magic, especially if you like your Young Adult Dystopia novels but with a real world grounding, even more especially if you love adventure, intrigue, a touch of romance and a spot of outrage at the thought of having to wait WAIT for the next instalment.
We meet Rose then. Nearly 20 years ago, before she was born, something happened and after that night the world was utterly changed. Now society is divided, the Department enforces the law, but within its ranks there are hidden secrets. Not the least of which is Rose herself, who is hiding something that could destroy her.
It is intensely addictive for a few reasons. First of all Rose is terrific – feisty, determined but also emotional and often impulsive, which gives you an anchor into the rest of the tale. Which is ever so well constructed and often edge of the seat stuff. Secondly the world building is super – I found the premise to be really compelling and Helena Coggan gives it huge depth, taking her time over the course of the novel to embed in your mind all the different nuances of this new reality that Rose finds herself living in, sometimes learning things as she does and therefore feeling the impact. Mesh those two together, great characterisation and some stunning imagery and there you have it. A stonking good read.
Somehow there is also a twisty turny thriller in here – just when you think you have a handle on a situation, BAM, it all gets turned around on you. The grey area’s between good and evil are beautifully drawn, really take your pick as to who’s side you will end up on. Certainly Rose has her work cut out for her working out who to trust, which way to jump, what to do for the best. It is all very appealing and completely lively throughout.
It has had mixed reviews but for me this was an absolutely impressive debut novel from a young voice who is fast going to attract a huge following. Hunger Games eat your heart out.
Loved it. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: April 14th 2015 from St Martins Griffin
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
This is actually an extraordinarily difficult book for me to review. I think everyone should read it. But reviews tend to give you an idea of whether you will “like” a book or not and in the case of “All The Rage” it is less about whether or not you will like it and much much more about how it will make you feel. I’m not backwards in coming forwards about saying what a huge fan of Courtney Summers I am when it comes to emotionally resonant, authentic and hard hitting young adult fiction – with this one she has taken a huge real life issue and given it voice and form in the character of Romy – taking huge leaps in writing stature, beautiful prose and absolutely stunning imagery, it is quite possibly her best novel yet.
This one is all about the girl behind the mask. When we meet Romy, she is getting through the days. It is obvious from the outset that something horrific happened to her – that this has had far reaching consequences both for her and those around her – how she copes, her thought processes, her actions and reactions begin to reveal a dark tale of the hidden layers beneath a seemingly decent community and how money and influence can stomp all over the very basic concepts of right and wrong.
Again very difficult to put into words the emotional impact this story has. I went from tears to absolute outrage more times than I can count while I was following Romy’s tale, so strongly did I relate to what she was going through – Ms Summers has put you right inside the head of a damaged soul who is struggling to find some sense of herself again. Almost impossible when she is isolated, treated horribly by her peer group and shown a casual indifference by those adults in authority who are supposed to protect her. It is almost impossible to believe that this sort of thing happens, but we all know it does, this makes it all the more hard hitting and oh so scary.
There is some light here – it is not all doom and gloom, Romy’s relationship with her Mother and “Stepfather” is beautifully drawn and so utterly compelling…they want to help her, but face a lot of the same problems she does in trying to do so. Plus of course Romy’s inability to actually articulate her inner thoughts and put into words the actual facts of the matter lead to more misunderstandings and grey area’s. As Romy starts to form new relationships and tries to make sense of the old ones it is elegantly flowing and absolutely addictive.
When things are brought to a head Romy has some tough decisions to make. There is a mystery element to the narrative, just as authentically drawn, leading back to the central theme and giving it a focus – so well constructed to draw you in and, frankly, make you MAD AS HELL that this is happening. Really I went through an entire emotional range during the story and by the end I was a weeping heap on the floor. Clever and utterly utterly real.
The ending will floor you. Courtney Summers does not pull punches, in this story, this is not a tale that is meant to ultimately take the edges off a harsh and horrific issue but more, and rightly so, to throw it at you, make you SEE it and admit it is there. You can’t hide, you can’t sweep it under the rug, Romy is the living embodiment of what happens more often than we as a society would care to admit.
All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
This is exactly what the author has done. I seriously cannot recommend this highly enough. Everyone should read it, young and old alike, whether you are a man or a woman. You may not “like” it but it will make you feel. What, exactly, I cannot tell you. Beautiful, authentic, frightening and oh so important, especially for our world today, it is one of those books that I will be forcing upon everyone. Look out!
Possibly not so “Happy” Reading folks – but read it you must.
Publication Date: Febuary 12th From Sceptre.
The Chimes is set in a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed.
In the absence of both memory and writing is music.
In a world where the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphony, all appears lost. But Simon Wythern, a young man who arrives in London seeking the truth about what really happened to his parents, discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever.
This is a difficult review to write. I’m not sure I’ve read a novel quite like this before, certainly not one that has had me back and forth such a lot. I’m definitely highly recommending it simply because it was so different and so beautifully written that I think I would like everyone to read it and see for themselves.
Honestly I nearly gave up on it early on. This is a book that rewards perserverance – initially it is very odd, lyrical prose to go with a lyrical tale but it was difficult to grasp, hard to hang onto and for a while made almost no sense to me. It was very disjointed and dreamlike, turns out for very good reason so stick with it and I promise that the pay off is beautiful. Simply beautiful.
Simon arrives in London not really sure why he is there. Memories fade and are rediscovered through objects in the memory bag that all carry with them. He meets new friends and slowly discovers his own purpose. This is a world of music not words, a strange and often frightening place, but fascinating, alluring and gracefully imagined. The mythology and depth to the world building is magnificent – a slow burn of a tale that will stay with you through the night and play on your mind.
Constructing and building such an elegant story as this one is a terrific accomplishment, I was not surprised to discover later that the author is a poet as well as now a novelist, the whole thing IS poetry in a way and whilst I thought for a while that it wasnt going to be for me I am SO glad I just kept reading. Because as things clarify, this is an uplifting and intriguing read that I’m sure will remain with me for a long time to come.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now on Kindle and 23rd April 2015 Paperback from Headline.
Source: Author review copy
My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead?
Really enjoyed this one – an absolute and complete page turner that had me completely enthralled. Took me ages to see where it was going as well, which is always a huge plus point when it comes to mystery and thriller novels, where surprises are few and far between no matter how good they are. And this one was good!
So we have Emma then. She is in her second life if you like, her first being that of Susan Webster, child murderer. She does not remember what happened but has grown to accept that she did, indeed, smother her child. Then a picture arrives and everything changes…
There was a huge mix of things to love about this tale – firstly Susan (Or Emma) herself who is haunted by a past she cannot quite recall and scared of a future that she cannot see. Her closest friend is one she met while in the Institute, the dynamic of this duo is one of the particular strengths of the novel – Cassie is an endlessly fascinating character, one who I warmed to, abrasive as she was, and the deep and lasting yet often confrontational relationship they have is particularly well drawn.
Then we have the mystery element – is it possible at all that Susan has been lied to and Dylan is still alive? As she begins to hope, you are completely drawn into events as they unfold – determined to uncover the truth, yet questioning herself at every turn, it is often sad yet absolutely compelling. There are flashback portions of the book that tell a story from a different viewpoint and as the two threads come together you will not be able to stop reading until you find out what happens.
Other people are thrown into the mix as Susan develops new relationships and reconsiders old ones…it is at times a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, at times a bit of a thrill ride and always completely addictive and beautifully written.
Definitely highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Orion
Source: Author copy
Charlotte Alton has put her old life behind her. The life where she bought and sold information, unearthing secrets buried too deep for anyone else to find, or fabricating new identities for people who need their histories erased.
But now she has been offered one more job. To get a hit-man in to an experimental new prison and take out someone who according to the records isn’t there at all.
It’s impossible. A suicide mission. And quite possibly a set-up.
So why can’t she say no?
Really really excellent thriller featuring a main protagonist, Charlotte Alton, who I completely fell in love with and an intricate and clever plot which is completely fascinating and terribly addictive.
Charlotte lives life behind a mask, she has retreated from her old life and has a new, seemingly normal one. Then one day she is asked the impossible – and somehow cannot help but be drawn back into that previous existence.
Apart from Charlotte herself the whole tale is peppered with terrific characters – those who Charlotte knows, knew and will meet – the action is thrilling with a fair few edge of the seat moments and some lovely little twists and turns along the way. I particularly liked the more “techno” aspects of the story, the information highway, the spy elements were excellent and kept me turning the pages avidly to find out who knew what.
One of the strengths of the novel is the blurred lines drawn between the good guys and the bad guys. Pretty much any character you meet here could fall either side of that line dependant on your own viewpoint, the interpersonal relationships are extremely well drawn and the moral ambiguity is woven seemlessly into the story arc. You can lose yourself in there and then suddenly sit up and realise you have been rooting for something awful to happen to someone, or equally that something awful already has but you have glossed over it because you love one of the characters. Nicely done.
There is some violence, not all of this will be for the faint hearted, but it only serves to make a point – the world Charlotte inhabits can be a vicious one and it shows. There is an authentic feel to the whole thing, which makes it often dark but so completely engaging throughout, an absolute page turner.
Overall then fantastic. I really can’t wait to see what is next for Charlotte.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Sphere.
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .
First of all I have no problem saying that this is the best psychological thriller I have read this year, no prevarication. For sheer addictive reading and utterly compelling character arcs, a very emotional storyline and some exquisite twists and turns throughout I loved this one very much.
Jenna has retreated from life after a tragic accident left her bereft – but in the small Welsh community she ends up in there is hope of a new start and a brighter future. However some things are difficult to let go of and as Jenna attempts to move forwards there are things pulling her back into her past, things she must face if she is ever to find happiness again.
This is a totally haunting read -Jenna is a brilliantly drawn character who you will feel for every step of the way. To suffer as she has is unimaginable, and putting the rest aside this is a very emotional and heart wrenching look at how unexpected tragedy can torment us and affect our very soul. The heart of the novel is right there in Jenna as she struggles with the mundane day to day and attempts to move on, her attitudes and expectations of the new people in her life are very well described and utterly authentic.
Added to that very human story is a terrific mystery element that keeps you avidly turning the pages to find out the truth of the matter – Jenna aside there is a terrific range of characters to follow along with as things become untangled and slowly but surely we are lead towards a brilliantly poignant and touching conclusion.
Overall then a truly magnificent tale and one that I have no trouble at all recommending to everyone – If you love reading you will love this. Simple.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Quirk Books.
There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos. But Detective Hank Palace still has one last case to solve. His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity. Hank’s search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime. With time running out, Hank follows the clues to a series of earth-shattering revelations.
What a brilliant brilliant end to this already brilliant series. Yes I’ve said brilliant way too much here but there are only so many words available to describe things and this describes it, well, brilliantly.
Hank Palace is a truly wonderful character. In Book One he was determined to solve a murder even though the world was about to end. In Book Two he was on the trail of a missing husband, once more despite the fact that the end of the world was even closer. The only man keeping his head whilst those around him were losing theirs, he has a moral sense that is magical to watch, also quite disconcerting, but endlessly compelling.
In this final instalment, Hank is out to find and save his sister, who was last seen in the company of some rather extreme radicals with a plan to save the world – if indeed it turns out that it is not a huge conspiracy theory, a theme that has run throughout the series. Once more Hank’s inate sense of justice and his very real need to be doing something shines through the narrative and you really would follow him to the ends of the earth. After all what is he supposed to do exactly, apart from scream and tear his hair out or sit in a corner waiting to die…it is an intriguing thought process that Ben H Winters has put across very well both in character and setting and is one of the huge plus points of this trilogy, it does give pause for thought.
This is such a highly imaginative and well executed story, utterly gripping, never dull and I did wonder how on earth Mr Winters was going to conclude this thing – there were many ways he could have gone with it but for this reader his final delivery was pitch perfect and utterly in keeping with the entire show so far. And what a show it was, definitely one of my favourite trilogies in the history of anything ever.
Does the world end? Well you will have to read to find out and I would highly recommend that you do.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Paperback 20th November 2014 Kindle available now from Quercus.
Source: Publisher Review Copy.
Lake Wales, Central Florida. Ten years ago, a political fundraiser became a bloodbath when a hooded assassin carried out a savage public execution. Three men were massacred, casting a dark shadow over the Sunshine State.
A decade on, history is threatening to repeat itself. The widow of one victim, herself now running for governor, has received an anonymous threat – a newspaper clipping from that fateful day, along with the chilling words ‘I’m back.’
