Storm’s Favourites

Occasionally books do earn 5 stars from me! I’m notoriously difficult to please, so if it’s on here then it really is a blimmin’ good book!  Here are my ‘5 Star’ favourites…

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


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


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 veryNoir , 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.


 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


look closer5 star

Published by Rachel Amphlett

Source: Author ARC

Available in paperback and ebook from 24th March 2015

How far would you go to protect a secret?

How far would you go to expose a lie?

Will Fletcher seems to have it all – perfect job, perfect life. Then in one act of extreme violence, his world is turned upside down.

A bungled assassination attempt on a London street uncovers a disturbing conspiracy fuelled by organised crime and political ambition. Now, Will finds himself on the run, pursued by a dangerous enemy who will stop at nothing to protect his employer’s past.

The only way to stop the chain of events is to follow a trail of clues that lead to the heart of British politics.

With the date for the UK General Election only days away and the killers closing in, Will is running out of time to deliver his own version of vigilante justice and expose the corruption. As the web of lies and deceit unravels, Will knows the answer’s out there.

All he has to do is look closer.

Everyone has secrets. Everyone lies.

Well it has happened, I am astonished! This is by far the best book I have read in a long time. I cannot fault it!

Look Closer begins with some extremely emotive drama when Will Fletcher discovers that his girlfriend Amy lies in hospital. She is in critical condition, having been shot during an assassination attempt on the man who is likely to be elected British Prime Minister.

However it soon becomes apparent that the would-be leader may not have been the intended target at all, and that it may well have been Amy in the shooter’s sights all along – especially when Will receives messages left by Amy in which she warns him that she fears for her life, and that the fact that he has even received these messages means that she was right to be afraid, and furthermore, Will must now fear for his own life.

We are then taken along with Will on a thrilling ride that is not only fast paced, but non-stop! Facing an unknown enemy encompassing conspiracy, corruption, and power hungry monsters with dark and dangerous secrets; Will finds himself desperately trying to piece together the mystery whilst also trying not to get killed – a difficult feat indeed with nowhere to turn and nobody to trust.

Amphlett skilfully creates a brilliant cast of characters, especially Will; tough yet sensitive, determined yet lost; and his terror and desperation practically bounces off the page at you. The villains of the piece are also fantastic creations; terrifying, relentless, and immensely dangerous – any reader will very much share Will’s fear and will still blindly root for him no matter how hopeless a cause it seems.

Whilst you are still reeling from all of the action and excitement, Amphlett decides to throw a twist in there that will really make your head spin, and there is not a word more I can say about it – except to maybe tell you that I’m now off to read it again with fresh ‘knowing’ eyes – so that I can have lots of little ‘A-ha!’ moments.

Look Closer is an energetic, intriguing, terrifying ride, with a twist that will smack you from here to next Friday. Put it on your ‘to read” list. Now.

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

Find out more, visit www.rachelamphlett.com


three amazing things5 star

Published by Headline

Source: Boobridgr

Hallie has a secret. She’s in love. He’s perfect for her; he’s even single. But he’s out of bounds. And her friends aren’t going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie hasn’t got long to live.

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won’t be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends – let alone anything more…

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she’s afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. She’s about to get a new heart. But whose heart is it?

Well I must be getting soft in my old age – not only for doling out another 5 stars! (Steady on Storm) but for giving those 5 stars to a lovey-dovey chick lit?!! Goodness gracious!

‘Three Amazing Things About You’ tells us the individual stories of three women; Hallie Tasha, and Flo.

