Talking About ‘The Child’ With Bibliobeth

The Child: The Must-Read Richard and Judy Book Club Pick 2018

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Widow

Synopsis:

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

CHRISSI: How do you feel this book compares to Fiona’s debut, The Widow?

BETH: I really enjoyed The Widow when we “talked about” it in 2016 and gave it four stars so I was expecting to enjoy The Child too, however I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much more! It was truly gripping, I loved the style of writing, narrative set-up, the whole mystery behind who “the child” was and of course, THAT surprise.

BETH: Emma says, “People say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….But it doesn’t. It breaks your bones, leaving everything splintered and held together with grubby bandages and yellowing sticky tape…Sometimes you wish it had killed you.” Do you agree with this? Without spoilers, how does this relate to Emma?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I’ve always wondered about that saying. It’s nice to find comfort in it and know that experiencing something and living through it does improve your character. However, sometimes simply terrible things happen to people and I’m not sure how that saying is comforting. It’s hard to discuss it in relation to Emma without spoiling the story. Let’s just say, Emma’s character is incredibly fragile. In regards to that saying, Emma’s not a strong person because of what has happened to her. She may be strong deep down to be living through it but on the outside, she’s totally broken.

CHRISSI: How does Fiona Barton present mothers and motherhood in The Child? How does each character’s experience of motherhood change them?

BETH: We hear from a number of very different mothers in The Child. We have mother’s who lost their children in very tragic and horrific circumstances and then there is Emma’s mother Jude, who is trying her best to be a good mother to Emma but I’m afraid she kind of fails miserably. As a result, Emma has a very fractured and fragile relationship with her and the two often come to arguments. As a result, Emma is a wary, anxious person whilst Jude can never seem to do or say the right thing and makes some VERY awful decisions as a mother. With Angela, the loss of her child has irrevocably changed her as a person, even though she has two other children as she craves the answers she has never had.

BETH: The Child is told through different points of view. How did this structure affect your reading experience?

CHRISSI: Different points of view don’t always work for me in a story because I often find myself enjoying one over the other. However, this wasn’t the case with The Child. I thought Fiona Barton portrayed the different voices fabulously. Using different points of view definitely kept me turning the pages as I wanted to see how the different characters were dealing with what was going on!

CHRISSI: In The Child, Harry comments: ‘What gives them the right to meddle in people’s lives like this? How is this news? This is a personal tragedy, not some story for everyone to gawp at.’ What do you think makes a story newsworthy? Are reporters like Kate right to investigate these kinds of ‘human interest’ stories?

BETH: I’m afraid to say in my opinion Harry is right. Although I really loved Kate as a character, her job as a journalist, especially with this very emotive case, sometimes made my stomach churn as she chased down the perfect story. I understand that she was just doing her job and she was very good at it and obviously sympathetic to the women she talked to but I can also understand from the women’s point of view where it is not just a “story,” it is their life. Sorry, got a bit deep there!

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel? Give reasons for your choice.

CHRISSI: I liked quite a few characters in this novel. I think if I had to pick, I would probably say Angela. I deeply felt for her and her family after what they went through. I desperately wanted Angela to find closure. Her story touched my heart!

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in anyway?

BETH: I have to admit, I thought it was going to be. I’m not sure how you felt but I was completely wrong and did not expect what is revealed to us as the reader very slowly and methodically. It’s one of those books where I was glad I wasn’t reading the end in public because I kind of gasped out loud. If a book can make me do that, I’m going to sing its praises to the heavens.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I definitely would. I really enjoy Fiona Barton’s writing style. Whilst I did prefer The Widow, I thought this was a fabulous book and anything that she writes in the future I would gladly pick up! 🙂

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars!

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The Hours Before Dawn

The Hours Before Dawn

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Louise would give anything – anything – for a good night’s sleep. Forget the girls running errant in the garden and bothering the neighbours. Forget her husband who seems oblivious to it all. If the baby would just stop crying, everything would be fine.

Or would it? What if Louise’s growing fears about the family’s new lodger, who seems to share all of her husband’s interests, are real? What could she do, and would anyone even believe her? Maybe, if she could get just get some rest, she’d be able to think straight.

In a new edition of this lost classic, The Hours Before Dawn proves – scarily – as relevant to readers today as it was when Celia Fremlin first wrote it in the 1950s. 

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by this book because it was billed as the original psychological thriller. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of thrillers. This book was originally published in the 1950s. I was interested to see how it translated now.

The Hours Before Dawn tells the story of Louise who has recently had a baby boy who just won’t stop crying. She has two girls and a husband to keep as well. Louise’s life appears to be falling apart and her husband is pretty oblivious to everything around him. He is annoyed about the baby crying all the time and puts pressure on Louise to sort it all out.  Others around Louise believe she is spiralling into madness. But is it madness or something else? Louise’s new lodger is not quite what she seems. Louise is suspicious that something is happening with the lodger, but not many believe Louise…

I really liked how the author didn’t seem to throw us any clues. It could have been Louise going mad or the lodger getting up to something. It was hard to believe in a character, they are both quite unreliable and I loved that element of the story. Celia Fremlin was clearly a talented author. She writes such great characters and doesn’t easily give away what’s happening. I found it to be a creepy read and interesting look into 1950s life.

