Penguin Books.

penguinNovels from Penguin and Michael Joseph

Publication Date: 28th December from Penguin (Viking)

Source: Netgalley

Someone took Daisy Mason.
Someone YOU KNOW.

Twists galore, a gripping race against time, and police characters you’ll love – if you were addicted to Broadchurch and Line of Duty, then CLOSE TO HOME is for you.

How can a child go missing without a trace?

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying.

And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Close to Home is a gripping  police procedural with psychological thriller elements following DI Adam Fawley, a man who lost his own child, searching for another child who has gone missing.

What I liked about this is how it was plotted and developed – following the investigation in real time and then with flashbacks starting close to the disappearance and moving outwards in time, enveloping the reader into two strands as the police uncover clues and we see where those clues originated. It keeps things moving in a pacy and engaging manner, also giving somewhat of an insight into whether the police assumptions were bang on the money and when they were not. It was kind of like being part of it.

The author also digs into our current social media trends as we see people tweeting and commenting on Facebook posts as the family undergo trial by public opinion – in this case we have a family who garner literally no sympathy – a mess of contradictions and nasty personality, they were really quite fascinating.

The resolution is not easy to see here, which I always like, the writing is immersive and the story is taut and cleverly emotive. I think if I had one bugbear it was that Daisy, when we saw her in the past or heard people talk about her seemed older than her age sometimes, then was pure child again – and her family sat on the edge of being perhaps too horrible for any of us to care – but in the end the story tells and I read this one fast, wanting to know, enjoying finding out. Also Adam Fawley is a character I want to know more about and the series is set in my neck of the woods which made it all the more realistic as I know the area’s described. So bring on the next in this series – I’ll be there.

You can Purchase Close to Home HERE

 

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Publication Date: 25th August  (Michael Joseph)

Source: Netgalley

In a corrupt and volatile society where people are divided and defined by zodiac signs, status is cast at birth and binding forever. The line between a life of luxury and an existence of poverty can be determined by the stroke of midnight.
When a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims of totally different signs, is it a misguided revolution or the work of a serial killer?
All eyes are on Detective Jerome Burton and Profiler Lindi Childs. They may disagree over whether the answers are written in the stars, but they are united by their belief that a grand plan is being executed..

Zodiac is a clever and very intriguing book – the world Sam Wilson creates here is fascinating and allows for some allegorical social study and honestly, its a banging good thriller too. It works so well because the author presents this world as fact, doesnt over explain and by a couple of chapters in you would almost imagine this IS our world and you are reading a reality based crime story rather than what it is – a beautiful mix of speculative fiction and (sort of) serial killer thriller.  That right there is a talent.

Your starsign defines you. There is no room for compromise in this, you are who you are depending on the date and time of your birth. Enter into this two opposing characters – Detective Jerome Burton who is unconvinced by the whole astrology thing (and has to walk a VERY fine line because of this) and profiler Lindi Childs. She profiles of course, with star charts and readings – something accepted and utilised in the prevention and detection of crime. I loved the yin/yang of these two and the author plays on their differences beautifully – the relationship between them is definitely one of the defining aspects of “Zodiac” another reason why its so intensely addictive.

Then we have Daniel Lapton, a privileged man who discovers that he has a daughter. Her circumstances are not so clear cut and he finds his assumptions and realities challenged at every level. I really loved how Sam Wilson integrated this into the wider plot allowing for an incredibly insightful character study and Daniel’s personal journey is a compelling one.

Plenty of thrills and spills and death and destruction too as people from all starsigns start to die – the plotting is tight and clever, the resolution perfectly executed and I found Zodiac to be a real page turner, where the moral grey areas are many and there are challenges to your thinking at every turn. As a fan of many genres it was nice to see an author cross the boundaries and do it really quite well.

Recommended. Can’t wait for more.

You can purchase Zodiac HERE

 

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Publication Date: Available Now.

Source: Review Copy

Pathologist Quirke is back working in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. When a body is found in a burnt-out car, Quirke is called in to verify the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming civil servant. But Quirke can’t shake a suspicion of foul play.

The only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. Piecing together her disappearance, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite – secret societies and high church politics, corrupt politicians and men with money to lose. When the trail eventually leads to Quirke’s own family, the past and present collide. But crimes of the past are supposed to stay hidden, and Quirke has shaken the web.

Even the Dead was my first “Quirke” novel – which didn’t matter one bit – and I have to say that I’m definitely wanting to read more.

I’ve been a bit down on crime recently – with a few notable exceptions I’ve been finding them all very samey and indeed I have picked up and put down a few – with Even the Dead I picked it up and it stayed picked up. The writing is gorgeous, invoking the senses and really embedding you into Quirkes world – a supposedly gentler time that still erupts into violence and with some real old school mystery storytelling at its heart.

An accident that is not an accident, a scared girl who feels all alone and Quirke is back in business having been away for a while. For me as a first time meeting the characters, it was beautifully done, no problem picking up threads and the current mystery was intriguing and atmospheric.