I have been a quiet yet avid fan of Brian Freeman for many years now ever since I picked up a copy of “Immoral” featuring main protagonist Jonathon Stride rather randomly one day. Since then I have read all the novels, although this is the first I’ve read since reviewing seriously. They are all excellent crime thrillers, with exquisite psychological suspense mashed together with terrifically twisty mystery stories and Season Of Fear is no different.
This is the second of the authors new series featuring Cab Bolton – the first book “The Bone House” originally being intended to be a standalone, the character has been brought back due to popular demand. Unsurprisingly as he’s rather cool. And tall. I like that he is tall…
In this instalment, a huge storm is about to hit Florida and a storm of a different kind is about to hit an ongoing political campaign – ten years ago Diane watched in horror as her husband was gunned down in a savage attack during a political fundraiser. Now she herself is in the race for Governer and history may be about to repeat itself. Cab Bolton agrees to look into the possibility of a threat and finds himself caught up in political shenanigans and facing real danger from an unknown source..
Fast paced without compromising character development, once again Mr Freeman has delivered a most terrific twisty tale that will keep you on your toes, introduced some new characters that I hope to see again and managed a great build up of tension and anticipation – the approaching tropical storm as an analogy for everything else works really well, the closer the hurricane the nearer Cab gets to the truth and you will be with him all the way.
As always there is a terrific supporting cast – Peach was a particular favourite of mine and I have a love/hate relationship with Cab’s movie star mother Tarla. The interaction and ongoing relationships Cab has are compelling and I am extremely pleased that there is obviously more to come.
The political intrigue is well drawn and riveting, the mystery behind who was responsible for the carnage ten years ago and who may be responsible for current issues is highly imaginative, with some great misdirection and clever little red herrings dotted about the timeline, it is a multi layered tale where anything could happen and this makes for fascinating reading.
Season of Fear could easily be read as a standalone, but I would recommend you start at the beginning both with this and with the Stride series. This is some great crime fiction right here and I would highly recommend both this and all the other books for fans of crime, mystery and psychological thrillers.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Quirk Books
Source: Purchased Copy
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.
First of all thank you to Kate http://forwinternights.wordpress.com/ for finally making me read this one which I purchased AGES ago and has sat there on my Kindle gathering Kindle dust – It was a magnificent read which I completed in pretty much one sitting. This is a trilogy and I must now buy book 2 as soon as ye olde book budget allows, having recently been kindly granted a copy of book 3 via Netgalley. Kate tells me it just gets better…and if thats the case I want in.
So anyway, its the end of the world. In just a few months a huge asteroid is due to decimate the planet – no Bruce Willis available to save us, the majority of people on earth are doomed. As we meet Hank Palace he is still diligently doing his job, whilst around him people are trying to get their bucket lists achieved in record time – that or simply giving up and killing themselves.
So when one more apparent suicide victim turns up in the local McDonalds the majority of Hank’s colleagues sniff and move on…Hank however has a bad feeling about this one and starts to investigate. At this point I am one happy reader – I love apocalyptic fiction and I love crime fiction – here is a wonderfully imaginative and clever mash up of the two which grabbed my attention immediately and only got better the further I got into it.
There are some interesting themes here – if you knew that not only you, but probably everyone you knew, was due to die in a fiery ball of flame on a set date in the future, what exactly would you bother with? Ben Winters explores this theme quite gently with various asides in the plot – some people for example spend all their time high on whatever drugs they can get their hands on, and all over the world different people take a different viewpoint. In the centre of this maelstrom sits our hero – if indeed you would call him that, some might say he’s slightly batty – I mean what does it REALLY matter if someone kills someone else when the end is nigh. And there is the central premise that runs throughout.
The story flowed along in a marvellous style, absolutely gripping, lots of twists and turns and Hank himself is a really well drawn character. There is an energy to the prose that keeps things moving along even in the quieter moments and the ending was excellent, setting us up nicely for whatever comes next. I’m really intrigued to read the rest and find out where the author is going with this – after all he has set his own limits on how far this can go. Possibly. Who knows?
Either way this was a tremendously fun read, definitely giving pause for thought about what is important in life, with some great characters, a gripping central mystery and comes highly recommended from me.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Seren
Source: Publisher review copy.
Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She’s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she’s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance. Lucy’s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.
When the publisher contacted me to see if I would like to review “Significance” I thought it looked intriguing but I did not expect that I would love it as much as I did – this was a truly amazing and involving read that gripped me utterly, I read it in a few huge gulps this weekend and I am actually very sad to have finished it.
Haunting and beautifully written, we follow Lucy during her last few days of life and the people and situations she interacts with. After her body is discovered, these chance meetings and events take on a whole new significance and there are consequences, both big and small, for all the people who crossed her path during her final journey, as well as those she left behind and those who are thrown into investigating.
Absolutely engaging, characters are key here – the author takes us between one and another, telling their story, and Lucy’s, with a deft hand and some really wonderful prose that pops off the page and gets into your head. There is an eerie feel to the whole thing, knowing as you do that Lucy will not survive her last night, the title is extremely apt – the significance of everything happening as you read is increased tenfold by the knowledge of what is to come.
There is a mystery element but I would not call this a mystery novel – whilst of course you would like to know who is responsible for Lucy’s demise it is far from being the important part of the story – strange you might think, but true. It is all about the people, the truly devastating effect this will have on some of them and how the fallout from one horrific event can ripple outwards and be even more far reaching than first is apparent.
Every single character you meet in this book is fascinating – well drawn, great psychological depth and the author gives you a real feel for all of them whether you meet them once or a few times. I sometimes found myself getting quite cross with Lucy for dying – how awful is that to blame the victim for the consequence – but often I couldnt help it as other characters I had grown very fond of got caught up in the maelstrom. Jo Mazelis writes with such a poetic quality, you cannot help but be drawn into the world she creates and feel every last emotion you have in you.
A truly truly wonderful novel – with an ending that will stay with me forever, this one deserves a lot of attention and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Not enough stars in the world!
Happy Reading Folks.
Publication Date: Available now from Picador
Source: Purchased Copy.
A close-knit street, the clink of glass on glass, summer heat. Two girls on the brink of adolescence, throwing cartwheels on the grass. Two girls who tell each other everything. Until one shimmering afternoon, one of them disappears. Lizzie is left with her dread and her loss, and with a fear that won’t let her be. Had Evie tried to give her a hint of what was coming, a clue that she failed to follow?
My second book from Megan Abbott (after the amazing “Dare Me”) and this one captured me from page one and would not let me go until I was done.
Lizzie and Evie are inseparable – typical young girls starting to come of age and they know each other inside out. But when Evie disappears, Lizzie is forced to grow up way too fast as she deals with very adult issues.
Some intense and very evocative writing puts you right into Lizzie’s world, trying to understand adult motivations, realising that Evie kept secrets from her and desperately trying to find a way to help bring her home. She really is an amazingly drawn character and Megan Abbott has captured the confusion and emotional resonance of that age perfectly. As an adult reading this novel I myself put very different interpretations on what Lizzie was seeing and hearing, this only added to my complete fascination with this story – I could barely put it down.
The tight knit community within which the girls reside is also intelligently written to give the reader a real sense of the people surrounding them, influencing them – this is a memorable tale of that which simmers just below the surface of a seemingly normal and safe environment. A multi layered and extremely addictive story exploring some very haunting themes, it is absolutely riveting from start to finish.
Highly Recommended. I am now a Megan Abbott superfan.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 6th November 2014 from Orion
In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but any other evidence is virtually nonexistent.
Now Bosch and his new partner, rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case.
I honestly do not know where the time goes, here we are already at the 19th outing for one of my favourite Literary detectives Harry Bosch, boy he’s had some ups and downs over the years, but every single adventure has been pretty much pitch perfect and the same goes for this one.
“Don’t open the door to the burning room”
Still looking at cold cases, Harry and new partner Lucia find themselves a hot potato – when a man who was shot many years earlier finally dies, this case starts with a bullet and pretty much shoots you off in all directions from there in another rollercoaster ride of suspense and action with all of Mr Connolly’s trademark twists and turns. I have to say this is one of my favourite Bosch novels of the last few years – I may even have to give it top billing which previously went to “City of Bones” – Mainly I think because of the addition of Lucia, a terrifically well drawn and likeable character who injects a new lease of life into an already pretty vigorous series.
It is quite hard to review an ongoing series of this calibre by taking one novel, this current one and trying to get across how readable and accessible it is – certainly Harry’s story has been a long and extremely engaging one, but you could pick this up and read it in a vacuum easily enough as you could any of the others. However I would say there is a lot to be gained by starting from the beginning with The Black Echo and following Harry on his highly entertaining and eclectic journey – and perhaps stopping to meet Jack McEvoy, Terry McCaleb and Mickey Haller along the way – and oh the pure joy of getting to a book that features more than one of these excellent protagonists at once.
Overall though, with The Burning Room, Michael Connelly has once again proven that there is plenty of life left in Harry Bosch and has written yet another page turner of the highest order. The ending was unexpected and clever, making me absolutely desperate to find out what is next for those that inhabit this world – and I have no hesitation at all in recommending this series highly for all fans of Crime Fiction and indeed any fan of a darn good yarn. If you havent met Harry yet where have you been?
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Simon and Schuster UK .
Source: Publisher Review Copy
It’s 1814 and the streets of London’s Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of entry.
I have to say that I do love Mr Shepherd’s writing – it has a dark, atmospheric brooding quality to it that I have not found elsewhere and it never fails to leave me affected, usually jumping at shadows for a while. This, like his previous novels, is part of an ongoing mythology involving Constable Charles Horton, but all are standalone novels in their own right so you can pick up any of them and have a terrific reading experience.
In this story, our hero is drawn into a world of suspected magic and mayhem, as he investigates a house in the country where rumours of witchcraft abound – whilst back in London, a series of baffling murders is taking place. The answers may well lie within an insane asylum where Horton’s wife currently resides, battling her inner demons.
This is an excellent multi stranded story – definitely my favourite so far – it is creepy, unsettling and often horrifying whilst at the same time being strangely fascinating. I was engaged by the thread of the tale that dealt with the treatment of mental illness, especially as the author has pulled off a difficult feat here by managing to mix the scientific with the mysterious yet still making it all seem perfectly possible. Very intriguing indeed.
I love the characters, was very fond of Abigail Horton especially and the story ebbs and flows between practical and magic with a deft hand that will have you changing your mind page by page as to what exactly is going on. Some extremely intelligent plotting and a lovely lilt to the flow of the prose will keep you immersed in the tale and overall this really is a most enthralling read.
If you like a novel that makes you look at the world around you in a different way for a while then this is definitely for you.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Bloomsbury Childrens.
Source: Purchased Copy.
Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.
I LOVED this one, much more than I thought I would, it was a fast paced rollercoaster of a read with an intriguing premise and terrific execution.
Em and Finn know they have to escape their prison, through time…and prevent a catastrophe. How often they have attempted this remains unclear – but in order to save our future they must make some difficult and emotional choices and face very real danger..
I loved how this one was constructed – taking viewpoints and different timelines but never confusing and always giving you pause for thought – involving some terrific characters you will come to care about and some truly ingenious bad guys – it is almost impossible to put down once you start.
The world building is superb, looking as it does at what might happen should time travel suddenly become possible – especially if it ends up in the wrong hands. There is also some terrific and intelligent character building and progression as Em and Finn begin to realise the truth of what they may have to do. I also liked how the author used grief as a starting point for one major character and how it changed him over the course of time, from genius to evil genius. There are also themes of redemption and moving on here that are cleverly woven into the complex yet highly addictive plot. Overall a most terrific read.
The planned sequel is now not going to happen – and I for one am actually pleased. Whilst I loved the time I spent with Em, Finn and co I thought this had an almost perfect syncronicity and although there are more stories that COULD be told, the heart of it is complete. So sadly I will leave them behind me, having had a brilliant, fast paced, well written adventure in time.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Sphere.
Source: Publisher review copy
Thorkild Christensen stares down at his murdered wife, Karen, and realises he knows almost nothing about her. How did she fill her days? Where did she really go every Thursday? Detective Thea Krogh is determined to find out as she immerses herself in town life. Yet Karen’s secrets elude her at every turn.
And then a second woman is shot dead.
Well, “Scandi Crime” as it is known – in this case Danish Crime – is a genre I am only just dipping my toe in the water with at the moment although I absolutely devour all the tv adaptations that come my way and always think, hey I should be reading these books. Up until now my main experience has been through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so when The Preacher by Danish writer duo Dagmar & Kenneth dropped through my door, I was very excited to read it – and boy was that a book and a half!
