The Escape

The Escape

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment
The Accident
The Lie
The Missing

Synopsis:

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

Thoughts:

I’ve come to realise that C.L Taylor’s books are dramatic and can sometimes a little unbelievable but do you know something? I’m totally okay with that. This is the fifth book I’ve read by C.L Taylor and I can confirm that I’m quite a fan of her writing!

The Escape centres around who has been suffering from agoraphobia for many years. However, Jo has learn strategies to cope with her agoraphobia. She’s able to work as long as she keeps to the rules she has set for herself. Unfortunately, one day Jo loosens the rules by giving a lift to a woman she doesn’t know. The woman’s name is Paula and she gives Jo very little chance to refuse. She has one of Elise’s mittens and gives her a very unsettling warning about looking after her daughter. It turns out that Paula knows her, her husband and her daughter. Jo’s worries heighten as you can imagine and this begins the tension. Jo ends up going to Ireland to lie low, but the trouble just follows her…

Jo isn’t the easiest character to like. I don’t know what it was about her really, but I was desperate for her to have a little more fight in her. However, I still found myself wanting things to turn out well for her. I found her husband a little infuriating too, but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. There’s something about this author’s writing that I find totally compelling.

C.L Taylor sure has a way of keeping you turning the pages. Her characters are well fleshed out and totally believable, even if sometimes the situations may seem a little exaggerated- it still seems like these could be real people!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

I may not have thought much of these characters, but the story kept me turning the pages!

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The Weight Of A Thousand Feathers

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Bloomsbury

Previously reviewed by the same author:
We Come Apart

Synopsis:

‘Funny how no one ever uses the word ‘love’ when discussing my case. I do what I do because she’s my mum. That pure and that simple.’

Bobby Seed is used to going the extra mile for the ones he loves, and he does it willingly. It’s up to Bobby to get Mum her pills, to help her up the stairs, to laugh her out of her pain. It’s up to Bobby to comfort his little brother Danny, to explain why Mum’s not like the Mum they remember.

One day, he’s asked to go further. Mum asks him the big question. The one many would find unthinkable. If he agrees, he won’t just be soothing her pain. He’ll be helping to end it.

Thoughts:

I seem to have been reading really emotional books recently and this one is another one of them. It’s a story about a young carer who looks after his mum who has the terrible disease MS. At the heart of the story is family and I loved that.

The Weight Of A Thousand Feathers is about Bobby and his family. He lives and cares for his mum and his younger brother. Bobby has watched his mum suffer from MS before she was officially diagnosed. He has watched her deteriorate and at the start of the story she is bed-ridden. He has been there for her all along. He has to feed her, take her to the toilet… the roles are certainly reversed. One day, Bobby’s mum asks him to help her end her life. Bobby is now faced with an extremely tough decision. He wants to keep his mum alive but at the same time doesn’t want to see her suffer any further.

I thought Brian Conaghan wrote an incredible story. He was able to show both sides of the story- living with a disease and caring for someone with a long-term, deteriorating disease. The emotions he captured, were I imagine, very true to life for caring for someone with such a terrible disease. I imagine that it’s hard to see your child become your carer. These emotions were portrayed beautifully within the story.

I had so many conflicting opinions throughout the story. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be asked to end a person’s life, especially a family member. What do you even do in that situation? It’s heart-breaking. So many questions were raised in my mind. I love a thought provoking book.

You might think this sounds like an utterly depressing book, but there are definitely light-hearted moments. I like it when a sad book has those moments. I think sad stories do need some levity. It shouldn’t all be doom and gloom.

I think Brian Conaghan has written a beautiful, thought-provoking, raw read which is well worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An emotional but thought-provoking read!

The Stranger In My Home

The Stranger In My Home

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from my sister, Beth!

Synopsis:

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world. Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it. Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.

The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose.

Thoughts:

My sister, Beth thought I would enjoy this book, so she brought it over for me to read. I’ve read and enjoyed some Adele Parks prior to blogging, so I thought I’d give this book a go. I thought it was enjoyable, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be. I guess from the blurb, I envisaged a psychological thriller but it wasn’t. It was a story about family. Don’t get me wrong, I did still enjoy it, it just wasn’t the book that I’d anticipated.

The Stranger In My Home opens with a man named Tom, knocking on Alison’s door one day. It appears that there’s been a massive mix up years ago when Tom’s wife and Alison had their children. Olivia, Tom’s daughter, is actually Alison’s daughter and Alison’s daughter Katherine actually belongs to Tom, a recent widower. It’s come to light that Tom’s wife died of breast cancer and Katherine might have the gene. She needs to undergo tests to determine whether she has inherited the gene from her real mother.

The story then focuses on Alison and Jeff reacting to such terrible news. They were an incredibly happy family before the bombshell was dropped on them. There are so many questions to be asked and answered. Adele Parks slowly trickles information into a tightly weaved plot.  I had some ideas of what might be going on throughout, but I feel like there’s definitely enough to keep you guessing.