Even the Dead floats along carrying you with it, a firm sense of place and time, some really really fascinating and engrossing characters and would definitely come highly recommended from me.

You can purchase Even the Dead HERE

 

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Publication Date: 14th January 2016.

Source: Netgalley

This is a life told back to front.

This is a man who has lied all his life.

Roy is a conman living in a leafy English suburb, about to pull off the final coup of his career. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings.

But who is the man behind the con and what has he had to do to survive this life of lies?

And why is this beautiful woman so willing to be his next victim?

Loved The Good Liar. A clever and winding tale looked at all the wrong way round and upside down but so brilliantly addictive with a dry yet compelling style.

We start with Roy meeting Betty for the first time on a “blind” date. I was immediately hooked due to the way this was presented by the author and I knew right there that this was going to be one that would engage me. Saying anything else on the plot, bar the fact that it moves backwards in time in our learning curve about Roy, whilst moving forward on how their relationship develops, would necessarily spoil things so lets just leave that there.

The Good Liar managed to often surprise me. My main reason for liking it so much is how Nicholas Searle blurs the lines, so whilst he doesn’t hide anything you really have no clue what is going to happen until it happens. A really excellent construction, something that not many can do well, this is assured plotting and compelling stuff.

It is not perfect – it does ramble on occasion, sometimes you would like things to just get on – but overall this was a terrific debut, one that messsed with my head and gave me pause for thought. Character wise it is  just simply terrific. Excellent job. Really really interested to see what this author comes up with next.

You can purchase The Good Liar here

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

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Publication Date: 13th August from Michael Joseph

Source: Netgalley

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.
Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

I basically read this on Sunday and really really enjoyed it. It’s one of those novels that I tend to sink into, rushing to turn the pages to find out the resolution and with a character I really got behind.

Tess is one of the “Black Eyed Susans” – victims of a serial killer and the sole survivor. Told in two timelines, back when she was going through therapy having been rescued from a mass grave still breathing, and in present time where she has a teenager of her own, we read both about her doubts now that the right killer is in jail and start to learn where those doubts came from..

There were several things about Black Eyed Susans that really appealed to me – firstly the two different Tessa’s – whilst the character voice is the same there are underlying differences and qualities that show how she has grown, from that place into this. Her relationship with her therapists both past and present, with her daughter now and her rather scatty neighbour, the new friendships she is forming with others involved in the “death row” case – all really compelling and beautifully done.

Then there was a dark, creepy aspect to the novel – I will never look at those flowers in the same way again – and an underlying sense of tension that was palpable. The legal aspects of it were engaging – I learned more about the politics of death row, the struggles of those lawyers who try to prevent executions, this was a thread of the tale that I found fascinating and gave the story a real edge for me.

The best thing though for me was Tess and Lydia – Lydia, her best friend, the one who stands by her and up for her in the days and months after the attack, who is determined to bring her back to a semblence of real life, that was the bit that really kept me right in the tale. In present time they have lost touch,having fallen out after the original court case, the reasons behind this and that whole element of the story was the addictive part as far as I was concerned. Lydia, a really compelling character who I wanted to know a lot more about.

I did get a sense of the ending before it was there in black and white, but not until fairly late on. Once again the setting is well described, I remember loving this about previous novels from Julia Heaberlin and the same quality is here in this one.

Atmospheric and often quite tense, great story and great characters meant that “Black Eyed Susans” was a huge Sunday hit for me – definitely recommended.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

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Publication Date: 25th September 2014

Source: Netgalley

After the breakup of her marriage, Evie takes the holiday of a lifetime. A few weeks of hiking, rafting and jungle adventure at an eco-lodge in Mexico sound ideal. But what should have been the perfect pick-me-up soon turns into a nightmare. Nothing is quite what it seems. There are secrets hidden that can’t be allowed to leave their jungle hiding place. And which their keeper will kill to protect. If she is ever to see her son again, Evie will be forced to find reserves of strength, courage and ingenuity she never dreamt existed. Or die trying.

The one thing always guaranteed with Gregg Hurwitz is one heck of a rollercoaster reading ride – and Don’t Look Back is no exception to that rule, I read it fast and furiously, living every moment.

There are some REALLY excellent action scenes alongside some more reflective moments, the story is well told and utterly addictive as always and it had a haunting atmosphere – almost classic horror tale which then morphs into some thrills and spills that will keep you glued to the pages. Characterisation is of a high standard, Evie was a great main protagonist and the “bad guy” was superbly threatening. The setting was intriguing and well described so you could be right in each and every moment.

Overall then another spectacular thriller from Mr Hurwitz. Not my favourite of his, but another stonking good read. Highly Recommended for Thriller fans.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

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Publication Date: 14th August 2014

How well do you really know those you love?
Jenny loves her three teenage children and her husband, Ted, a celebrated neurosurgeon. She loves the way that, as a family, they always know each other’s problems and don’t keep secrets from each other.
But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play and a nationwide search for her begins, secrets previously kept from Jenny are revealed.