Following a variety of characters we are immersed into a police investigation into the deaths of two women – Thea Krogh lead investigator is stumped, there seems to be no motive or reason, but as we delve deeper, a truly horrifying picture emerges. Together with Thorkild Christensen, vicar and husband to one of the victims, Thea finds herself on the trail of a truly dangerous mind…
Some brilliant and evocative writing, a terrific sense of place and really intelligent character building gives a superb reading experience – highly addictive, often scary, yet with a stark realism to it especially with regards to the ebb and flow of the investigation itself, the whole thing had an edge and an ambience that really appealed to me as a reader. I adored Thorkild even though he was often a bit daft (and in my head he will ALWAYS be “the vicar”) and Thea is a really wonderfully drawn character as far as getting you involved goes. Add to them a supporting cast that all bring their own, often strange reasoning to events and you have a real character driven page turner.
The cover blurb describes it as “Electrifying” and really I can’t put it better than that myself – emotionally charged, the mystery element is also superb with subtle little twists and turns, hints and clues, always always driven by the characters experiences and interpretations, clever plot building at its best. Racking up the tension as we go, never QUITE sure where it is going to lead you and with a truly villainous villain sat right at the heart of it, if you are a lover of Crime Fiction this is like all your birthdays have come at once.
Excellent stuff. Highly Recommended!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Little Brown UK
Source: Publisher review copy – thank you.
The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can’t reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.
Terrified of the unknown but unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets.
A highly intriguing and brilliantly constructed “post apocalyptic” story this – the first book in its genre since Bird Box to utterly capture my imagination, with some fascinating characters and a well told and very realistic human nature story.
The first thing that I loved about this was the fact that the apocalypse is very much in the background here and ongoing – this novel is about the people and the situation they are in right now – what went before is described only in nuggets to move the story forward, the exact cause of the breakdown of society remains unclear and whilst there are clues, the emphasis is on the outcome not the specifics. For me it put me firmly in the moment and the struggles that Cal and Frida were facing.
The second thing that really made this addictive was the love/hate relationship I developed with our couple. I adored Cal with a fiery vengeance and honestly couldnt stand Frida, several times I wanted to slap her (and I am NOT a violent person), occasionally she was self absorbed to the point of utter stupidity. Yet who could blame her really, pregnant in a world gone mad and with only her husband to rely on. Still, when a fictional personality makes you feel that strongly you are probably onto a good thing.
Edan Lepucki manages to create a claustrophobic and intense atmosphere, occasionally giving you a shiver, setting up the surroundings with a vivid and powerful descriptive prose that immerses you in the world that Cal and Frida inhabit and allows you to watch with a wry eye the decisions they make. Driven by Frida’s impulse yet tempered with Cal’s more measured approach, the pair seek safety in numbers – but as the story unfolds realisation dawns that perhaps all is not as it seems.
I am not going to tell you anything about the other people they encounter because right there is the heart and soul of the novel and I do not want to spoil it – but the underlying themes are captivating and enthralling as we see human nature everywhere in the way the world tries to right itself and build new communities…the power struggles and daily fight for survival, the truth bubbling just below the surface of a somewhat polished veneer, leading to a pitch perfect ending that had me up on my feet. One hopes that Ms Lepucki will return to this ravaged earth at some point in the future and let us know whats next. Still, this is a complete tale that could stand alone, so we’ll have to see.
Mesmerising and powerful, occasionally violent and sometimes profound, this was one of my favourite reads so far this year and comes highly recommended from me.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 14th August from Simon and Shuster UK Childrens
Thank you to the author and publisher for the netgalley copy.
Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?
I was a HUGE fan of “Dangerous Girls” so when I saw that Abigail Haas had moved onto the boys I was dying to get into it to see if she could re-create the tense, claustrophobic and thrilling atmosphere which kept me hooked into Anna’s story and oh boy, if anything this one kicked it up a gear. Incidentally this is not a sequel, but another brilliant standalone read.
So this time we are following Chloe, a girl desperate to escape her small town but having to care for her mother puts a hold on her college plans – when she meets Ethan, their relationship develops quickly and Chloe at last has an escape from the mundane routine of day to day life. Enter enigmatic and brilliant Oliver, and suddenly Chloe is torn, drawn to him like a moth to a flame.
Psychologically speaking Abigail Haas is a master of the game – absolutely wonderful character building, terrific sleight of hand when telling the tale and a remarkable chilling depth to the “Bad Boys” of the title – sibling rivalry has never been this intense. Add into that mix Chloe, a girl who is discovering herself, working out who she wants to be and you have the basis of an absolute page turner of the highest order.
This is highly disturbing, absolutely compelling and as the story twist and turns its way to the ultimate shocking finale, it is almost impossible to put down…Another rip roaring read, edgy, intelligent and astonishing, this comes Highly Recommended from me.
And just to finish – a fantabulous cover. I have a beautiful hardback copy of Dangerous Girls and I will certainly be making sure I have Dangerous Boys to sit alongside it.
5 bright shiny stars and all the fluffy bunnies for this one.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 14th August 2014 from Simon and Shuster.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.
From the author of the critically acclaimed “New” “York” “Times” bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.
Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test.
I’m a huge fan of Chelsea Cain’s Sheridan/Lowell books so when I heard she was kickstarting a new series (yes that was on purpose!) I was extremely excited. For good reason it turns out, as this was probably the biggest page turner I have read this year so far. It engulfed me in two mad reading sessions (one of which I only stopped because my eyes would literally not stay open a moment longer) as I pretty much inhaled the whole tale start to finish.
Kick Lannigan has a dark past – when she was young she was kidnapped and lived a horror story for many years until she was rescued. These days Kick is pretty sure she can look after herself as she has spent years training herself in the art of self defence and offence. When the enigmatic Bishop arrives in her life and pretty much forces her to help him track down a child recently missing, she will need all these skills and then some in order to survive and perhaps save that childs life.
Chelsea Cain has always managed to walk the fine line between violence, thrills and spills and emotional resonance, whilst still making the story endlessly exciting, always compelling and never ever dull. This is no exception – if anything I would say that I already prefer the nuances and background in this new series. Kick is an amazing character to follow along with, as she manages her anxiety, tries to remain always clear headed in the face of adversity and still maintain an image of strength. Not always quite managing it, she is fascinating to behold. Add to the mix tough guy Bishop, who has demons of his own, and you have a partnership that just pops off the page and will hold you in the grip of reading madness until the final moments.
An intelligent fast moving plot barely gives you time to catch a breath, there is a dark heart here dealing as it does with child abduction and abuse, but still having that edge of hope and redemption as we see what true survival really is…and as we race towards the finale it is heart stopping stuff. The ending was perfect (although I need to ask about the 3 legged dog…Ms Cain?) and rounds off Kick’s first (one assumes) foray into a new life whilst leaving you desperate for more.
Perfectly done. Kudos.
When will there be more?
Highly Recommended for fans of Thriller’s with an edge.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 24th June 2014 from St Martins Griffin.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.
Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.
But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.
Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.
And here we go again my very favourite type of story – the twisty turny psychological mystery that keeps you on your toes and wondering what the heck is going on. This here, Complicit, is a top notch example of that and I was absolutely enthralled with it from start to finish. Heck the cover on its own would have sold it to me – stunning.
Jamie tells the story and its a mad dash of an addictive tale, with some brilliantly drawn characters and a cleverly imagined and intriguing style that ticks along at a wonderful rate. Jamie thinks he knows what is true – but does he? As we go deeper down the rabbit hole, the lines between belief and truth grow ever more blurred and indistinct, and there is a real sense of a darkness approaching. Terrifically well constructed with some great insight into mental trauma and how it affects us, and told in a very authentic and distinct voice, this really is most terrific writing.
I found the whole thing absolutely fascinating. I won’t delve too deeply into plot details because a lot of the brilliance of it is in the tightly woven intricacy of each little detail as it emerges, seeing things through Jamie’s eyes and often realising things before he does. Cate is a fabulous character, and the dynamic between brother and sister is an ebb and flow of real complexity. It has to be said as well that the ending was one of the best I’ve ever read. It did kind of take my breath away.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from W&N Orion Publishing Group.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via Netgalley.
Two women; two different worlds.
Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold.
Nina is sophisticated and independent – entirely in control.
When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did.
But what exactly does Nina want from her?
An absolutely brilliant psychological thriller this one – and also an INCREDIBLY difficult review to write without spoilers. Which in itself should tell you just how good it is.
When Nina catches a glimpse of Emma on the street, she is overwhelmed by memories – of what and when we are not sure. As she insinuates herself into Emma’s life, Emma has no clue who she is…but Nina wants something from Emma…but even Nina herself is unsure of what that might be.
This is possibly one of the most intelligently constructed novels I have read this year – as we jump between Nina and Emma, seeing the same events from different angles and appearances, it is absolutely fascinating, hard to put aside, and completely compelling. Emma is gorgeously well drawn, she could be any one of us and Nina is deeply complex and utterly riveting. Her casual cruelty is stunning in its simplicity and Emma’s complete and utter oblivion will make you draw sharp breaths as you read…
Oh gosh, well, I can’t really say much more – the relationship between the women is captivating, the peripheral characters surrounding them are shrewdly imbedded into the plot and the reason behind Nina’s obsession when it becomes apparent is extraordinarily random. Brilliant brilliant writing.
One more thing I HAVE to say – that ending, oh my word that ending. It will haunt me for a long long time. Incredible.
Don’t miss this one!
Happy Reading Folks!
Available now from St Martins Griffin
Source: Purchased Copy.
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.
Sadly I’m nearly at the end of my “Courtney Summers catch up” with only one book to go now, and with “Some Girls Are” this authors place on my must read list has headed way up to somewhere near the top.
I’ve long been fascinated by the whole “High School Popularity Hierarchy” thing, which completely passed me by as I drifted through secondary school here in the UK, where things are similar yet very different and in “Some Girls Are” Ms Summers brings the whole social structure that can exist in that bubble into razor sharp and often quite frightening focus. A commentary on how absolutely cruel human beings, and most especially teenager’s, can be to each other, this was a gripping and riveting read that I went through in record time even for me, due to my complete inability to put it down.
Regina is a bitch. No getting around that – on her way to becoming Queen of the school Anna’s right hand girl, she has bullied and villified many others, never once missing a step. When the tables are turned and she finds herself on the wrong end of such intimidation, the only people she can hope to find solace with are the very ones she has hurt in the past. As she struggles to cope in a very different environment and starts to examine her own responsibilities and attitudes, it is compelling, addictive and captivating reading.
Ms Summer’s writing style is frank, realistic and doesnt pull punches – it has a way of drawing you right to the heart of the matter in record time and boy, does she ever give you something to think about. Highly emotive and yet extremely down to earth, the characters once more pop off the page and eat into your soul. I could not bring myself to like Regina much even as she is suffering – the question as to whether or not she deserves everything she gets is cleverly constructed and intelligently embedded into the narrative and the actions (and inactions) of every character is oh so terribly likely and quite often breathtakingly vicious. But hey Some Girls Are….and don’t go thinking that the boys get a pass here, the title could easily have been very different.
The relationship between all of the characters is stunningly drawn – casual cruelty interspersed with seemingly just as casual acts of kindness, the whole thing has a flow and depth to it that I havent found done so well in any other YA fiction I’ve read – and the fact that is is all based in blunt simple life reality makes it all the more emotional and thought provoking. Redemption is never easy – and there is no magic button here, no happy or unhappy ending, it just is what it is. A fictional story that could absolutely be nothing more nor less than someones truth. Once more I am undone.
Clever clever astute writing. Never have I been so sure about saying “Highly Recommended”.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now
Paige is a dreamwalker – a special kind of clairvoyant in a world where she and anyone with abilities is termed “Unnatural”. Hiding from Scion, she works for the criminal underworld. One day her luck runs out…caught and arrested she fears death…but faces something much worse.
I loved this book. From the very start, with its strange and wonderful world and inhabitants – well imagined and well described – I drifted off into that netherworld of reading pleasure that you can only reach with a book that engulfs you. From the richness of the characters to the intricate and detailed landscapes, some recognisable, the book as a whole is an incredible start to what is to be a series of 7. I for one, am very pleased that this is the case.
Paige is an interesting protagonist – having to hide her true self for so long affects her judgement – and her ability to trust people if there are indeed any people to trust..its a dark world this one and life is cheap. The gifted face a fight for survival every day. Thrust into a new and violently unpredictable future, Paige must find the true source of her power in order to live.
