Tag: Five Stars

HIM by Clare Empson

Five Stars 1

Catherine has had such an impacting shock that it has temporarily rendered her mute. We start the book with Catherine in a nursing home being visited and cajoled by her husband and two children.

Him

From her inner thoughts, we visit the past fifteen years in which she met Him, Lucian, the love of her life but then something happened that caused her to take a different fork and marry Sam instead. Her love for Lucian was and still is, all consuming, intense, obsessive, addictive – He was the one. After hearing of his mother’s death, she re-visits Lucian and almost falls into his chaotic and hedonistic lifestyle again. But something so devastating happens during those few days that she runs back to her husband mute.

It’s beautifully written, many elements resonate with my own life, and it brings back subtle memories of Donna Tartt’s Secret History which is one of my all time favourites. HIM is now one of my favourite books and it’s intense, addictive love caused me to create a new tag on this site – Adictive, Obsessive Love.

 

His And Hers by Alice Feeney

Five Stars 1

 

His and Hers

Alice Feeney never fails to give a good depth crime thriller with tension and suspense. In this one, we get His, DCI Jack Harper, and Her, TV presenter Anna Andrews, perspective of a series of murders centred around a village from their past.

We quickly learn that Jack and Anna used to be married and that the first murder victim is known to both DCI Jack Harper and Anna Andrews. After murders two and three it looks like Anna’s circle of school friends are being targeted. It’s also clear that the DCI Jack Harper is being framed, or at least he thinks so.

I found this story to be utterly gripping, full of twists and at any one time I could fit any of the characters into being the murderer.  I very much recommend this and all other novels by Alice Feeney.

 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Five Stars 1

Much talked about by authors, publishers and on social media following accusations of plagiarism. Kate Russell had her hand forced and revealed that this fictional story is actually based on her own life and has taken fifteen years to write.

My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa is a disturbing, provocative, powerful and stunning debut novel. The pupil teacher relationship changes subtly. He seeks Vanessa’s approval, yet he’s always the one in control, manipulating.  The story runs on two timelines – present day when the ‘me too’ movement emerged, and going back to when Vanessa was boarding at High School at the start of her relationship with Jacob Strane. 

This is not a gratuitous sleazy story.  It is very well written and gets to the crux of grooming  (Jacob Strane is a master of grooming).  It shows how the process is often misunderstood, misinterpreted that a consenting schoolgirl knows her own mind, is in full control of a situation with a man three times her age.  Her friends knew, the school knew, her mother knew, yet nobody did anything.  And then there’s the guilt, Vanessa feels guilt.  This is a masterpiece.

 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafak

Five Stars

10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World

Set mostly in Istanbul, Turkish writer Elif Shafak, has created a quirky, rich and wonderful book in the telling of Leila’s death. We are given a countdown of each of the minutes after death when parts of Leila’s body are shutting down. Each minute tells of milestones or strong memories of her life, the family who disowned her and the friends she made along the way. Right up to the point she realises she’s made a grave error and then her body is discovered.

Elif Shafak has woven real life issues of gender inequality into this story of amazing and strong women in a man’s world. Leila is an intelligent and modern woman and is often put down by men half her worth. A true gem of a book that I’ll be telling all my friends about.

 

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, one of the best I’ve read for a while. Having read and loved The Thirteenth Tale, I knew I’d be in for a good solid story with Once Upon A River. Several times during the book I was reminded of the writing style of Charles Dickens – a story with proper grounding and characters with personality.

Once Upon A River

Set in 1887 on the banks of the River Thames, much of the story centres around the The Swan, a local inn where storytelling is the entertainment and where more beer means more embellishment. One evening, an injured man stumbles in carrying a young girl who appears to be dead. A little girl who sometime later is alive. This is a time when superstition and supernatural blurred into real life and a dead girl coming back to life is a fantastical story for all to tell and re-tell.

The girl has three possible identities, she is either Alice, Amelia or Ann, and none is certain of her identity even when she lives with two of the families claiming her.  The girl herself has lost the ability to speak and there is frustration from the Vaughan’s who desperately want her to be Amelia, their daughter who disappeared two years ago.

The river plays a large part of the story and to add to the strange goings on with a child coming back to life, there is rain, more rain, and inevitable flooding which seeps into their homes and lives as the river becomes a torrent.