So I’ve read some great family dramas with a mystery twist recently and this one was an excellent and addictive example of why I love these sorts of stories when they are done well.

In “Daughter”, when Naomi fails to return from her school play, her family is thrust into the limelight of a nationwide search and an emotional turmoil that knows no bounds. As the story evolves between the days leading up to Naomi going missing, the immediate aftermath, then a year later, we get a realistic and emotive snapshot of how even in the closest of families, there are secrets kept hidden.

I thought this was marvellously constructed with Ms Shemilt walking the line between illiciting an emotional response and keeping the story flowing along – as the personalities of the players begins to solidify and take shape this is one of those character driven novels that make you feel as if you know the people. You feel the sorrow and the anguish, the hope and the fear and all the emotions inbetween as Jenny searches desperately for the truth whilst trying to help her other children come to terms with their loss and keeping her own head. As the family begins to fracture it is compelling stuff.

The mystery element – what happened to Naomi and why – is also extremely well drawn. By using the timeslip and the character development to tell the tale rather than relying on sudden twists and turns, the reader is kept connected to the story the whole of the way through, immersed into the events and feelings of each moment in time. Once I was halfway through I barely put it down until the ending which was poignant and perfect. A tale that will stay with me for a while.

Overall a brilliant and evocative story which comes highly recommended from me.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Full review here: http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/liz-currently-loves-fall-from-grace-by-tim-weaver/

 

 

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In isolated British Columbia, girls, mostly native, are vanishing from the sides of a notorious highway. Leo Kreutzer and his four friends are barely touched by these disappearances—until a series of mysterious and troublesome outsiders come to town. Then it seems as if the devil himself has appeared among them.

This was a haunting, atmospheric tale that sucked me in right from the start with some tremendously eerie yet beautiful prose and a truly addictive and memorable story.

Its is a cleverly constructed and sometimes complicated tale with a wide cast of characters, often times chilling, always compelling and never letting up – told from various perspectives interspersed with narration and the stories of Leo’s Uncle Lud, a picture is painted of a hard, rough life lived in and around a town in British Columbia. In the background is the actual “Highway of Tears” where young girls often vanish…Leo and friends have only peripheral thoughts of this but they are about to get caught up in things they never imagined.

I was very impressed with the way the author sets the scene, both with magical descriptive prose and the viewpoints and feelings of the characters…it really is a book that you get totally lost in. Do you believe in the Devil? If you do not now, you may well after reading this. In a place where violence rules and life is tough, you can easily imagine the force of evil creeping in and taking advantage. It really is quite alarmingly spooky at times.

This novel is not any one thing, it is a glorious eclectic mix of many – mystery, a deep and fascinating mythology, a snapshot of small town life, an absolutely fantastical mix of magic and mundane. It is both enchanting and sinister, and it will haunt your dreams.

A fantastic debut. This is one author I must read again. Absolutely.

Happy Reading Folks!

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In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Oh goody! A new YA read for me, the start of a series, one that has had a mixed reaction amongst my favourite reviewers and with a premise that immediately had me excited to read it. What did I think? I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I went in hopeful of a new addiction and I got exactly what I wished for…

The magical element of the story is actually quite low key which for me was perfect – learning about this strange new world, picking up on the nuances, knowing that there is more to come, understanding the realities that the characters face – this is all, for me as a reader, very important in order to engage me, and again, that is exactly what it did.

Then we have Nathan – our main protagonist.  With a White Witch for a Mother and a Black Witch for a father he is looked at with suspicion, under a tremendous amount of scrutiny and faces these many issues head on – often in a totally unlikeable manner. His attitude can stink. Frankly mine would too with a sister like Jessica – but when we meet him he is locked in a cage. As we go back to his formative years and learn what has led up to this we realise that nothing in this world is black and white – the shades of grey are everywhere surrounding Nathan and who he will ultimately choose to be (and he will choose) is what I believe is at the very heart and soul of this adventure. And we have a ways to go..

From an Adult perspective I would say there is a lot to enjoy here – the analogy and subtlety in giving a point of view about how we sometimes look at each other based solely on appearance, background and other things that are totally out of our control is cleverly achieved. There are dystopian threads running through this  – the “Council Directives” about the treatment of Non White Witches get steadily more terrifying and dark and often induced a real sense of anger in me as I was reading.

For a Young Adult there is plenty to enjoy. A blossoming romance that is fated to be pretty impossible, an eclectic cast of supporting characters all with their own black and white and shades of grey, some to love, some to hate – and which ones are which is anybody’s guess. Add to that a healthy dose of action, a touch of angst, some thought provoking events and an ending that will have you desperate for more, and I’d say you were onto a pretty good thing.

This readers opinion: Bring on “Half Wild” as soon as is humanly possible and hope that a movie will be coming to a cinema near you quick smart. AFTER you have read it of course.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

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Coming June 5th From Penguin.