Surrounded by people she does not know, in a world she does not understand, Paige finds a new fight…one that is in turn enthralling, heart stopping and emotional…and I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Happy Reading Folks!
Twin Truths by Shelan Rodger. Book Image soon.
Published by Cutting Edge Press
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.
Jenny and Pippa are identical twins. Like many twins, they often know what the other is thinking. They complete each other’s sentences. They complete each other. Working as an English teacher in Argentina, Jenny is a lost soul. She has her English friends but they seem to be reinventing themselves, keeping secrets.
So Twin Truths then. Another great release from Cutting Edge Press who can’t put a foot wrong for me at the moment and a terrifically fascinating and compelling tale of twin sisters.
Jenny and Pippa are identical twins, but when when they suffer a childhood trauma they take different paths as they mature and grow up dealing with it in different ways. We follow mainly along in the first instance with Jenny, who is teaching English in Argentina and for reasons unknown to the reader at first, is seeking therapy. As it becomes clear that something terrible may have happened to her twin, it is endlessly and completely addictive reading. As Jenny makes many life choices, we follow along in her wake completely consumed by her and her relationships with those around her.
Twin Truths doing exactly what it says on the tin so to speak means that eventually we hear another side of the story as Pippa takes her turn and things become even more intriguing and absorbing…seeing a different perspective, a different way of dealing with life and the very real connection and love that is there. Pretty amazing and very very good.
It is very difficult to review this much without giving things away, there are an awful lot of cleverly woven layers to this tale, a hidden depth that each reader needs to discover for themselves, an extraordinary look at two lives lived in and around another persons shadow, all the influences that can bring and of course the moments of sibling rivalry. It is a story of both love and loss and how we cope when suddenly something we have always had is gone – unexpectedly and with no warning. There is a beauty in the writing that keeps your heart and soul with Jenny and Pippa every single step of the way and utterly absorbed into their world. It made me both want a twin and at the same time be pleased that I do not. Riveting.
I won’t say more. 5 bright shiny stars for this one. Highly recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 22nd April 2014 from Headline
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via BookBridgr
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
Elizabeth Wein, author of the brilliant “Code Name Verity” said of this one “It’s terrifying and incredible to think how much of this story is true” and I really cannot imagine being able to say it better than that.
When you can blend fact (obviously well researched) and fiction in such a way as to make the novel feel as if every event actually happened you have a tremendously cleverly constructed and terrifically compelling story that puts you right back into History – I read this one obsessively and felt every single moment.
I am completely in love with Gretchen and Daniel – as a star struck romantic couple who face very real danger they were perfect. Absolutely perfect – but this is not what is at the heart of this one by any means…they are the eyes that see and the voices that tell us a very real story. That of the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany and the early political days of one Adolf Hitler. Taking fictional characters and putting them at the centre of actual events and surrounding them with real historical characters, Anne Blankman has weaved a scary yet very authentic tale of a world about to go mad.
As Gretchen begins to leave behind her childhood acceptance of everything she has been taught, as she begins to realise that something is not quite right with the story surrounding the death of her father, she plunges into a murky world she never imagined existed. Bound and determined to find out the truth, she embarks on a journey of discovery and realisation that will have you holding your breath and praying for her safety – every step of the way.
Absolutely brilliant, fascinating and passionate, often moving and poignant, I adored this one. And the very best thing is I know that there is more to come. I simply cannot wait.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 1st May 2014 from Cutting Edge Press.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.
Scars. We all carry them. Some are mere scratches. Others run deeper.
At a school rife with bullying, Will and his best friend Luke are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.
Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of Will’s painful childhood come flooding back to haunt him. His wife, Harmony, who is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, wishes Will would open up about his experiences. But while Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husbands past, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt, desire, betrayal.
Oh what a tangled web we weave…and this was a beautifully evocative character driven tale of those things which haunt us and shape who we are. With some intensely drawn and authentic characters to lead the way this was dark, addictive reading of the best kind.
This is one of those stories where you get SO involved in the lives of the people within its pages that they become very real to you. You want to comfort them, shout at them, turn them back from the brink…and you live through every single moment with them. I loved Harmony, loyal yet torn between want, need and love. I felt deeply for Luke and was endlessly annoyed at Will..the next reader will see it all differently no doubt and therein lies the beauty of the writing.
The story ebbs and flows in a compelling way – as a look at the psychological effects of bullying it is realistic and emotional. The things that happen to us in childhood resonate on and when that experience is as harsh and often violent as bullying can be there can be long term damage that isnt always easy to see. This comes across extremely well here – again because of the characters who truly tell the tale.
Dark themes here, handled with intelligence and compassion, I thought this was terrific. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.
Detective Inspector Hanlon. She’ll break but she won’t bend. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.
Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.
Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.
Now the kidnap of a 12-year-old diabetic boy has blown the case of some missing children wide apart and the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.
Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who would care more about the life of a boy than about her own career. Hanlon.
And then he sends Demirel to spy on her..
So. Crime novels featuring new detectives – so many of them out there. Some brilliant, some not bad, some mediocre and some, lets face it, truly terrible. Not often you come across one that has a bit of an edge, a cut above, something a little different. The last time for me was when I read Sarah Hilary’s brilliant debut “Someone Elses Skin” and there was Marnie Rome. Now Alex Howard brings us DI Hanlon – so meet my new favourite detective…
She’s not that likeable. But I loved her. She not always that trustworthy. But you would want her on your side. She has an inate sense of justice and doesnt really care that much for the rules. If you get on her radar beware – yet if you gain her trust and her loyalty she will fight for you until her last breath. It is wonderful to see a strong independant female character that actually is exactly that – warts and all, no need to worry about whether or not she is “feminine” enough in her actions. DI Hanlon is what she is. And what that would be is a marvellous character to follow into a dark and sinister tale of missing children…
This is an emotive story, featuring as it does children in peril, but it is brilliantly done, authentic and doesnt pull any punches. There is an intriguing depth here, over and above a standard “police procedural”, that gives you a real feeling for the people involved, victims and villains alike, somewhere in the middle being the Police force with all its politics and shenanigans. And hovering over it all, kind of like on that magnificent cover art, is Hanlon who’s razor sharp focus cares only about the job in hand. Some absolutely fascinating insights here and all beautifully written in a way that immerses you right into the world and lets you live there for the duration.
Now Hanlon may be front and centre, the glue that holds it all together, but there are no cardboard characters here. Her boss, the superbly enigmatic Corrigan is terrifically compelling. Enver Demirel is “the good guy” in an eccentric and marvellous sense, and all the people you meet along the way have something to add to the whole. The story twists and turns its way to an edge of the seat conclusion and overall this was a scintillating and heartfelt reading experience.
Definitely comes highly recommended from me. Oh and you know what? Crime novels with heart. Of COURSE they exist!
Thank you to Arcadia and the author for the review copy.
In 1989, eighteen-year-old John Finch spends his Saturdays following Nottingham Forest up and down the country and the rest of the week trudging the streets of his hometown as a postal worker. His blossoming relationship with girlfriend Jen is his only other respite. In 2004 he spends his days teaching in a southern secondary school while delaying the inevitable onslaught of parenthood. Leading inexorably towards the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, and the worst sporting disaster in British history, this book glides between 1989 and 2004, when the true impact of this tragic day becomes evident.
An amazing read. This is the first thing that definitely needs saying. Without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read for impassioned impact, beauty of writing, absolute authenticity and pure emotional resonance.
This is not a book about Football, although the game is at the heart of it. Don’t make the mistake of putting this aside because you think that is all you will get. This is a book about the heart and soul of a person, within a community, around family and how one incident, horrific, unimaginable, can change everything you thought you were or knew.
Hillsborough. The 96. 15th April 1989. This date, those phrases, they are imbedded in the heart of the UK. I remember it. I was young, I watched events unfold in the media, I have peripherally watched over the years as the legal cases unfold and the families desperately search for the whole truth. It is dreadful, unbelievable, heart wrenching and still unfinished. This book, this story, fiction perhaps but still absolute truth, will get you like a shot through the heart. Never before have I read a novel that elicited as much emotion in me as this one did, or one that told me absolutely, the genuine impact that day had on so many lives. Not just those who lost, those who were injured, those who were caught up right at the heart of it. But those who watched, unable to stop it, unable to prevent even one part of it. Absolutely brilliant writing. Stunning.
What else is there to say? I can’t tell you much of John’s story that would defeat the object. You must read it for yourself. Don’t hesitate. Danny Rhodes has created something here that I’m sure was an emotional journey for him, I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it might have been. Some writers just put life right there on the page. Mr Rhodes is one of them.
As Highly Recommended as Matt Haig’s The Humans. Anyone who follows my reviews will know exactly what that means. You won’t read a book quite like it again.
Copy recieved via Netgalley – thank you to all concerned.
When emotions are erased from the world, creating a civilization of mindless drones, only those with fury can survive.
On the same day each year Josephine Luquet wakes naked, shivering and covered in blood that is not her own. Under the cold gaze of the blood moon she is someone else entirely, but when dawn breaks her memories flee and she is left with only an icy horror, a burning fury. Amid a sea of drones, she alone hasn’t been cured.
The first thing that I have to say on this one is that it has been a while since a novel in this genre has captured my imagination so utterly and completely that I have literally gulped it down in huge magnificent chunks of reading joy – and come out the other side feeling utterly destroyed that now I have to hang on in there to find out more. I need more I tell you! Book Hangover alert!
So we meet Josephine – from the confines of a psychiatric hospital she tells her Doctor a strange and wonderful tale – and tries desperately to warn him of the danger that surrounds anyone who is close to her at one particular time of the year – a time that is fast approaching. As her tale unfolds, a picture emerges of a cold world – one where emotions are non existant and the ability to feel love, fear, anger, betrayal, almost anything that makes us Human have all but disappeared. Except for Josephine. Well, maybe…
This was a beautifully constructed story – with a highly imaginative and compelling premise – just what WOULD we be without our emotions? I really do not want to go too much into plot detail, the reasons, the truth that lies just beneath the surface, and what may or may not happen because of it – these are the things that make this book so fascinating, such a great read and a truly brilliant page turner that will often have you on the edge of your seat. Don’t make assumptions. I’m just saying…
Characterisation is of a very high standard, Josephine is damaged, uncertain, absolutely sure that she cannot be helped, she just wants to avoid hurting others. The people she meets along her journey are all enigmatic and there is a lot to be revealed – the author leads you slowly but surely through the minefield of a world gone mad..and puts you right at the centre of one girl’s struggle to understand it all.
I would place this book on the cusp of YA and Adult. It has a definite eye towards the YA audience but tackles some very adult themes and does involve occasional sex and violence – I don’t like to put books in boxes but I think that anyone aged around 15 and up will love this and find something to spark their imagination here…
Clever and captivating, at times enchanting and with an ending that will send you into a spiral of dismay at the thought of having to wait any time at all for the next instalment, I highly recommend this one.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date 24th April 2014 from Orion.
With thanks to the author/publisher for the copy via a Goodreads Giveaway.
“The first thing you should know about me is that my name is not Carter Blake.
That name no more belongs to me than the hotel room I was occupying when the call came in.”
When Caleb Wardell, the infamous ‘Chicago Sniper’, escapes from death row two weeks before his execution, the FBI calls on the services of Carter Blake, a man with certain specialised talents whose skills lie in finding those who don’t want to be found.
So, you know that feeling you get when you read a book, a first in a series, and that little reading tingle comes over you that says “Yep. This one is for me” and you just KNOW that there are many happy reading years ahead of you with a new favourite character? Yep. That.
Meet Carter Blake. Well, we’ll call him that anyway. He finds people. Generally speaking. Of course there is much more to him than that, but for the purposes of this its probably all you need to know. When a dangerous man escapes, the powers that be call on Carter in the hope that he can catch up to him before disaster strikes. So begins a most terrific, page turning, thrilling tale with some real edge of the seat moments.
You know what is even better than a Thriller? An INTELLIGENT thriller. With characters that have more than just a phoned in version of a personality, a tightly woven plot that keeps you on your toes and an actual story, not just endless action. Thats not to say there is not plenty of action – there is. But as Carter and Caleb play a deadly game of cat and mouse, it is the interaction between them and those they encounter that will have you desperately turning the pages to find out the ultimate outcome. When you have a killer who is just as, if not more, intelligent than the person who is chasing him, you will genuinely wonder who is going to come out on top. It takes a man with no limits to catch a killer with no motive…yes indeed.
