Books

Running out of Road – Cath Staincliffe

Three different people. Not connected until today.

Scarlett; on her way home to her Nana who has looked after her since the death of her mother. Excited to be in the school show the following day. Dancing brings her so much joy.

Dylan; always trying to keep one step ahead, never staying in the same nest for long, picking off each victim and dealing the drugs and then moving on. One day he will make it and not be the one doing all the work. Aim big.

Ron; being a house sitter and pet sitter by default seems really a lot easier to handle than real humans. From his previous job as a firefighter, this is much more pleasant.

DS Laura O’Neil, a mother with a teething toddler who has left him at home with his father as she suddenly gets to know all these people.

All these people that are thrown together and for one wet, stormy and panicky night all their roads cross. As they all take different turnings, will Laura get to the truth?

This fast paced thriller left me exhausted without leaving my home. Whether it was the vast swathes of the Peak District that was covered physically as the hunt for all three of them takes over the pages of the book. Or the historic events that build up the characters of the here and now. The country line drug storyline was strong and frightening real as if you are reading a news reports. You have to remember the main events are just a mere twenty four hours. The skill of the writing made it feel like a week of my life.

If you want a great British thriller which covers many themes including guilt and grief and the overarching hope of a better future then this is simply the book for you. Highly recommend for a heart stopping read to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Running out of Road is out now.

Books

The Perfect Guests – Emma Rous

I said last year when I read this author’s debut novel that she was one to watch out for and I think that is the case.

This book has a lightness to it but still is a rather intriguing mystery. What seems like two independent stories, simply featuring the same setting, clearly have to link, but how and who are all these characters?

Raven Hall – Past

Beth turns up at this big house, out the way in the Fens on the east of the country. Her aunt who really does not want the responsibility of an orphaned niece, has brought her here to live with Markus, Leonora and daughter Nina. Nina is of the same age as Beth, and it is hoped that the girls will form a companionship, as Nina is rarely let out of the house. There is something odd about this family set up, when Nina falls ill it is left to Beth to fill a purpose, but the question is why?

Raven Hall – Present Day

The big mysterious house is the perfect setting for a murder mystery weekend. Sadie an actress waiting for her big break gets the opportunity to take part in the test event to presumably publicise these weekends. Needing the money and the purpose she jumps at the chance, to play Miss Lamb. She turns up and thinks this going to be easy money. One of the clues to the game is quite near the truth and it looks like that perhaps this might not be a game after all.

How does it all come together? Who are all these people and how can a simple game reveal all the past as it all comes tumbling out as people go missing, start feeling ill and turning up unexpectedly.

A book with twists and turns, I thought I could see the path the author was intending us to go on, but on some occasions I was wrong. For thriller fans, they may want something a bit more darker and gruesome, but a lot was said about the setting and the characters without it being said at all. The art of suggestion enabled the red herrings and the twists and turns to work for me.

For the infamous ‘second novel’ this was very good and I stand by my original thoughts – this is an author to watch.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Perfect Guests is out now.

Books

The Castaways – Lucy Clarke

When you want to escape to an island and feel like away from everything, then Fiji is perhaps an island that springs to mind. Blue seas and white sand. Warm sun and beautiful scenery, the perfect place to be castaway.

Expect for Erin and Lori, sisters who have decided on a holiday to Fiji.

Lori gets on the plane.

Erin does not.

The plane disappears and Erin is left wondering about what has happened to Lori?

Told in both the past and the present, from both Lori and Erin, we see all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle set out in front of us and as we learn the story of the two sisters and how they both find themselves where they do.

In Fiji, in the past and in the present.

There are as many answers as there are questions and when the pilot of the missing plane reappears after two years, Erin has to know the truth.

I could write more, but that would take away some of the fear, the trepidation, the importance of the setting, that feeling that you are far away from everything and that perhaps it is not paradise after all.

An excellent thriller that was perhaps not what you were expecting and that made it all the more interesting.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Castaways is out now.

Books

The Chalet – Catherine Cooper

A debut novel, a setting that perhaps would have turned me off – the French Alps. The thought of skiing not something that has ever interested me. However, the luxury, the mystery and the murder had me hooked from page one.

1998 – Will and his brother Adam, with respective girlfriends find themselves skiing. Not necessarily the choice of them all but still a holiday that is going to change all of their lives forever.

Will and Adam have a testosterone fuelled one-upmanship that is simmering beneath the surface of both brothers and when the opportunity to perhaps put it to the test on the slopes presents itself it seems too good an opportunity to miss.

