Sleep by C.L. Taylor

4 and half 1

C.L. Taylor never fails to grip you from the very first pages.  

Sleep

The opening chapter is a killer! Then, Anna is driving three work colleagues back to London in atrocious weather, just following the rear lights of the car in front because conditions are so poor. One of them feels ill and wants to open one of the back windows. This knocks Anna’s concentration and before she realises what’s happening, the car spins out of control and rolls. On waking in hospital, Anna comes to realise that two of her passengers are dead and one has serious life changing injuries. As Anna recovers, she has the feeling that she’s being watched and followed. Scared, having just broken up with her boyfriend and needing a new start in life where nobody knows who she is, Anna takes a job as a hotel receptionist on the remote Scottish island of Rum. The holidaymakers are flaky and flawed and as a storm comes in, Anna realises that whoever was following her in London is still following her now.

Sleep started off like her novels usually do – normal, believable characters but in unusually tense situations – but once it got going, Anna is put in an isolated situation with a new group of characters. It reminded me very much of an Agatha Christie style whodunnit with red herrings throughout and only a limited number of people out to get Anna.

C.L. Taylor is brilliant at creating suspense, that nail-biting, seat-of-your-pants thriller that keeps you turning pages. I’d recommend any of her books.

Cally Taylor

 

 

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The Feud by Amanda James

4 and half 1

 

Chapter One opens with Kenver Penhallow and his family escaping from their home during the night which is well ablaze. Kenver and Wenna do a quick head count of their children and realise that little Jago is missing, last seen in the barn looking after a sick puppy. The barn is a pile of charred wood and the little boy is perished. The language in this chapter is old Cornish, told of the olden days, of a time 200 years ago when the Feud began.

The Feud

Matt Trevelyar moves to St Agnes in Cornwall after giving up teaching in London following the sad death of his wife. Within days, he receives messages in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome and that he should return to London. Not easily put off, Matt takes up his teaching position in the local school and starts to make enquiries with the locals about who might want him to leave. He learns of a feud between two families, one of which he is a descendent.

The characters are a delight to read about and are realistic for small village life. Lavender is typical artist-hippy, and when Matt and Lavender first meet it’s obvious that love will blossom – but how do they overcome the fact that he is a Trevelyar and she is a Penhallow.

This starts out as a vicious crime but is ultimately a romantic suspense novel. Amanda James is a talented writer and writes beautifully about her beloved Cornwall.

 

Amanda James

 

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The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

4 and half 1

 

This is one amazing book!! I was first attracted to this book because I saw a clip on BBC TV that after actually flying one of these early machines, Rebecca Mascull went away and re-wrote all the flying parts of the book. It looked so very interesting and I just had to read it. The story roughly covers a period of ten years from 1909 when Auntie Betty arrived to the Dobbs family, and is set mainly in the Humberside and Lincolnshire areas.

The Wild Air

Della Dobbs is a quiet child, doesn’t speak if she can get away with it, and has a father who ‘chooses’ to be an invalid and doesn’t care for his girl offspring. When Auntie Betty arrives from America, Della’s interest is piqued by Betty’s talk of America and, in particular, kite flying. In those early days, Della and Auntie Betty make their own kites – simple ones, box kites and introduce more strings. The strange little boy on the beach is fascinated by the two women with kites and Dudley quickly forms a friendship with Betty and Della. For years, Della and Dud correspond while Dud is away at school and Della grows up and moves on to aeroplanes.

Della is an absolute inspiration to young women. She never gave up in learning to fly, no matter how tough the male aviators and mechanics made it for her. As war approaches, the men go off to fight and the women are expected to do the jobs left behind. Della is hugely practical, a mechanic in her own right, and begins to be taken seriously in a man’s world.

There’s so much to this book that it’s difficult to put in words, without giving the whole story away, just how fabulous the characters are and how the weaving of each of their own stories fits into Della’s life.

There’s love, tragedy and death packed into this fabulous story, and is enjoyable whether you have an interest in flying or not. It’s superbly written and very well researched. 

I would certainly, without a doubt, read anything written by Rebecca Mascull.

