The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4)

The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4)

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon Books UK

Synopsis:

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father.

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life?

Thoughts:

When I requested this book, I requested it purely on the cover and tag line alone. I wasn’t aware that it was part of a series. Yet I’d heard it didn’t matter so on I went with reading it. It did take me a while to read but that was just because I was super busy. When I did pick it up, I was completely engaged with the story.

This story is all about the chase of a serial killer who seems to be dating his victims before he brutally kills them. It also involves the story of troubled Connor who has moved to Exeter from the US to escape the terrible things that he has done. Connor immediately fits in with the cool crowd and ‘easy’ girls. The Promise follows those two story lines that become very intense.

I don’t know the characters as well as I may have done had I read the books prior to this. However, I don’t think this really affected my enjoyment of the story. The Promise was much more darker than I had expected. I do enjoy dark thrillers though. I’m not sure what that says about me. I thought Katerina Diamond had created a very intriguing story line. I do love unpicking a mystery. I enjoy a story that is both character driven and action packed and The Promise has this in abundance.

The reason why I didn’t rate this book any higher is that I thought it was a little long. I think if it had been condensed slightly, it would have had a much faster pace.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

An enjoyable read. Katerina Diamond is a great writer!

Advertisements

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #1)

Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book, so I was very happy when it was picked to go on our kid-lit choices. You might think… murder? Surely that’s not middle grade… but it truly is aimed at a younger audience than YA. I thought it was a fabulous, sweet read that was incredibly easy to read. It almost had a Nancy Drew vibe to it, but funnier.

Murder Most Unladylike centres around Hazel and Daisy. They both go to Deepdean School For Girls which is a boarding school in England. They set up a Detective Agency and have been investigating pretty trivial crimes until the point when Hazel comes across the body of one of her teachers, Miss Bell. It is then that Hazel and Daisy decide to investigate the murder. They gather evidence and have a suspect list, but will they get to the bottom of it?

I thought this book was incredibly engaging. I can imagine many children getting really engrossed with the story. I loved how the characters were intelligent, they went about collecting their evidence in a logical way! I also loved how their friendship wasn’t straight-forward. Daisy could be a little overpowering and they did have arguments which was perfectly realistic for girls of their age!

The only reason I didn’t give this book 4 stars is that for some children, I think some of the topics covered would be a bit too much. I’m not saying they shouldn’t read it, but it’s definitely something to think about.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (August):
The Creakers- Tom Fletcher

Talking About ‘The Party’ with Bibliobeth!

The Party

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.

But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.

At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests–the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich–Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

CHRISSI: I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but what were your initial impressions of this book from its cover?

BETH: I have a confession to make. I do that judgey thing and judge a book by its cover. I have been proved wrong in the past – for example, I really didn’t like the cover of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and as you know Chrissi, I adore that book. What can I say? I think a cover really sells a book and if you can market it “prettily,” you’re onto a winner (with me at least!) I have to admit for this cover? I just found it a little bit dull and unfortunately, it didn’t inspire me to read the book at all. In fact, if I saw it in a bookshop I wouldn’t pick it up on the basis of this cover alone. Luckily what was inside proved to be much more fascinating in the outside so time and time again, I must not judge!!

BETH: What did you make of Martin’s relationship with his wife, Lucy?

CHRISSI: Oh good question! I felt a bit sorry for Lucy actually. I feel like she always came second for him. He was far more concerned with his friendship with Ben than his relationship with his wife. She must have seen his neediness for his friend and wondered why that wasn’t there in their relationship. I felt like she was so loyal to him despite him constantly pushing her boundaries.

CHRISSI: How can we tell Martin is an unreliable narrator?

BETH: From the very beginning. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that when we first meet Martin, he is being questioned in a police station. That isn’t to say he’s done anything wrong, there was an “incident” at a party and he is being asked what he knows. We soon find out what’s gone on in due course. As a reader, it does make you think what could have happened though, especially with the evasive way he is answering some of the questions…..
Then we get more information about his childhood and his relationship with the host of the party and the way he talks to and reacts to certain people makes him all the more intriguing.

BETH: Can money buy you happiness? Does being part of a wealthy elite change the way the Fitzmaurices behave to others not in their circle?

CHRISSI: I don’t think money can buy you happiness. I think it can help your life and help to reach the goals you may have for yourself. I definitely felt like the Fitzmaurices behaved in an incredibly entitled manner. They were obsessed with the power money held over others. Martin certainly enjoyed the high life when he was with Ben. I don’t think they were very kind to others in a lower class than themselves.

CHRISSI: To what extent did the narrative structure (where the bulk of the plot takes place over the course of one evening with flashbacks to the past) heighten the tension?

BETH: I love narratives like this. We hear about the present time, where as I mention, Martin is being questioned about what happened on that night, then it flits back and forward from the present day, to episodes where Martin is at school and as a young adult. As a reader, I wanted to get back to the questioning parts to try and get a clue about what exactly had happened but at the same time I wanted to get back to Martin’s past too as there’s definite clues there about his relationships and the reasons why they end up the way that they do.

BETH: Did you anticipate where this story would lead? Were you surprised by the outcome?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t really sure where this book was going to go. I did love the element of mystery. I also loved how I thought I was steps ahead and knew what was going on, but I wasn’t always right. For me, the ending was a little abrupt and it left me wondering what was going on or going to happen.

CHRISSI: Does this book fit into a genre?

BETH: This is such a hard question! On Goodreads it’s defined into quite a few categories – mystery, thriller and contemporary to name a few but I think it falls quite nicely into literary fiction too. It certainly has aspects of all of these genres, the intrigue where we don’t know what’s going on, a modern setting and a thrilling plot where we’re never quite sure of our characters’ motives.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I did enjoy reading it, even if it felt a little slow in places for me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

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!

I Have No Secrets

I Have No Secrets

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can’t tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book before I decided to buy it. So many positive comments from other bloggers. I knew it was something that I’d like. I’m a big fan of a wide range of people being represented in literature, so it made my heart very happy to read a book about a girl with cerebral palsy, even if it was quite the dark read!

The story centres around Jemma who has severe cerebral palsy. She can’t speak or communicate meaning that she relies on her family and her carer for everything. Jemma has a good brain, she can understand everything that is being said to her and she enjoys a mystery. However, one day she is told an awful secret, something that she should tell someone. But she can’t! The story follows Jemma’s struggles with getting the truth out there.

I was absolutely blown away by this book. I loved the character of Jemma. She may not have been able to physically speak but her voice was so strong from the beginning. I loved how she never missed anything that was going on around her. She had such deep thoughts and compassion for others. I also loved how she was always open to possibility. This story, I felt, gave hope to those living with a disability.

I really enjoyed Penny Joelson’s writing style. I thought she very cleverly played with our emotions as a reader. I may not be the target audience for this book (YA) but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have no doubt that anyone would enjoy picking up this well written story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read from Penny Joelson. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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!