Amidst superstition and folklore there’s also skulduggery, ransoms and beatings.  Once Upon A River is a fulfilling story which has a depth of storytelling which is rare these days.  I absolutely loved it.

 

 

Rosie and Ruby by Patricia Dixon

five_stars

Rosie and Ruby was first published under the title Three Mothers, (Trois Meres) and was Patricia Dixon’s second novel. Her writing and storytelling in this book is flowing and confident, not afraid to tell it how it is.

Patricia Dixon - Rosie and Ruby_cover
Briefly, this is the story of cousins Rosie and Ruby, starting with their childhood and teenage years living in Manchester with their parents. Both have equally awful mothers in different ways, and both girls, and later young women, come to terms with and overcome the mental scars that haunt them for years. Rosie follows her dream of being a hotelier and ends up in France, while Ruby marries her wealthy whirlwind heart throb who turns out to be a violent and vicious monster. I don’t want to give the whole story away so won’t go any further with that.

There were tense and, at times, quite viciously nasty parts in this book and I can see that a more sinister genre was waiting to escape – Over My Shoulder by the same author.

Patricia Dixon writes fluidly and interestingly and never leaves any loose ends. When a new character comes on the scene she gives a concise and engrossing outline of who they are and what sort of personality they have.

Whose books are hers similar to? Well, the Manchester element reminded me of Mandasue Heller but her warmth and friendship within the story is much like Patricia Scanlan or Maeve Binchy – lovely fulfilling stories. I have read all Patricia’s books and the warmth, emotions and characters never fail to give me a fuzzy loved feeling.

 

TrishandOwen

 

 

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Death’s Dark Veil by Patricia Dixon

Five Stars

Death’s Dark Veil opens with someone on their death-bed being taunted and observed by ghostly figures. She knows who they are and knows they have come to escort her to the next world, but their descriptions are terrifying and I wondered if she could ever rest in peace.

The firstDeath's Dark Veil chapters introduce two very different characters, Georgie and Ivy, and these two young girls create the theatre for a very dark and dangerous show. Each has a tragic start to their adult lives but grow into strong and capable young women. We follow them individually to the time their lives collide at Tenley House, the Gothic towering home of first Daphne and Kenneth, then Georgie and Kenneth, as well as a dreadful old bat mother-in-law, Phyllis. Evil is all around, too many deaths for comfort (and coincidence), so who is behind these suspicious deaths?

Well written in a dark and menacing way with a good amount of humour to keep things light – the nick-name for curmudgeonly Phyllis, (Syphilis) had me howling.  There are gasp out loud moments at tragedies and deaths, and there is a great twist at the end.  I certainly didn’t guess the outcome and I loved the ending.

 

Patricia Dixon

 

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If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

Five Stars

Rachel suspects her husband is having an affair after finding messages on a Twitter account which has been left open on her laptop. She goes to the hotel she believes he is meeting someone, only to see her husband’s car hitting a pedestrian and driving away from the scene of the crime.

If He Wakes

Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie, is having an embarrassing time at the bank after finding that her bank cards don’t work. Her account has been suspended because of her massive unauthorised overdraft with the threat of her flat being called in as security. Suzie, of course, knows

nothing of the debt.

Two very gripping and interesting storylines from the very start and the tension just keeps building.

The police question Rachel and her husband about the hit and run, and Suzie is trying to piece together what the missing money has to do with her missing boyfriend. This very quickly becomes one of the most gripping and suspenseful books I’ve read. There is an intense feeling of the runaway train having left the track and is heading towards disaster with nothing anyone can do to stop it.

Very well written, fabulous characters and nails bitten to the quick!

 

Zoe Lea

 

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Corkscrew by Peter Stafford-Bow

Five Stars

Corkscrew

This is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. The book opens with Felix Hart being interrogated by an unknown ‘authority’ to the point he feels he’s not going to get out of the meeting alive. From here, Felix tells his life story from being an orphan expelled from a prestigious school, and his decision to do work which he enjoys – drinking wine.

Felix gets into some terrible scrapes yet always seems to come up smelling of roses. His career in the wine industry prospers and takes him around the world drinking fine wines and dallying with the ladies. Felix is a very likeable character even though he’s a cad and a drunk much of the time.