With a terrific supporting cast, the occasional moment that will have you hyperventilating and a magnificent final showdown – don’t you just love it when a book lives up to its initial promise and doesnt fall flat? – this was brilliantly done. Absolutely.
Inevitably Mason Cross will find his protagonist compared to Jack Reacher. Its going to happen I don’t think there is any avoiding it, sadly, as I always like to treat each read entirely on its own merits. I will address it though as I am also a fan of the majority of the Reacher Novels. And in fact I wouldnt be surprised if with the closing few words of this novel, Mr Cross himself was giving a nod to Reacher. This readers opinion? Carter Blake could easily be described as “The thinking man’s Reacher” but he is entirely his own man and I fell for him completely. More please!
Happy Reading Folks!
First of all thank you kindly to Random House, Emma Kavanagh and Netgalley for the review copy.
A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide.
Right I could probably write a whole book myself about how much I loved this one but I will try to keep to the salient points..and avoid spoiling what is a wonderful, multi-layered character driven story that needs to come with a sleep deprivation warning….in the best possible way.
It has been tagged as a psychological thriller and it is that yes, but I hope that this will not put people off who don’t tend to read that type of novel – because when I say this is multi layered I mean exactly that. Yes there is a murder – and yes you will want to know who and why and all the usual things you want to know when reading a crime or thriller tale, but as you head into the novel you will discover that at its heart are people. Humans. Fallible, emotional, occasionally annoying people..who make right decisions, wrong decisions, get caught up in life events beyond their control and deal with it in oh so many different ways. Just like the rest of us..
Told from various points of view, chapter by chapter, we follow the aftermath of a plane crash alongside the aftermath of a murder. Falling is a perfect title and a theme throughout the story – in the literal sense of falling from the sky and the more metaphorical sense of falling through life. Poetic prose and a compelling flow to the narrative makes this hard to put down and leave for a while…I managed but only just.
Usually I might give a run down of some of the characters at this point of a review but in this case discovery is key to the reading experience – therefore I give you one. The one that touched my reading heart. Cecilia, wife, mother, torn between wanting and needing things she cannot clarify resonated with me for very personal reasons. And surrounding her are many others with just as much heart and soul…you will find someone there for you without a doubt.
The various strands of the story are brought together in an adept and fascinating way to give us the ultimate conclusion – and this is one of those books where you will wonder for a long time afterwards what may have happened to these characters next. I imagine them out there…somewhere…
The last time I felt this way about a debut novel was when I read Elizabeth Haynes “Into the Darkest Corner” – that feeling that tells you another author has come to the fore that is going to ultimately offer you many long and happy hours living another life in another story…
Happy Reading Folks!
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
Hilary Mantel called this one “A Box of Delights” and I cannot think of a better way to describe this book.
Teddy read the words on the Cenotaph. “The Glorious Dead”.
“Do you think they are? Glorious?” he asked.
“Well they’re certainly dead”, Ursula said. “But the “Glorious” bit is to make us feel better I expect”.
And that, for me, sums Ursula up in a nutshell. A fascinating protagonist, a multi-layered yet pragmatic human being and with a uniquely developed perspective on life.
She is born. She dies. She lives again. In a brilliantly constructed narrative that you assume would become predictable but never does, Kate Atkinson weaves layer after layer of magical storytelling into a multi stranded, beautifully written, utterly compelling tale of one woman living through the winds of change.
Offering her life after life to get it “right” as Ursula becomes more aware of herself and learns to trust her instinct sometimes it all hinges on the smallest of changes – a nuance – a simple twist of fate. During the reading of this novel it is easy, no almost compulsory, to imagine every separate decision or action we take sending the universe off into a different direction…EVERY life lived many times, not just Ursula’s – so many infinite possibilities. Somewhere out there is another version of you, living now, but in absolutely different circumstances. It feels real. As if we could…
Can Ursula save herself from the heartbreaking loss of those she loves by simply turning a different corner? Will she ultimately be able to change the world? These are the questions you ask as you read – bravely entering each new strand of each new life and waiting for the turn of the tide, the opening of a door – will this be the one? It is heartbreaking at times, always always intriguing, never dull and without doubt one of the best novels I have read for the pure, unadulterated joy of the experience.
If I had one tiny negative it would be that I am unsure of the ending. I’m not sure I understood it if I’m honest – what exactly Ms Atkinson was trying to convey. I’m still deciding even, whether it was terribly happy or hopelessly sad…either way I was a bit of an emotional wreck when I was done. Teary but not sure why. This is ultimately a story I shall return to in my head, and I definitely believe this is a novel that should be read more than once. I’m reasonably convinced that there is more to be had from it. Perhaps a different perspective on yet another life…
All in all a fantastic book, even with the one small caveat – I think the point of that is, we all read differently – I am absolutely interested in hearing other viewpoints on this one. A dicussion book without a doubt. In fact if I could get an eclectic group of readers who have read it in a room with Kate Atkinson herself to discuss all the intriguing aspects – what she wanted to say as opposed to what people heard her say – THAT my friends would be an interesting afternoon indeed.
Read it. LIVE it. Love it.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date 6th March 2014 from Black and White Publishing.
With thanks to the author and publisher for the Advance Reading Copy.
Surviving motherhood? It’s all about having the right network. Lawyer and new mum Cassie has a husband who converses mainly through jokes, a best friend on the other side of the world, and a taskforce of Babycraft mothers who make her feel she has about as much maternal aptitude as a jellyfish. Husband Jonathan dismisses Cassie’s maternal anxieties, but is he really paying attention to his struggling wife?
Gosh and Golly this was an amazing read. From the brilliantly hilarious but absolutely real opening few pages, where the immediate aftermath of Sophie making her debut into the world become clear to new Mum Cassie, throughout the heart wrenching, glorious intensity of the first year of childcare, this one will have you laughing out loud, shedding the odd tear, completely immersed into the ever changing maelstrom of life and nodding sagely along as Cassie and Husband Jonathon traverse the waters of that wonderfully ironic thing called Parenthood.
At turns both emotional and heart warming, the very real highs and lows of maintaining a relationship under the sheer pressure and joy of having a new member of the family are SO well described here, alongside an absolutely insightful and realistic look at how becoming parents can affect both men and women. One of the things I absolutely loved about this was the fact that, although it is mainly Cassie’s story, it avoided the pitfall of allowing it to be all about Mum. Jonathon is well drawn and just as realistic as Cassie – the hopes and fears and dreams and nightmares are just as real for him as for her.
Using a set of absurd yet extraordinarily believable set of events that see Cassie reconnecting with her first love, helping a client with a workplace safety Supernatural issue ( the night of the documentary had me in stitches) and desperately trying to live up to the expectations of the absolutely hilarious but lovely BabyCraft crew, Lucy Lawrie takes us on a journey of emotional depth, ingenious observations and absolute understanding of post natal perceptions and sensitivities. If you have ever been a new Parent every moment of this novel will resonate with you. If you have not, you are still in for a fantastic and invigorating peek into one fictional family’s life.
Really cannot recommend this highly enough.
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming May 8th from Mantle.
Thank you kindly to Sophie for the Advanced Reading Copy.
New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him…
So. This year is going to be a GREAT year for debut novels and this right here is going to be right up there with the best of them. Why? Well you don’t find many books as well written as this one for a start – magnificent prose, flowing like a dream, hooking you into the ambience and sometimes horrific beauty of the New Orleans of the era, then shoving in there with you a killer, several “good” guys, one good gal and, well, Louis Armstrong. For pure escapism it doesnt come much better than this.
The Axeman was a real killer, who between 1918 and 1919 killed six people in New Orleans. He was never caught. He wrote a letter, re-produced in its entirety in the novel – and from this true tale, Mr Celestin has woven a magical but perfectly rational absolutely possible piece of fiction. When you blend fact with pure storytelling as beautifully as this you deserve Kudos. So Kudos Mr Celestin…
What else to say without spoiling it – Its difficult. Apart from the aforementioned Mr Armstrong, we have Ida (Sherlock Holmes fan), Michael (I fell in love) Luca (I fell in love again, ok I’m fickle) all trying to track down a killer, a ghost, possibly a madman – and all this is set against the most magnificent backdrop of the musically minded, mob ruled, insane rollercoaster of a city also known as New Orleans.
I can’t even begin to put into words how the city comes to life under the inspiring penmanship of Mr Celestin – A character in and of itself you will want to live there whilst also running screaming in the other direction – but mostly you will want to live there. Even so, added to that we have a well drawn description of the inherent racism of the times, the different communities and mindsets of such and some wry and ironic observations on life in general. Put all the above together and you have an ambitious novel indeed. And absolutely addictive reading. It will get into your head – for a while you WILL live there.
Fans of Historical Fiction are going to go into a paroxsysm of joy over this one, and any reader of any kind who enjoys a good yarn will have a lot of fun. Appreciate the art folks. This is it right here.
Highly Recommended. Shall I say it again? HIGHLY Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming March 2014 from Bantam Press
Thank you to both author and publisher for the Advance Reading Copy.
Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty’s oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears – just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France – Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.
This was one of those times – Last year I read Paula Daly’s first novel “Just What Kind of Mother Are You” and I loved it – in fact I would say it was one of my favourite debuts of 2013. So as usual for second novels I did approach it with some trepidation. Every reader (and probably every writer) knows that second books can be a bit hit and miss…sometimes they are equally as good, sometimes better, and often disappoint. In this case it took me about 10 pages to realise that THIS second book was going to be superb.
So we have Natty and Sean. Life is good for this pair, even if perhaps a bit mundane – that thing where you are comfortable together mostly and slip into life routines, having gone past the first flush of romance – but seemingly solid as a rock. When their daughter is hospitalised in France, Natty is relieved that she can leave things in her friends capable hands and be at Felicity’s bedside. While she is away however, things take an unexpected turn.
My favourite kind of tale this, a twisty turny maze of goodness with manipulative characters, things that are just not as they seem and that sense of something not quite right that you can’t exactly put your finger on. The story flows along at a terrific pace as we see Natty struggle to cope with an untenable situation, watching as her life falls apart around her. As with her first novel, Ms Daly has created some truly compelling characters here – and asks that age old question – do we ever really KNOW someone. I love it when a book pretty much says “What would YOU do?” Frankly I’m still deciding.
A top notch pyschological character driven thrill ride, beautifully written with a great sense of place, this definitely comes highly recommended. To quote The Guardian “Fiendishly Addictive”.
Happy Reading Folks!
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius’. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
So. Mr Carey. I have been waiting for another book in another series, some folks will know what I mean, but I thought hey, this one will do to be going on with. Especially when good blogger friend Kate waxed lyrical about it and told me I must read it. Frankly it wasnt a hard sell..
This is an INCREDIBLY difficult book to review without spoilers – I had no idea why Melanie was so special going in, and I’m not going to tell you either, but special she is. And not just because this is a clever, fascinating, addictive story about – ha see you nearly had me – its about THINGS OCCURRING – but because she is ridiculously easy to love, so well written is she. In fact all of the characters pop right off the page for one reason or another.You will either want to protect them with your life or shoot them in the head. Often with no inbetween.
Its a horror story. But not really. Its a fantasy. But then, no not really. There is certainly love there. And loss. And some stand out scene setting. And a heck of a lot of jaw dropping moments. And don’t start reading it just before bed time. You won’t sleep. For various reasons…not all of which will have to do with how eager you are to find out what happens.
When I read a book like this it reminds me why I love to read. Utterly compelling, taking you away from the madness of the real world and into the madness of another…offering a new twist on a popular theme and getting you right at the heart. RIGHT at the heart. Its only the end of January but I would be MOST surprised if this one doesnt end up in my top 5 of the year. And trust me, choosing last years top 5 was hard enough..
And a note for Mr Carey: Yes. I did. VERY much. Almost perfect. And if you are reading this – I’ll have more like this please. AND more of the other. You will certainly know what I mean.
PLEASE be careful which reviews you read of this one before you dive in my reading friends. It really is best arrived at with a beautiful blissful ignorance.
Highly Recommended. HIGHLY.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you kindly to Mel Sherratt for the advanced copy via netgalley.
Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante. But, unbeknownst to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiraling down into madness ‒ and unspeakable obsessions.