Hallie’s story is both heart-wrenching and inspirational. Suffering with Cystic Fibrosis, yet never bitter or self-pitying, she spends her time as an online agony aunt – preferring to help people with their problems and never judging them as trivial compared to what she is going through. Hallie’s heart is aching for her off-limits GP. Believing she will never find love before her untimely death, Hallie is just desperately sad, yet always smiling. And the reader cant help but feel frustration at the actually not-so-unrequited love…

Tasha’s story is hilarious and romantic in equal measure. Meeting the love of her life in the most embarrassing of scenarios – that renders her with the glamorous nickname ‘Bin girl’, Tasha and Rory’s whirlwind romance will really melt the iciest of hearts. And the comic relief that comes mainly from their respective best friends, Carmel and Joe, will have you laughing out loud…

Then we have the story of Flo. Who has inherited a flat from an elderly friend that she used to help. Well actually, said elderly friend’s cat has inherited the flat, and Flo has been named custodian of said cat – she will live there until the cat dies; an arrangement that the spoilt, selfish granddaughter of the deceased, Lena, is none best pleased with. The warm-hearted and quick-witted Flo has also found love, unfortunately with Lena’s brother, which does make life quite difficult – but they’re in love so who cares…

Of course, when everyone is so loved up and we’re all smiley, happy people… tragedy is inevitable going to strike. And doesn’t it just?! And damn did my falsely marketed ‘waterproof’ mascara not end up leaving me looking all Alice Cooper-esque! My heart was melting from these beautiful stories of love and romance, and you really could feel how genuinely in love these people were and it was all just gorgeous; then that same heart was thoroughly broken. I bawled and bawled like you wouldn’t believe, like I couldn’t believe! The stories of our three leading ladies all of a sudden become one story, and although some might find it all a bit quaint (in fact I probably would have, had I not already been reeled in by the fantastic characters) it had me still crying at the last page!

And talking of fantastic characters, it is not only our leads that you will warm to. Even the supporting characters are all fabulous; Bea, Carmel, Joe, Margot, Patrick, Lena – ok Lena is infuriating and vile but still brilliantly so, I feel she adds a good, realistic balance to all these ‘uber-lovely’ people.

Throughout the book you are also treated to snippets from threeamazingthingsaboutyou.com; Hallie’s problem page where she poses as ‘Rose’. Lots of ‘Dear Rose’ dilemmas are peppered throughout the story, almost feeling like interval entertainment – and sometimes it feels good to have a quick ‘commercial break’ from all the heart-wrenching stuff.

Overall, this one was a fabulous read. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. And will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review


 

last kiss 5 star

Published by Hachette Books Ireland

Source: Publisher Review Copy

In a quiet suburb, a woman desperately clings to her sanity as a shadowy presence moves objects around her home.

In a hotel room across the city, an art dealer with a dubious sexual past is found butchered, his body arranged to mimic the Hangman card from the Tarot deck.

But what connects them?

When criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is brought in to help investigate the murder, she finds herself plunged into a web of sexual power and evil which spreads from Dublin to Paris, and then to Rome.

Will Kate discover the identity of the killer before it’s too late to protect the innocent? But what separates the innocent from the guilty when the sins of the past can never be forgotten?

Well I can certainly see why Louise Phillips is an award-winning crime writer! This is the third Dr Kate Pearson novel, however only the first that I have read. Three pages in and I knew I was going to love this book. I was hauled instantly into the intriguing world of a narrator who demanded my attention.

We are initially introduced to a very disturbing crime scene, a gruesome murder with a Tarot twist, which later transpires to not be the first of its kind. Dr Kate Pearson, criminal psychologist, is called in by Dublin police to help give a psychological profile of the murderer.

I liked Kate straight away. She is not your usual whining divorcee-mum, but carries a suitable amount of sadness and vulnerability. She is ever-professional and certainly knows her stuff with regards to the criminal psyche. She juggles her professional relationships with dignity and class – namely an emerging romance with DI Adam O’Connor (there is some history there that I think I will have to read the other novels to fully grasp), and a clear dislike for the ladder-climbing arrogance of DI Mark Lynch. Kate is also the character that gives us an enjoyable and accurate account of psychological theory, and some insightful details of Tarot reading and all its rules and meanings.

Elsewhere, we are introduced to Sandra and her friends. An unlikely group; the kind of old friends that are bound merely by a shared history rather than actually having anything in common anymore. Sandra suspects her husband is having an affair, and her friends are cagey when she airs her suspicions. You know that there is more to all of this than your bog-standard affair, but you cant put your finger on it.