I think part of my problem with the story is that it hasn’t aged as well as it could have done. Sure, if you read it in the mindset that it was the 1950s then you can imagine that Louise was a perfect character to represent a stay at home mum/wife. I think women now are much more likely to fight against that type of life.

I think you’d enjoy this book if you like to read a high quality, mysterious, creepy read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I’m glad I read this book! Celia Fremlin was clearly a talented writer!

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Girls

Synopsis:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.  And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?

Thoughts:

I’m a massive fan of this genre, which you’ll know if you’ve been around my blog for a while. My sister Beth and I recently read Lisa Jewell’s The Girls and really enjoyed it so I was intrigued to read this one. Especially after Beth raved about it. I found Then She Was Gone to be such a compelling read. I couldn’t put it down and easily could have read it in one sitting if I had the time!

It follows the story of Laurel whose fifteen-year-old daughter disappeared one day. Laurel and the rest of her children were so close to Ellie and her loss affects the whole family. Ten long years later, Laurel finds out that there’s updates on the case. Unfortunately for the family, Ellie’s remains have been found. With some closure, Laurel begins to move forward. She meets a man called Floyd who brings back some joy into her life. Laurel is introduced to his girls and is struck by the similarities between his daughter Poppy and her Ellie. The truth about what happened around the time Ellie was missing comes to light. Laurel isn’t sure whether she should be trusting Floyd but she’s desperate to find out what happened.

As I mentioned, I have read so many thrillers. So many are a bit samey, but I was impressed with Then She Was Gone. It kept me turning the pages. Although I had guessed what had happened to Ellie, I was still compelled to keep reading. Desperate to see if I was right. I also didn’t know exactly how the thing I thought (sorry, no spoilers!) had happened. Therefore guessing the twist didn’t affect my enjoyment. 

I loved the narrative! It’s broken up into different parts, thinking about then and present day times. As a reader, you get to read from the main character’s point of view and I love that. I felt like it gave a really well rounded look at the story.

Lisa Jewell’s writing is exceptional. I am seriously considering checking out the other books that she’s written as I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve read so far. I love getting into the minds of her ‘bad’ characters. It’s fascinating!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book comes highly recommended if you’re a fan of the thriller/mystery genre!

Blog Tour- The House by Simon Lelic

The House

How did I get it?:
I received it from Penguin Random House for the blog tour!

Synopsis:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

Thoughts:

I was incredibly intrigued by the publicity around this book. I was sent a postcard and key in the post. I had to visit the website and ‘unlock’ my advanced reading copy. I was immediately gripped by this and was so intrigued by the book.

I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about this book. I was so excited to pick it up to start to read it as it sounded like something I’d really enjoy. I’m a massive fan of all things thriller. The House doesn’t follow your average thriller narration which is something that I really respected and bought into. It seemed more like a mystery in places.

The House centres around Jack and Sydney who are hopeful that they’ll get a house in London. They have been saving for a while and looking for their dream home. One day, they attend an Open Day of a house that ticks all of their boxes. The owner has gone to Australia to be with someone he met online. The owner has left the house completely furnished. Jack and Sydney put in an offer not expecting to get the house. Totally unexpectedly, Jack and Sydney get the house. Jack feels uncomfortable about the house and his feelings don’t change, especially when he finds stuff in the attic…

Jack and Sydney tell their story in the form of journal entries. The narration is different because it’s clear that the couple are writing for the purpose of showing someone. I really enjoyed the narration in The House. I loved how we got to see the story from each point of view and I particularly enjoyed the moments when they spoke to each other within their entry. Using this narration, meant the story unfolded slowly. It was clear that something had happened and for quite some time the reader doesn’t know. I think this definitely helped to keep my interest. Through this medium, the reader learns about many events both past and present. We learn that Sydney had an awful childhood and that she has lost her sister (I don’t want to say too much about this as it will spoil the reading experience!) Sydney befriends a little girl called Evie who reminds her of herself when she was younger. They go through very similar experiences and Sydney is determined to help Evie before it’s too late.

I was creeped out by this book at many points, it’s in no way a scary book, but there are some very unsettling things that happen. I hate (but really love) when I don’t know who to trust and that was totally the case with this book.

This book has really dark themes. There’s strong language, drug use and some quite explicit content. It’s about how something in the past can impact on your present day life. I was gripped at the start and the unique narration kept me turning the pages. The writing is good and the pace is quick. It’s certainly an easy book to read. I did guess who was responsible for some of the incidents in the book which was a shame, but I didn’t necessarily see the ending coming!

