I LET YOU GO – Clare Mackintosh

let you go5 star

Available 23rd April 2015 from Little, Brown Book Group UK

Source: NetGalley

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating…

This is how I wish all books could be! I Let You Go had everything I could possibly hope for; fantastic characters, heart-wrenching emotion, spine-chilling fear, gripping intrigue, nail-biting drama…oh and I love twists, right? Well, I lost count of the number of fantastic shockers in this one!

The story begins with an account of a horrific hit and run accident that instantly claims the life of 5-year-old Jacob. And I can admit that I was welling up very early on… I mean very early on – we’re talking about the prologue here!

Jenna can no longer live with the pain, so has run away from the ghosts of her old life and set up home on the idyllic Welsh coast. Haunted by the tragic events of that day, and mourning the death of her son, she slowly adjusts to her new way of life – even eventually meeting a new love interest. But no matter how far she has run, or how much time has passed since that awful day of the hit and run accident, she is still forever haunted; plagued by nightmares, constantly on edge, and doubting she will ever really find peace again.

The book alternates between what is happening with Jenna, and the goings-on at Bristol CID; specifically for DI Ray Stevens who is still investigating the hit and run incident. A year has passed and they are still no closer to catching the culprit, and it is difficult to keep a case going with absolutely no leads, and where even the victim’s mother has seemingly given up – having disappeared off the face of the earth.

Almost immediately you realise all is not as it seems, but I could never quite put my finger on what it was. Little teasers were peppered about and I knew I was waiting for something… yet Mackintosh was able to distract me with some fantastic story-telling and brilliant character development, so I didn’t spend too much time on attempting to guess.

Nobody was placed in the story merely for the sake of it. Each character was given depth and complexity. Of course, the story centres around Jenna, the accident, and her loss (and the subsequent police investigation), and yet the reader is also given insight into Jenna’s damaged relationship with her family; Ray and his colleague Kate’s questionable relationship; Ray’s struggling marriage and wayward son; even Jenna’s new love-interest Patrick is given a tragic back-story! There is so much going on and yet never too much that it gets messy. Each subject is given adequate attention to earn its place within the story – and there is so much more going on that I won’t even attempt to be vague about, because there are some cracking twists in there and it would be criminal for me to even hint at them! I even went back to early chapters thinking I would catch the author out in some huge continuity mistake… alas, on reading those same lines with new information, I could only admire the sheer genius of it all!

Clare Mackintosh is an amazingly talented writer. Her depiction of a mother’s torment following the loss of a child was authentic, raw, and both sensitively and tastefully done. The romantic sub-plots were realistic; in approach, pace, and awkwardness! Jenna’s fear and torment are palpable throughout. Ray’s struggle for work/home-life balance, and the necessity to constantly question his own integrity is very grounding. And the drama is laden with an urgency that puts all else on hold.

Definitely one where 5 stars are just not enough! I cannot imagine anybody who would not thoroughly enjoy this read. If I could only ever recommend one book for any TBR list, it would most definitely be this one.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

Happy reading x

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CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? – Sinéad Crowley

help me

Available now from Quercus

Source: NetGalley

It was crazy really, she had never met the woman, had no idea of her real name but she thought of her as a friend. Or, at least, the closest thing she had to a friend in Dublin.

Struggling with a new baby, Yvonne turns to netmammy, an online forum for mothers, for support. Drawn into a world of new friends, she spends increasing amounts of time online and volunteers more and more information about herself.

When one of her new friends goes offline, Yvonne thinks something is wrong, but dismisses her fears. After all, does she really know this woman?

But when the body of a young woman with striking similarities to Yvonne’s missing friend is found, Yvonne realises that they’re all in terrifying danger. Can she persuade Sergeant Claire Boyle, herself about to go on maternity leave, to take her fears seriously?

