Monthly update: November, 2017

Month in review

So this is it, the final countdown to Christmas is one day away – time to dig out the advent calendars and start shopping earnest!  I am officially getting excited (it helps that it has snowed here today, and I love snow).  I’m not sure what the season will do to my reading and blogging but I imagine for a lot of us it will start to slow down as we focus on other things.  November, though was a good reading month (bar a mini-slump half way through).  Here’s what I liked, loved and just weren’t for me this month…

Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

When Cass Tanner appears on her mother’s doorstep three years after last being seen (which was also the same night her sister Emma disappeared), it’s an arrival no one is expecting, especially – it seems – her mother who, in the intervening years, has styled herself as a grieving parent and now seems uncertain how to act.

Missing, presumed dead (I think it’s fair to say), Cass’ return reopens a case FBI forensic psychiatrist Abby Winter has never been able to let go of. In fact, it has haunted her, harming her relationship with her colleagues and her career. Now, not only does she have the chance to see if her theories about the sisters disappearance were right, she gets to kill some of her demons and, just maybe, get a decent nights sleep.

The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan

She can forgive. They can’t forget.

After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she’s letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.

Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.

Jasper says he’s all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door.

I am not 100% sure what I expected when I picked up my copy of The Last Days of Summer because it’s setting isn’t one that I normally go for but the story appealed and I wanted to take a bit of a step outside of my comfort zone.  What I ended up with was a beautifully written story that had me caring about the central characters, including Jasper, a man I shouldn’t have liked at all given his past.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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?

For many years, I didn’t read Lisa Jewell books because I had in my head she wrote romance novels. I am not sure where I got that from but, thankfully, a review on one of her books finally showed me the light and I have been working my way through her back catalogue ever since, loving each one. Seeing a new release on Netgalley then I couldn’t resist requesting a copy.

On the surface, Then She Was Gone sounds like a story I have read more than once over the last few years. A young girl goes missing, her family falls apart in the aftermath, whilst all the while there are questions to answer – where did she go, why did she go, will she ever come back? The difference here is how well Lisa Jewell writes, how she builds up the story piece by piece, revealing just enough to keep you interested but not quite enough for you guess what is coming next…each time I thought I had the answer, I was wrong (until the end, when I have a feeling Jewell wanted me to figure it out!).

Perfect Prey by Helen Fields

In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

I’ve made no secret about being excited to read Perfect Prey in recent weeks, the second in the series featuring Luc Callanach and Ava Turner as detectives in the Scottish Police Force. Field’s debut last year (with the first in the series, Perfect Remains) had fast become one of my favourite books and I was dying to read more about Luc and Ava, both of whom are fired detectives with lots of baggage to keep me interested.  I am pleased to say my anticipation was much rewarded with another excellent story that had great pace, great characterisation, and great villains.

Tuesday intro: Perfect Prey by Helen Fields

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesdayI’m also joining in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…