Sandra is very unsettled about something else too – things are being moved around in her home, and she constantly feels like someone is watching her. Of course you know that these events are connected to the murders somehow, but when the first link is actually revealed, I couldn’t help but still feel excited about it.

The murder investigations and Kate’s role in the story are told in the third person, and Sandra gives us her first person account of what is going on with her,. This keeps things fresh and interesting.

But the absolute best part of the entire novel are the chapters dedicated to our murderer. These are told not only in the first person, but the murderer often directly addresses the reader. With lines such as

Would you warn her if you could? Or would you wait around to see what other games I have in store?”

These sections are what makes the story all the more chilling. I really felt this psycho in the room with me – I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that had such an intense effect.

The prose within the murderer’s sections was almost hypnotic. I could see how they lull and manipulate their victims, I could feel them doing the same to me! The way you are drawn in is actually quite terrifying. The murderer is not only slowly letting you in on the secrets that the rest of the players have yet to fathom, but is also giving you a direct view to their terribly dark and damaged psyche. They are also very articulate in describing their own childhood trauma, although not to invoke sympathy as they know they are way past that, but almost as a way of further torturing the reader, by letting you know just how dark and ugly this world can be – and their references to the ‘Grimm’ type characters in their life, like the witch and the huntsman, just goes further to give you the heebie-jeebies! And yes, albeit worryingly so, the murderer was in fact my favourite in a brilliantly diverse and complex group of cracking characters.

I think one of my favourite lines came from the murderer:-

You might think you know me too. I doubt it. I haven’t told you everything, not yet.”

Ooh that one was a corker! Because they were right! You are led on a right merry dance in working out who they are. And I must confess I was slightly disappointed that I was right about their identity early on – although I don’t believe this to be a flaw in the story, and more likely due to me recently reading a very similar plot reveal in another story. Even though I had worked it out very early on, the writing was just so that I couldn’t put money on it, and it didn’t ruin it one bit for me, because the climax was still exciting enough.

Overall, this book was disturbingly and brilliantly intense, and I implore all crime and psychological thriller fans to put this on their reading list immediately! Fantastic!

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


edge shadows5 star

Published by Legend Press

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Sarah Phillips longs for the simple life – a job to fill her days, a home to return to and a small amount of steps to count between the two. Seriously injured in a car crash when she was thirteen, Sarah has no memory of her childhood or the family she lost.
Ellie Wilson remembers her own past only too well, the cruelty she suffered at the hands of a mother that abused her and a father who couldn’t protect her. She finds Sarah fascinating, a mirror to the life she never had.
But as curiosity spills over into obsession, and as Sarah’s world begins to unravel, Ellie moves ever closer.

Here we have the story of the tragically unfortunate Sarah Phillips – suffering severe amnesia after surviving the car accident that killed her father and sister; and Sarah’s apparent stalker Ellie Wilson – who can only wish that she had the ‘pleasure’ of amnesia such as Sarah’s.

‘To the Edge of Shadows’ was a ‘one-sitting’ book for me. After reading the very first paragraph I just knew that no matter what the story delivered, I would like this book, even if only based on Graham’s stunning use of language and truly in-depth depiction of experience. Graham’s portrayal of Sarah’s mindfulness whilst waking from a coma was truly insightful – I have absolutely no idea if that’s how it feels… But I’m now convinced it surely must be!
Some may argue that some parts are a little overly descriptive, however I found these intense parts to be sublimely indulgent.
Kudos also to the author for her very believable take on the development of such conditions as obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia among other mental health issues.

So as well as being immediately drawn in by the writing within this book, I also very quickly found myself becoming more and more intrigued with the story of Ellie. She was clearly no random, off the rack stalker. There was more to this and it was imperative that I learned what. And so my brain went into its usual early-analysis mode where I always try to pre-empt what is going on and why. Hmm… one theory fleetingly passed through my mind, but was dismissed before I got to the end of a page, never to be pondered again; the next theory didn’t quite fit in chronologically but still seemed the most obvious – I know, I’m terrible, I just cant help it! Of course I cant possibly say more than that , except that as it happens – well it turned out I had dismissed the correct theory after all! Don’t worry Columbo, your mac is still yours!