I enjoyed most of the characters. They certainly were in the most unusual and horrific situation. I didn’t envy them at all. They behaved in a realistic manner. However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character, Alison. I found her to be slightly irritating and I couldn’t connect with her, despite feeling sorry for her and the situation she had found herself in.

I thought there was definitely enough in this story to capture your attention. So many secrets and lies to be discovered. There was a lot to get your head around and become fully immersed in.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A good read, but I struggled with the likeability of one of the main characters!

The Missing

The Missing

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment
The Accident
The Lie

Synopsis:

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Thoughts:

With The Missing, I continue my delve into C.L Taylor’s backlist. I’ve been gradually making my way through her books and certainly enjoying my journey into her writing. I’ve found her to be absolutely brilliant at creating some fascinating characters. Not always one you’ll like. Oh no. But completely fascinating all the same.

In The Missing we find out that 15 year old Billy has gone missing. No one seen him leave and six months later they are still searching for him. It’s come to the point where they’re starting to question whether Billy is still alive. We learn about Billy through the family that he’s left behind. We mainly learn through Claire, but we also get a glimpse of Mark, the father and Jake his older brother. They are all struggling to come to terms with Billy’s disappearance. We also get to know Jake’s girlfriend Kira, who is living with the family after experiencing terrible things in her own family. Each character is hiding something and you really don’t know who to trust as a reader. Claire begins to have amnesic episodes that make you question her reliability as a narrator.

As well as Claire’s narration, we also see messages between two characters on an instant messenger/text message format. These were quite intense and some were quite disturbing with some strong language (so be prepared if you’re offended by that!) I guessed one of the characters but I was completely wrong about another. I had assumed something (don’t want to spoil!) that was completely off the mark. Ha!

The Missing is fast paced and a page turner despite it being nearly 500 pages long. I never felt like it was too long. I just kept turning the pages eager to find out what was going on. It may not be my favourite book by her, but I have really enjoyed C.L Taylor’s plots so far. They’re not always predictable which I really appreciate. All too often, these books are quite similar so you can predict where it’s going. I love it when I’m completely wrong! I am certainly looking forward to reading more from this author, soon! 🙂

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fast-paced read!

Days Of Wonder

Days of Wonder

How did I get it?:
NetGalley thanks to Little, Brown Book Group

Previously reviewed by the same author:
A Boy Made Of Blocks

Synopsis:

Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen, that time is coming.

Hannah’s heart is literally broken – and she can’t bear the idea of her dad’s breaking too. So she resolves to find a partner for Tom, someone else to love, to fill the space beside him.

While all the time Tom plans a final day of magic that might just save them both.

Thoughts:

I was a massive fan of Keith Stuart’s debut novel A Boy Made Of Blocks. I thought it was absolutely sensational, so when I noticed his second novel up for grabs on NetGalley, I just had to go for it. I really enjoy Keith Stuart’s writing. He’s clearly a very talented writer because Days Of Wonder is another brilliant novel. It’s emotional and heart-warming at the same time. Days Of Wonder is narrated by Tom and his daughter Hannah. They take alternate chapters. I absolutely loved this narration!

Tom is a single father devoted to his daughter Hannah and his job as theatre manager. Hannah was diagnosed with a serious heart condition when she was younger. She’s now fifteen and mature beyond her young years. The story starts after Hannah’s diagnosis at five. For her fifth birthday, an amateur dramatic group put on a fairy tale for her outside her window. This leads to a tradition of a fairy tale for every birthday that follows. Days of Wonder follows Tom and Hannah through tough times. Hannah’s desperate for her father to have someone by his side when she leaves him. 😦 It’s heart-breaking!

Keith Stuart really has a way of making me feel for the characters. I immediately adored Tom and Hannah, however, there are so many other brilliant characters in this story. There was an older lady named Margaret who Hannah was very close to. I loved her anecdotes and how she would talk to Hannah about anything… including death. Hannah’s friends were lovable as well. They were always there for her. Hannah is a very special girl, she realises that her life is so fragile and doesn’t want to plan for the future, instead she puts her energy into ensuring her father is looked out for. I loved how she was desperate for her father to be happy.

I knew this book was going to be emotional, but I didn’t expect to be as invested in the story as I was. I loved seeing Hannah grow as a character and her father grew too. He learnt to be less overprotective despite his child’s life being so fragile. It may seem like a really depressing story, but I think its sweetness and the way it really makes you feel grateful for everything that you have really makes the book reach new heights.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A beautiful book that both breaks and warms your heart!

Little Liar

Little Liar

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

Nora has lied about many things. But has she told her most dangerous lie of all?

There’s a new art assistant at Nora’s school, and he’s crossed a line. Nora decides to teach him a lesson he won’t forget.

But not everything goes quite to plan, and Nora needs an escape. She befriends the rich and talented Bel, who longs for a part in a remake of a famous film. Bel is unpredictable, jealous and crazy, but she opens up a new world for Nora, and that makes her irresistible. 