Thank you for the advanced copy via Netgalley.

Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, because Elizabeth is missing..

I seem to have done something without realising it at the time and that is to read a few books all in a row that use memory as a tool to tell a story. I recently re-read the magnificent “Before I go to Sleep” by S J Watson and just after that Emma Chapman’s “How to be a Good Wife”. Both very different books, looking at memory in very different ways and both utterly compelling.

Now here we have “Elizabeth is Missing” where again, how our memory works is at the heart of the story and again with another twist and completely and utterly compelling. Maud suffers from dementia, she is forgetful, has to write herself notes to keep up with her own life and often stumbles in her quest to do the simplest things. Watched over by carers and by her daughter, despite her ups and downs, she keeps insisting that Elizabeth is missing. This is extremely frustrating to those around her but even more, one would imagine, to Maud as she keeps losing the threads of her discoveries, but always ends up at the same place. No matter what anyone else says – Elizabeth IS missing. So is she?

There are two sides to this novel  – the mystery element – where is Elizabeth and is she actually missing and the more emotional raw side when it comes to issues of age and memory loss . Told entirely by Maud we see how her mind works – or doesnt – and it is both sad and yet extraordinarily addictive reading. As she flits from one thought to another a picture emerges – of her life growing up, things that affected her, and how much more clearly she remembers her past in comparison to her present. As she writes more and more little notes about the things she needs to remember, then forgets what the note meant in the first place, its heartbreaking and fascinating all at the same time. Beautifully done with a realistic touch and cleverly written so that you can feel not only Maud’s frustration but that of those around her, this really is the most amazing read.

Memory is a strange thing. Never stranger than when it isnt working as it should. And as a basis for a heartbreaking, emotional rollercoaster of a reading experience it is brilliant. And used to stunning effect here in what I am sure will be one of the debut’s of the year.

Highly Recommended.

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‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.

I had been looking forward to this one, something slightly out of my “comfort” zone but one that sounded like it might end up being quite beautiful in the right hands and that was exactly how it turned out.

We follow along with Rachel, who died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart problem, as she is allowed glimpses into the lives of the people she left behind..and in this creatively imagined way we ourselves catch a glimpse into the very real stages of grief. It is a gorgeous heartwarming tale, often bringing a tear to my eye…at the same time being full of a rather hopeful cathartic feel as all concerned come to terms with tragedy.

It is quite difficult to put into words how emotive this one was for me – so I’ll try and use my own perspective to give you an insight. I lost my Father when I was very young (not nearly as young as Ellie but far too young none the less) so it was easy for me to identify with her and understand what she was going through…and indeed what Max was going through as he tried to help her and himself. Then I am a mother of children similarly aged to Ellie – the very thought of not being around to see them through their childhood is horrific. Any mother will feel the same and will therefore be able to relate to Rachel, looking down occasionally but being unable to take back what was lost.

This novel captures the sense of so many things – love, loss, friendship, sadness, and hope..and how all things move forward over time. A tale of grief told from a unique perspective, beautifully written, heartfelt and impassioned, this one will have you reaching for the tissues..some of those tears will be happy ones. Most of all this is about love…and how sometimes that means letting go…

Highly Recommended.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Josef Breuer – celebrated psychoanalyst – is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings – to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people’, so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the real world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed . . .

So here we are, I’m finally getting some words down about this one – it has kind of had me in a dither because whilst I LOVED the writing, dark and delicious – with an intriguing story and some wonderful prose – I found that I was vaguely disappointed with it. Doesnt make much sense I know,  but this is INCREDIBLY difficult because anything I can say that would explain would spoil the heart of the novel for the next reader – and I do not want to do that. Because despite my personal feelings towards it, I fully appreciate the talent behind this.

We have two strands to the tale, the story of Josef Breuer and his search for answers about a beautiful young girl who comes under his care and the story of Krysta, a somewhat lonely child, living a few years later. It kept me involved, deep into one half then the other, this was a dark and often terrifying story obviously inspired by the brothers Grimm and all things fairytale. The often poetic prose is terrific and there was a lot here that I loved.

The author has created something special, there is no doubt about that – and its purely my own head that wishes it had  been something other than it is – so I would encourage anyone who likes the sound of this one to give it a go. Some tough subjects are tackled in a unique way and for that reason alone it will be worth your time and effort.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

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Coming March 2014 from Penguin

Thank you to the author and publisher for the netgalley review copy.

Five years ago, three-year-old Dillon disappeared. For his father Harry – who left him alone for ten crucial minutes – it was an unforgivable lapse. Yet Dillon’s mother Robyn has never blamed her husband: her own secret guilt is burden enough.

Another amazing read this one – tugging at my heartstrings – I have had a lot of that lately. Crying after finishing a book seems to be my default position at the moment and I’m loving every minute of it despite the trauma.