Each of the main characters had real depth and substance – I’m sure that sounds ridiculously pretentious and I in no way mean that they were ‘deep’ as people – but the contrast that was set between the inner demons that Sarah struggled with on a daily basis, and the external demons that Ellie was so desperately trying to escape and leave firmly in her past, worked so well to harshly, yet beautifully, expose these two girls and all their innermost thoughts. I must admit that when we are listening to their 8 year old or 14 year old narratives – that they seem a little more emotionally mature and articulate that I would expect, but I’m really nitpicking here.

When I enjoy a story such as this I always find myself worrying about the ending before I’m anywhere near it. Will it be dramatic? Will there be closure? Will it leave you with more questions than you started with? Luckily in this instance I did not feel let down. Sure there was no ‘all guns blazing’ showdown, and you are left with only the hope that things would work out for all those concerned , but I found myself surprisingly satisfied with the conclusion.

Essentially this is a fantastic read. I couldn’t put it down – and I can be so very hard to please!

My thanks to Legend Press for providing this book for review


Kings and Queens5 star

Published by Cranium X

Source: Author Request

“KINGS AND QUEENS” tells of the life and loves of charismatic Harry Lanchester, which just happen to mirror the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. All the passion and suspense of the Tudor court, but set in modern times.

Harry’s realm is his South of England property developing company, Lanchester Estates, while his ‘wives’ are the twentieth century sisters of their historic counterparts: Anne Boleyn is reincarnated as the equally intriguing Annette Hever, and Henry VIII’s fifth wife with the risqué past, Catherine Howard, lives again in 1999 as Keira Howard, a former lap dancer.

The saga is narrated by each of the six women, in turn, interspersed with short chapters from the point of view of Harry’s lifelong friend, Will Brandon.

Kings and Queens is essentially a modern-day retelling of the romantic life of King Henry VIII. Focusing on the life of ‘Harry Lanchester’, begrudging heir to the family property empire ‘Lanchester Estates’, and ‘serial husband’.

Yaaaawn!!! I hated history at school (there’s just such a lot of it!!) and reciting all the ‘Bred, Wed and Dead’ of the Royal family on a muggy Wednesday afternoon in the early ’90’s was, to me, akin to watching grass grow….

But – I do like Terry Tyler, she is an author who hasn’t disappointed me before. So when I received ‘Kings and Queens’ to review I felt I ought to at least give it a go…

Well she’s only gone and done it again hasn’t she??!! I bloody love it!

The one constant through this story – aside from the main man himself – is Harry’s long-suffering best friend Will, who takes the lead narrative throughout. Other narratives come from Harry’s long line of wives, with a couple of other characters getting there tuppence worth in. With so many diverse personalities, and some very different perspectives of the very same people, every reader is sure to find someone they relate to…or at the very least become fond of.

This is, I believe, Tyler’s greatest skill; her talent for creating very likeable characters. I found myself very quickly warming to many of the characters within this story – Harry himself was a spoilt, arrogant, cheat of course, and the fact that there is no narrative from him further emphasised his grandeur – and yet I still found myself getting quite choked up at his death (Oh come on now that’s not exactly a spoiler is it?!)

What Tyler also manages to do is give a very interesting insight into human nature – and how a person’s opinion of his/herself can be so dramatically different from how other’s view them – and yet both perspectives are completely valid and plausible. You will see what I mean when you read Annette, wife number 2’s, views of Cathy, wife number 1 – they will completely conflict with your idea of Cathy, and yet…hmm since you put it that way…

And that’s another thing – as we are clearly looking back through history, you will find some subtle (and some blatantly obvious) references in there. And although some may find these a bit corny, I happened to really enjoy things like the wives’ names and demises, and other nods to the reader .