As events start to spin wildly out of control, Nora must decide where her loyalties lie – and what deceits she can get away with.

Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy this book or not. I’m always a bit dodgy about reading books about teachers being one myself. It does tend to feel a little uncomfortable. However, I thought I’d give Little Liar a go and I’m glad I did. It’s a story about deceit with an awful female character narrating the story. Despite her being such a liar, I did enjoy the story even if I didn’t enjoy her!

Little Liar is about a girl named Nora who is prone to lying. Nora finds it easy to lie. One day when the new art assistant at school dares to cross her, she decides to seek revenge , teach him a lesson and once again expand on the truth… The situation doesn’t end up like she intended though and she needs an escape from reality. Nora befriends Annabel (Bel). Bel introduces Nora to a new world of drama…which once again leads Nora’s life spiralling out of control.

This book is a decent read, despite me disliking the main character. I didn’t trust Nora much at all. All along Nora lied and you’re left wondering whether she was ever going to tell the truth. Don’t expect twists and turns in this book, because they’re not there. Yet something about it captivates you and keeps you turning the pages. It is quite a dark read, but there’s still something utterly readable about it.

I really enjoyed Julia Gray’s writing style, it was easy to read and I loved the setting of the school and Nora’s past in France. I’m all for reading more British Writers so it’s great to add another to my list!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

An intriguing story!

Banned Books #47 – Blood and Chocolate

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause.

Blood and Chocolate

First published: 1997
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2001 (source)
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  With most Banned Books we discuss on this feature I normally get quite cross about a reason for challenging/banning it as I don’t agree with banning books generally. Monitoring them for certain age groups sure but an outright ban? No. Or if they did, they should come up with MUCH better reasons than the ones above. When this book was originally published in 1997, I was a teenager and things weren’t that much different than nowadays (apart from the lack of social media/full use of the internet). As a result, I think the reasons that this book was challenged are ludicrous. I wouldn’t say it was sexually explicit at all. There’s no lurid sex scenes or even sexual descriptions. It’s far more suggestive than that. The characters talk about sex and want to have sex but then again, what teenager isn’t curious about that with hormones going wild? I cringed quite a bit when reading this book, I’m afraid to say, especially when certain kisses were described and there were a lot of “throaty chuckles,” and “head tilts,” which did make me feel slightly ill. However I wouldn’t say any of these incidents were explicit in the slightest.

CHRISSI: I had to chuckle a little bit when I read Beth’s answer to this question. Ha! It certainly wasn’t a “throaty chuckle” though. As for whether I agree with the reason for this being banned/challenged? No. I don’t. I think there’s much worse out there and this book is quite tame compared to some teenagers can come across. Do I think it should be read by teenagers? Not really… and that’s because I believe there’s much stronger literature out there for them to read now. I don’t mean stronger/more intense content. I mean stronger storylines… ‘

How about now?

BETH: As I mentioned, I don’t think attitudes have changed that much in the last twenty years, to be honest with the internet and explosion of social media, if anything these days I’m seeing an increase in teenage sexuality. They have access to much more detailed information than kids in the eighties/early nineties and have learned to channel their attractiveness to the opposite/same sex through “selfies.” Is this novel inappropriate for the age group concerned? No, I don’t think so. It appears to be marketed as a young adult story and that’s exactly what it is. There’s a bit of swearing, some violence and issues with relationships but nothing I would denounce as inappropriate.

CHRISSI:  I definitely don’t think this book should be challenged. It totally wasn’t for me, so I don’t feel as passionately about it as I have done other books in this feature. It was a total cringefest for me as a reader. However, if this book floats teenagers/young adults boat then they should totally be given the chance to read it. There’s nothing ‘shocking’ in there, in my opinion…so why not?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH:  Oh dear. I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I was actually glad it was a relatively quick read as by the time I realised I didn’t like it, I was just wishing for it to be over. I don’t think it helps when you despise a main character as much as I did our female lead, Vivian. Now I like unlikeable characters, of course. But I think you have to dislike them for the right reasons. When there’s a female character that’s supposed to be our heroine and you can’t stand her, well…..me and the book just aren’t going to get on I’m afraid. I couldn’t relate to her either as my adult self or my teenage self, her arrogance knew no bounds and sometimes, the way she treated other characters in the novel was despicable. As for other characters, we really didn’t have much to choose from, they all felt flat and one-dimensional and intensely unbelievable in my opinion. As for the plot, it was predictable, I didn’t see the point of some decisions the author made and that ending…..just WHY?

CHRISSI: I went into this book with low expectations after reading some of Beth’s texts and tweets. I really did try to give this book a decent go, but I was infuriated by Vivian and her mother quite early on in the book. Vivian was such an unlikeable character, but it was no surprise really considering what her mother was like. I’m not one to be put off by an unlikeable character, but Vivian really grated on me. She was arrogant from the very beginning and I didn’t see any character development. Arrogant until the end of the story. Meh. I did not enjoy this book.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably not.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- I was infuriated by the main character and couldn’t get past that.