Cameron and Andy, ski guides meet Will and Adam, out of the four of them only three return and their lives are changed forever?

2020 – Hugh and wife Ria are here to impress Simon and his wife Cass to get Simon to invest in Hugh’s business. The one-upmanship has a different purpose now. But the slopes are the same, the snow is the same and amongst a fierce snowstorm the likes that no one has seen for over twenty years; a body is discovered.

Whose body is it?

And can the four people from the past and the four people from the future have connection to it?

Told across dual timelines, a plot device that I enjoy in historical fiction works really well in this novel. Not only are we getting the movement of back and forth we are seeing everything from the different point of view of the main characters. It doesn’t always work, in this book it excels and adds to the build up of tension.

Don’t make your mind up about what you think about one character? Immediately the author twists that on its head and shows you a different version?

All these versions, these sets of events and beliefs result in a real pacey novel which had me hooked and add to that the claustrophobia of being trapped in a chalet with people you don’t know, in the midst of a snowstorm. I felt I was trapped and the only way out was to solve the mystery.

An excellent debut novel and if this is what to expect in the future from this author then I am ready for the next novel. A contender for one of my favourite books of the year. And as for skiing – still not interested!

 

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Chalet is out now. 

 

Books

Knife Edge – Simon Mayo

London. Rush Hour.

Seven people started their day thinking it was going to be what they knew.

What they did not know was that they would never get to work.

Seven seemingly random people stabbed.

What connected them all?

Famie Madden, journalist watches the terror unfold. But there is a familiarity to some of those killed and it seems that what links them all can also be linked to Famie.

Is the danger over or is Famie potentially the next victim.

If ever a book was relevant, was of its time, it is this book.

You are immediately throw into the action and you are carried along on a wave of adrenaline which inevitably peters out. But that is probably a good thing as you start to slow down and look around to what is really going on just as Famie and other investigative journalists start to pick up the pieces put them together and can see the inevitably of the next point of danger.

The pace picks up and does not stop until the conclusion, it is almost a race to get there, but draws everything to a conclusion.

I found I needed to concentrate on all the references to terror groups from the past which were throughout the book, some passages for me needed some rereading just so I could get to understand the purpose.

Terrorism can take many guises and it was a interesting concept to pick something so unsophisticated as using a plan that was “off grid”, coded advertisements in newspapers, messages in invisible ink, no phones, nothing of the modern day technology we all know. This made it particularly appealing when in reality this books is probably a reflection on modern day life.

An interesting thriller that starts well, sort of wobbles a bit in the middle but reaches a rather interesting climax which will set the heart racing right until the end.

 

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this boo. 

Knife Edge is published on 20 August. 

 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As 2020 ambles along, the reading has been keeping apace and I seem to be devouring more books and spending more time with reading, crafts and jigsaws than I do television. The best bit about July was that first length in the outdoor pool at the gym on the 26th July. Sheer utter bliss!

Of course it is the books you are most interested in – so without further ado.

Proper sagas are what is missing in some of my previous reading months and years and I have found that whenever I go back to them, I seem to what to read more and more. Dilly Court – The Constant Heart a story to get lost in and that I did, I am sure I enjoyed it more by the feel of the book in my hand – I read a tremendous amount on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) but you cannot beat that feeling of being lost in a story and pages and holding on to it in your hands.

Joanna Rees – The Hidden Wife, is the second in a trilogy about the era of the Bright Young Things, the 1920s. This time action in the main has moved to Paris and as the story develops on one side of the channel, the past is stirring things up at home for all the main characters.

Moving forward a few decades got me to Cathy Mansell – The Dublin Girls, although read on kindle this is another author who if you are looking for something of the Catherine Cookson variety, then you have found it. Set in 1950s Ireland it is a great example of fiction that captures you and holds your attention to the very end.

Of course murder mysteries and thrillers can hold your attention too as did Simon Mayo – Knife Edge – the opening few pages have you right in the heart of the plot and the story and whilst I did think it got a bit “ploddy” for a while it soon picked up pace and had your heart racing to the denouement.

Talking of denouements is a great plot to segway into Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit, which was the Read Christie 2020 book for July. One I have never read, very different from a Poirot and a Marple but with the familiar face of Colonel Race who you see in other Christie novels. Another books ticked off my Christie list.