This story centres around the members of ‘Netmammy’ – which is essentially Netmums, the online forum where mums get together to discuss their children, offer parenting advice, and generally have a bit of a moan. No offence to the Netmums members out there, each to their own, but it is really not my thing at all. I have two young children – I know newborns are tiring, and strange rashes can be scary, and I’m pretty sure all parents at some time or other wonder if they are doing what’s best – but I certainly didn’t have the inclination to bang on about these things to a bunch of strangers who were ‘in the same boat’. So it did get a little tiresome when large chunks of this book were devoted to listening to these women moan about dirty nappies, night-time feeds, and teething – if I’d wanted to read so much of that I would have just logged onto the website, any chance we could just get on with the story now please?

Anyway, now that I’ve got that out of my system, I did get a bit bored early on with this one, but I figured it was maybe just one of those slow burners and I’d have to give it a chance to get going. The prose was a bit jumpy, I found myself often having to re-read the same sentence because it didn’t really flow very well and that threw me off. But I stuck with it, mainly due to a line of critical acclaim plastered on the book cover…

Brilliantly original… a shocker of a twist that you won’t see coming.” – Melissa Hill

I have to admit that that was probably the deal clincher to my reading the book at all. And… well it was all lies wasn’t it?! If there was a shocker of a twist, I missed it – maybe I nodded off after so much incessant “I love my children but I hate being a parent” chatter – I’m sure it couldn’t be referring to the culprit of the piece – because that twist was so obvious it came with seventy-six trombones very early on!

It was a complete anti-climax. Even though I knew who was responsible, I thought I’d at least be given some sort of dramatic showdown – but no it was all a bit naff and then the story just kind of petered out…

I will say that the basic premise was good; I liked how the story showed that people think they are posting ‘anonymously’ online, but it is in fact very easy for others to deduce your identity from the tiniest clues you give out – but to be honest this probably could have been conveyed in a double page spread in the fiction section of Take A Break or the like.

No, not for me at all.

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

Happy reading x

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LAST CHILD – Terry Tyler

last child5 star

Available now from Amazon

Source: Author request

LAST CHILD is the sequel to Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler’s modern take on the story of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Harry Lanchester is gone, his legacy passed on to his children:

Thirteen year old JASPER, who views the directors of Lanchester Estates as Harry Potter characters, and finds out that teenage love affairs are no fairytale.

ISABELLA, the eldest daughter; lonely and looking for love, she returns from a holiday in Spain with more than just a suntan.

Impulsive, independent ERIN, the girl of Transport manager Rob Dudley’s dreams, whose priority is not a husband and family, but the continuation of her father’s work.

You will also meet the ambitious Jim Dudley, ex-nanny Hannah Cleveley, Rob’s long suffering wife Amy, and Raine Grey, whose nine days as PR manager for Lanchester Estates have a devastating effect on her life.

LAST CHILD takes the drama, passion and intrigue of Kings and Queens into the present day, with echoes from the past ~ and a glimpse or two into the future…

Last Child is the sequel to Tyler’s brilliant Kings and Queens. It follows on after the death of property mogul Harry Lanchester and is full of scandal, tragedy, power, lust, greed, heartache…basically imagine if Dallas were well written!

It is written in the same style as Kings and Queens, with narratives from various key characters, and this is very cleverly done. It doesn’t consist of everyone just randomly throwing in their tuppence worth, and it isn’t repetitive at all – it’s more like each narrator hands the baton to the next in order to continue with the story.

I’m the first to admit how surprising it is that a ‘thriller-addict’ like me enjoyed this book as much as I did. There are none of the twists and surprises that I usually crave – I mean, come on, we essentially know what happens to everyone don’t we?! And yet I was hooked! Because yes, ok, we know this one married that one, and this one had it away with that one, and these ones croaked it, etcetera, etcetera. But the pleasure is in Tyler’s interpretations, and the brilliance of bringing the issues of the 16th century into the present day – so that all of those terribly boring people you learned about at school suddenly become fascinating, exciting, and dare I say it, extremely likeable.