So here we meet Harry and Robin – married – suffering through the worse thing that can happen to parents – the loss of a child. Harry blames himself and suffers a breakdown, Robin adamantly refuses to blame him but in reality can’t help thinking it. One day Harry spots what he believes to be his lost son in the crowd – and so their lives are turned upside down again – and secrets are about to come to the surface that may destroy both of them.

Very well written, telling us the story from both Harry and Robin’s point of view at various points of the novel, the tale unfolds both in present time and flashback, as Harry is determined to track down the boy he saw and Robin is determined to finally persuade him that their son is dead and gone and has been since that terrible night in Tangiers..

Its compelling stuff as Harry appears to be fast heading into another mental breakdown and Robin tries desperately to save him and allow them to finally move on with their lives. The mystery element is extraordinarily clever – I have to say I was with Harry – NO-ONE believes that the child he saw is Dillon – yet he can’t accept and can’t stop. Was he vindicated? Well you will have to read to find out but there is a lot more to the story than first meets the eye..

I felt for all of the main characters – Robin may have accepted her loss but it haunts her. I found her loyalty and tenacious defence of Harry, despite his faults, despite his actions, to be a true tale of real love. Perhaps she is naive and yet you cannot help but admire her.

Overall an intense, fascinating tale of love, loss and redemption. Brilliantly done.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Coming April/May 2014

Two hostages. One bullet. One lives. One dies.

They were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Soul mates. But when a young couple wakes up alone together, disorientated and trapped, they are yet to grasp the true horror of their situation. They have no food, no water. Instead there is a gun loaded with a single bullet and a mobile phone with enough power only to deliver a short message: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’.

So another “serial killer thriller” debut coming soon and one I was very interested to read. Not an awful lot to be done with this genre generally speaking, so its always great to find a well written one that is genuinely exciting – and this one was.

The very best thing about this was the actual modus operandi of the killer – who takes two victims each time and isolates them with no means of survival – until that is, one gives in and kills the other, then the survivor walks free. The author plays on your mind with this very cleverly – psychologically speaking would you actually survive to go on and live a life had you taken another away in order to achieve that chance? That theme is explored very well and it gives this novel a “lift” above the standard storylines associated with a book in this niche.

The mystery aspect is also well imagined – and we have an intriguing and well drawn police team attempting to track down the killer. D.I. Helen Grace is a particularly strong female lead – and her team all compliment her well. There are some generic themes here – the mysterious past, the alcoholic detective, the haunted psyche, but it is all extremely well written and there are still unexpected developments along the way..so there is never a dull moment.

All in all if you love crime stories, and more specifically serial killer novels then you will enjoy this one very much indeed. High standard and I will look forward to the authors next book – in which I hope to meet Helen Grace again.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Sophie is a happy 18-year-old living in London with Anna, her Irish mother. Anna has devoted her life to Sophie. It may be just the two of them but Anna has more than enough love to give. Sophie has everything she could ever need.
Laura is a not-so-happy artist. She too has a daughter, Mandy. But Laura is haunted by the loss of her first child, Jody. Happy-go-lucky as she is, Mandy lives in Jody’s shadow and wonders why her mother can never let go.

Oh where to start. Well first of all you should know that by the end of this book I was emotionally wrung out and had a major book hangover – so that probably tells you all you need to know about this one, however I shall of course expand.

For me it was all about the children not the mothers. Both Anna and Laura are polar opposites when it comes to parenting – both made extraordinarily bad choices which haunt them, both attempt to make amends, and their story is compelling – however I spent the majority of the read wanting to smother both of them with a pillow for the simple fact that the situation they find themselves in is entirely of their own making. Now of course no-one goes through life making perfect unselfish choices, and I forgave Laura hers – but could not really forgive Anna even though I can understand utterly what drove her. Hey the very fact that this novel set off this type of emotional response in me tells you something as well….

Their children are the key – they live very much with the choices of their parents (don’t we all in a way?) and so my heart and soul was with them for the entire reading experience. Sophie is lovely – balanced, well adjusted, friendly and kind – but one act committed by her mother many years ago is about to rip her life apart and send her down an emotional rabbit hole. Mandy is a stroppy teenager with a very authentic outlook on life for her age, again choices made by her mother form her very being – and she is about to join Sophie down that rabbit hole…

This novel covered a myriad of issues – maternal love, the need for a child, nature v nurture, all done in a very real, very addictive, extremely fascinating rollercoaster ride of emotional turmoil. Intelligent impassioned prose and a very real voice given to each of the characters involved means that once started it is almost impossible to put down until you are done.

And I have to give an honourable mention to Lexie – a character once removed in a way from the drama unfolding around her – she absolutely became one of my favourite people ever to emerge from fiction. I wish she was not a character and that I knew her in real life.

Some suspension of disbelief is required here – without giving anything away I can say that some of the parts of this story seemed unlikely in the extreme, especially when it came to consequences for actions – however that is not what this story is about at its heart so allow it that foible…

Highly Recommended.