 

The language is a little ripe at times and there are a few rude scenes but so hilariously executed. Excellently written and brilliantly plotted.

 

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Five Stars

Patrick Gale’s writing is exquisite. I haven’t read many of his novels but each one I have read has been perfectly told, at just the right pace with a large dose of compassion and tenderness.

Take Nothing With You 1

Eustace is an only child but he wasn’t his parents’ only child. Much of his insecurities stem from the fact that he survived when his siblings didn’t, although he doesn’t know that from his parents. The story begins with Eustace as an adult just having been told he has cancer. He has also just fallen in love and doesn’t know if he can tell his new love of his recent diagnosis. We mostly see Eustace growing up in the old peoples’ home where he lives with his mother and father. He’s a bit of a strange young boy; he enjoys ballet but when his father is angry after seeing him ‘prancing around’ he is forced to change course and learns to play the cello. Eustace has a gift for music and becomes quite an impressive young player.

Eustace’s mother is remote and fragile until she starts taking Eustace to Bristol at the weekends to stay with Carla his cello teacher, and her two gay friends. Mother becomes more alive than ever she is at home and Eustace sees a wonderful new side to his mother, especially when drinking wine with Carla. Eustace’s cello lessons, as well as his private schooling, become a stretch too much for his parents, and at the age of thirteen has to attend the local comprehensive school. He didn’t have an easy time at the private school, he is a slightly weird child, and relies heavily on Vernon, his one friend who also moves to the comprehensive with him.

This is a coming of age story which is sad and touching on so many levels. It’s not unexpected that Eustace is gay, but in the wrong school with the wrong people he’s a jigsaw piece that doesn’t fit, but put him in the right setting with musical and artistic people, Eustace flourishes. As he grows, there is tragedy, laughter and raw emotion, until we meet Eustace again with his new love in the present day.

Take Nothing With You is a beautiful literary piece. It’s impeccably written by a talented master of the pen and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any of Patrick Gale’s books. Totally recommended.

 

Over My Shoulder by Patricia Dixon

Five Stars

This is a dark and addictive story of how lovely Freya becomes manipulated and controlled by Kane. Freya’s character is portrayed to be a normal working young woman of the 1990s. She has a very real personality, the sort of girl we could have worked with and from a family we could know of. She meets Kane whilst at work and quickly becomes quite besotted by him, even though she has a steady boyfriend. From the start, Kane is a manipulator and engineers meetings with Freya until their relationship takes off, just as he had planned it. Kane is a complex character and is a truly nasty piece of work. Kane has a beautiful and kind young woman by his side, but his cruel side surfaces when least expected, and as Freya becomes more isolated from her friends and family, her traumatic life becomes insufferable.

OMS

Much of the early and middle part of the book is set in 1990s Manchester and and shows a reflection of how times have changed in such a short time; the lack of technology, few mobile phones and attitudes of the police. Later, we move forward to the present day to conclude the story in a nail bitingly tense final few chapters. It is truly a gripping and shocking story from start to finish and just shows how easy it is to fall in with the wrong people.

Patricia Dixon writes in a very relaxed and northern style and her characters are totally believable. This book covers a lot of issues which might shock some readers, so be warned there is some violence and domestic abuse. Patricia Dixon has written sympathetically and emotionally about some very difficult issues and I think she’s done a great job of giving realism to a fictional story. This is her first psychological suspense novel and I do hope she writes more in this genre.

I was asked to be an early reader of this book and feel very privileged to have seen the story grow and change. Fourteen months after the first spark of an idea, several edits, a cut of around 50 pages, and a few tears along the way, Patricia now has a very gripping, tight plot which I feel rivals the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ style psychological books. Very well worth reading and there’s even a cameo of me in the final chapters!

Patricia Dixon

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The Promise by Katerina Diamond

Five Stars

If you’ve been following Katerina Diamond’s Grey and Miles series you certainly won’t be disappointed in The Promise, fourth in the series. If you haven’t read any of the earlier books in the series it’s best to start with The Teacher, but The Promise works well as a complete story in itself.

In the opening chapters a young woman, Erica Lawson, is found strangled, sexually assaulted and bleached clean; then it happens again to another woman. When a third body is discovered, Grey and Miles know they’ve got a serial killer on their hands.

