Liz Currently Loves……What Lies Within by Tom Vowler.

17304637

 

Tom Vowler’s “What Lies Within” is a superb debut novel. Suspensful, emotional and brilliant it has been pegged as a “psychological thriller” but it is so much more than that.

Anna lives in a remote Devon farmhouse with her husband and two children, they are surrounded by natural beauty and live a relaxing life. When a prisoner escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison that freedom is threatened and Anna feels increasingly isolated. Meanwhile a young and idealistic teacher suffers a brutal attack and her life changes forever. As the two stories come together, the question is asked…what is the TRUE meaning of family.

This book will get you from its first page and won’t let you go until you are done. With superb writing and a gripping story intertwined with a sensitive yet realistic look at the aftermath of violence, this is truly a remarkable novel. Yes it is a thriller and a mystery but it is also an extraordinarily truthful look at how events can shape a life. The age old question “nature versus nurture” is embedded in its pages and it will have you considering those things that have shaped your own life. Some of the events in this book spoke directly to my heart in ways that I cannot put into words…I found it hauntingly beautiful.

The tension builds slowly but surely as we see events unfold through Anna’s eyes – she is a character of extreme depth, you will feel you have only scratched the surface even when the tale is done. Her husband and children are equally compelling – I don’t want to say too much, this is a story best read cold to get the full impact – but I WILL say that rarely will you see such a well drawn fictional family in any novel. What Lies Within is right – none of us can know the depth of another persons feelings, even those closest to us, or understand entirely what is at the heart of them – how often in reality can we even say we know those things about ourselves? What Mr Vowler has achieved here is a rare thing…a crime and mystery novel with total heart and soul. Thats the best way I can think of to put it. Sometimes words are not enough. Read it. You’ll see. As I did I’m sure you will add Mr Vowler to your list of must read authors. Certainly I am very excited to find out what he has in store for us next.

Find out more about Tom Vowler here http://www.tomvowler.co.uk/

Follow him on Twitter here  https://twitter.com/tom_vowler

 

 

Books…..and then come the Movies. Part Two.

So in my previous blog I talked about those well loved novels that are made into movies, either good or bad and I ended with two words. Jack Reacher. Now then, how many Reacher fans are there out there? Are you one? I am. I love those novels. I have followed Jack since his beginnings and a new Reacher novel is something to look forward to. I’ve often wondered over the years how well it would translate to screen – the stories do seem to be appropriate for a great action movie that also has a great plot – so I was pleased initially to hear that a movie was in fact going to be made. Who would play Reacher I wondered? My mind sifted through all those rugged actors, tall, well built, not so good looking or clean cut maybe but hey, Reacher is not supposed to be the handsomest of men. But going back the main thing about him, the one thing that is described over and over…the MAIN thing about how Reacher looks is his height. Yes? So please for the love of God, tell me why anyone, including the actor himself, would think that Tom Cruise would be a perfect fit. Sigh. Don’t get me wrong – I am not in fact a hater of Mr Cruise – his personal life and what some would call strange attitudes have no bearing on whether or not I enjoy his movies – and he’s actually a pretty good “action” hero – The Mission Impossible films are great fun. But he’s not now, nor will he ever be, an actor that can pull off Reacher. I had many online discussions about the possibility that Lee Child had just sold us readers out to the highest bidder, but you know thats probably not it. How much control can an author realistically keep over his character once he gives the rights to any movie studio? I find this a difficult one. I have no evidence that the Cruise controversy has affected Mr Child’s  readership – certainly I would not allow my annoyance at that to stop me enjoying future novels. I think its an interesting discussion. Some research tells me there ARE ways for an author to have some say over what happens to their characters in the visual medium, but many it seems choose to just go down the easy road. And thats fine. After all they own the characters and stories they create don’t they? How much do they REALLY owe their loyal readers. Writing may be an art form and a calling but its also a job. And when you are working who doesnt go for the highest paycheck possible?