Well first things first just LOOK at that cover. Brilliant. That had me nervous before I even read the first page – I stocked up on chocolate, ensured that my axe proof duvet was at the ready and a bit like going back to childhood and watching Dr Who from behind the sofa, I cautiously made my way into the story…
So. Ella. What a great character. God she’s scary – so normal on the outside, at least at first glance, yet on the inside a complete psychopath. Ok, so she had a rubbish childhood- HORRIFIC – you should, I suppose, have some sympathy for her. And I guess I did – for a while..but this is cleverly written and has you wondering if she would still be an extremely dangerous person even if her formative years had been all rainbows and kittens. Sometimes evil is just that. So thats one side of this book and its compelling, totally frightening and utterly addictive.
Then you have Charley who is perfectly lovely – she has also suffered a tragedy, that being what puts her in the path of Ella in the first place as she tries to forge out a life for herself in unexpected and terrible circumstances.As fate would have it her very real chance at new happiness may be thwarted by the simple fact that she is accepting of Ella’s manipulative friendship. Seemingly she has found a confidante, someone to help her through her grief and give her some solid ground – but as she soon realises, there is something very wrong here. And escape may be impossible.
The developing relationship between these two strong female leads is what keeps you turning the pages – we, the readers, have a greater insight into Ella than Charley has of course and you may be like me and spend most of the time yelling “RUN RUN! DON’T DO THAT” at Charley and half expecting her to hear you, so involved will you be pretty much from the start and the entire way through.
I read into the early hours of this morning, then grumped my way through getting the children to school before diving back into this tale and finally getting to the heart stopping and extremely thrilling conclusion. The purely flowing narrative keeps you on your toes and yes, you will worry for the cat.
Powerful stuff and a pure adrenalin rush of reading joy. I love it. Although no more for a while please..I’m off to read some Enid Blyton while my heart settles back into its normal routine.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.
79-year-old Martha Anderson dreams of escaping her care home and robbing a bank. She has no intention of spending the rest of her days in an armchair and is determined to fund her way to a much more exciting life-style. Along with her four oldest friends – otherwise known as the League of Pensioners – Martha decides to rebel against all of the rules imposed upon them.
I’m still giggling now. This novel is hilarious and heart warming and very addictive – the first thing I want to make clear is, when I’m 79 I hope that I’m out robbing banks. Ok, well perhaps I won’t actually rob banks but I’m taking my walker to a nightclub I’m telling you!
Martha refuses to conform. She may be old but she’s just not having it. She is the very definition of “Age is a state of mind” – her state of mind being mischievous child. Along with her cohorts, the league of pensioners, she sets out to break the mould and have a lot of fun along the way.
There were points in this story where I laughed until I cried, literally, but it also has some very poignant moments and the occasional tug on the heartstrings. Extremely easy and fun to read, this is one of my favourite books of the year for pure entertainment value.
A comedy romp in novel form you can’t go wrong with this one. A purely feel good and uplifting tale of life in the fast lane…no matter what age you happen to be on paper.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author/publisher for the review copy.
Here, the criminal is king. The streets are filled with the screeching of fish hags, the cries of swindled merchants, the inviting murmurs of working girls. Here, people can disappear, and the lacklustre efforts of the guard ensure they are never found.
Warden is an ex-soldier who has seen the worst men have to offer; now a narcotics dealer with a rich, bloody past and a way of inviting danger.
Yep this one was definitely perfect reading for me. It managed to be everything I love all in one story – a crime novel, a thriller, a modern and dark fantasy tale, rich in loveable hateable characters with some ironic humour and a dash of magic. Sign me up for the rest of the “Low Town” books right here and now..
Our protagonist Warden is a definitive anti-hero, with his drug dealing (and partaking of) habits and his distinct lack of interest in any problems that do not directly affect him. Until that is, a child goes missing and he stumbles over the discarded body. Evil is afoot and Warden is not going to let it fester…
I adore the world these characters inhabit – Mr Polansky writes with a wry eye towards class systems – His description of the nobility from Warden’s point of view made me giggle wildly and there is a lot of ironic humour to be found here – which is a perfect foil for the more horrific and violent moments of this novel which are dark indeed and also extremely compelling.
The story is ever fascinating, it is never clear who is going to win any given battle and it could almost be termed classic “noir” except that Philip Marlowe never had to deal with creatures from a darker realm or the possible re-emergence of a deadly plague – both things that Warden faces with his particularly indomitable “what will be will be” style. His “sidekicks” often roll their eyes at him, Adolphus ( a character I was particularly fond of) puts up with a lot as does Wren, Warden’s newly found apprentice. Well. Kind of. Its all beautifully written, engaging and intriguing storytelling.
Definitely highly recommended. I can’t wait to read more!
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming March 2014 from Random House Publishing Group.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley
The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago.
I love books like this…great storytelling, paced to perfection, with an atmospheric, rolling style that takes you right to the heart of the matter in a compelling and addictive way.
Told mostly from two viewpoints – in the present day, Lucy Dane lives a quiet life in a small backwater town with her father. Haunted by the disappearance of her mother years ago and reeling from the death of a friend, she starts to wonder what secrets lie beneath the calm and dull exterior of this place that she calls home. Go back in time and Lilah arrives in the same backwater town to begin a new job – but what awaits her is not quite what she was expecting..
Some interesting themes here – that of family and the “weight of blood” – how much is too much to forgive? Add to that a multi stranded mystery – where did Lucy’s mother go, and what happened to her friend Cheri during the year she was missing – mix it up with some great characterisation and a multitude of buried secrets and you have an almost perfect mix.
This is yet another debut for me that speaks of great things to come – talented writing, great scene setting and tense and intelligent plot development mean it comes highly recommended from me. I will look forward very much to Laura McHugh’s future novels.
Happy Reading Folks!
Stephen Killigan has been cold since the day he came to Cambridge as a junior lecturer. Something about the seven hundred years of history staining the stones of the university has given him a chill he can’t shake. When he stumbles across the body of a missing beauty queen, he thinks he’s found the reason. But when the police go to retrieve the body and find no trace, Killigan has found a problem – and a killer – that is the very opposite of reason.
Oh what to say about this one. It was one of those books you just did not want to finish because it was utterly captivating. I’m not sure what it is about novels that are set in either Oxford or Cambridge but something about those cities sure does capture the imagination of writers to the utter benefit of readers like me. This was no exception..
Imaginative and completely absorbing, this is a twisted mystical tale with some terrific characters, a strange and wonderful premise and some mesmerising writing. In a lot of ways a classic good versus evil story, we have two intelligent protagonists, one on the side of light, one with a dark heart, each trying to outsmart the other, all set against the backdrop of a city I love – Perfect.
Extremely strong characterisation, all with their own alluring foibles, I fell in love with Satnam, Stephen’s friend and often wanted to shout at Robert Sachs who finds such beauty in death. Iris Burton quickly became one of my favourite characters ever in fiction and Stephen himself is the perfect flawed hero to travel the road with. As for the villain…well.
I’m not going to say much more – grab yourself a copy and let the mesmerising Jackamore Grass take you to a world you cannot yet imagine..
Sublime and unconventional, do not let this one pass you by.
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming January 2014 from Randomhouse/ Transworld
Thank you kindly to the author and publisher for the unexpected pleasure of a copy of this book in the post.
Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.
The lives of three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.
Right well the first thing to say is I read this book in 4 hours – I started it on Saturday morning and by lunchtime I was done, such was the power of this novel – it wasnt that I couldnt put it down it was more that I didnt even consider doing so…
This is subtle, compelling and heart wrenching storytelling and I am not going to give much away – suffice to say this is a story of the life changing effects of war – we follow three women over five days against the backdrop of the shocks of WW1 and the journey home of the unknown soldier. It is at turns addictive, fascinating, wonderful and emotional and will draw you in slowly but surely until you feel you are right alongside the characters.
Until lately I have never read much historical fiction – at the moment I am discovering some wonderful examples of this and wonder to myself why I have ignored it in the past. This book as much as any other has told me that I need to find more of it, although its doubtful that any other (with the possible exception of the one I’m reading right now) will touch my heart in the way that this one did.
Storytelling art. A canvass in words. Beautifully written and exceptionally absorbing. I am undone.
Happy Reading Folks!
Stressed single mother and law partner Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenaged daughter Amelia has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St Grace’s over an hour late, to be greeted by sirens wailing and ambulance lights blazing. Her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught.
How well do we really know our children? As parents we always assume we know the important stuff – but everyone has secrets. Most especially teenage girls..
As Kate struggles to comes to terms with the fact that Amelia, always a model student, never having caused her any worry, not only cheated but then killed herself, she receives a strange text message. Amelia did not jump. So begins a journey for Kate, into the heart and mind of a daughter she thought she knew well. Tracing Amelia’s final weeks leading up to the incident this is a compelling read.
We hear from Kate. We hear from Amelia in flashback. And a darker side of school life begins to emerge – that of secret clubs, peer pressure and the age old popularity stakes. It is a dark tale in places – oh how children, and they are still children, can hurt each other without thought of consequence.
There is a touch of the “Gossip Girl” about this -but a darker, more intuitive look at how gossip can be fatal. As we follow Amelia down the path that will lead to her destruction you will at turns be horrified, dismayed and desperate to stop her, then completely amazed by how little some adults know and even worse how little those that do know care. But did Amelia give up? Did she jump? Ah well, that is the question.
Characterisation is superb. I was completely immersed in Amelia’s world – an astounding young lady which makes what happens to her even more heart wrenching. And Kate amazed me – from playing the blame game, to realising that there was more to the story than immediately obvious, to tenacious bulldog in her quest to get to the truth you will be with her all the way and will FEEL it all the way. Sob.
Knowing at the start that there will be no “happy ending” for Kate and Amelia makes the story even more fascinating and addictive. Well written, with some tough subjects at its heart, this was an absolutely brilliant book. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you kindly to the author and Garnet for the copy of this book for review.
In the Oxfordshire countryside, a student walks into a classroom and starts shooting. Nate Dillingham, friends with shooter and victims alike, is the sole survivor and only witness. Easily led and eager to please, his recollections weave around others’ hopes until he loses track of what really happened that day.
Right. So imagine. One seemingly normal day at school, a friend of yours enters the classroom and starts shooting students, other friends of yours….Imagine that you are the sole survivor and the only one who can tell the tale…Then imagine trying to live a life…any life in the aftermath of that event.
This is the position Nate Dillingham finds himself in during the course of this amazing and heartfelt survivors tale..told entirely from his point of view we start with the shooting and move ever onwards..hospital, recovery, endless interviews…then what? Well that is the question…
Its hard to put into words what I feel about this one…it got me right at the heart and is unlikely to let go for a while. Beautiful writing and a setting I know so well that I was able to walk some of the paths with Nate, this book literally “had me at hello”.
Its a difficult subject – taking us into the heart of the matter, who has not been glued to the tv screen as something of this nature unfolds – this takes us beyond the soundbite one step removed comfort zone and puts us where its important, into the lives of those affected.
As Nate struggles to understand what went on that day, as the true nature of the events that overtook him become lost in what others are desperate to believe, you will become further and further immersed into this truly brilliant, unequivocably stunning and often heart wrenching drama.
As I write this review I am still unsure how I feel about the ending…certainly I am still feeling the story as a whole…and I think this is a book that will bear reading more than once…in fact probably should be.
The Truth Shall Set You Free. Will it not?
Happy Reading Folks!
This book received via a goodreads giveaway – my grateful thanks to the author especially as it had to come from so far away…
A violent pandemic divides what remains of the world into victims, villains and heroes. Sixteen-year-old Jackson Riley is about to find out that sometimes, under the worst of circumstances, a person can be all three.
Firstly, an incredibly difficult book to review without spoiling it but I will do my level best and we will see how I get on. And if you are sensible you will not read too much about this tale before you read it – I basically had what I’ve put above to go on before I dived in…
So. Here we go. Virus. People Die. People come back to life and try and eat the survivors. A lone teenager stands between his sister and death..and sets off on a journey to find a safe place and other survivors…meets girl along the way. So far so Generic right? Indeed. But then no. Not so much….
This reviewers opinion on why this this book is brilliant. Its not so much that there are new idea’s here, although there are some. Its not so much that the author has found a whole new tale to tell but that she HAS found a way to tell it differently. Without giving too much away I can say that the story will lead you in unexpected directions. And then turn around and lead you down yet ANOTHER path. And well, you get the point….
Then you have the wonderful creation that is Jackson Riley – the teenager I mentioned earlier. This is his story, so you will need to love him. I see no reason whatsoever why you wouldnt. I mean the thoughts that go through this boys head had me laughing out loud upon occasion. With an ironic sense of humour and a wry eye to the ridiculous his reactions to the events going on around him are often funny, sometimes plain old “teenager” but always deeply emotional so you know they are real. I especially like the filing system he creates for his brain….
