Weekly update: 30th April, 2017

Hi all and welcome to Sunday – here’s hoping you have been having a good weekend.  Here in the UK, it’s a long one with a bank holiday Monday so today feels lovely and relaxing and stress-free given I don’t have to go to work tomorrow.  It makes up for yesterday a bit which, with parties and play-dates saw me spending the entire day as chauffeur and watching the clock.  What we’ll be doing today I have no idea but I do know we’ll be doing it slowly.

For my blogging life, I posted every day last week (bar Saturday, my current “day of blogging rest”)…

On Monday, I reviewed The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger with a young woman seeking revenge for the murder of her parents and an older woman getting caught in the crossfire.  It was really well written and so much more than I expected having read the blurb.

On Tuesday, I introduced my latest read, Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts, which I couldn’t resist after seeing it on the library shelf.

On Wednesday, I reviewed Before The Fall by Noah Hawley which looks at the aftermath of a plane crash and the impact on the survivors.  A really clever book I can’t recommend enough.

On Thursday, I reviewed Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson which I was really excited about reading but was left disappointed by.  I know I’m in the minority here but I think I was expecting too much.  Can’t win them all I guess!

On Friday, I joined in with the book blogger hop again, writing about whether I re-read books (the answer is once in a while).

I also “picked up” a few books – one purchased, the rest ARCs (clicking on the covers will link to Goodreads)…

27409074  34806691  34673636  34612430  34604719

I have to say I’m excited about every one of these books and feeling very lucky for having been approved for all these ARCs…now to read them all!

And that’s it for me, what about you – how has your week been? What are you reading?

Emma x

 

This week, I’m linking in with Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and her Sunday Post and with (a little early) Katherine at Book Date for It’s Monday, What Are you Reading? Head over by clicking on their badges below to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

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Book blogger hop: re-reading reads

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

 

How many books have you re-read? If you have re-read books, please tell us the book’s title and why you re-read it.

Because I am not the best at tracking books I read (my Goodreads is soooo far behind I don’t know why I bother sometimes), I couldn’t honestly answer this question.  I have no idea how many books I’ve re-read over the years.  However, I would say that – once I was into the realm of “grown-up” books – very few.

As a child I re-read books a lot (the Famous Five I knew by heart – all 21 of them).  As an adult, I think my thought process has been so many books, so little time – time better spent reading something new rather than reading something I already know the ending of.

Saying that, I do occasionally revisit a book, maybe because it’s an old favourite or because an anniversary has left me wondering if it has stood the test of time.  Other reasons might be someone mentioning it and me realising I don’t remember a thing about it or that I’m reading a prequel, sequel, or another book in the series and need to remember what else has happened.

Since starting my blog (almost three years ago I realise), I have re-read six books, all of which I’ve reviewed here and all of which, I am pleased to say have stood the test of time and were just as enjoyable the second time around.  If you are interested in what they were and what they thought you can read more here:

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover

What about you? Do you re-read books – a lot, a little, or not at all?

Emma

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

29938032Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

After reading The Kind Worth Killing last year, which was my first book by Peter Swanson and one of my favourite of 2016, I set myself a mini-challenge for 2017 – of reading at least one more of his books.  As it was due out, I decided Her Every Fear would be the one and was rather excited to finally pick it up a couple of weeks ago.

The description above (from Goodreads) is rather long and goes a long way to explaining the story, so I won’t repeat it here and maybe spend a little time instead talking about how the book is written and the characters.  It starts with Kate’s story, her anxiety as she moves to Boston and her thoughts / feelings as she settles in to the apartment of a cousin she’s never met.  Walking around the strange flat, opening drawers, skimming across shelves, she can’t get a feeling for him at all, immediately setting her to wonder and pushing her imagination into overdrive.

And she does have an imagination, one that sees danger everywhere.  Just seeing a friend knock on her neighbours door convinces her that neighbour is dead, and when she’s proved right, she spirals.  Her behaviour, which seems erratic from the moment you meet her, becomes more so as she starts to lock herself away from a city she hasn’t even had time to explore and begins to suspect her neighbours and he cousin.  She feels claustrophobic and so did I.

