Thursday, 28 May 2015

Only We Know - Karen Perry - filled with secrets and repercussions



Publishers Description

In 1982, an idyllic summer is shattered when three children play a game that ends in tragedy.

Now, thirty years later, Nick, Luke and Katie remain bound together by the truth of what happened that day.

But some secrets won’t stay buried.

And when Luke vanishes and the threatening messages begin, it becomes clear someone else knows the truth – and is intent on justice, no matter what the cost…

My thoughts

I greatly enjoyed Karen Perry's debut novel the boy who never was and was pleased to be offered the chance to read an advance copy of her new book. This chilling thriller about family and secrets and revenge begins in the 1980s in Kenya with a group of children playing by the river when something tragic occurs which is bound to have repercussions which follow them over the years.

It jumps back and forth over a span of 30 years and sees 3 adults with lives bound by tragedy being torn apart you get wrapped up in the storyline although I didn't really find a character I could relate to they are all believable and realistic.

This is a tension filled family mystery and to say too much would be to give the plot away there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing but no massive shocks. If you like people centred family dramas this is a great summer read. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and the Publisher Michael Joseph for my review copy.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

How I lost you - Jenny Blackhurst - fast paced thriller




The Blurb:

They told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied? I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don't you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he's dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

My thoughts

I wanted to be blown away by this book, it's my favourite genre, I've found recently I devour and enjoy more psychological thrillers than any other type of book.

The author did a great job of whetting my appetite and reeling me in to the story of Emma, formerly known as Susan and recently released from prison after serving a sentence for murdering her baby son. Things begin to happen which re-inforce her belief that she didn't kill him, but she's been told for years by the medical profession that she is suffering from a mental lapse of memory, a psychosis which makes her forget the details of this terrible event.

However things gather pace and we hurtle towards finding out what really happened, whilst being shown lots of red herrings and the first half of the book had me gripped by the throat, but then, for me it went down hill somewhat in the latter part of the book.

I'm familiar with having to really take things with a pinch of salt in this kind of book but this suddenly degenerated from the tense and compelling storyline to a frankly ridiculous back story that far from explaining things just made me groan out loud and begin to question how far the book had made me accept things happening which began to seem not just unlikely but impossible, coincidence after coincindence began to pall, and I also found it got really confusing. there were a lot of characters to get to grips with and some of them seemed pretty superfluous.

The beginning is great, the ending is pretty satisfactory but the latter middle part is a touch too convoluted for me to give this book more than a pretty round 3 stars.

My thanks to Netgalley for my review copy.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Good Neighbour - Beth Miller - secrets and lies



From an advance reading copy provided by Netgalley

The blurb
Everyone has secrets. How far will you go to protect yours?

After living next to the neighbours from hell, Minette is overjoyed when Cath and her two children move in next door. Cath soon becomes her confidante, a kindred spirit, even her daughter’s babysitter.

But Cath keeps herself unusually guarded and is reluctant to speak of her past. And when Minette witnesses something unspeakable, she begins to question whether she really knows her new friend at all…

An addictive and gripping novel, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Daughter


My Review:

Having lived next door to neighbours from hell I thought I would have more sympathy for Minette than I did, she was pretty annoying to be honest, in fact most of the characters were pretty flawed but that's what makes a book like this believable.

It's a story about lies, and motherhood, friendship and family and misplaced trust. Minette and husband Abe live with baby Tilly in a semi detached house where they have had to put up with neighbours they just don't get along with at all and who have made the first few months of young Tillys life a nightmare, always treading on eggshells trying not to annoy them and rock the boat by giving them cause to "go off on one".

When the neighbours move out and Minette discovers her new neighbour is a single Mum with 2 kids who is approachable and friendly, she begins to relax and the 2 women become friends. Minette is a typical bored, tired and lonely young Mum and is grateful to have a friend nearby. But when she makes an indiscreet decision and trusts Cath with her secrets she never expects to find that Cath has a secret of her own which is even more shocking and unexpected.

I'm trying not to give too much away as the story relies on the layers being peeled away gradually. If you enjoy family dramas with some tense nail biting moments and characters you'll love to hate, you'll probably love this one. It reminded me somewhat of The Playdate

The book has quite a few revelations and shocks and makes for gripping reading, some of it rather disturbing.

I kind of expected another great twist at the end which didn't really happen, the twists are mostly in the middle of the story, however the author ties up all the loose ends very neatly, keeping the reader entertained and satisfied throughout.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

We are all made of stars - Rowan Coleman - heart wrenching and uplifting



The blurb

What if you had just one chance, one letter you could leave behind for the person you love? What would you write?

Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as Vincent locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients, detailing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and posts them after their death.

That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time, to give her patient one final chance of redemption...


My review

Rowan Coleman - you did it again - tore my heart in two, then sewed it back together. I'm clearly a more sensitive soul than I imagined, I sobbed my way readily throughout this stunning work, but by the end, even though I felt as though I'd been through the wringer, had a big smile on my face. It IS uplifting and it's also heart wrenching, especially if you've ever lost someone and not had the time to say your goodbyes.

This book cleverly tells the stories of several people, there is Stella (Stella means star by the way) who is working as a nurse in a hospice, throwing all her energy into helping people who have a terminal illness, nursing them and caring for them and helping them by writing last letters to their loved ones when they are too ill or tired to put pen to paper themselves. But at home things aren't going smoothly, the love of her life, her husband Vincent, has returned from Afghanistan with his leg missing and his soul in shreds.

These letters form the backbone of the book, one is included at the end of each chapter and even though you don't even get to know a lot of the people for whom these are written these little, poignant vignettes allow a peek into dying peoples lives and hearts and it was often these which tore me up most.

One of her patients in the hospice is Hope, she is only 21 and has Cystic Fibrosis, a life threatening condition which has nearly finished her off, but she is going to live to fight on another day and throughout her life her best friend Ben has been there as her rock, her best pal and we get to know him as well as her (I fell in love with this lovely caring young man, more than a little bit)

There is Issy only 14, she won't see 15 but at the hospice Stella and Hope manage to make her laugh and feel like the teenager she is - not the terminal patient she has become.

Hugh's story seems unrelated at first, he curates a museum, lives alone, apart from his cat, cat's feature heavily in this book! When new neighbours move in, a young single Mum and her son he isn't prepared for the impact these people will have on his existence.

In that impeccable Coleman way these stories intertwine beautifully and the parts make one whole, which is intense, emotional, engaging and truly stunning.

I thought Rowan's "The Memory book"The Memory Book was a fabulous read and that she couldn't possibly outdo it, but this new novel holds its own alongside this. It's gentle and lovely and will appeal to fans of Jojo Moyes

Well done Rowan Coleman (even though I should be really cross with you for the swollen eyed look which is becoming de rigeur after a late night session with one of your books!)

My thanks to the folks at www.lovereading.co.uk who sent me this copy to read and review in advance of publication read my review and others on their site here