900487

So how was the movie? I watched it. My inner voice that said it couldnt be THAT bad compelled me to see just how bad it was. To be fair it wasnt bad. It was pretty good as action movies go. Once I allowed myself to let go of the image of Reacher I had in my head I enjoyed it – as an action movie. Mr Cruise did his best. He captured to my mind the SPIRIT of Reacher in some senses. Still, the problem I had was that the wonderful actor Jai Courtney was playing the bad guy. And frankly he was MUCH closer to the image of Reacher I had in my head – so confusion reigned for a lot of the time. Standing at over 6 feet tall he is perhaps a little too clean cut for Reacher but if he had been given the role I would not have been nearly so dismayed! In some scenes, towering over Mr Cruise, it was difficult to remember that no, he’s not the good guy.  Anyway. I had a lot of fun with the film so it wasnt all bad news and if you are a fan of the novels this probably won’t distress you too much. After all, its not REALLY Jack Reacher its just a great action popcorn movie.

 

So. There are my thoughts on that particular adaptation. I would be interested to hear which adaptations you have been dismayed about…have you ever felt let down by a film version of a much loved book? The thing I most want to know is…which character has been destroyed for you by a particularly strange or insane piece of casting? Because in this readers opinion – casting is key when you are trying to bring a much loved novel to the screen.

Thats it for now folks! In part 3 I will be talking all things Potter. Yes Victoria, I’m going to ask you to contribute. https://victorialovesbooks.wordpress.com/ Your knowledge in this area far outweighs my own.

Happy Reading everyone!

 

Liz Currently Loves…..The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

17568538

If in doubt….RUN! Set over several periods of time, the String Diaries is a wonderful thrill ride of a mythology story, one you could almost imagine had been written by the Brothers Grimm should they be alive and publishing today. Following Hannah in the present day as she struggles to keep her family safe, through flashback we learn the reasons for her paranoia and fear. Charles in 1970’s Oxford meets a mysterious girl who fascinates and intrigues him, but little does he know what pursuing her will bring him. With a rich vein of folklore running through the narrative, each new chapter brings its own rewards and questions – who can be trusted? Who should be feared…..

Ok so if you follow my reviews you know that I do love a clever book – and this book is just that. Clever. Keeping you on a knifes edge even in its less manic moments, if you are the type of person who totally loses themselves in a story you will find yourself looking at your loved ones and feeling a vague sense of unease….before returning to devour as many more words as possible before real life claims you back. I had the added pleasure of knowing some of the locations utilised – I live in Oxfordshire and many happy holidays are spent in Snowdonia – so a lot of the time I was really literally there with the characters. And that isnt hard. They are all wonderful – even the less salubrious – and we all know that great characters you can love or hate are the key to a fantastic book.

I’m wondering if there will be more novels from Mr Lloyd Jones set in this world. The last time I read a book that made me want more in the way that this one does was way back when I first picked up “The Straw Men” by Michael Marshall which became one of my best loved to this day trilogies – in fact “The String Diaries” has inspired me to make that novel my next reread to review on site. However the author has given us a well rounded and completed tale – the ending was satisfying and perfect in conjunction with what had gone before, but it does leave you wanting more… Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel to review. Sometimes I love my life! Over to you Mr Lloyd Jones! Brilliant. Happy Reading folks!

 

 

Books……and then come the Movies. Part One.

So, my last little blog was about the tv shows inspired by books and how they can often be disappointing. This week my thoughts turned to movies and that is a huge subject. So much so that when I started writing this blog I knew that one post wasnt going to cut it. So this will be in several parts over several days. When a movie is made based on a popular novel, the pitfalls are huge. That old saying “You can’t please all of the people….” springs to mind. No matter how true to the source material they are, no matter how much thought goes into the casting, someone, somewhere will say – “well it wasnt nearly as good as the book and they left this bit out. Oh and this bit.” I know. I do it myself. And of course, some movies are so far removed from the books they are supposedly based on, that really you wonder why they even bother saying it IS based on that book. When it works though its terrific – those characters you have come to know and love pop off the screen and its sheer brilliance – in reality however my own opinion is it more often fails to live up to the reading experience than not. Occasionally, to be fair, it improves on it. My problem I believe is I tend to cast in my head if I’m reading a good book – and rarely if ever does the casting director agree with me! Who else does that? Come on, admit it, I KNOW you do. So lets look at a few…

 