The fist third of the book is Kate’s story and it was easy to fall into.  I can’t say I liked Kate (I didn’t) but I understood some of her behaviours as her past was revealed.  Then it jumps to Corbin, her cousin. I have to say, I found the switch to Corbin’s voice jarring after spending so long with Kate and it pulled me out of the story a bit…I’m not sure I ever really got back into it.

You hear about Corbin’s arrival in London but not much more before you move back over a decade to when he was a student, also in London, and a series of events that set his life on a trajectory he couldn’t have imagined and definitely didn’t want.  His past doesn’t paint him in a good light and does lead you to question whether he is Audrey’s killer.  In Corbin, I found another unlikeable character…leaving me struggling to connect with the book.

Strangely, I did quite like Alan, whose voice you hear through chapters interspersed throughout the book.  He’s an odd one and definitely suspect.  But there was something about him that drew me to him and made me warm to him, hoping he wasn’t the killer.  There is another voice too (not saying whose – spoilers), which sheds more light on Corbin’s story and helps bring everything to a conclusion.

I have to say, for me, that (the conclusion) couldn’t come soon enough because I was tired.  The book felt long. The story – for me – dragged for the second half and the characters – as mentioned above – just didn’t do it for me.  Their fates, I felt blah about and this made me sad.

I so wanted to like this book and, no matter how many times I think back to it, I have to say I just didn’t.  It wasn’t badly written and the story had some great twists but not caring about the characters meant that even these weren’t enough to save it for me.  I know from other reviews I am in the minority here but it just wasn’t for me  – I liked it, but only a little!

Sorry!

Emma

liked-it-a-little

Source: Library
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 10th January, 2017
Pages: 353
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

26245850On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

A chance meeting in a farmers market leads to Scott Burroughs being invited to fly to New York on the private jet of a woman he barely knows. Along with her family, and two of their friends, they take off on a foggy night…only for Scott to come to in the ocean 15 minutes later. Initially, he thinks he’s the lone survivor. Then he hears the cries of four year old JJ. The two are alone. It is cold, it is dark. Scott is injured. But he starts to swim.

The next morning, they are found – alive – on the beach, Scott having swum 15 miles. He is hailed a hero. At first. Then the questions start. The media aren’t convinced. Neither are the FBI. His story seems to good to be true. After being hailed, Scott starts to be hounded, hunted down as he tries to lay low and come to terms with what happens.

It’s uncomfortable reading, but very believable. I find it amazing that in this day and age, we find it so hard to believe people don’t have an ulterior motive or something to hide. But I think that that’s true. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop…and the media, the 24 hour, instant access nature of it, plays a large part in this…as it does here.

In the meantime, Scott is trying to pick up the pieces. Suddenly things he thought were important aren’t and he isn’t sure of anything, including what happened. The accident is a blank for him. As investigators try to figure it out, searching for remains and the black box, you – as the reader – get to hear the stories of everyone else on the plane.

Chapters, which alternate with what is happening in the present to Scott and JJ, present snapshots of their lives, who they were (the good, bad, and ugly) and how they ended up on their plane. You see their hopes and dreams. And you slowly start to paint a picture of what happened.

It’s an interesting way to tell a story, and it meant this wasn’t a fast paced read. It was enthralling though and kept me engaged all the way through. I started to create scenarios in my head (none of which came to pass) and found myself really coming to like Scott and feel for JJ. The writing here is excellent, and the reflection of modern life and our obsession with social media and 24-hour news rang true. I really enjoyed this, from start to finish, and would definitely recommend it to any and everyone.

Enjoy!

Emma

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback – first published 31st May, 2016)
Pages: 391
Format: paperback
Genre: suspense, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own

Tuesday intro: Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

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. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, after a few weeks of review copies, I’m back at the library with Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts, which I know nothing about but which caught my eye because of the title. Here’s what it’s about…

31129137The death of a local sex offender places the police officers at East Rise incident room under immense pressure – they must treat this case like any other murder, but they know what Albie Woodville did and can feel little sympathy. Except, as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear this isn’t just a one-off killing – someone is out for revenge …

Not much to go on is there?  Here’s how it starts…

Few things made Dean Stillbrook happy any more but the one part of the day he really enjoyed, relished, adored, was his early morning walk through the woods from his flat to work.

The hideous experience of the last six months was only now starting to blur into the past where it belonged.  He hadn’t for one moment believed that he would ever look forward to the rest of his life. One stupid mistake had cost him so much but he was learning to adapt and be glad for the small things in his day to day existence.