And this brings me to what I believe is Tyler’s greatest skill – character development. This is an author who just knows people! This is something I have found in every Tyler book I have read before, and this one is certainly no different. Each character has been afforded a depth of personality that is often difficult to find in novels with so many lead players. Readers will very quickly decide who they love and who they vehemently dislike, and everyone will find somebody that they can relate to – if not for their situation then for their thought processes. It is very clear that a lot of thought went into each character, based on the history of their real-life counterparts and what sort of people they might have been based on their actions. And you cant help but admire an author who can do all that, and put them all in a great story too!

It takes a special kind of author to take real figures from the 16th century, make them authentically current, and make a work of fiction that is so credible it could be a biography, so detailed you could be reading a history text, and yet so entertaining that you lose yourself in the escapism of the drama!

Oh and there’s a brief appearance by a character called Storm in there, so… y’know, excellent!

Many thanks to the author for providing this book for review.

Happy reading x

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**WORLD BOOK DAY** And a review from ‘Book Boy’!

wbd

So today is World Book Day – or, as is more commonly known in our house, ‘the day mummy has had to run around like a madwoman preparing character costumes for’!

It was brilliant taking my boys (9 and 4) into school this morning. All of the children were excited and guessing at eachother’s costumes etc. Even the teachers joined in – some very fitting Winnie the Witch and Cruella De Vils amongst them!

But back to the books… I really do feel it is so important to instill a love of reading into our children. And there are some fantastic children’s authors out there. My eldest particularly likes that all-time great Roald Dahl, and also the Young Sherlock and Tom Gates series’. My youngest is a big Lauren Child fan – he loves Charlie and Lola and his particular bedtime favourites are Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? and Beware of the Storybook Wolves – I must say, I really enjoy these too!

So in honour of World Book Day my eldest son (9), who from now on would like to be known as ‘Book Boy’, (yes, last year he did not dress as any character at all, but in fact dressed as a book! That was a lot of fun for mummy…) has decided to have a bash at this book reviewing lark. And without sounding too much like an insufferable, gushing Mummy, I am extremely proud of him!

For more on World Book Day check out  worldbookday.com.

And for more info on getting children interested in reading go to lovereadingforkids.co.uk.

Esio Trot

Mr. Hoppy is in love with Mrs. Silver, but her heart belongs to Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr. Hoppy is too shy to approach Mrs. Silver, until one day he comes up with a brilliant idea to win her heart. If Mr. Hoppy’s plan works, Mrs. Silver will certainly fall in love with him. But it’s going to take one hundred and forty tortoises, an ancient spell, and a little bit of magic.

Hi Guys. Book Boy here!

This book review is for Esio Trot by Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

So this book is about a man who has a love on the flat below him, but he is too scared to ask to marry her. But he finds a way all because of her tortoise!

I thought that the way the author wrote this made me really into it, and it kept drawing me in which made me say “What happens next? What happens next? Please tell me what happens next!

And since the book was so enjoyable it made me read it rather quickly, which made me get to the best bits sooner.

And at the end the author thought ahead of the readers, like he knew the reader would think “What happened to that?” – but then he writes – I bet you’re wondering what happened to that… – which I thought was very clever of the author to do that as not many authors manage to do that in their stories.

I thought the book was very funny because of the way the man had a fake language for the tortoise, I thought it was hilarious the way you had to say the words!

The thing I disliked about this story was the author did put a lot of description in there, but I say it was too much as it kept on describing and describing and describing and not moving on with the story line.

I give this 4 and a half stars because I enjoyed the book deeply but that one bit about the over-description ruined it from being a 5 star story.


Chip off the old block eh? God love him! 

Happy reading and happy World Book Day x

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**BLOG TOUR** THE DISTANCE – Helen Giltrow

Hello and welcome to the second stop on the blog tour for Helen Giltrow’s recent release The Distance.