Would I recommend it?
Yes! 3.5 stars!

Click on the blog tour poster for clearer details!

Trust Me (Social Media Murders #3)

Trust Me (Social Media Murders, #3)

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher, Avon. Many thanks to them!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Follow Me
Watch Me

Synopsis:

What do you do if you witness a murder…but no-one believes you?

When Kate sees a horrific murder streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who her killer is.

Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but tensions in the police force are running high and time is ticking. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Social Media Murders series, and I swear the books are getting better and better. Whilst I enjoyed Follow Me, I thought Watch Me was even better and Trust Me certainly lived up to my expectations.

It centres around Kate, Nasreen and Freddie. Kate was watching live videos on the internet and saw someone being sexually assaulted and then stabbed. Pretty gruesome, right? Kate immediately phones the police and they’re not sure she’s telling the truth. There were no reports from anyone else and the account seems to have disappeared after the assault. Nasreen and Freddie feel like they have enough to go on to investigate Kate’s claims. Freddie believes Kate from the start and after a while Nasreen comes around. They’re determined to find out what has happened to the girl and see if there’s a link with another girl that’s gone missing.

I thought this book was really gripping. I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but I was eagerly turning the pages. I thought it was incredibly well paced. I have really enjoyed getting to know Nasreen and Freddie better throughout the series. I definitely think both characters have got more likeable over time.

I’m glad to say that I didn’t predict what was going to happen. I love that in books! I like to be kept guessing and for me Trust Me did exactly that.

I don’t know if it was the author’s intention to make readers more wary of social media, but I really am more wary after reading this series. I always teach the children in my class (primary school) about internet safety, but I’d never thought about how dangerous it is for adults out there too.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A creepy crime read which can be enjoyed as a standalone!

Watch Me (Social Media Murders #2)

Watch Me (Social Media Murders, #2)

How did I get it?:
Received from the publisher, Avon- Many thanks to them!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Follow Me

Synopsis:

YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.

Thoughts:

As you would’ve seen on Monday, I found the first book in the series to be a slow starter. This one is completely different. I was immediately gripped by the story. It’s not often that I find a second book in the series to be stronger than its predecessor, but I totally felt like this was the case with Watch Me. 

Watch Me centres around Nasreen and Freddie once more. Yet again, it highlights the dangers of the internet and how you never really know who is behind the messages. This book uses Snapchat as the media behind the crime. Chloe is dead and has sent a suicide note via the app. Another girl has been abducted and several people (including the police) have been sent a Snap to tell them they have 24 hours to save the girl’s life. The girl in question is the sister of DCI Burgone. Here starts a very intriguing read as the book spans the 24 hour period and the chase to save the girl’s life. Nasreen and Freddie put away the Hashtag Murderer (see previous book) and they’re surprised to see that there’s a link between that case and the current case. They can’t see how there can be a link between them, as he’s in prison with no internet…but if it isn’t him, then who is it?

I loved that this book included Snapchat and Instagram. Like I said in my review of the first book in this series, it makes these crime books utterly modern.Watch Me doesn’t cover light subjects. There’s revenge porn and exploitation of young teens. However, its subject matter makes it an incredibly intriguing, intense page-turner.  I found it incredibly hard to put down!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Look out for the third book in this series, Trust Me, coming tomorrow!

A fabulous follow up to Follow Me, this book can be enjoyed as a standalone, but makes much more sense if you read its predecessor!

Follow Me (Social Media Murders #1)

Follow Me (Social Media Murders, #1)

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publishers, Avon. Many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM. . .

Thoughts:

I was approached to read this book by the publisher, Avon. They kindly sent me the whole series, in time for the third book coming out. I binge read this series within a week. At first, I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy it, but after a slow start to Follow Me, I was soon gripped and desperate to know what happened next.

Follow Me centres around Nasreen and Freddie, two childhood friends. Freddie is a struggling journalist and Nasreen works with the police. Freddie is super internet savvy and finds herself employed by the police as a social media consultant. They have a tough job to try and track down a murderer who is dropping clues on Twitter.

You have to suspend your disbelief at the story line, as I don’t think it’s very likely that the police would employ a civilian or not have someone that wasn’t particularly internet savvy on their team. If you can suspend your disbelief the story really is intriguing. It’s so much fun to read, but creepy at the same time. This book is a really modern crime read. I found the use of social media particularly cleverly done. I loved the use of social media which is so prevalent today. I loved the characters in this book so I was happy to read that they featured in the series.

I don’t think all of the characters are likeable, but that’s what makes a story interesting for me. I don’t always love all of the characters and I think that’s true to life. You certainly don’t like everyone you come across. I’m glad I had the next book ready to read as I was eager to find out what Freddie and Nasreen would do next.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Watch out for the next book in the series Watch Me, coming up on my blog on Wednesday!

A very modern crime read. Slow to start, but worth it!