I’m going to start with Stephen King. OF COURSE YOU ARE I hear those that know me well cry, who else? For years I watched every adaptation of a King novel going – both in the television and movie format. I despaired I really did. In fact until recent years “The Shining” was the only film I enjoyed – and we all know how much Mr King hates that adaptation, and it really doesnt do his novel justice. But hey, Jack Nicholson – can’t complain about that! He was scary. The book was scary. So ok we’ll let them get away with that one. Mr Kubrick was a genius. None of the others ever came close to capturing the sense and feeling of the books. Even “Carrie” which really tried its best. Then. A Miracle. That miracle was one Mr Frank Darabont. Any King fan will know the story “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption” and what a completely great little tale it was. But it WAS short. Mr Darabont and his crew took that little story and turned it into one of the most amazing movies that has EVER been made, let alone a book adaptation. Expanding the story, imagining a life, that movie is uplifting and awe inspiring and I have yet to meet a person who didnt like it, most LOVE it. Pure joy. Then, Mr Darabont obviously knowing he was onto a good thing,  took on “The Green Mile”. Originally published as a series in 6 parts I remember being desperate to get my hands on the next instalment – another tale of Prison life but with the old King twist, this was absorbing and heart wrenching in equal measure. Now of course you can buy it in novel form and read it start to finish – but back then you had to wait. I was interested to see the adaptation and wow. My God. Whoever decided that Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan should play the leading roles MUST have read the book. Readers, you remember the description of John Coffey from the book? Isnt Mr Duncan perfect? Everything pretty much about that adaptation was. Perfect. Finally (so far) for Mr Darabont, another short King tale – The Mist. With this adaptation he was completely true to the story……..until the end. Well. If you have read it you know that there is zero chance of Mr King’s ending satisfying most movie going fans – so what happened? Well. If you’ve seen it you know. How many gasps of shock do you think rang out around Cinema’s  everywhere when that was being shown? I’m guessing a lot. I know when I saw it everyone literally cried out. The tension was palpable. And I bet not many of us slept well afterwards…

So. There you go. Hopefully you will take my advice – watch the King adaptations that are GOOD and leave the rest for heavens sake. Just for me.

39662813214978695

 

I’m going to talk about one more set of books today – extremely popular novels that were made into extremely popular films. In this case I ADORED the films and hated the books. Hey, sometimes it does work that way you know! Vampire fans unite – Team Edward or Team Jacob? Well Team Jacob all the way for me! Yes its Twilight. The craze that swept the world, lovers of the books united to make these some of the most popular movies ever. And I LOVED them. Visually they were stunning – the casting was superb and all of them put their heart into it. Whereas in the novels the constant gazing into each others eyes and periods of time where absolutely NOTHING happened drove me crazy, when transferred to the visual medium they became much more emotive. It helped of course that the movie was peppered with good looking young people who were easy on the eye – even the villains – but still I felt this story much more when engrossed in the films than I did while reading the books. Not that the books were bad, don’t get me wrong…well loved by teenagers and adults alike, they were easy reads but too drawn out I felt. The movies took some poetic licence – the finale to “Breaking Dawn Part Two” was amazing – heart stopping action that had everyone on the edge of their seats. In the books it was a much more stagnant ending – which worked beautifully in novel form but might have been slightly boring in visual form. So no, I was not fond of the books and admittedly (sorry Twilight fans!) I skipped a lot of pages and didnt appear to miss much. In the cinema I lived every moment with Bella – superb storytelling and superb camera work made for a great cinema experience.

41865

 

Ok thats your lot for today. In “Part Two” I shall be talking about “When good books go bad” …those film adaptations that have caused controversy in the reading world when well loved characters get mangled in the pursuit of riches and it seems as if no-one has really given TOO much thought to the fans. Hey. It happens. Now of course, if  authors sell their book rights they can’t really be expected to worry that much about what happens to it next. Or can they? A point for discussion I believe. Prior to writing my next piece I would be VERY interested to hear opinions on that. SHOULD an author TRY and ensure that at least a nod is going to be given to those readers who have been faithfully following them, sometimes for years, before a movie adaptation is made? Or is it very much – ok you can use my idea and do what you want with it. If you are an author OR a reader, please do leave me a comment with your opinion – and perhaps an example of an adaptation you have loved or hated. I’m going to end with two words. Jack Reacher.

Liz Currently Loves…….Dead Scared by S J Bolton

12679393

 

So, we come to the second book to feature Lacey Flint and as I adored her in the first novel (Now you See Me) I was really looking forward to this one. As expected, it was terrific.

In this outing we find Lacey heading undercover in Cambridge where a spate of suicides has rocked the College. Posing as a student, her brief is to appear fragile and wait to see what happens. With each suicide becoming more violent and creative, Lacey is determined to discover what is going on…despite being told she is not there to investigate, investigate she does. Of course.

