Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review - The Missing: C L Taylor

The following review has been posted on Amazon UK & US and Goodreads

There was such a buzz about this psychological thriller on social media, from bloggers and readers and I'm very easily led so had to buy the book to see what all the fuss was about. I wondered if it would live up to all the hype and in my opinion it did. This is a darned good read and it kept me engrossed until the very end.

I was quickly drawn into the very tense story of a family consumed with guilt after one of them - Billy, a fifteen year old boy - is missing from their home. Were any of the family members responsible? Do any of them have any idea what happened to Billy? Did any of them really know Billy? These are the questions the author wants the reader to wonder about - I did.

This is an apparently normal family which  reminded me very much of my own home when my children were teenagers, with people coming and going as if through a revolving door and sometimes moving in, so I quickly identified with Billy's mother and the anguish she went through and felt the tension and trauma, even though this luckily didn't happen to me.
All I can say is that either the author has experienced something similar herself, or she did some thorough research and/or had some excellent advice before writing the book

Another point - throughout the book we are very cleverly led up the garden path, so to speak, because interspersed throughout the chapters, we are shown a series of what looks like a private conversation going on via text messages between two people, which start to become more and more sinister as the story unfolds and we can only speculate about the identity of each person and exactly what has taken place between them.

I was totally surprised by the denoument and the ending. Highly recommended 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Review - The Sea Detective: Mark Douglas - Home

The following review has been posted on Amazon US & UK and Goodreads

 The Mark Douglas - Home series was recommended to me by a friend and for some odd reason I read the second book first and thoroughly enjoyed it as I did this one.

The main character, Cal Mcgill, is a slightly geeky, young oceanographer/ environmentalist based in Edinburgh - a part time PHD oceanography student who tracks back whatever the sea throws up onto beaches - in this case along the islands off the coastline of Western Scotland using his knowledge of sea currents, wind direction and shipping records.

As a bit of a beachcomber and lover of crime fiction this book appealed to me on many levels. The quality of the writing is very good and the reader is quickly drawn into the narrative with a few intriguing mysteries that you feel might have some possible connection to each other but do they?

The Sea Detective's main research interest is the tracking of corpses that are washed up from the sea back to their source and place of entry into the ocean and there is a personal reason for this intense focus, the story of which is revealed slowly throughout the book. We are taken back into the past and find out more about the background of Cal McGill. It's all very believable, relevant and doesn't detract from the main storyline(s)

Cal McGill comes to the attention of police officers who are interested in using his expertise to help them solve a few mysterious cases but the senior officer is reluctant to use someone who has crossed their paths in a negative way and gained some degree of notoriety while doing so. One of the female detectives on the team is more open to the idea and is willing to work with the Sea Detective, which has some surprising but not unwelcome results.

Mark Douglas - Home has a new book in the series out soon and I'm looking forward to reading it very much.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Review - Don't You Cry: Mary Kubica

The following review has been published on Goodreads and will be posted to Amazon UK & US at the time of publication.

This is such a fascinating psychological thriller chiller. One of those mysteries where you think you have the story all worked out but really you haven't.

 Quinn's roommate Esther is missing and so begins her quest to try to unravel exactly what has happened to her. Odd clues are found in Esther's room and disturbing developments take place which leave Quinn in fear for her own life. 

Meanwhile in another town there's a story developing. There's a link to the past and we hear from a young man Alex, a dishwasher in a local restaurant, as he becomes intrigued by a mysterious customer who becomes an important part of his life.

The ending of this well-written engrossing book took me totally by surprise.
Highly recommended

(Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC copy)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd

The following review has also been posted on Amazon US & UK and Goodreads

I couldn't stop reading this moving tale of slavery in the Deep South during the early nineteenth century. A beautifully written, absorbing fictionalised account of abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké written in chapters alternating between Sarah's account and the account of the young slave Handful gifted to her on her eleventh birthday. The book reads like a joint memoir written by both women.
Sue Monk Kidd gives Handful a voice as she writes about the realities of her life and that of her mother Charlotte 'mauma' the Grimke family seamstress; both slaves owned by the family and both mistreated and punished by the elder Grimké 'missus', wife of Judge Grimké and mother to Sarah and Angelina.

The book begins with Sarah's abhorrence at the thought of 'owning' another person, after she was 'given' Handful on her eleventh birthday as her own personal maid and reveals her feelings of revulsion for the keeping of slaves, the punishments metered out to them on an almost daily basis and the the slave trade as a whole.

Sarah takes Handful under her wing, tries to look out for her welfare and teaches her to read.
Sarah is an intelligent, well-read young girl bored with the education she is given as a young lady preparing for society and marriage as her only options. She reads the law books in her father's library and her prime aim is to become a lawyer. Female lawyers were unheard of at that time. Indulged by her father at first, who finds her entertaining and enjoys her debate, he eventually prevents her from accessing his library and stifles her ambition.
As Sarah matures, she becomes both godmother and mentor to her younger sister 'Nina' Angelina and finds a kindred spirit to pass on her thoughts and educate.

The writer Sue Monk Kidd used primary sources, letters, books, essays, and articles about the Grimkés, slavery, abolition, quilts and African textiles, and early nineteenth-century history for her research towards writing this literary classic
The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Fat Dogs and French Estates Part 1&2: Beth Haslam

Beth Haslam will very shortly have a new book out. It will be the third book in the Fat Dogs and French Estates series. I can't wait to read it and I'm really looking forward to it because I found the first two books in the series very enjoyable.
Below are my reviews for Fat Dogs and French Estates Book one and Book two. Also posted on Amazon and Goodreads

Really enjoyed this book. A very funny and entertaining 5* read about a couple from the UK looking to purchase a domaine in France.