 

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The Siege by Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott-Clark – a searing account of the 2005 terrorist attacks at Mumbai’s famous Taj Hotel.
On 26th November 2008 the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai is besieged by Pakistani Islamists, armed with explosives and machine guns.
For three days, guests and staff of the hotel are trapped as the terrorists run amok.
On 29th November commandos launch Operation Black Tornado. The world holds its breath.

The first thing that struck me was how well researched this book was. Starting with the “Dramatis personae” giving an overview of the people involved and a brief background, including guests, staff and the terrorists themselves, I was immediately right at the heart of the matter – I wanted to find out what happened to all of them. Leading on with a bit of background of the events leading up to the terror attacks, and some information on the hotel, you were left feeling slightly off kilter while you waited for what you knew was coming..

The second thing that struck me was how much this book read as if it was a Thriller – a fast paced one at that – I often had to stop for a moment and remind myself, especially in the more violent moments, that these people were REAL. Everything I was reading actually happened – it was a sobering thought and one that compelled me to read ever onwards. I read this in two days, such was my inability to leave it before I knew the outcome. I had zero knowledge of these events before opening this account – such is the beauty of the writing I now feel almost as if I were there – or at the very least had friends who were.

This is a soundbite in a way – a little of my own research tells me that there was a lot more to the terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008 quite apart from the events at the Taj – I feel that I absolutely want to know more. If anyone knows of any other books that tackle this subject well, I would be very interested to hear about them.

I’m not sure what else I can say really – I can’t speak to characterisation because these are not characters they are human beings who suffered at the hands of other human beings – that very fact makes this a must read. I would highly recommend that you give it a go.

At the end, I read every name in the “RIP” section and shed a tear for those people I had never known, and never WOULD have known had they lived.

 

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Coming Febuary 2014 (UK)

For a moment that afternoon, it was only woman and water, the Bay in all its sickening glory squaring itself for a fight.Life hasn’t always been perfect, but for Abe and Cassandra Green, an afternoon on the San Francisco Bay might be as good as it gets. He’s a doctor piloting his new sailing boat. She’s a sculptor finally getting a bit of recognition. Their beautiful daughter Elizabeth is off to Harvard at the end of the summer. But then there is a terrible row. Cassandra has been unfaithful. In a fit of insanity, Abe throws himself off the boat.

 

A compelling tale of human relationships and emotions, Katherine Hill’s “The Violet Hour”  is a slow moving yet emotional tale of a rather dsyfunctional family. Telling the story of Abe and Cassandra Green, their lives, their marriage, their daughter, this is a classic family drama that ebbs and flows between events that influence and change them.

What I liked about this one is that it is not focussed on any one thing, more a selection of the ups and downs of life that change who we are. Told from the perspective of different players in the drama, the mother/daughter relationship is especially well drawn.

If you like your novels fast paced and heart stopping this is not for you – Ms Hill has a gentle rolling style that slowly but surely unravels the heart of her characters and tells you who they are – with love, loss, infidelity and desire all in the mix its a cleverly concocted and fascinating tale.

Recommended for lovers of angst and sprawling family histories where you will not love everyone you meet…

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Coming March 2014 from Penguin

Thank you to the author and publisher for the netgalley review copy.

Five years ago, three-year-old Dillon disappeared. For his father Harry – who left him alone for ten crucial minutes – it was an unforgivable lapse. Yet Dillon’s mother Robyn has never blamed her husband: her own secret guilt is burden enough.

Another amazing read this one – tugging at my heartstrings – I have had a lot of that lately. Crying after finishing a book seems to be my default position at the moment and I’m loving every minute of it despite the trauma.

So here we meet Harry and Robin – married – suffering through the worse thing that can happen to parents – the loss of a child. Harry blames himself and suffers a breakdown, Robin adamantly refuses to blame him but in reality can’t help thinking it. One day Harry spots what he believes to be his lost son in the crowd – and so their lives are turned upside down again – and secrets are about to come to the surface that may destroy both of them.

Very well written, telling us the story from both Harry and Robin’s point of view at various points of the novel, the tale unfolds both in present time and flashback, as Harry is determined to track down the boy he saw and Robin is determined to finally persuade him that their son is dead and gone and has been since that terrible night in Tangiers..

Its compelling stuff as Harry appears to be fast heading into another mental breakdown and Robin tries desperately to save him and allow them to finally move on with their lives. The mystery element is extraordinarily clever – I have to say I was with Harry – NO-ONE believes that the child he saw is Dillon – yet he can’t accept and can’t stop. Was he vindicated? Well you will have to read to find out but there is a lot more to the story than first meets the eye..

I felt for all of the main characters – Robin may have accepted her loss but it haunts her. I found her loyalty and tenacious defence of Harry, despite his faults, despite his actions, to be a true tale of real love. Perhaps she is naive and yet you cannot help but admire her.

Overall an intense, fascinating tale of love, loss and redemption. Brilliantly done.

Happy Reading Folks!

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Note: This Review by Storm Drummey – see “Storms Reviews” for all her reviews.

