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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Missing by CL Taylor

The Missing

‘The Missing’ takes the reader into scary territory from the start. A teenager, Billy, has gone missing and his mother is living every parent’s nightmare.

Claire has no idea what has happened to her son or whether she will ever find him alive. And then to make things worse her mind starts playing tricks on her and she is diagnosed as having experienced fugue states.

As the story goes on, we find out more about Claire and her family and discover that everyone is hiding something. If Claire can work out what is going on, will she be able to find Billy before it is too late?

Claire was a great character, and I found myself empathising with her more and more as the book went on, particularly as some of the things she finds out about the people around her – who are all deeply flawed - are so distressing. The claustrophobic feeling of sharing a house with people who are all distressed and suffering is also very well done.

CL Taylor has made some brave decisions in the writing of this book. I can’t say too much more than that without spoilers, but it is the way the story veers away from what you might expect that gives it an edge and makes it stand out.

I found this a real page-turner. There are so many questions that the reader wants to know the answer to that the story sucks you in and takes you along with it.

A recommended read for those who enjoy intrigue, suspense and mystery.

Don’t miss your chance to read this one!

You can find out more here.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Late Checkout by Alex Walters

Exciting news! My husband has a new book coming out soon and you can read the blurb here.

LATE CHECKOUT by Alex Walters             

DCI Kenny Murrain sees, hears and feels things that others do not.  It’s a gift but also a curse. 

            When he wakes to the phantom sound of screaming he knows a murder has been committed but not where or why. 

            Then a woman’s body is found in a Stockport hotel room.  It’s a murder that seems both frenzied and carefully planned, the scene expertly cleansed of any evidence.

            Over the following days, more bodies are discovered, first in an upmarket spa on the Pennine moors, then in a run-down budget hotel on the outskirts of Manchester.
The same frenzied attacks, the same meticulous planning.  The same killer.

            The victims all have links to one man, a police colleague with a dark past.  But Murrain discovers a more unexpected connection—with Marie Donovan, a former undercover officer now part of Murrain’s own team.  

            As the killer closes in on a fourth victim, Murrain knows that time is running out.  But the outcome will be more unexpected and more terrifying than even he can imagine…

Praise for Alex Walters

‘A talent to be reckoned with … A strong story line, muscular prose and a real sense of pace…a police procedural for a new age’  - Daily Mail

‘…Right up there with the best police procedural thrillers of the last few years.  Expect to hear much more of Walters in the future.’ – Mark Timlin

To find out more and hear news about the book as it's announced, you can like his Facebook page here, and follow him on Twitter at @MikeWalters60 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Finding Of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

The Finding Of Martha Lost

‘The Finding Of Martha Lost’ takes the reader on a healing journey. With Martha we find out what it is like to be lost and what it might take to be found.

There are lots of fairy tale like elements to the story. A child abandoned in a suitcase, secret tunnels, a hidden library and the appearance of a roman soldier. They all mix together to make an enchanting and bewitching read.

I loved the setting in Liverpool, specifically in and around Lime Street station, and the lovely touches about The Beatles and their history, which draw poignant parallels with Martha’s own situation.

Martha is a fabulously quirky and well-drawn character and I found her, and the unexpectedness of her actions, to be one of the highlights of the book. I also loved William, another lost soul just needing to be found, who lives in the tunnels under Lime Street for heartbreaking reasons of his own.

This novel is a beautiful journey as we travel with Martha to find out the truth about herself, and the world and people around her. There are tears along the way, but also plenty of joy and laughter.

I highly recommend this delightful read which will have you believing in fairy tales again. Not to mention love, happiness and the importance of dancing to jukeboxes and eating cake.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Look At Me

Sarah Duguid's debut novel is a compelling snapshot of a family under pressure.

It raises a number of interesting questions. What is the meaning of family? What is the meaning of home? What do you do when home doesn't feel like home any more and your family no longer seems like your family?

Lizzy lives with her father Julian and her brother Ig. The three of them are trying to come to terms with the death of her mother, Margaret. The house still feels full of her presence as they struggle to deal with her absence.

Into this mix comes Eunice. Eunice is Julian's daughter - born as a result of an extramarital affair. She has decided she wants to get to know her family and she isn't really taking anyone else’s feelings into consideration in the matter.

All the characters in this novel are really interesting. They are all flawed, but they all cry out for empathy in their different ways. Julian - unable to come to terms with the loss of his wife. Eunice - the cuckoo in the nest. Lizzy - resenting Eunice and the way she has imposed herself onto her family, and into her home.

It's a novel that appeals to all the senses. There is lots of luscious description of food and drink, not to mention the effects of smoking hash. I particularly loved the descriptions of the barbecue that Julian holds in the courtyard of the house for all his family and friends, where Eunice, dressed in silver, flits through the party, causing havoc in her wake.

‘Look At Me’ works really well as a study in human relationships; an examination of love, grief, jealousy and bereavement.

I loved its complexity and the beauty of the writing.

This is a great debut novel which leaves the reader with so much to think about.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

The Ballroom

By Anna Hope 

I loved 'The Ballroom'. It is a swooping, amazing romance of a book.

Caught up in the asylum system for the most flimsy of reasons, Ella and John first come across each other when she tries to escape. After that, they cannot forget each other, and finally are able to spend time together in the Friday night dances held in the ballroom of the asylum.

As well as segments of the story being told through the eyes of Ella and John, there is a third strand told through the eyes of Charles, a doctor at the asylum. Charles is a very interesting character as, although in many ways he is the one with the power, in fact he is just as tortured as John and Ella. He is in denial about himself and seems incapable of finding happiness.

Reading ‘The Ballroom’ will make you feel angry about how the inmates of asylums were treated, about how they were thought of by some as less than human, and about the ludicrous reasons why some people ended up incarcerated in such a cruel way. In Ella's case it was because she broke a window. In many cases, it was simply for the crime of being poor.

But there is some hope in the way the human spirit, embodied in both John and Ella, was able to overcome the imprisonment in different ways. I loved the way a glimpse of sky through an open window, a flower, or a bird feather representing the outside world could take on huge significance.

This story could have been a much simpler one that it was - at one point a very neat conclusion suggested itself. But the author went for something more complex, more believable and ultimately more satisfying. I’m glad she did.

I don't want to say any more for fear of spoilers, but the ending is perfect, moving and beautiful.

I highly recommend this novel. A tale of love, pain and humanity in the most difficult of circumstances.  

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.