The Promise

The book is written in three interweaving parts:

– A back story, almost in diary form, of a young woman first meeting her boyfriend who becomes very abusive. This part of the story, at first, doesn’t seem to have much relevance to the main story but later on, it is the key main part.

– The return from America of Connor and his abusive father. This kid is such a mixed up, angry and impassioned character. Diamond writes so competently about the mental complexities of teenage children.

– Present day in the busy run up to Christmas, with Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles desperately trying to stop further murders which they know will take place if they don’t catch this serial killer. These two have come a long way since The Teacher in their own individual relationships as well as their working partnership.

There’s never a dull moment, hardly a chapter end you want to stop at even to go to bed. Katerina Diamond has fast become my favourite crime writer and I just know I will love every book she writes.

KD

 

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The Imogen Grey & Adrian Miles series, in order (so far.)

 

 

 

 

The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

Five Stars

This is a brilliant holiday read, full of toxic friendships that you just know are going to end in tragedy.

The Cliff House

Tamsyn lives in a Cornish village with her family who struggle financially since the death of her father. She has an unhealthy obsession with the house on the cliff which her mother is the cleaner, and thinks nothing of occasionally stealing the key, snooping around the house and using the swimming pool – until she is caught by the teenage daughter, Edie.

Edie is rich, rude and rebellious whereas Tamsyn is loved, poor and friendless. A friendship with Edie is almost too good to be true for Tamsyn and she spends as much time as possible with Edie in the Cliff House. That is until it all starts to turn sour.

This is a book I found hard to put down. The anger and hatred coming from Edie is palpable and add teenage hormones, alcohol and motorbikes to the mix and you have one very gripping summer read.

Amanda Jennings

 

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The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Five Stars

This is the shocking and chilling story of Lou (Louise) who was taken to France by an older man who she thought of as her boyfriend when she was just fourteen. It’s told over two timelines, when Lou was fourteen, and eighteen years later when she wants to confront the man who took advantage of her.

The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Louise as an adult is still fragile and has so many hang-ups from what happened in her past that she can’t maintain a relationship as an adult. When she suspects that another girl is being groomed by Mike, Lou has to step in to try and stop him. Things go way more crazy than she ever anticipated when Mike becomes locked in a cage! I don’t want to give any more of the story away, but take it from me, this gets seriously gripping and just when you think the end is sorted there’s another knock out twist.

C.L. Taylor has a natural talent for suspense and maintaining a good pace. She knows how to pull the reader in and leave them gasping for more at the end of each chapter and always ends with a brilliant twist.

 

 

Cally Taylor

 

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

five_stars

Review by Alice.

Harry is back for another year at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  With Sirius having died only a few months ago, life becomes much harder especially since he, Ron and Hermione are now N.E.W.T. students. 

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

Furthermore, with a new teacher added to the mix and Draco Malfoy acting stranger than usual, how can Harry survive his sixth year at school ?

I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because it raises lots of questions of who Harry can trust and who trusts Harry. Additionally, I really think that you discover more of the emotional side of the characters as they are definitely starting to grow up.

I believe that J.K. Rowling aimed this particular book at thirteen plus but many people such as myself think that the book is appropriate for children from nine or ten years old. I started this series at the age of eight and a half and I really enjoyed it.

 

J.K. Rowling

 

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The Angel by Katerina Diamond

five_stars

This is an absolutely stunning book, a great story perfectly executed.  It was one of the few books that I had to have a day to get over, I just couldn’t start another book because it played around my head for hours.

We start with a prologue from back in 1986 and I tried to keep all this in mind whilst reading the rest of the book knowing that there would be some relevance later.  When I finished the book, I totally got it but had to come back and re-read the prologue, just to reassure myself.

The Angel

Chapter 1 starts right up to date in 2017 with the opening line Gabriel Webb was a killer.  He didn’t know it yet, but before the day was out he would know what it felt like to take someone’s life. I was intrigued from the start and just had to know who had died, how and why Gabriel would take someone’s life.

Gabriel is a complex character, in fact all the characters are flawed and complex but this makes for excellent reading.  He and his girlfriend, Emma, are both Goths, they dress for themselves and are misfits in society, but underneath all the black trousers, chains and face paint are two loving and caring people.  As the first line indicated, by the end of the day Gabriel was sitting in a police cell being questioned about a body.