Today I am sharing my review of this fantastic crime thriller…

The Distance5 star

Available now from Orion Publishing Ltd.

Source: Author review copy

They don’t call her Karla anymore. She’s Charlotte Alton: she doesn’t trade in secrets, she doesn’t erase dark pasts, and she doesn’t break hit-men into prison.

Except that is exactly what she’s been asked to do.

The job is impossible: get the assassin into an experimental new prison so that he can take out a target who isn’t officially there.

It’s a suicide mission, and quite probably a set-up.

So why can’t she say no?

Starting with a narrative from Karla, aka Charlotte, aka Laura, that felt all very Noir , I was immediately drawn into this one. Karla works as a sort of privately contracted intelligence operative. Although she has been trying to leave that life behind and live as the glamorous but demure Charlotte……. (in fact her true identity ironically) she has been pulled into one last job – not least on the request of the man she cant quite admit to herself how much she loves (but don’t worry, it isn’t slushy or romantic in the least!)

Enter Johannsen, the actually very likeable contract killer with a traumatic past and an ever-present need to redeem and prove himself. He needs Karla’s help to get into ‘The Programme’, a social experimental prison posing as a town where all residents are convicts. Within this community is his next target, and the mission is practically impossible and extremely dangerous… so how on earth can he resist?

‘The Distance’ is absolutely drenched in mystery and intrigue, and I was completely hooked. In a sort of ‘Prison Break’ meets ‘Spooks’ sort of storyline, the action just keeps on coming and as one secret is uncovered, several more take its place. Karla initially comes across as too professional; intelligent, cool, calculated, but you soon warm to her when the author humanizes her by sharing her faults and fears. And Johannsen is very authentically portrayed as the cold killer with the warm heart. And with a range of fantastic supporting characters that are given just as much personality, nobody in this story can be accused of just making up numbers.

The build up to the climax had me whizzing through the pages, positively starving for the outcome; and at no point was I disappointed or left wanting at all. Giltrow very cleverly reveals the mastermind behind the whole conspiracy, and I cant believe I didn’t see it coming! It was all there, with 20/20 hindsight of course, but I was just far too busy relishing in all of the action to even give it any thought. I think this is what pleased me the most. I’m always so busy trying to analyse and foresee these things, that it can dampen my enjoyment of a book, and yet here I was far too busy enjoying the book to even consider analysis!

Overall, an extremely clever plot and a proper edge-of-your-seat read.

About the Author 

Orion Authors

Helen Giltrow is a former bookseller and editor whose writing has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and the Daily Telegraph’s Novel in a Year competition. Her debut novel The Distance – a dark suspense thriller set in the world of criminal espionage, with a strong female lead – sold on the eve of the 2012 London Book Fair after a five-way UK auction; US and Canadian auctions followed. Translation rights have since been sold in nine territories including Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. She lives in Oxford.

Next stop on the tour: From First Page To Last

The Distance Blog Tour(1)

Happy reading x

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THE THREE – Sarah Lotz

The Three 5 star

Available 5th March 2015 from Hodder & Stoughton

Source: Bookbridgr

Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.

There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world.

The message is a warning.

I was so excited when I received THE THREE, I mean, that synopsis… it promises big things! And I was immediately plunged into all-consuming terror – now you have to understand that this book is not merely unsettling, its downright disturbing! And I was absolutely lapping it up!

THE THREE is written as a book within a book; and that book is a documentary novel based on the aftermath of the four plane crashes on ‘Black Thursday’. Our fictional author, Elspeth Martins, collects official records, media samples, and the accounts of various people affected by the events of that day.

The crashes left only 3 known survivors between them; 3 children who are now acting very strangely – and this sets off a course of conspiracy theories from alien interference to the biblical ‘End of Days’.

As you are slowly drip-fed more details of what happened to all concerned following the crashes, you are left chilled to the bone, and with only more questions about what really happened and why.