Rebecca Mascull

 

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Codename Villanelle: The Basis For Killing Eve

4 and half 1

 

When a book goes to screen I always try to read the book before it appears at the cinema or TV. I did this one the other way round, and I’m so pleased I did. After watching the Killing Eve series, I just had to read the book – Villanelle was under my skin. After reading a few book reviews, I realised that it wasn’t liked by all but I felt that watching the series first gave a head start on Villanelle’s character.

Codename Villanelle

With visual characters already in my head, I quickly got into the story, slightly different from the TV series, and immediately loved Oxana (later becoming Villanelle) and Konstantin. The book does flip about and has a rushed, almost the book in a draft form feel about it, but this staccato, slightly detached writing style really fits with Villanelle’s character. She is seriously flawed, crazy and uncontrollable at times and her lack of emotion makes her a perfect assassin.

Eve is a character who seems to be always running on catch-up. She never makes dinner with her husband even when they have guests round. She’s uncomfortable in fashion and barely has time to do her hair or apply make-up – she knows she should make more of an effort but it just doesn’t seem to work for her. The final straw is when she’s kicked off her job of finding the mystery female assassin who killed on her watch. She knows she’s close and just has to find this cold killer.

Villanelle has certainly got under my skin and I now have to read book two before it hits the screen.

 

Villanelle

Three Men On Their Bikes

Four Stars

Three Men On Their Bikes

Harry, George and Ian take up cycling as a way to keep fit and to give them a weekend interest. After three months of one hour rides to the pub on a Sunday lunchtime, they decide they are ready for a cycling holiday over the Pennines – then the fun starts!

These beginners ‘accidentally’ get into a race with seasoned cyclists and get help from other cyclists in different ways. Narrated by Ian, we get an amusing take three different personalities spending intense periods of time together, including sharing a bedroom, all three together! There is much for the three men to learn about themselves and each other – some good traits, some not so good. It sometimes reads very much like a younger version of Last of The Summer Wine, there’s very little new ground here but an amusing and entertaining read.

 

The Closest Thing To Flying by Gill Lewis

Purplefourstars

Review by Alice

Semira and Hanna, her mother, have been in Britain for four years. They are under the “care” of Robel, a vile, pot-bellied people trafficker, who makes sure her mother doesn’t learn English or get paid, leaving her dependant on his scant goodwill.

The Closest Thing To Flying

They live in a house packed with people in similar circumstances. One day, Semira finds herself buying an old hat on a market stall, strangely drawn to the bird that decorates the hat. When she takes it home, she discovers there is an old diary hidden inside the hat box, written by a young girl called Hen over 100 years ago. Semira finds herself caught up in Hen’s story, finding in it an escape from her own life that is full of hunger and loss. She finds that she is challenged by the girl in the diary to speak up in her own life and fight for her place in the world.

I liked the feeling of escape and joy that Henrietta feels when she learns to ride a bike, and how that becomes mirrored in Semira’s story as she is also introduced to cycling through her new friend. This meeting then leads to more revelations in Semira’s life, about who she is and where she comes from. I also really liked the resolutions we get to some, but not all, parts of the story – it was interesting that not everything is resolved. It is a good bedtime book, perfect for children around 9-10 and older who are confident readers.

Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

 

Four Stars

Emily Klein doesn’t know her husband Greg is dead until the day of the funeral. From her hospital bed, she doesn’t yet know that she killed him. Once home and beginning to recover from the dreadful car crash, she sees her husband at a distance, in coffee shops, around town and in his car, yet when she gets home the car is on the drive.

Lies 1

Posts appear on his Facebook account and she begins to get text messages from him, it can only be him as he’s the only one who called her Alice when her name is Emily. She thinks she’s losing her mind and the reader is reminded of her past when  she was in a mental institution after killing her father.

The book switches back to her childhood home with her sister and their abusive father. We get an idea of Emily’s mental state and the reason behind her spell in a mental institution. Emily’s sister is key throughout the story giving support when she’s just lost her husband. Most of the story is in present day, just a few switches to childhood as memories resurface.

Emily’s friends are all under suspicion of imitating Greg and she doesn’t know who to trust or believe. There are several twists and jaw-drops before all lies are revealed and unravelled at the end.

Diane Jeffrey

 

 

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