The two detectives, Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles, could solve this case quickly but Imogen has a nagging feeling and a soft spot for Gabriel, and too many coincidences play on Adrian’s mind, that they have to dig deeper. They have their work cut out to solve the murder and obvious mystery surrounding it, the case is not at all straightforward and it really takes its toll on both of them, particularly memories coming to the surface for Imogen. The murder is not simply about one person killing another, it’s so multi-faceted, wheels within wheels that in reality, it’s doubtful the case would really be solved.

The chapters mostly run in turn with Gabriel’s life and then the two detectives. I couldn’t wait to get back to Gabriel’s chapters to find out how he was surviving in the young offenders’ detention centre. He had such a hard and violent time and was totally unprepared for it – a real eye opener.

I loved all the characters, Imogen and Gabriel particularly, and they were so well constructed that they felt like real people, someone I might know.

This is the first book I’ve read by Katerina Diamond and although this one is book 3 in the detective series it is a complete story and can be read as a stand alone novel. I would totally recommend starting with book 1, The Teacher, and move on to book 2, The Secret – I’ve already loaded them onto my Kindle ready to start over again.

KD

 

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The series so far (in order)

The TeacherThe SecretThe Angel

 

 

 

 

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Five Stars

What an incredible debut and so brilliantly written.

Eleanor Oliphant is so obviously not ‘fine’.  She’s had an unfortunate and horrible childhood, in and out of foster homes, no family or friends, and an unsightly burn scar on one side of her face.  But, in Eleanor’s eyes, she has a job, a home and can look after herself so, she’s absolutely ‘fine’.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine 1

The book is split into three Parts – Good Days, Bad Days and Better Days. Good Days is the setting of the scene, we get to know Eleanor and her foibles.  She is a strange, complex and eccentric young woman, one who you could imagine maybe being a bit picked on or seen as weird.  After helping a collapsed man in the street, she begins to build a friendship with Raymond, her work colleague.

During Bad Days and Better Days, Raymond is an absolute rock for Eleanor. Written with sadness and pathos, the Bad and Better Days are a revelation into how childhoods and their traumas can impact on later life.

Gail Honeyman has written a truly amazing book and has cleverly woven a lovable character in Eleanor Oliphant and her sad life.  There is much to laugh at as well as giving the reader deep and caring feelings for this strange young woman.  I came to love Eleanor Oliphant and was truly sad to reach the end of the book and the end of my time with her.  I haven’t read a book quite like this since A Man Called Ove was released.

 

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

five_stars

This one made a deep emotional impact on me – it’s the only book I can honestly say made me teary eyed – twice! On reading the first few pages, I thought it felt very much like Kate Atkinson’s Behind The Scenes At The Museum, another book which made a big impact. It also had similar emotional overtones of A Man Called Ove.

Tin ManThe prologue introduces Dora and Leonard Judd, parents of Ellis, while Dora is still pregnant with Ellis. It is only a short prologue but gives an insight of the early life Ellis would have had and his mother’s strength of character.

The first half of the book is written in third person of Ellis – Tin Man – so called because he works in Tinny Bay, the area of the car factory which knocks out dents of car panels. It took me a short while to get used to the minimalist punctuation of the writing style – no speech marks so therefore had to concentrate on who was speaking. We go back and forth through Ellis’s life, back to a young teen when he first met Michael after both boys became motherless. Their bond and closeness started immediately and never left either of them, even when Ellis met his darling Annie.

In the second half of the book the writing switches to first person and we hear Michael’s very sad and detailed account of his life with and without Ellis. Throughout the book, particularly for Michael although it is Ellis who is the artist, a print of one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings which Dora won in a raffle in the prologue, features strongly.

I really don’t want to give too much of the story away because this isn’t a book of plots and twists, it’s the discovery of self and each other, so you really need to experience this for yourself. You may already have guessed or some might like to take this as a ‘warning’ that the story is mostly of gay love, not graphic, but so delicately and sensitively told.

S Winman

 

 

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The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

five_stars

This book is so addictive – I just couldn’t put it down!

Cherry really wants to lift herself up out of the poverty she is born to, and being a very intelligent young lady, she acquires a position in an estate agency in the affluent Kensington area of London. When Daniel walks in to the estate agents to purchase a multi-million pound apartment, Cherry seems to fall on her feet when Daniel asks her for a viewing and a date.