If you are feeling let down by the latest onslaught of YA/Post Apocalyptic/Teenage angst type tales that make you feel like you are reading the same book every time fear not…for now you have “I Am Forgotton”. Don’t expect miracles…we all read differently. But make sure you give it a go. Hey, its a bargain currently so the risk v benefit scenario is very high on the side of benefit..
One last thing. The author starts each chapter with a quote from the songs that inspired her during the writing process. Each one is relevant to what you are about to read, and at the end of the novel she tells you the songs they have come from. My favourite was “Your head will collapse. But there’s nothing in it. And you’ll ask yourself. Where is my mind?” (From Where is my Mind by The Pixies)
Highly recommended. Can’t believe there is not more buzz about this. Perhaps we can start some….
Happy Reading Folks!
Having read “The Shadow Year” which I loved very much (review just below!) I was dying to read Ms Richell’s debut novel “Secrets of the Tides” as soon as possible, reading schedule be darned. And hey, it was a good call…
Every family has its secrets. Some are small, like telling a white lie or snooping through a private drawer. Others are more serious like infidelity and betrayal. And some secrets are so terrible they must be hidden away in a deep, dark place, for if they ever came to light, they would surely tear a family apart.
A family drama of the highest quality, Secrets of the Tides has an immediate opening hook – a young girl, desperate, throws herself into the Thames – but who she is and what has driven her to take this drastic action remains unknown.
Then we meet Dora, a woman on the cusp of the rest of her life, living with the man she loves and seemingly having it all – but she is haunted by events from her past and disconnected from her family. In order to secure her future happiness Dora must explore the roots of her distress and let go of the hurt – to do so she must return to that time and finally understand the truth.
Told from various points of view, in both the past and the present, Secrets of the Tides is a sprawling, fascinating look at family – those things that keep us together and those things that drive us apart. From the outside the Tides would appear pretty perfect – but inner turmoils, errors in judgement and tragedy mean they are anything but.
For me, Helen, Mother to Dora and Cassie, Wife to Richard, was the most captivating of all the Tides. Perhaps because we are similar in age and experience – and yet she annoyed me because I spent much of the novel screaming at her to stop worrying about what she was lacking and for heavens sake LOOK at what she had. But we never do, do we. In realistic fashion Ms Richell shows us a slice of real life..with fulfillment always just around the corner, we always seem to want more…
The rest of the family are equally compelling. Cassie with her wish to escape, Dora who just wants to be happy and Richard, steady and reliable, will all touch you on some level – either because you know exactly how they are feeling or you want to whack them round the head and remove them from complacency…and that to me, is wonderful, evocative, clever writing. These people are about as real as you can get…
As we learn about their lives, where it all began, how the family grew and embedded itself into life, you will feel their joy and their pain..I was in tears at the end of this book. Again. So Yes Ms Richell – you DO owe me a box of tissues. A big one.
Happy Reading Folks!
One game. Six students. Five survivors.
At University, six friends come together and play a game. Its a silly little game imagined by two of their number – a game of actions followed by consequences growing ever more intricate in nature…with one winner to remain standing at the end. Fun. Oh yes. Or no. As the game becomes ever more involved, the stakes higher, the opponents becoming ever more competitive and adversarial, friendships will be destroyed and tragedy will strike. Watched over by the ever mysterious Game Soc, the players are pushed to their limits….just how far will they go and how much of their future will they sacrifice?
This story will sink into your subconcious…..written in a clever and compelling way the lines between fantasy and reality blur and you will never be quite sure where you are. The game itself is brilliantly imagined – it seems so innocuous and yet its insidious…when is the game being played exactly…and just how serious will the consequences be?
Another extremely clever aspect of this novel for me, is the way that the usual “twists” you would be expecting to come at the end, or as game changers somewhere in the middle are all over the place and intricately placed. In a way this is very much a character driven novel…Jolyon stands out as perhaps one of the most enthralling and unusual characters you will find in fiction – and the rest of the students in their own way are just as fascinating. Any one of them can walk away at any moment…but will they? Psychologically speaking they are all captivating – are any of them quite as they appear? Its very cunning writing…Insidious indeed.
As a mystery, it works on several levels. It will keep you guessing but not about the usual things perhaps. You will want to work out what is going on but every time you think you do, something changes. Someone talks, someone else listens and the whole playing field shifts…if you were to ask me to sum up this novel in a sentence I would perhaps say “The Twilight Zone on Acid” and yet it is all very much grounded in reality. After all, we all play mind games…don’t we?
I will say without a doubt this is one of the best books I have read this year. It will be going into Highly Recommended. As Sherlock Holmes might say. Come Watson….The Game is Afoot.
First of all thank you kindly to Hannah Richell and Orion for arranging a review copy of this book when I added it to my wishlist. I was very grateful as it had really caught my eye. And rightly so it turns out…
1980. Five friends, not quite ready to embark on life in the fast lane having finished University, come across an old cottage in the Peak District and decide to “drop out” for a year and live from the land in isolation. Looking forward to a relaxing carefree lifestyle, at first it is idyllic. But as the seasons change and reality sets in, tensions rise…..
Fast forward 30 years or so and Lila arrives at the cottage – with a renovation plan in place it seems like the perfect escape as she struggles to come to terms with a tragedy in her life..but little by little she begins to wonder about those that came before her as she discovers remnants of the past.
A haunting, evocative tale, this one touched my heart. A story very much about the relationships that drive us, and how the past can touch the future in a very real way I simply adored every part of this book. With each new discovery that Lila makes you are compelled to turn the pages to find out what they mean. With the story divided equally between both periods of time the story moves ever onwards…each month described bringing a new piece of the puzzle and a very real sense of something coming….
The characters are realistic and absolutely fascinating in both periods of time. From the artful Simon to the beautiful and ethereal Freya each one will give you cause for some type of emotion. I both loved and detested Kat in equal measure and I fell in love with Mac absolutely. In present time Lila is conflicted, by feelings and dark imaginings about what happened to her, she is haunted yet determined. I found the relationship between her and her mother one of the most intriguing aspects of the novel..beautifully written and extremely complicated it was a terrific thing to read.
The mystery element is also very well imagined. In a way for me it wasnt even about that – Yes I wanted to know the outcome but it was all in the journey…the intricate relationships between the characters, ever shifting but always bewitching, drive you ever onwards to find out what will happen. To them. To Lila. To the future…
I have now purchased Hannah Richell’s previous novel, Secrets of the Tides and can hardly wait to read it – it sounds equally compelling…but in the meantime pick up a copy of “The Shadow Year”. You won’t regret it.
Find out more here: http://hannahrichell.wordpress.com/
You can follow Hannah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hannahrichell
Happy Reading Folks!
Right. I’d heard good things about this one so I was dying to get into it and get into it I did…it grabbed me by the throat and led me kicking and screaming through an enthralling tale of Friendship, Murder and Mayhem under the sun and didnt let go until the stunning finale. Then I needed a few hours sleep…..
A group of friends gather at a villa in Spain, one year after the suicide of one of their number, to reconnect and have some fun and frolics. Things don’t go according to plan however as it becomes increasingly apparent that one of them hides a dark secret….
I loved this book in the way that I love all twisty turny tales, with a fiery passion – even more so because this really was a movie in a book. I played my favourite game of “Beat the Author” whilst getting completely entangled in the world of Ryan, Katie and co…the snappy writing and a unique chapter style made it a brilliantly page turning glorious read. And I really do hope that there IS a movie…I would love to see these characters come to life on screen in the way they did in my head whilst I was reading.
Ok, so James Dawson did not beat me – My twisty brain had the answer about half way through..but the beauty of this book is that this really won’t be the case for most people. Sharing Mr Dawsons love of Horror films probably helped me along the way…I know the “rules” well and yet he manages to put his own twist on things and keep the story intriguing and brain bending throughout. Compelling characterisation made things even more interesting…how many of us had the same grouping of friends personality wise at school and beyond I wonder…probably most. Cleverly realistic and always fascinating this is a must read for anyone who loves a good mystery, backed up by great characters and great writing. Read it. Read it now.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you kindly to Helen Fitzgerald and the Publisher for the advance copy of this novel.
Baby Noah goes missing from a roadside in Australia and the media attention is intense and extreme. Battling their loss and the attention, Noah’s parents Alistair and Joanna slowly start to fall apart. As the search heads ever closer to the truth of what happened to Noah, the blame game begins…
I’m not sure how best to describe “The Cry”. The blurb calls it a “psychological thriller” and yes I suppose it is in a way. But I have to say I read it more as a family drama – the characterisation is pure and oh so realistic and Ms Fitzgerald has used real life to great effect – we have all seen on the news many high profile missing children cases where first sympathy abounds then suspicion begins…and how social media can play such a huge role in the pressure put upon parents and the police in these situations. What she has done is put a human face on it – the public can’t see what goes on behind closed doors when the 24/7 news cycle goes mad but in this fictional story thats exactly what we get. Brilliantly done.
Timeslips are used to great effect – we see Joanna and Alistair’s journey with Noah from leaving Scotland, on various legs of the flight to Australia, at the same time hints and teasers about what is actually going on now. As the strands come together the whole picture emerges…in a fascinating way. There is no real attempt at hiding secrets here – although what you see may not always be what you get – its very much about the emotion behind the mask and how you can never know what really goes on in someone elses head. As Joanna heads further and further into what could almost be called insanity, you will feel for her…and for those around her.
Its an amazing book to be sure. I have read some fantastic books lately, this has been a terrific year for terrific novels – yet I sense that this is the one that will stay with me for a long time. Beautifully written, characters you will relate to and feel for and a story that could so easily be truth you should certainly not miss this one. Cry? Oh yes. Indeed I did.
Happy Reading Folks!
So this book had been on my wishlist, it finally got put into my latest book budget batch – and before I start the review I have to say I chose to go for the print copy rather than the Kindle copy because its got a terrific eye catching cover. Looks great in real life! Kudos to the designer. Sometimes I think that it is becoming a lost art what with technology allowing instant gratification of ebook downloads these days so I’m always on the look out for good ones for my shelf! Anyway apologies to Ms Forbes as I digress….
Cass and her Husband Dan live a quiet life in the country…One day they gain a new neighbour, the glamorous Ellie, arriving to write her new novel in the peace of the rural setting. At first Cass is pleased to welcome Ellie into their midst but a series of events leads her to start feeling disconnected from her life…and a little scared…but she can’t pinpoint exactly why….
Very much a character driven novel, mostly seen through the eyes of Cass herself, this is a beautiful and brilliantly written example of a psychological thriller, a terrific twisty tale and a completely captivating look at village life to boot. Cass is both amazingly complex and deceptively simple – the author has given her a true voice…and it almost casts a spell over you as you read. Never quite sure whether she is reading too much into things or whether something really is afoot, it will keep you deliciously off balance throughout the story….
A snapshot of village life, the setting is almost a character in itself. Village gossip abounds…the supporting cast can almost be imagined as being in the midst of a rather long running game of chinese whispers…but who is saying what and why? More to the point who is HEARING what and why…cleverly achieved. Despite the fact that the majority of the novel is seen through the eyes of a single character it doesnt read that way…it appears as if they are all talking. And therein lies the magic of the story and the charm of the reading experience for me.
Very enjoyable, a high standard of writing and lovely prose make this a must read for fans of this type of tale and indeed fans of intriguing storytelling in any genre.
Despite Sarah and Jennifer constructing a “Never List” of actions to avoid in order to stay safe, they end up at the mercy of a madman. Years after her escape, Sarah, having lived in isolation, decides its time to find out the truth about what happened to Jennifer and to find her body and lay her to rest. As her kidnapper is coming up for parole the stakes are high….
This was possibly, out of all the intriguing stories I have had the pleasure of reading lately, the most intriguing of all due to the superb characterisation. Sarah as a character is truly amazing – as you follow her on her journey you will begin to feel like you know her – and feel her pain. As we slowly learn more about her ordeal, and those who suffered it with her, a sense of horror creeps into your subconcious – and you imagine how far you would go to survive. And to wonder exactly how far Sarah went…
The story itself is well imagined and brilliantly written – from Sarah’s distrust of everyone and her sheer determination to overcome her fear and get out into the world, to learning about the other girls who were trapped with her and how they have coped you are absorbed into every corner of their world. Especially compelling is the relationship between Sarah and Tracey, another kidnapped girl, who may well have good reason not to trust Sarah at all, and yet they join forces to track down every corner of their captors life and find out what makes him tick..and perhaps save themselves into the bargain.