Overall the story runs at a good and steady pace, each narrative runs smoothly and seamlessly into the next. Parts where you don’t need endless details are skimmed over briefly, yet not so that you feel cheated by a lazy writer, but in a way where you feel the author is keeping things fresh and interesting. And although history literally repeats itself – the bloke basically treats each woman in exactly the same way, and although they’d argue the fact, they do all pretty much react along the same lines – none of it is boring and repetitive, and this is purely, I believe, down to the depth of each character and how their own views on what is happening do come across differently.

So basically, yes, I am a huge Terry Tyler fan! And I am completely surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. But one thing I’ve learnt – thanks to the likes of this very author – is that no book, or indeed genre, should ever be dismissed as “not my thing”, providing you have the right author delivering the goods.

On that note – I know there are a couple of Terry Tyler titles that I have yet to have had the pleasure of . I’m off to find them… cant wait! Happy reading!

*My thanks to the author for providing this book for review.


SPEAKING LOVE5 star

Published by Beautiful Books

Source: Author Request

Why do we find it so very difficult to say the things that matter the most?

What happens when people find it impossible to say the words ‘I love you’?

Parents fail their children and those same children abandon their parents; lovers grow apart and, occasionally, mental disintegration prohibits communication altogether. Iris experiences pain, loneliness and fear. Her daughter, Vivie, longs for love but thinks herself unlovable. And Matthew, Vivie’s would-be lover, fails to say how he feels.

Speaking of Love is nonetheless a novel about hope and the restoration of trust, a novel that shows how stories can help make sense of our complicated internal worlds. When a single moment brings all the characters together there is an opportunity for years of mistrust, hopelessness and loneliness to give way to reconciliation and, most of all, the opportunity for each person to find the courage to say what is in their hearts.

“When you know that love exists but it isn’t spoken about…it can be very hard to bear.”

Speaking of Love tells the story of Iris, a damaged woman suffering with schizophrenia; Vivie, her troubled daughter, fighting the ghosts of her past and the failures of her present; and Matthew, Vivie’s childhood friend, living a life filled with regret, guilt, and shame.

This one was a bit of a slow starter for me, very probably because its not the sort of thing I usually read and so I needed something to grab me early on to reel me in. And it took a while. But hell did it not sneak up on me…softly…softly…BAM! I was hooked and I had no idea how or when it happened!
The time-jumps throw you a bit initially, as they are just there, no warning given – but soon enough you find that you have fallen into the rhythm and you just know where (or more to the point, when) you are.

Now I feel that I should really point out that I have nowhere near the amount of eloquence needed to give this book the review it deserves, it really is something else, but it will get the best I can give.

A lot of the hype around this book – the taglines, the blurb, the PR – refers to people not expressing their love for one another when they really should. And yes, although this was the backbone of this book, oh there was so, so much more!

Young’s writing is, quite simply, exquisite. Poetic. Lyrical. You know every last detail of wherever a character is at any particular time, and beauty is found in just everything – the simplest, often most insignificant things; a blade of grass, a drop of water, a person’s hand…are all described in mesmerising detail. The imagery and symbolism running throughout are well thought out and very appropriately placed.

As for the sensitive subject of mental health – often sadly taboo, and even more often either gaudy and melodramatic or glamorised and ridiculed – is portrayed here with sensitivity and class, whilst still very genuine and credible.

This book certainly creeps up on you, you suddenly find you have developed very deep connections with the characters, who each tell you their own stories (although Vivie’s is told in the third person – a nice touch to keep things fresh). You care immensely about each of their stories. The hope-filled past makes their misery-filled present all the more devastating. There is such heartbreak and anguish, and yet it is not always so obviously ladled on – some of the subtler allusions to the characters’ pain hit me harder than the blatant references!

Speaking Of Love creates conflict in the self – such beauty and pain interwoven and given to you wrapped in sweet, delightful words…anybody who doesn’t simply adore this story is just reading it wrong!