As he made his way deeper into the trees, he paused for a second to tilt his face up towards the sky, the May sunshine breaking through the branches and warming his face. He stood still, eyes shut, and listened to the birds, a slight breeze rustling the leaves, and then he heard the sound of movement behind him.

A bit of a longer intro to make up for the blurb. What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

31443401Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

Red, the colour of anger and revenge, and the colour Zoey imagines inside herself as she prowls the streets of New York looking for people who need saving. It’s not all altruistic though, it’s her way of taking control of her life, something she doesn’t feel and hasn’t had since her parents were killed and she was left for dead 10 years previously. No one was ever arrested for the murders but Zoey knows who is guilty and, now, she feels strong enough to start making them pay.

On the outskirts of New York, Claudia is looking to start afresh, having left the city and moved into a run down farmhouse left to her by her father. Her plan is to rebuild and refinish the farm, creating a life away from the grind of the city for her and her daughter. Like Zoey, Claudia has a past touched by violence – her daughter, Raven, is possibly the result of rape. She has never wanted to know but it has coloured her and Raven’s lives.

As Zoey and Claudia’s stories unfold over alternating chapters it starts to become clear that violence isn’t the only thing that links them and that their lives are on a collision course, destined to intersect and putting them all in danger again. Just how this happens I won’t say (spoilers) but I will say Lisa Unger brings it all together very well, building the tension slowly and steadily until the final scenes.Read More »

Weekly update: 23rd April, 2017

Morning all and welcome to another Sunday. I hope you are all having a good weekend. We’re just finishing up a long weekend away, which has been lovely. We rented a cottage right by the sea and have actually had good weather, despite it still being April…I even caught the sun a little!

It comes after a great Easter, where I took a short blogging break to reduce stresses from thinking about posting when I knew we’d be out, about and with family a lot. Now, unfortunately, it’s back to reality and school/work tomorrow. I’m trying not to think about it too much.

In the meantime, here’s what I wrote last week on my blog…

On Tuesday I introduced my latest read, The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan, which has sat on my kindle longer than any other book I own (for more on that see here). It’s taken me a while to get into but I think I’m there. Now I need to decide if I’m enjoying it.

On Wednesday I reviewed He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly, a dark, twisted thriller where I wasn’t sure where the truth lay. Very clever.

On Thursday I reviewed The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh, another clever story with lots of twists, turns and great characters…if you can’t tell from the title it’s crime fiction.

On Friday I wrote about whether I stop reading books I disagree with as part of the book blogger hop.

So, all in all, not  bad week. I didn’t buy any books but did read a few including…

Her Every Fear Before the Fall The Red Hunter

Clicking on the covers will take you to Goodreads and reviews should be up this week.

And that’s it for me…how was your week, reading and otherwise?

Emma x

This week, I’m linking in with Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and her Sunday Post and with (a little early) Katherine at Book Date for It’s Monday, What Are you Reading? Head over by clicking on their badges below to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

Book blogger hop: plot disagreements

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…
Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs, or would you continue reading until you finished the book?

My answer is most of the books I read don’t have a “position” or make statements so there isn’t much of a chance that I would disagree with them. I tend to read crime fiction more than anything so there is more chance I would stop because it was too graphic in it’s description of murders. And I have done that, more than once. I have gotten squeamish in my old age.

Occassionally, a character may express opinions I find offensive or uncomfortable and whether I would carry on reading would depend wheather I felt the author was doing it because it was their personal view or if it was their characters and they were doing it to present that chatpracter in a certain light.  I can’t think of a case where I have stopped reading as a result but I can think of a few male authors I have felt were sexist in their writing and the way they presented female characters and so haven’t read any more of their books.

I do like to read books (sometimes) that challenge my thinking or are likely to remind me that complacency isn’t really an option but I would say I know I’m picking these books up and so would likely carry on reading them. A lot of these tend to be non-fiction and political so I don’t expect to agree with everything and sometimes I have read a book to try and understand a point of view that I just don’t understand.

Have I ever put any of these down? Yes. But normally because they were dull, not because I felt I disagreed with their viewpoint. Disagreement I can cope with but boredom, well that’s another thing entirely…

What about you, have you put down a book you’ve disagreed with?