Its a great take on the psyche of a killer – seeing it all from his victims viewpoint is what makes him intriguing. Cleverly done and incredibly easy to dive into, I would recommend this for anyone who loves a good psychological thriller. You may or may not guess the outcome – I did – but the journey is ever thrilling and never dull.
Happy Reading Folks!
Shortlisted for the Amazon Uk Rising Stars Award.
Thank you kindly to Legend Press and Cassandra Parkin for the copy of this novel via netgalley.
In an abandoned house in the West Country a small eclectic group of people gather – including young Davey, escaping from life , who is welcomed into their midst with one caveat – he asks no questions. 30 Years previously, Musican Jack Laker is writing a comeback album…and in abandoning one girl for another sets into motion a wave of events that will ripple through the years until they reach Davey’s shore..
I have posted this review under Fiction – you might also consider it as a mystery novel but for me it was all about the beautiful characters and flowing almost poetic prose – sometimes its hard to put a book into a single genre. Cassandra Parkin has created some wonderfully witty and heartfelt folk here – I loved each and every one of them from the hilariously honest Priss (my favourite) down to the less than likeable but still intriguing Evie. As you follow events both in the past and the present, you will get inexorably caught up in their world…a world as harsh as it is breathtaking. The house is almost a character in itself – there is a definite atmosphere about it and you know it is hiding secrets…but what those secrets are it refuses to tell.
The story unfolds over both the time periods in a charmingly delightful manner – it is gentle yet fascinating. You care less about what they may be hiding from than you do for the people themselves and what they might do next. The Summer We All Ran Away is the closest I’ve come expressively speaking to Agatha Christie – you feel like you are reading an age old tale yet in a modern setting. Of all the wonderful books I have read lately this is the one that has made me feel true nostalgia for those early days of my reading life – when wide eyed I would emerge from a story and suddenly realise it wasnt real. But it feels real when you are in it…doesnt it?
Happy Reading Folks!
Emily is happily married with a lovely son and seemingly has it all. So what makes her get up one morning and leave it all behind to start a new life alone in London? That is the premise for this novel and it really was a terrific read. I was immediately drawn into Emily’s world and that of her identical twin sister and it kept me reading long into the night.
Now anyone who has read reviews of this novel previously know that there is a twist in the tale. What IS it that makes Emily behave this way – and what is the date she is dreading? When I first sat down to pick up this book my aim was to work it out – I do love a good game of “beat the author” don’t you? However the story is so compelling and addictive that a few pages in I had forgotton all about that and was deep into Emily’s London life and the amazingly well imagined characters that she meets along the way. Through flashback we learn something of her past and that of others and so the story pulls you along, immersing you deeper into the lives of these characters and I would say even if that was all you got from this book it would be plenty good enough.
However, here we go. As I moved along through the novel, towards the end I suddenly remembered that something was coming. At this stage I DID have a go at “beat the author”. I reviewed in my head all the steps Emily had taken, all the information the author had given, and I had a go at deciding what was what. I mean you have to try don’t you? Then I read on, eager to find out what happens ultimately to Emily and those around her. Was I right? Well the book blurb says “No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?” The answer to that is a resounding NO. I didnt. I was floored. It happens to me sometimes – the last book to make my jaw drop in such a brilliant way was Erin Kelly’s “The Burning Air”. I thought I’d never find an author as clever as that – but here is Ms Seskis with her vivid and imaginative writing – sucking me in, making me think I was clever and then realising that I’m not half as clever as I think I am.
This is an extremely well written novel, not just because of the twist, but generally speaking. As I said earlier, although the twist in the tale is great, the STORY is terrific even if it didnt ultimately have that head in hands moment. The characters practically leap off the page – not only Emily but pretty much all of them. Her twin is compelling and I ADORED Angel – would that we all had a friend like her. Its an emotional read in places – Emily struggles with her new life and you will feel it all right along with her – and it is a story of redemption. I love those. I loved this. I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway so thank you kindly to Tina Seskis for sending it to me. Her next novel, A Serpentine Affair, is out later this year and trust me – I’m going to be the very first in the queue. FIRST I tell you. Back off!
So. Another in the series featuring DI Damen Brook, I have been looking forward to this one and it didnt disappoint. DI Brook, back from his latest “leave” is stuck investigating Cold cases – a job he neither wants nor is particularly interested in. Determined to toe the line though, he dives in with a modicum of enthusiasm…until something peaks his interest. And of course, this IS Damen Brook we are talking about so soon he is going off at a tangent in his own way and the possibility of a hidden killer begins to emerge. With its foot firmly in the past, this novel covers decades – from the sixties onwards – and each little part of the whole is beautifully written. With subtle changes to the writing style giving each period in history its own feel, the main bulk of the story follows Damen as he sorts through the myriad of information, forgotton memories and lost details that together will give him the solution he seeks. And trust me, its quite a solution. Until DI Brook told me the whole story I didnt get the whole story – but its all there. And with hindsight makes perfect sense. So a clever crime novel, a “whodunnit” but also a tense race against time to save a life. And what was truly brilliant? I was honestly not sure whether or not the clock would be beaten and Brook would emerge triumphant- and you won’t be either. You want me to tell you don’t you? I know you do..well I won’t. Because why on earth would I spoil your fun? Or allow you to spoil mine while I watch you swim in the sea of wonderful confusion, twists and turns that is “The Unquiet Grave”.
My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy of this book. I will be talking about it again nearer its release date of the 4th July and its entirely possibly you may find an expansion on the above thoughts – there is a lot to this book. For now I want you to put it on your lists folks. And if you havent met Brook yet – well what are you waiting for? You have time! For the events leading up to “The Unquiet Grave” it is fine to start with “Deity”. A tip for readers, I know that its helpful to know if a series MUST be read in order. Mr Dunne’s books are all stunning in their own way – but each can be read on its own merits.
With “The Other Typist” Suzanne Rindell has achieved a number of things, all of which add up to make this one of the best novels I have had the pleasure of reading this year. Set in 1920’s America, during the time of Prohibition, it follows the story of Rose, a Police typist, and her blossoming friendship with the newest girl to join the typing pool, Odalie. Their days spent typing up the confessions of criminals, their nights spent in quite a different fashion, we follow the girls over the full course of their friendship from the day they meet. Neither are quite as they appear however, and you will quickly become immersed into their world and you won’t come up for air until you are sure there is no more left to know. Told entirely from the point of view of Rose, you trace their friendship from first meeting to where it all goes, well frankly, a bit pear shaped.
Ms Rindell’s sense of place is fantastic – the best I’ve seen in a long time. An evocative time, when women were just beginning to come into their own in a world that was very much coming to terms with itself, you can almost smell the smells and see the sights right there along with our protagonist.
The writing is witty and clever – Rose is a bit of a prude, and her opinions on how “young ladies” should conduct themselves are at times laugh out loud funny – several times I found myself re-reading certain portions with great amusement – and the excellent prose serves the story well.
Odalie is one of those characters you are unlikely to ever forget (Anyone who has read Erin Kelly’s fantastic “The Poison Tree” and remembers how Biba made you feel will know exactly what I am talking about) and she and Rose are pretty much polar opposites – hence really why the whole thing works so well.
Peppered with supporting characters who are all intrical to the plot and extremely well drawn (I would kind of like to meet the Detective Sergeant) you are swept along on a tidal wave of storytelling until you emerge breathless the other side. If you only read one book this year – read this one. **This review from a giveaway “Goodreads” First Read” thanks to Penguin Books
Well. What can I say. Having just finished this sprawling wonderful expanse of a novel, peppered with the most unlikely characters you will ever have the joy to encounter, and set in a future where the world we know has changed in indescribable ways, I am feeling quite honoured to be amongst the first in this country to read it. Winner of the 2007 Athens Prize for Literature, quite deservedly so in this reader’s opinion, this is post apocalyptic fiction at its best. Not only that, Ioanna Bourazopoulou has managed to write a mystery, a thriller and an adventure all tied up into one wonderful package.
Rising oceans have engulfed much of the planet and changed the landscape forever. From amid this new world a strange “salt” peppers the earth, addictive and hallucinogenic, and controlled by the mysterious “Consortium” of the 75. In their strictly controlled Colony, their employee’s live and work to a tight, unyielding rule of law, overseen by the governer and his six star bearers. When the governer is found dead, it is clear that chaos may well ensue, but what exactly are the 75 up to? Meanwhile, away from the colony, Phileas Book creates and publishes his strange and wonderful “crosswords” made up from letters sent to The Times, until one day, approached by a representative of the 75, he finds himself thrust into the mystery of what exactly happened in the immediate aftermath of the death of Governer Bera. By reading the letters of the six, he is asked to extrapolate a theory by using his “crossword” methods…but Book is suspicious. Of the Consortium, of the Six and of the motives behind the request. Was it murder? Or even something more sinister….
This is an extremely clever story…utterly insane in its concept in the best way possible, it will have you tied up in the most amazing literary knots – and the ultimate resolution may well take your breath away. It certainly did mine, because really, despite all the information being freely available I never actually came to the correct conclusion whilst engrossed in its pages. A lot of that may well be to do with the brilliant writing – the scene setting is superb and a lot of your head will be wrapping itself around this strange new world…and perhaps even imagining what your place in it might have been. And so the author distracts you from the clues you might otherwise have picked up on – with hindsight it was all perfectly clear but I would like to bet that the majority of you will scratch your heads just as much as I did both during and after reading the book. Which you must. Don’t miss it! Phileas Book is perfect – through his eyes you will discover what went before – as one of the original survivors of the change, he leads us through the terror and the emotion – and why he now stagnates, creating his puzzles, but not really living in any real sense. The six all have their own brilliant mindsets – I wonder which you will sympathise with, hate or love….When you have read it come back and tell me. Enquiring minds want to know. This is inspiring writing – originality and the ability to surprise and delight has definitely not been lost as far as this author is concerned. I hope to see many more marvellous creations in the future.
To finish I must thank the publisher for sending me an advance copy of this novel, and I hope that the above review has done it justice. If you follow me on Twitter I will be talking about this one a lot – and pointing you in the right direction to find out more. Happy Reading!
I absolutely adored Ms Kelly’s first novel “The Poison Tree” so I did approach this with some trepidation. However by three chapters in I knew I had nothing to worry about. The story sucked me in, and I completed the book in under a day. The synopsis available (see below) is all the plot detail you need to decide if this novel interests you, so I won’t go into any more detail because I think that the less knowledge you have about where this is all going, the better for your enjoyment. However, I will say this – about half way through the book, the author pulled the rug out from under me, with a superb twist in the tale that I really did not see coming. From then on it was a breathless rush to the finish to see how the heck it was all going to turn out. So Thank you Erin Kelly – Quite Brilliant.
Synopsis:Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late. The MacBrides have always gone to Far Barn in Devon for Bonfire Night, but this year everything is different. Lydia, the matriarch, is dead; Sophie, the eldest daughter, is desperately trying to repair a crumbling marriage; and Felix, the youngest of the family, has brought a girlfriend with him for the first time. The girl, Kerry, seems odd in a way nobody can quite put their finger on – but when they leave her looking after Sophie’s baby daughter, and return to find both Kerry and the baby gone, they are forced to ask themselves if they have allowed a cuckoo into their nest . . .
Really great story. Nick and Amy are happily married….or are they? On their 5th Anniversary Amy disappears without a trace. Told from the point of view of Nick (in current time) and Amy (from prior diary entries) this follows the path of their relationship from meeting to marriage to what comes next. A few twists and turns along the way, this novel is as much about how a relationship changes as you come to know a person better than the mystery of what has happened to Amy. I very much enjoyed it. The solution was satisfying and you will develop a love/hate relationship with both of the major characters.
Fallen Idols was the book that brought me right back into a love of Crime Fiction and added a new author to my list of must read favourites. A first outing for Reporter Jack Garrett and DC Laura McGanity, this is some of the best Crime Fiction out there at the moment. The seemingly random shootings of two premier footballers plunge us into a world of Fame and fortune and all that comes with it. What would YOU do to achieve the fame you so desperately crave? Jack and Laura (two of my favourite characters in crime fiction these days) wade through the red herrings and general shenanigans with aplomb until they finally reach the solution and their developing relationship is well written and involving hence why they ARE two great characters to follow along with. I read everything Mr White writes these days and really it just gets better and better. But start here…because its the beginning!