The Girl Friend

Daniel’s mother, Laura, initially is intrigued and excited to meet Daniel’s new girlfriend, but their first meeting doesn’t get off to the start that either Cherry or Laura hoped for.

There is much manipulation, deceit – oh my goodness, the whopping lies – from both Laura and Cherry in their battle to win Daniel. Laura needs to protect her son from Cherry and Cherry needs to get Daniel on her side and have him put a ring on her finger.

This is a bat and ball game of subtle, and not so subtle, jibes, quips and down right spiteful viciousness between Cherry and Daniel’s mother. As time goes on the hatred intensifies and the poison between Laura and Cherry increases. But one lie is so big that it is more catastrophic to the teller than who it is aimed at if it gets out. This can’t possibly end well for either of the two women and as vile words turn into murderess intent, the pace quickens to the point that you just cannot put this book down until you get to the climatic end.

When I first started this book I thought ‘hmm, a bit chic-litty’ but very quickly it became clear that this is not a light humorous summer read, this is deeply chilling and, if you can imagine having a few million pounds at your disposal as well as a holiday house in St. Tropez, has a very real feel. It’s well written and the plot I found faultless. The characters are minimal but each plays an important role – no extras or bit parts here. If you like an intensely chilling, quick-paced read, then this is certainly the book for you.

Michelle Frances

 

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Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

five_stars

This is an amazingly tense and impacting story. It’s set over just a three hour timeline with very few characters, in fact, most of the book is mother and four year old son, Joan and Lincoln.

Fierce KingdomVery briefly so as not to give too much of the plot away, Joan and her son Lincoln are packing up to leave the zoo close to closing time. Lincoln doesn’t want the zoo trip to finish and Joan is having a tussle getting him to put a spurt on before the zoo gates are locked for the night. As they get close to the gates, it becomes clear to Joan that the cracking noises she’s been hearing are gun shots and around the exit path are bodies laid dead. Thinking quickly, Joan back tracks with Lincoln to try to hide from the gunman/men. I will say no more of the story, you really need to read this for yourself.

Every moment with Joan and Lincoln is tense and gripping. Imagine trying to keep a four year old quiet and occupied for goodness knows how long the siege will last. Joan doesn’t want to frighten Lincoln with the reality of what’s happening, that could lead to noise and tears, but she needs to instill in him the seriousness of their situation to make him obey her instructions.


The chapters are set into time frames starting at 4.55pm when Joan is coaxing Lincoln to get ready to leave the zoo which closes at 5.30pm, through to the nail-biting concluding climax at 8.05pm. There are some lovely moments of tender conversation between mother and son and also times of great frustration with such a young child needing the toilet, food and non-stop chatter.

This really is one of the most intensely riveting books I’ve ever read. I found it difficult to put down for a meal and at bedtime, and my thoughts stayed with the siege at the zoo for days afterwards. It’s certainly a book to be recommended and an author to watch out for.

Gin Phillips

 

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Five Stars

This is one of those books I’ll be telling all my friends about. It is totally gripping, keeps you guessing and has an unexpected twist at the end.

I was initially drawn to this book by its tagline – I am in a coma, my husband doesn’t love me any more, sometimes I lie.  I love stories with lies and deceit, they always have strong psychological turmoil between the characters.

Sometimes I Lie

The story is written over three timelines – Now, whilst Amber is in a coma – Then, the days leading up to Amber’s accident – and Before, written as diary entries from 1991.  The diary entries give a deeper background of the lead characters, how their minds work and why they have become disturbed complex people.  Amber writes as much as she can think about in her diary as a child but if she can’t express herself she writes three facts for the day. In the present, while Amber is in a coma, she carries on with this three facts style in her mind and that’s how we get the tagline on the book cover.

The story becomes very complex, not confusing or muddled but you do need to pay attention, and much of the scary part is while Amber is in her coma and she hears everything around her. She can’t yet remember what happened to her but she suspects her husband has something to do with her accident, she doesn’t trust him and feels frightened when he visits.  She’s not convinced Claire, her sister, has her best interests at heart and so desperately needs to remember what’s happened to her.  There are some sinister characters, her ex-boyfriend who has access to her as he works in the hospital, and a little girl who Amber doesn’t think is real keeps paying her mind a visit.  Who is Jo? Why is it so important to see Madeleine off the radio show that Amber works on? and what about the recognition of Madeleine’s house?  Such a lot keeps your mind flicking back and forth wondering what the relevance is of a new piece of the story.