Chattering as I am about lists, I have add a new author for me to catch up on and read more of since I gave Jo Thomas – Escape to the French Farmhouse a go. I was swept away to the french countryside and the lavender fields, the glorious food and the love of a simple life. I cannot think of any better way in escaping the world than with a book like this.

You cannot always escape your past and sometimes it comes back to not just haunt you but to weave its way into your present day as it does with Emma Davies – The Wife’s Choice. A move away from perhaps what you are used to and this was an wonderful look at dysfunctional families and lives that need to move on.

Of course with dysfunctional families you cannot always go back to places you knew as a child but soemtimes you are drawn there as in Trisha Ashley – The Garden of Forgotten Wishes. Trisha’s books get better and better and this is no exception. And for those who cannot get into a garden for whatever reason, read this book – all the hard work without the muddy hands and aching back!

And of course we all like a happy ending, a good old fashioned wedding and a bit of a cry and Caroline Roberts – Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry delivers that in spades. What I assume is the end of series of books featuring Rachel and all her delightful cooking came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading what comes next from this author. (In the meantime I a Chocolate Shop to visit).

So that was July, a mix of genres as I need to be reminded that life is not all sunny and roses, but in the main I spent my time simply enjoying all the stories.

And there is plenty more to come in August.

How was your July? Anything you wish to recommend?

Books

Just My Luck – Adele Parks

What would you do if as part of a syndicate of six you won £17.8 million?

What would you do with £17.8 million if you were part of a syndicate that the week before had broken up – because what were the chances of winning?

What if you were the one who still bought the ticket regardless?

Would life change?

Lexia and husband Jake have played the sames six numbers every week for fifteen years with their friends, Carla and Patrick and Jennifer and Fred. The six have formed a bond, a friendship, their children are all friends, saturday night dinners together,  their lives are seemingly entwined.

Until one Saturday when a rift starts and when Lexi and Jake find themselves the only winners of the £17.8 million.

Friendship and history should mean that they share it with the others.

Will the luck of Lexi and Jake hold out? Or will more people come along and try and claim what they think is rightfully theirs?

This is a book full of twists and turns which at times felt like I was watching events unfold in slow motion and I almost did not want to look as I could see where it was going. I was wrong on a number of occasions and the twists were certainly ones I was not expecting and I loved it! Of course it could have seemed obvious but the sign of a good writer to me is not to make it so.

Adele Parks captures different parts of the characters and their reactions to instant wealth well, Jake spent so unashamedly and encouraged his children to do the same that it became boring. Lexi wants to maintain a sense of normality for everyone, her job means she knows that not everyone is now as lucky as her.

Emily their eldest child, so like her father than she wants it all but finds that it actually comes at a cost which does not involve money. Logan, her younger brother, enjoys it but like his mother, is quite happy with his friends and computer games and making sure those certainties don’t change.

But it is the actions and reactions of those other four in the syndicate that start to show the differences that were perhaps always there in their friendship, that were never discussed, never mentioned. Jealousy takes many forms, of wealth, of status, of job, of home, of neighbourhood, of pretty much everything.

Every possible emotion is covered in this book through all or some of the characters and the author taps into your emotions as you waver between what you are told and what the truth really is. A great book to lose yourself in and to keep you reading long past lights out.

The ending question is obvious – not what would you do with £17.8 million but how would you behave with £17.8 million? From this book the two answers are not mutually exclusive.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Just My Luck is published on the 14th May. 

Books

My Husband’s Lie – Emma Davies

Never go back, it is never the same. But Thea does exactly that, but she has no idea why it was never going to be the same, because she had no idea what had happened then.

When Thea spots her own childhood home up for sale, she realises that it is meant to be and she can now bring her family up in the same warm,loving home that she was. In a small town where her and her husband Drew were neighbours and childhood sweethearts.

But it seems that Thea is not welcomed like she thought she would be.

The house is perfect, everything she remembers including the secret hiding places, but outside of those walls it seems that the place has changed and it seems everyone is talking about her, avoiding her and trying to imply something.

Thea does not know what it is.

Until she finds something hidden, in one of her childhood hiding places.

An old yellow and faded newspaper article from not long before her family suddenly moved away.

Everything she thought she knew is wrong. Even her husband seems to know everything she doesn’t.

The memory of her childhood is shattered and Thea fights to make herself heard in a place where no one is listening. Perhaps they are not listening because what Thea says is all false. But surely the truth will out.

Only actions and time will see if people will understand, help and importantly listen and observe as to what is going on around them.