Emma

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

31180439The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

Twenty years ago, a small village on the edge of Hadrian’s Wall was left shocked and scarred by a series of murders.  Eventually, the killer was caught, but people were never the same again.  Each did what they could to cope, some better than others, and to forget – though it seems that wasn’t really possible.

For Isla – who found three of the victims – coping has meant looking the evil she came across that day in the eye.  She is a forensic psychologist, studying the brains of serial killers to try and understand why they kill and if she can stop it.  It’s something her husband (and the only survivor of the Killer on the Wall), Ramsey, doesn’t understand…he is looking for a “normal” life, one free from stress, danger and – maybe – with a few kids running around. Isla, though, can’t help herself, meeting with the very person who nearly ended Ramsay’s life – Heath McGowan (aka The Killer on the Wall).

It might be a coincidence, it might not, but whilst Isla is meeting with Heath, a body is being found – propped against Hadrian’s Wall, just like the bodies twenty years previously – and the hunt is on for a new killer.   Leading the case, Isla’s father (the local policeman who caught Heath and is now police superintendent) and her best friend Mina.

It’s the way of small towns / villages, everyone is connected and as the case progresses, things get messy.  No one is sure if the killings are being directed by Heath somehow, if it’s a copycat killing, or (even worse) was the wrong man put away first time.  I have to say, I wasn’t sure myself – right through to the end when the killer was revealed (bit of a shock I didn’t see coming at all!).  I loved all the guessing and how I started to distrust pretty much everyone at some point.

I loved the way the story was told too, “travelling” from person to person and telling a bit of their story and what they were up to…dropping clues for me to pick up.  I know it’s something that a lot of authors do, alternating chapters, but this felt more like snapshots in time and I thought it was well done.  I got to hear the voices of each person involved and make my own decisions on whether I liked them…and, more importantly, trusted them.

There is lots of love going on here I realise and that’s how I felt about The Killer on the Wall – I loved it.  It was a great story, simple and effective, with great characters, great pace and a killer ending (pun intended).  Highly recommended!

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

 

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Arrow
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own

 

 

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

31393997Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

1999.  In a field at an eclipse festival, 21 year old Lara comes across what she instinctively believes is a rape. Something about the look in the man’s eyes, the blankness in the woman’s, the harness of the scene. Despite the man (Jamie) saying it was consensual, not what it looks like, and the woman (Ruth) saying nothing at all, Laura calls the police – setting in motion a chain of events that will change her life and that of her boyfriend (Kit) in ways neither could have predicted.

2015, Laura is six months pregnant and suffering from anxiety.  She and Kit are married and he is about to leave her for a trip to another eclipse festival, bringing back memories of that fateful summer and what happened next.  Told in chapters that move between 1999 and 2015 and Laura and Kit’s stories, He Said/She Said slowly unfolds into something more than I originally expected (though given Erin Kelly’s other work shouldn’t have been surprised about).

Slowly, a tale unfolds not just of rape but of it’s impact, on the victim, the perpetrator, families, friends and witnesses.  He Said/She Said looks at consent and sexuality, why we view women’s in one way and men’s in another.  Somehow it does all this not only well but in the context of a thriller that had me turning the pages, desperate to know what would happen next.  It is a real testament to Erin Kelly that she can weave such a tale sensitively but also with such darkness and edge.

And it is a dark book, one that makes you question yourself and your assumptions and doesn’t shine any of the characters in that good a light.  As Kit and Laura’s stories unfold you realise that nothing is quite as it seems, that truth – odd as it sounds – can be subjective and is often also about perception, what we perceive to have happened.

Given the subject matter, this isn’t always an easy read, but is a good one.  Laura and Kit are so well drawn I felt I knew them.  I was happy when they did the right thing, disappointed when they didn’t. Ruth and Jamie meanwhile became larger than life, seen as they were only through Kit and Laura’s eyes.  Did I believe them, like them, loathe them?  Hard to say at points.  I definitely didn’t trust them or their truths.

And, by the end, wanting to the know the truth was consuming me as much as it was Laura.  I didn’t just want to know, I needed to know.  And what I found out left me shocked.  It wasn’t the ending I expected.  It was, though, probably the right ending for this twisted tale, one I highly recommend and liked a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own