As psychological thrillers go, this is one of the best I’ve read.  Some of the phrases used are so very eloquent and really describe a situation well, paints a picture with words. This is one I will certainly recommend and look forward to more by Alice Feeney.

Alice Feeney

 

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Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

Five Stars

Gripping and intense, laced with mystery and intrigue, this is a real page turner.

Briefly, (and without spoilers) seventeen year old Sophie is brought home from a drunken Saturday evening out with her friends by the police. She was found in a dazed and drunken state close to where the body of her friend is later found. Sophie has no memory of the whole of the evening.

Her parents are in a strained marriage and her mother, Karen, has panic attacks and agoraphobia since she herself was attacked two years earlier. The story is told from three main perspectives in short sharp chapters – Sophie, her mother Karen and Detective Inspector Lindsay Wade. We deftly move between the three characters in a race to find the killer of Sophie’s friend, Erin, before the stalker who Sophie realises is following her, strikes again.

The book touches on several issues – anxiety, agoraphobia, grief and loss as well as teenage secrecy and withholding information. Sam Carrington is a confident writer of crime and suspense and I found it a real pleasure to tramp through the book as fast as I could. I thoroughly recommend Saving Sophie and will be watching out for future publications by Sam Carrington.

Sam Carrington

 

Sam Carrington’s Website

 

 

 

 

 

The Gentlemen’s Club by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Five Stars

The Gentlemen's Club

This is the first erotic book I’ve read for a long time and I’m so glad I did, it’s also one of my ‘Out of Comfort Zone’ reads and not knowing any erotica authors, either good or bad, I had a troll around online booksellers. There were loads with creamed this, hard that and stretched the other but most were either not rated or only one or two star rated.  I also decided that a kinky looking cover was not the best way to ensure a well written gripping story of passion, so I took my chances with this one – The Gentlemen’s Club by Emmanuelle de Maupassant.

Emmanuelle’s creation is more literary in style than most erotic books, giving an irresistible story of eroticism mixed with Victorian life, and was a real pleasure to devour. The Gentlemen’s Club is a beautifully written noire novella set in Victorian London.  It has been well researched, has exquisite descriptions using a rich and varied vocabulary.

Maud lives with her Great Aunt, playing the convincing role of quite a lady by day but, come evening, she dons a lace mask and becomes a wondrous seductress at an elite gentlemen’s club.  This is not dirty, base sex, this is theatre, an art form, where the audience participates as much as the seducing actresses.  This is a clever story of Henry becoming obsessed with Maud.  She debases him, ridicules him, taunts and tantalises him, yet he still goes back for more.

If this book had little or no sexual content it would still be a compelling and clever story (there are few modern erotic books you could say that of.)  The sex, however, is varied and original and so very erotic.  I think I could go so far as to say that this is probably the most erotic book I’ve ever read and certainly the one with a first-rate storyline.  I can thoroughly recommend and I look forward to reading Volume II of this noire series.

 

 

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Five Stars

This debut by B A Paris is a stunning psychological thriller at it’s very best. It felt so simple and easy to read that I devoured it in great chunks. I feel that the simplicity comes from there being very few characters. Grace and Jack are at the fore the whole way through with Millie, Grace’s sister, not far behind.

Behind Closed Doors

Simply told, yet Jack is such a complex character, a true unbalanced psychopath. He has so charmingly wooed and courted Grace and is the apple of Millie’s eye. Until the moment of marriage when BANG! the real Jack makes his debut. He is cruel and manipulative, his remarks are cutting, he is totally sadistic and spiteful. What he might do next had me on the edge of my seat. It’s creepy and subtly dark and the tension becomes unbearable.

The story is set over two very close timelines – present time, and the time of Grace and Jack’s marriage just a few months earlier. The timelines come closer together the further we read through the book until the final gripping chapters are in present time giving a very taut and satisfying finale.

You need to read this. I really don’t want to give any clues of the plot away but you will need to set time aside to read as this is not a pick-it-up-put-it-down sort of book. I haven’t read one as good as this little gem for a while.