Museum curator Sinead O’Sullivan, a girl with secrets, finds herself accused of stealing a priceless jewel from the very museum she works at. Her fingerprints are everywhere, an eyewitness puts her at the scene, and the damning CCTV evidence does not lie…and yet she is defiant, she did NOT steal the jewel.
Private investigator Niall Moore is hired by both the museum to retrieve the jewel from Sinead, and by Sinead’s uncle to prove her innocence.
Neither trusts the other, and with good reason, and yet they find the sexual chemistry between them impossible to ignore…

Those ‘in the know’ know that I have been on a painstaking quest to find well written erotica following the ‘boom’ of the genre over the last couple of years. This is the first in the ‘Pleasures’ series that I have read (It works fine as a stand-alone though), and boy could I have saved myself the torture of reading some right drivvle during my quest – if only I’d have found these sooner!

Ok so the lead characters do jump into bed ridiculously quickly – well in my world anyway (what am I doing wrong?!!) But then that can be forgiven because, well, quite frankly what do you expect from erotica?!
There is a bit of BDSM in there, but not in a scary ‘red room of pain’ kind of way; but more of a not-my-thing-but-still-kinda-hot sort of way. And its quite refreshing that the Dom is not a complete arse, and the Sub isn’t a pathetic mess – both are strong, intelligent, likable characters – and you find yourself really caring about what happens to them.

And the bonus prize goes to… the author for actually including -would you believe it?- a STORY! And not a bad one at that – a good plot, mystery, suspense, action, romance…and erotic scenes that are not there for their own sake but that actually do contribute to your understanding of the characters’ relationship.

And so I am thankful that my quest has been fulfilled – erotica can be well written – no more glorified porn for me! I’d recently decided that maybe I was being too harsh, and that maybe I’m just not a fan of the genre after all. However, although I think the erotica will be put way down the bottom of the reading list from now on…. I may just be able to make time for a few more from the ‘Pleasures’ series…

My thanks to the author and Penguin Books for providing this book for review

 

 

 

 

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When the herbalist appears out of nowhere and sets out his stall in the market square he brings excitement to Emily’s dull midlands town. The teenager is enchanted – the glamorous visitor can be a Clark Gable to her Jean Harlow, a Fred to her Ginger, a man to make her forget her lowly status in this place where respectability is everything.

 

Winner of the 2012 Hennesssy XO Award for New Irish Writing.

 

The Herbalist is set in 1930’s rural Ireland and focusses very much on the lives of Women in that place and time – as we follow several of them, including Emily, a picture emerges of just how different life was back then and it is compelling intriguing stuff..

Emily dreams of another life and thinks the Herbalist can provide it for her – however he is an enigmatic and possibly dangerous man and Emily is not the only woman who wants something from him…

Again I don’t want to give too much away – but when Emily discovers things may not be as clear cut as she thought, her inate sense of justice prevails and things get very interesting…

I was completely and utterly immersed in that world during the reading of this wonderful, evocative and heart breaking novel…it does not surprise me in the slightest that Niamh Boyce won an award – the prose is beautiful to behold and puts you right into the hearts and minds of these women and the things they face. Women’s Lib very much a thing of the future, you will end up feeling very strongly about the subjects you are reading of, and its all tied up in a strangely delicious story.

One of my favourite parts of the story, a side issue if you will, was the comment on banned books of the era. One of the ladies “rents” out said novels – Lady Chatterley’s Lover amongst others, and the different reactions of people to said literature is intriguing and adds another depth to the tale.

All in all a wonderful reading experience. Not my usual thing perhaps but as I take on this reviewing lark with gusto, I am discovering some wonderful stories that perhaps might have passed me by. My grateful thanks to Penguin for sending me this one – I loved it.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

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My Darling Cecilia
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died . . .

 

The basis of this book being a letter discovered accidentally by Cecilia, it was an intriguing premise…just what did her Husband feel the need for her to know, should he die?

Following several women (Cecilia, Rachel and Tess) in a multi stranded tale of love, life and the secrets we keep, this was a well written book, the kind I particularly like as you can’t really see the connection between these three women at the start…until the author starts bringing it all together for you. An inital look would say they were three completely different people living three completely independant lives, but in a very six degrees of separation sense they are more connected than they realise…

I loved the majority of this book – the slight downside being I did find it fairly obvious what the “secret” was – but because the heart of the story was more the fallout of discovery than the actual secret itself, this should not put you off at all…

Some terrific characterisation (although personally I found Cecilia rather whiny!) and a fast flowing intimate look at the nuances of living day to day life especially when you are dealing with very real issues, this held my attention throughout. I thought the ending was particularly good and appropriate to the feeling of the book overall – so one satisfied reader here.