 I was going to include a funny quote, but the humerous quotes are too numerous to highlight just one. Beth writes with an exceptionally observant sense of humour about the search for a property, the dogs who share the journey, the colourful characters they meet along the way and her husband, who let's just say is entirely unintentionally hilariously funny! 

(Read this during a stressful time and it was very good therapy) Highly recommended. Looking forward to Part 2 😀
Fat Dogs & French Esta Part 1

After reading the first book in the series 'Fat Dogs and French Estates Part I, I was absolutely bursting to read the second one and it didn't disappoint.
 Beth and her husband Jack accompanied by their two dogs, are still searching for a French domaine to buy and as in the first book, estate agents seem intent on showing them some very undesirable properties with the most peculiar owners. 

I love Beth's humorous descriptions of the seemingly never ending quest to find the perfect property, their adventures along the way and Jack's irascible and often hilarious outbursts of grumpiness. Jack is a funnier, wittier and grumpier version of the character of Victor Meldrew. 
As a bit of a fan of military history, Jack's scathing remarks about the subject throughout their journey really made me laugh out loud on occasion. Unfortunately, I read the book far too quickly and have now finished the book. Bereft, but I'll wait patiently for the next one in the series.
Fat Dogs & French Estates Part 2

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Silent Twin: Caroline Mitchell

 The Silent Twin Caroline Mitchell

The following review is also posted on Amazon US & UK and Goodreads

What a fabulous book this is! Once I started reading it I quickly became engrossed in the story and really didn't appreciate any interruption from anyone because I didn't want to put it down. Definitely a 'world go away' book!

This is the first book I've read by Caroline Mitchell and it certainly won't be the last. This is the third book in the DC Jennifer Knight crime thriller series but can be enjoyed as a stand alone. 

A child Abigail, one of twins, has gone missing from a distinctly spooky dank and dark farmhouse recently bought by their parents. DC Jennifer Knight who has some other-worldly spiritual gifts, has been assigned as FLO to the family and from her supportive position tries to help the investigative team to work out exactly what happened and if possible bring Abigail home.

There are quite a few suspects within or close to the family with pasts and secrets to hide and first I suspected one, then another until I just didn't know anymore! The denouement at the end was revealed slowly with a nail-biting tension.

The emotive subject of a missing child was handled very sensitively by the author and there weren't any gratuitous scenes of violence included.

I'm interested in the paranormal, but on the whole prefer not to read about it in fiction but in this book the subject was introduced very naturally into the narrative in a credible way without any suspension of belief by me and wasn't an over-the-top part of the whole story, which was in essence a well-written psychological drama. Highly recommended.

I was very kindly given an ARC by the publisher for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Review of My Husband's Wife: Jane Corry

My Husband's Wife Jane Corry

The following 5* review was posted on Goodreads and will be posted on Amazon US & UK on the publication date of May 26

This is definitely my kind of book. A really excellent read. A suspenseful psychological thriller that ticks a lot of boxes for me. 
Plenty of meanders rather than 'twists' that leave the reader wanting to know more, all the time wondering which way the story will go, who exactly is responsible for what and how will it all end.
Very smooth transitions between past and present throughout the story.

Quite a lengthy book but a darned good read that left me turning the pages and kept me engrossed until the very end.
 The author Jane Corry uses her experiences as the writer-in-residence for three years at a high-security prison for men and her skills as a writer to weave a masterful narrative.
Looking forward to reading more from this author. Highly recommended
(I was given a pre-publication ARC by the publisher for an honest review )

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Summer Before The War: Helen Simonson

The Summer Before The War: Helen Simonson

This review has also been published on Amazon UK & US, Goodreads and Netgalley

I really enjoyed reading this book set in the village of Rye in Sussex. The characters felt real and interesting and the dialogue between them was entertaining, sparkling and witty. It was a lengthy book, but I wanted to keep on reading right until the end. One of those books where you can just feel that the author has researched the subject so well.

The atmosphere just prior to the First World War in the polite society of the upper classes was brought to life in a very evocative way. The romance between two of the leading characters that develops throughout the book, began with mutual respect, friendship and a meeting of minds.
The mood of the country in the early stages of the war where young men, including the sons of the rich, rushed to enlist into the services in a surge of patriotism and a yearning for an adventure, as they saw it, was perfectly captured.

The women of the grand houses, including titled ladies, sprang into action, formed committees for relief work, proudly displayed their sons in uniform at society gatherings, and made their homes available to be used as military hospitals and convalescent homes for the wounded. The young ladies handed out white feathers to young men not in uniform. Belgian refugees arrived in Rye to be welcomed and  rehomed.

Then the real consequences of war, with the names of those on casualty lists published in newspapers, becomes apparent and made worse by the fact that for those who grieve, their sons are buried somewhere overseas, many without a proper resting place, lying where they fell and only identified on lists of those missing.

For fans of Downton Abbey, this is a much better written narrative of that turbulent time of change in the early part of the twentieth century.
The only niggle I have is the use of American spelling throughout, but this version (an ARC copy) was an uncorrected proof copy, so that might have been addressed.