The character development is absolute gold. With such a diverse collection of people, all given fantastic depth; and whilst they recount their experiences, you can’t help but be consumed by the intensity of their fear and emotion. All of them repeatedly and intriguingly refer to ‘what happened later’, and you just knew that something terrible was coming… thing is, I was already completely terrified by the details I was being given! I mean, seriously, this was the scariest book I’ve read since Stephen King, and we all know that is saying something!

There was a brief moment towards the end where I thought I could see where this was all going, and I was really worried that the ending was going to be a right cop out – and I would have been devastated seeing as how much I’d loved the whole thing so far. Then it was as if Lotz said “Haha, kidding Storm, here’s your ending…” – and this was just pure genius.

Overall, this was clever, addictive, and brilliantly terrifying. It most certainly earns a place in ‘Storm’s Favourites’, and I am just itching to read the follow-up; DAY FOUR.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

Happy reading x 

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NEAR ENEMY – Adam Sternbergh

Near Enemy

Available now from Headline.

Source: Bookbridgr

‘Anyone who still lives in Manhattan and has anything of real value to protect does it with a shotgun, not a deadbolt. So the problem isn’t getting in, it’s getting out.’
When New York was hit by a dirty bomb, the city became a burnt-out shell and only the wealthy were able to escape, to a virtual reality quite different from the world around them. Former garbage man, Spademan, lost his wife and his livelihood – in a city comprised entirely of garbage, there’s little one man can do. So he became a hit man, clearing up in a whole new way.
But now the virtual world is under threat from elite terrorists operating from somewhere in New York and Spademan is tasked with tracking them down. He’s not used to having enemies – his foes usually end up dead pretty quickly – but he’s about to find out just how close they are, and how dangerous they can be…

Ok, so firstly, I’m a little late on the Sternbergh train,  I didn’t realise that this was a sequel but it works very well as a stand-alone.

So our hero, Spademan, is a hitman in a post-(almost)-apocalyptic New York; where real-life is one big suck, so most people ‘tap-in’ to the ‘limn’ – a kind of Matrix-like scenario where you can safely and limitlessly live out your dreams in virtual reality. Only, Spademan’s current target has uncovered a serious glitch in the limn, one that means it really isn’t as safe as everyone believes. Spademan is recruited – nay given an ultimatum – into investigating, and is set off on a dangerous path uncovering murder, terrorism, corruption, and conspiracy along the way.

The big award for this book goes to Sternbergh’s fantastic creation; Spademan. I LOVED this guy! His tough, no-nonsense narrative is very dry, witty and often absolutely hilarious. I’m still going through my Jack Bauer fan-girl phase, so the lovable tough guys really win me over. On page 1 of this book I knew it was a ‘nothing-else-is-getting-done-today’ kind of read. And I didn’t even care whether the story would be up to par or not – I could have ‘listened’ to Spademan all day. For instance;

So I pull out the lock-picking tools I keep hidden in my hair –

Kidding.

Heft a twelve-pound sledge from my duffel bag.

The prose is hard-hitting, no-nonsense, abrupt. It forces you to pay attention, and much like the characters, it doesn’t have time for niceties.

Luckily the story was also thoroughly enjoyable; with a good few twists, a bucket-load of intrigue, and non-stop action at every turn. And all characters were very cleverly created – you just don’t know which side anyone is on. I do think though that when you want to shock reader’s with a ‘who is the real bad guy’ plot twist, then you really need to get those characters to win the hearts of the readers completely in order to get that twist to pack an extra punch. As it turned out I couldn’t trust any of the characters, (apart from my beloved Spademan, obviously!) so a couple of these reveals got a ‘Ah. Ok. Cool.’ from me rather than an ‘Oh my bloody God. Wow!’ But I’m being fussy now.

Overall, this is an excellent read. Intriguing, action-packed, multiple twists… Oh, and did I mention I love Spademan?!

Many thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

Happy reading x

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