What I love about S J Bolton is the way she slowly but surely builds the tension over the course of her books until you can barely breathe – towards the end of this book I was completely lost in the tale, frantically turning pages to get to the end before my heart gave out. I found the ongoing tension between Lacey and Joesbury well written – although just a small note – I hope Ms Bolton doesnt keep the “will they won’t they” theme between these characters ongoing for TOO long over the course of the Flint novels because, much as in television shows where they do the same, eventually it can get dull and the reader loses interest. That is for the future – for now, their relationship is still intriguing and because of their separate personalities it makes for a good “sub” plot. I was also extremely pleased to see Evie again (Blood Harvest) and the introduction of a new character, a possible love interest for Lacey made me look forward to finding out what happens next in her life. The resolution was clever if abrupt and very satisfying.

Ms Boltons plotting is superb – some of the best I’ve found in crime novels. I know some readers were worried about her move into more straightforward crime fiction but I, for one, think that STILL her books are atmospheric and haunting – this one in particular was both of those things and so crime fiction or not, the ambience is the same. Brilliant. More please.

 

Blog Tour……..On the Edge by Dick Hannah

ontheedge2

 

Review

Joe Malone, ex marine who now suffers agrophobia, goes to work for his Father, also an ex marine at his fitness camp. Then two of the clients are murdered and this sets off a chain of events that finds Joe travelling across Texas with another group, including his old friend Kathy. Joe is determined to keep his friends safe and unmask a killer but of course its not as easy as all that.

I liked the way this story flowed – well written and intriguing enough in the early stages to keep you turning pages, and with a good dose of interesting characterisation it was an easy but involving read. Joe himself is well imagined – the challenges he faces to restore his mental health after the horrors he faced in Iraq are cleverly written and add great depth to his character. As for the adventure racing angle, I found this exciting to read – I don’t know a lot about this area but I found myself enjoying finding out. The author has written what he knows – and it shows.

All in all I would say this was worth a read if you like adventure, mystery and a great story well told.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Imagine Dick Francis listing toward adventure races instead of horse racing. Or Diane Mott Davidson writing about triathlons inlieu of catering. With a background in adventure races including competing in the Army Best Ranger Competition Dick Hannah provides a fresh voice and real world glimpse into the world of adventure racing and fitness in his thriller novels.

Prior to starting his writing career he spent four years as a Ranger team leader and continues to stay sharp by working as a fitness consultant at a fitness bootcamp. When not racing or writing, Dick works full-time as technical writer, business analyst and trainer.

Dick followed up Toe the Line, his first full-length novel, in 2013 with On the Edge. He has already started on his third thriller, Vapor Trail, which he plans to release in 2014. He can be contacted through his blog at www.puborperish.blogspot.com.

LINKS

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/235892

http://www.puborperish.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.amazon.com/On-Edge-Dick-Hannah/dp/1301821411

OnTheEdgeBookCoverImage

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves……One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

17404760

 

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!

Liz Currently Loves…..The Dead Tracks by Tim Weaver.

10423271

 

So, having loved “Chasing the Dead” the first in the David Raker series from Tim Weaver I started in on The Dead Tracks with a great sense of anticipation. I wasnt even anywhere near that place called disappointed. Weaver is actually an excellent surname for this particular author – he weaves an intricate and twisted tale that swallows  you up until it finally spits you out satisfied and wanting more.

In this instalment, David is asked to track down a young girl called Megan..the police enquiry into her disappearance has stalled and her parents are desperate. As he investigates he is drawn into a dark place and finds himself involved with a historical serial killer, a police cover up and more missing girls – and finally he finds himself heading for the dead tracks…..

David Raker really is a superb creation. Suffering after the loss of his wife, he is bound and determined that no-one should go through that and it drives him determinedly on towards his goal despite personal danger and heartache. The story itself is terrific – it flows beautifully with such page turning influence that you will find yourself reading into the early hours simply to discover the next clue…3AM today found me finishing this tale, bleary eyed but happy. Chasing the Dead had a wonderful solution – The Dead Tracks manages to pull this off again but in a very different way. I wasnt so much stunned by the ending as I was intrigued by one of the main characters and their psychology..I kind of hope we might find out more about them in future novels but I have a feeling that particular story is done.