Sometimes the things closest to you are the hardest to see.

This is a marked change in direction for Emma Davies and one I was not quite so sure about. However her brilliant writing and narrative really hit home when it came to some of the more difficult topics. Bullying can happen at any age and it sometimes takes some radical action to understand the mentality and reasoning behind someone else actions. The contrast between childhood bullying and adult bullying really was an excellent way of reflecting how these things permeate our society in an easily accepted way without question.

My Husband’s Lie is a book which will take you on a journey through your emotions and you might need to hang on tight as you find out the truth.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

My Husband’s Lie is published on the 9th April. 

 

 

 

Books

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

This book has echoes of And Then There Were None before you even start, a remote island and invitations to certain people to stay on the island.

The event which you everyone wants to be on the guest list for is the wedding of Jules and Will.

Jules is a celebrated magazine publisher.

Will is a rising star in television on a ‘survival’ type programme.

This is all about doing it in style to make everyone else envious if not completely jealous.

The guests they are invite are the ones as well as Jules and Will that tell the story of how everyone came to be on this island, invited to the wedding.

Olivia, Jules half sister and someone who does not want to be there. She is harbouring a secret, a secret that if she reveals it will upset everyone. No one knows. But she has to put on a brave face and forget her past and be the bridesmaid her sister is expecting her to be.

Hannah is the plus one, she is in fact Charlie, Jules best friend wife and she is very much feeling more than a spare part than a plus one. Charlie is to be the master of ceremonies at the wedding, leaving Hannah to very much disappear into the background but by doing so she learns some devastating information from her past.

Johnno is the best man – but not the man you would expect a well known face like Will to have. Him and Johnno have a past and with that is secrets which need to remain hidden. Trouble is the other ushers are all old school friends of both Will and Johnno and it seems that some rituals still need to be reenacted in adulthood as they did in childhood.

Then there is Aoife, the outsider to all of the people on the island. It is her island, it is her house, she is in fact the wedding planner and is there to facilitate anything that Jules and Will want as this is her chance to make a name for herself. Though Jules and Will are completely unaware of the name she actually wants to make for herself.

Having only recently read The Hunting Party, I was immediately hooked by the way Foley crafts her novels. As we go from character to character they all in turn fill in information and build a picture of not just themselves but each other. The secondary characters are also somehow cleverly well rounded and developed as well, as they do play an important part in this story.

There are plenty of people to dislike, in fact probably more than to like and empathise with which means they get under your skin, they make you keep turning the page.

As the wedding proceeds, events taken their own turn. As the island batters a storm, a storm is gathering in the wedding party and there might not be any survivors from either storm.

Completely addictive and keeps you guessing right from the beginning.

A good follow up to The Hunting Party and I personally hope for more the same from the author.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel. 

The Guest List is published on the 20th February. 

 

Books

The Au Pair – Emma Rous

Laura was the au pair to Edwin Mayes at Summerbourne whilst she takes a break from her A Levels after some personal events which have left her isolated and alone.

Being holed up in a big house with a delightful little boy to mind seems the perfect remedy. Gorgeous scenery and plenty of space to gather oneself as well as entertain a little inquisitive boy on the Norfolk coast.

Trouble is Laura doesn’t know what she is walking into when she joins Edwin and his parents, Dominic and Ruth at Summerbourne.

Slowly Laura learns that Edwin was in fact a twin.

That twins have been at Summerbourne before and there is some in the village that say the house and twins are cursed.

Seraphine Mayes is mourning the loss of her father, she feels adrift in the world now. Her twin Danny spends a lot of time traveling and her older brother Edwin is not around too much.

Her father’s death has hit her bad and living alone at Summerbourne, the family home she starts to go through some possessions.

She finds a photograph of her mother, holding only one baby – but which one – Seraphine always thought there was something different about her?

Is Laura the key to the past? And will the answers unearth too many secrets and even more lies?

This is an interesting read – whilst it has all the hallmarks of a dark thriller it has something light about the setting of a country home in Norfolk, vast stretches of beach, the sea. It could not have worked but it has combined both for an interesting story, told between two points of view, Laura and Seraphine – you get to see the secrets discovered and can see them happening first hand all at the same time.

I was drawn into it, it kept me reading and whilst some may say it has weak points and perhaps some of the plot was a bit too unbelievable, for a debut novel this was a worthy read. Emma Rous is an author we need to be watching out for in the future.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel. 

The Au Pair is out on kindle now and published in paperback on 11 July.