*My thanks to the author for providing this book for review


WhatitTakes5 star

Published by Terry Tyler

Source: Author Request

A tale of three sisters…

Karen Kavanagh has spent her life feeling like the runt of the family.

Her two elder sisters, domestic goddess Ava and salon owner Saskia, are mini versions of their mother, a gorgeous Danish beauty. Karen has inherited her father’s droopy, dull brown hair and long nose – pitted against two Scandinavian sauna babes, she feels like Cinderella in reverse.

Danny Alvarez doesn’t see her like that. He thinks she’s wonderful.
Lots of women want Danny, but Danny just wants Karen.
He pursues her with the devotion of a stalker – but she pushes him away. Then she realises what she’s done…

Set in Norfolk, Terry Tyler’s sixth novel, “What It Takes”, is a story of insecurity, jealousy, sibling rivalry, love and loss, and the games people play in the search for love – because if you love someone with all your heart you’ll do what it takes to make them yours…

Well the course of true love never did run smooth…

Meet hopeless in love Karen, the ‘plain Jane’ against her two stunning ‘Skandinavian beauty’ sisters. Karen feels like “Cinderella in reverse”. Being the ugly duckling of the family has made finding love very difficult, not helped by the fact that Karen is a bit of an unstable drama queen according to all who know her. She hasn’t been quite right in the head ever since that ‘Spice Girls incident’…

But then Karen meets Danny. The gorgeous, half-Mediterranean hunk who worships the ground she walks on. But the attention is too much for Karen, and they are both on such very different intellectual levels…its not going to work, or so Karen decides, breaking Danny’s heart in the process. Has Karen been too hasty? All she wants is to be loved, and this Adonis does love her!

Is it too late to change her mind…?

Well I can now officially state that I am a bona fide Terry Tyler fan! I loved. loved, loved this book!

Skilfully written from the perspectives of various main players – Karen, Danny, Karen’s sister – Ava, Karen’s friend and colleague – Sam; the multiple narratives are subtly different in tone, so that you get to know each character in depth. This keeps what otherwise might seem a bit of a slow starter, fresh and a pleasure to read. And some fantastic lines in there too – my favourite being “She couldn’t exist on seaweed and dreams.” That there is poetic genius haha!

The story plods along quite nicely, when slowly you realise that something a bit darker may be just around the corner. Admittedly I had very quickly figured out who may be responsible for the disaster zone that is Karen’s love life, and I was so busy waiting for that reveal that BAM! I was completely knocked sideways by another little spanner that got chucked right in there! I mean my jaw actually dropped and I did a strange excited little shuffle and said aloud “Wow, things just got VERY interesting!!” (My husband across the room gave me rather a strange look!)
Well that was it after that, everything else in the world was put on hold until I found out what happened to Karen et al, and I was not disappointed.

What It Takes might not change your life, but its one hell of a good read!

My thanks to the author, Terry Tyler, for sending me this book to review


SUKI5 star

Published by Shorehouse Books

Source: Author Request

Savannah’s life goes from good to perfect when she meets Dwayne, an ex-Marine with a soft heart. They seem to have it all, until challenges threaten to shake them to their cores. Will the choices they make be the right ones?
If you think you know what love is, think again. It comes in many shapes and sizes. When all your beliefs are threatened, do you know what love really looks like?
CF Winn flexes her story-telling muscle and shows us why she is an award winning author. SUKI will grab your heart and make you think about your place…and your purpose in this world

Love. In its many shapes and forms. Does it have a higher purpose?

I was very surprised by Suki. At first I didn’t think I would be able to finish it – not due to the content, but due to Winn’s writing style. It was not a style I had come across before – it seemed kind of abrupt and disjointed to me. But being a short novella, I decided to try to stick with it.
Am I glad I did?!
I don’t know if the writing style improved as it went along, or if I became accustomed to it. But it became almost poetic to me. And the story itself added to this poetry.
This story is incredibly touching and inexplicably moving. How Winn captures the essence of ‘true’ love as I believe it to be is astounding. And re-reading the Prologue after I finished the story really tipped me over the edge! Just beautiful


Full Circle5 star

Published by Terry Tyler

Source: Author Request

Two years have passed since we left Dave, Ariel, Janice and Shane at the end of DREAM ON.