Tim Weaver is fast heading up the list of my favourite must read authors – I am lucky enough to still have “Vanished” on my kindle, sadly sadly it will have to wait a little while due to my backlog although my backlog may well get more backlogged if I find I can’t wait…. and later this year “Never Coming Back” which is now very high on my list of priorities. You can find a review of “Chasing the Dead” in the Crime page of this website and I highly recommend you start there and don’t stop. Happy Reading folks!

1574938251Fj8FKzCFL._

 

Books. Then comes the TV show…..

So, on Monday, Stephen King’s “Under The Dome” premiered in the U.S. and it got me thinking about when books you may have loved are turned into mini series or series in general. Later this week I will talk about film adaptations but for now, lets stick with television. I havent yet seen Under The Dome but I have to admit I have not been that enamoured of Stephen King adaptations in general when it comes to mini series. Bag of Bones, one of my favourite King books was on a while back – with Pierce Brosnan in the lead role. Anyone who has read Bag of Bones might wonder at that rather weird bit of casting. Mr Brosnan did his best of course, but really, with the changes to the story as well, it just didnt work for me. Now of course, you can’t expect television adaptations to be exactly the same as the novels – the visual medium is far different to the one you may create in your head while reading a novel – but personally I’ve always found that the best adaptations are true at least to the spirit of the story that inspired them.

6320534

 

Another of my favourite series of books  – The Lynley Novels from Elizabeth George – became a very popular television show. I watched it. Again I wasnt too happy with the casting but hey, if I ruled the world and all that…but it was pretty good. It definitely had the SPIRIT of the novels in there, even though after the initial series the story took a very different turn than had happened in Lynley’s literary life, it still stayed fairly true to its source material. In the case of the Lynley mysteries it was very much a case of actors moving on and therefore changes having to be made to reflect that. At least they didnt cast a different actor in the role and expect you just to accept it – hey we’ve seen that happen yes? And doesnt it drive you mad? So in my opinion this adaptation was better than a lot that I have seen. Lets look at a (from this readers point of view) bad adaptation that still managed to be a terrific show…..

 

305854

 

Who reads Kathy Reichs? The Temperance Brennan novels are superb. Entertaining and absorbing I have yet to read one I disliked. Temperance has a cool name and a cool personality to go with it – so when I heard that they were to be the basis of the tv show “Bones” I was very excited. I watched the entire first series and found that it bore little to no resemblance to the books, apart from the name of the main protagonist. The “Bones” of the show was a very different kettle of fish to the Temperance of the novels – the supporting characters were all pretty much new – and yet I loved it once I was able to view it as a completely separate entity. Sometimes you have to do that because often tv adaptations are NOT that loyal, they simply take the bare bones – pun intended! – and turn it into something people will love to watch. Bones is going strong and although I left it behind a series or two ago you can’t deny its popularity or that it worked!

231604

 

So. I’m interested in opinions. Do you love it when a favourite book or series of books hits our television screens? Do you approach them with trepidation or a sense of anticipation? I am very much looking forward to seeing what they have achieved with “Under the Dome” – from reading articles in the media and from Mr King himself it seems as if this is going to be great. But will it actually be? We’ll see. Do you have a favourite book or series that then became a show you are obsessed with? How about Dexter? True Blood? Both great adaptations and shows I watch avidly. I wonder what will be next……

Liz Currently Loves……The Killing Game by Jack Kerley

51LtB27iUmL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_

The latest Carson Ryder novel from Jack Kerley was one I had been looking forward to and wow, what a great addition to this series (Start with “The Hundredth Man if you are only just starting). In this instalment, Carson ends up embroiled with a killer who apparently kills randomly and without motive. Every investigators nightmare according to Carson…but is there really no motive?

These books are always brilliant but I have to say that this one is definitely a favourite. I won’t say over much because if you have not read Carson’s story so far I really wouldnt want to spoil it. For those of you who HAVE I will say – the usual suspects are back including the randomly brilliant Jeremy and the always entertaining Harry. The story as always is involving, exciting and will get the old brain cells working overtime. This is a cat and mouse game – and its not clear whether Carson will end up victorious and don’t you just LOVE books like that?  The ending was stunning. I never saw it coming and yet it made perfect sense. I’m fairly sure that there are not many readers out there who WILL see it coming – Mr Kerley you are very clever and I see to my absolute delight that Carson will be back in December. Wow what a Christmas present that will be! And to finish this review I offer a very special thanks to Hannah and Kate. They know what for!