Overall a well written, thoughtful novel and while there was nothing there that made me go “wow” I enjoyed it very much and will certainly read more from this author. A great book to curl up in bed with alongside a cup of hot chocolate. Comfort reading. I love it.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

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Right, anyone that reads my blog and reviews regularly may have noticed that I don’t really do “chick lit”. But when Penguin offered me a copy of Mutton by India Knight I jumped at the chance…expecting a novel similar to “Bridget Jones Diary” but from a slightly older point of view, that wasnt exactly what I got – but what I DID get was a laugh out loud wry and humerous look at the joys and downfalls of reaching a certain age…

Clara is pretty much every woman…she certainly had a hint of me in there – and when her friend Gaby moves in, all glamorous and youthful looking with a rather strange outlook, hilarity ensues as Clara begins to question what “growing old gracefully” actually means…

My daughter Mel, who is 22, and I both read this book at around the same time…she started first and at one point I got a text message from her telling me I was only allowed to read it if I promised not to get botox or bring men home randomly to fulfill my inner urges – unless I reassured her on this point she said, she was banning me from reading “Mutton” A few laughs later and I was finally allowed to have it back…and I must say it was a whole lot of fun!

India Knight has a fine sense of irony and a wry eye to the ridiculous side of suddenly realising you are probably just slightly too old to get away with that mini skirt now, but equally you don’t want to go all mumsy. Also the relationship Clara has with the younger members of the household is quite realistic (certainly from my experience) and I loved the way that you could pick this book up at any age teenager onwards and probably find something to love.

Highly enjoyable – while writing this review I was giggling as certain parts of the story came back to me. Its not going to change your life – but thats not the point. What it WILL do is give you a lovely little break from your own existance and let you live a short time in someone elses shoes. Great fun!

 

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Well, I have been waiting for this one – Tim Weaver’s series about Missing Persons Investigator David Raker is one of the best series out there at the moment – and considering the plethora of great crime fiction currently available  that is saying something. But its nothing less than the truth.

In this instalment, David is recovering from his previous case and is living a quiet life in rural Devon. When an old friend of his asks him to investigate the disappearance of an entire family David is drawn once more into the world of the missing. As he digs deeper what he finds is disturbing and dangerous…

The novels are tagged as “David Raker Thrillers” but I always feel that “David Raker Mystery” would be more appropriate – the mystery element, as always, reigned supreme. Thats not to say they are NOT thrilling, they very much are – the action sequences are indeed edge of the seat stuff, especially as Mr Weaver makes no promises about the safety of any of his characters – yet still for me, the intricate plot weaving and attention to detail within those plots are very much what make these novels as good as they are.

I do adore David Raker for his tenacity. What he does is more than a job to him, its a calling. Despite the dangerous path many of his cases take he won’t give them up. Not even for love. The “I am who they have” attitude to those he tries to find is what drives him…when everyone else has given up on ever finding you, David Raker will not. If I were to have a missing loved one I would hope that someone like him were around. His character has evolved over the series beautifully – you could almost call him an Anti hero. If the law fails he will do whatever it takes to succeed – in this novel again he’s treading on toes, getting in the way and generally causing problems, for himself as much as anyone – but he’ll do what it takes. Sometimes at a huge cost…

Another terrific side of these books is the villains are always extremely villainous but somehow terribly realistic – you could easily imagine them out there in the world – you won’t find anyone twirling a moustache here, the bad guys are truly bad in a very entertaining and often horrific way.

You will be intrigued from the outset – The Marie Celeste style disappearance will immediately have you wondering…and thats it, you are hooked. And probably won’t stop reading until the end.

In the case of the Raker books I would highly recommend that you read them from the start, in order. Its not that you couldnt pick any one of them up and be perfectly happy, I just feel that Raker himself is a character who develops in such a way that you will miss out on the nuances if you havent been with him from the start. Which would be “Chasing The Dead”.

 

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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!

 

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I picked this up after a recommendation from a friend, expecting to find another good,if not shiny new, addition to the crime fiction genre. I was wrong. The premise for the story is fairly straight forward – David Raker, ex journalist, has kind of fallen into the career of finding missing children. Those who the Police may not prioritise for whatever reason, David does. He is very successful at it. His wife having recently passed away, he is unsure whether or not he is going to continue…until a friend who worked at the hospital where his wife was cared for asks him to find her son. There is a slight issue – he died some time ago in a car accident. Here are the things I loved about this book – Firstly, David Raker is an excellent character. Yes Mr Weaver draws some idea’s from the “character traits for crime novels” standard list but mostly David is his own man. Secondly, the book is perfectly paced – with action where action is needed and a more sedate “humming along” just when you need to get your breath back. The pages practically turn themselves. And lastly, the “mystery” is wonderfully imagined…I don’t think I’ve seen a similar plot resolution in all my years reading Crime Fiction (although I’m guessing someone, somewhere will correct me!) and that made it an absolute joy for me. Oh and the twist in the tale was an actual twist not one of those ones that you will know all along. I thought I saw where it was going but I was off down the wrong road entirely – Heading for Cornwall when I should have been heading for Scotland so to speak. So Yay! Great read, and because I’m a bit late to the party, I don’t have to wait for the next one. Bliss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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