ARIEL thought her hard work and perseverance had been rewarded when she met record producer Theo Perlmutter ~ then a tragic event turned her dreams to dust.

Newly married JANICE was happier than she’d ever been ~ but the honeymoon ended when born again alcoholic husband Max careered off the wagon and into the nearest bar.

Being forced onto The Jeremy Kyle Show in DREAM ON was not enough to make ladies’ man SHANE learn his lesson – will his philandering ways eventually catch up with him?

Rock band THOR has risen from the ashes…

… but DAVE is unhappy, trapped in a domestic situation not of his choosing.

Will there be a happy ever after ending for any of them?

Those who are used to me by now know that I do NOT give 5 stars lightly… not at all.

So the problem with Dream On ending with everyone living ‘reasonably satisfied ever after’? They all start off in Full Circle miserable as sin! And I felt genuinely gutted for them.

No two ways about it, this book is a rom-com. And surprisingly (to myself mostly!) I don’t mean that as a criticism. Its not a ditsy, shallow rom-com, it has substance. The love you read about is very real, or very not real, depending on which character we’re talking about! Real issues are accurately and sensitively dealt with, the not so ‘hearts & flowers’ aspects of real love.

There were admittedly a couple of those ridiculously frustrating moments in there – you know the kind you see in the movies where its all assumptions and misunderstandings, or he just turns up at the train station as her train pulls away, and she’s so busy daydreaming about how their life might have been together that she doesn’t see him running alongside down the platform…that kind of thing. Not enough to be annoying luckily, just enough for you to shout at the characters a little “COME ON JUST TELL HIM!!” Haha!

There were also a couple of ‘shockers’ thrown in there – which I admittedly had foreseen as soon as they were alluded to. But that was fine, because upon the big reveals I didn’t find myself saying “Well duh!” and rolling my eyes, more like eagerly squeaking “Yes, yes, I know but THEN what happened?”

Full Circle is written well as a stand alone book – enough of the main points of Dream On are recapped so that you know what’s what – but please, you must read Dream On first. It would be a huge injustice to the characters if you don’t. Feeling that stronger connection with them makes it feel as though you are catching up with old friends – and you just care more!

My thanks to the author, Terry Tyler, for sending me this book to review.


Precious Thing5 star

Published by Headline

Source: Gift

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good?
Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever.
They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara’s life is spiralling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes.
Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

Wow!

Just how intense can friendship be? Is there something special that separates a ‘best’ friend from the rest? How deep does that connection go? And what dark consequences might result from something so soul-consuming?

Precious Thing was a real treat to read. At no point did I have to ‘give it a chance’ to draw me in – the blurb alone had managed that much!
I was instantly drawn into the world of Rachel & Clara – Written as Rachel’s letter to her best friend Clara, you feel that you are being allowed access to a very private, precious thing (sorry!)

There is very little I can say about the story itself, without completely spoiling the experience for you. So I shall just tell you that it is VERY skilfully written, I found myself trying to pre-empt any upcoming twists (a personal fault that I wish I could shake off!) but McBeth cunningly allows you to briefly believe that you have it all figured out, only to throw another whammy right back at you, and only subtly alludes to the overarching twist that you suspected – leaving me in deep contemplation about the identity of the real victim of the story and where should my sympathies lie……

Would a more direct nod to my theory have been better? Would it have given better closure? Perhaps…but then what author wants you to stop thinking about the story as soon as you’ve closed the book?

2 responses to “Storm’s Favourites

  1. Terry Tyler

    Totally made up all over again to see my books in your favourites!!! xxx Thanks so much for the boost; taking the time to tell people about books you love is a hugely lovely big thing!!! (ps, anyone reading this – I don’t usually use adverbs all over the place like that, ha ha!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Terry Tyler’s Literary Blog — UK Arts Directory

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