The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

33257657All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.

Whilst on the face of it The Silent Kookaburra is classed as a thriller / suspense novel, for me I have to say it was also about coming of age; that’s one of the things that came through here for me, the move from child to teenager for Tanya, the novel’s storyteller, and the confusion that comes with it.

Tanya isn’t a happy child, and no wonder.  Her mother is depressed – the result of multiple failed pregnancies – when baby Shelley comes along, lighting up all their lives with her perfect babyness.  A new baby, though, doesn’t necessarily mean the stress and tensions from before really go away and, in many ways, the family carry on as before – with her mom displaying symptoms of OCD, Tanya overeating, her dad drinking and her nanna generally grumbling and groaning.Read More »

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Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

32991958My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

So this is possibly one of the shortest blurbs in the history of blurbs – and completely intrigued me as a result.  Add to that some positive reviews and I felt like this was a book I really wanted to read.

The first few chapters had me convinced I’d made the right choice and things only got better from there I have to say, especially with some great twists in the last third which pretty much turned everything I had been thinking on it’s head. Read More »

Month in review: June, 2017

Hi All – and welcome to the end of June.  I’m hoping you had a good month.  Mine has been a bit up and down in that I’ve been feeling more than a bit grumpy – I think I’ve been waiting for my holidays and then leaving work so I can start my new adventures.  That I started off with a few so-so books didn’t help I have to say – though it has ended with a bit of a bang with two brilliant books, making me just a little bit happier.

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Forgotten by Nicole Trope, and a frantic search for a stolen baby which left me on the edge of my seat and staying up late into the night to finish.  Can’t recommend this one enough and it’s my book of the month!

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica, another corker from one of my favourite authors who has crafted a twisty, turny, thriller that left me guessing until the end.

Black Hornet by James Sallis, with it’s wonderful noir tale of a sniper on the lose in 1960’s New Orleons.

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Buried Secrets by Lisa Cutts, where I return to the rather seedy East Rise and the death of  high ranking police officer and his wife and the secrets they were hiding.

Guiltless by Viveca Sten, my third visit to Sandhamn island with it’s small population and high murder rate.

Cold Kill by P. J. Tracy, an enjoyable crime novel with conspiracy at it’s heart and a cold Minnesota winter to keep the tension high.

Roots, Radicals, and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World by Billy Bragg, a fascinating walk through a musical genre that rocked Britain for two years and was responsible for bringing us the Beatles.  Now no one has heard of it – well, hardly anyone!

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My Sister by Michelle Adams, a good debut with plenty of twists and turns but – unfortunately – I just couldn’t get away with characters that were too unreliable, even for me.

The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett, another book where the characters let it down for, or at least one – whose story it was I was reading.  Plus, I felt I had been promised more suspense than I actually got.

Again, there were not books I really disliked this month, so overall a good month which has ended with quite a bang with my favourite read of the month.  Here’s hoping July is as good!

How has your month in reading been?  Good, I hope.

Emma x

This month, I’m linking with Kathryn at Book Date and Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction with their monthly round-up posts (clicking on the images will take you to the posts to check out what others have been reading).

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Forgotten by Nicole Trope

51j92jJ6+dL
Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

So, just when I thought I had my book of the month sorted (Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica), another has come along that has completely wowed me and left my decision of which book to pick so up in the air. Forgotten by Nicole Trope has everything I look for in a book – characters I cared for, a plot that kept me turning pages, and an ending that left me holding my breath, praying everything would turn out o.k.

It starts with one of those decisions every parent of a young child has faced I think.  They are asleep in the car when your out running errands.  Do you leave them sleeping whilst you run into the store (you’ll only be a minute after all) or do you risk a major meltdown by waking them up and taking them in with you? We will all probably say, when asked, we’d do the latter but in the moment, that’s probably not true; there are plenty of us out there that would at least give it a thought I’m sure.

So it is with Malia, who has not one child but three under the age of five, including newborn Zach.  It’s been a hard morning when she makes her fateful decision. Her two oldest kids have been testing her last nerve, playing up because there isn’t any milk for breakfast. Zach, is fast asleep, and she wants to keep it that way.

So she leaves him the car whilst she runs into the shop to get milk, thinking she can keep her eye on her car the whole time. Only she can’t, and, when she gets back, Zach is gone and her nightmare begins. Nicole Trope does an amazing job here, creating a character I completely felt for when she was one I maybe should have had little sympathy with given what’s happened.

With a baby to find, local detectives Ali and Mike are called in to start the search. For Ali, a new mother herself, this is a difficult one and, as the story progresses, you see just how much it impacts her. You also see her determination to bring Zach home and her anxiety that she could lose her child. I loved Ali’s caring nature and her passion to support Malia and find Zach.

I got to read feel these first hand in the chapters that told what was happening from her perspective. They alternated with Malia’s but also with the person who took Zach, and Edna, an elderly woman who doesn’t trust her neighbour. And all this happens over the course of one day, meaning the tension rises with the temperature, as everyone begins to think there will only be one ending, and it won’t be a good one.

I don’t think I could have felt more involved in the search for Zach if I’d been part of the investigation.  I felt every minute of him being missing and I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if I was Malia.  This book is 400 pages long yet it felt like it was over in no time at all, so engrossed was I in the story.

From all of this, you can probably tell this will be a book I will be recommending.  I really can’t praise it enough.  Loved it!

Enjoy!

Emma x

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 28th June, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 400
Genre: suspense / thriller
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

Also reviewed by Nicole Trope:

Blame

 

 

 

 

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

32735394“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

So I feel like I should start this review off with a disclaimer.  Not that this is a review copy (it is, and I feel very lucky to have received one), but that Mary Kubica is one of my favourite authors and, in my eyes, she doesn’t do much wrong in the way of writing great novels that keep me hooked from start to finish.   This book, then, has been one I’ve been looking forward to reading all year…and I am so, so, pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

It starts with a seemingly perfect – if tired – family; Nick, Clara, four year old Maisie and new born Felix.  They are young, happy and successful thanks to Nick’s dental practice.  When a policeman’s knock on the door shatters Clara’s world then, it’s no wonder she struggles to cope, shutting out those who love and care for her and cocooning herself away with Maisie and Felix.

Then, Maisie starts to have nightmares and everything Clara thought she knew about the accident seems to get turned on its head.  It’s not just the accident, though, it’s Nick himself.  Slowly, as she tries to pick up her life, Clara finds out that what she thought she knew about her husband wasn’t true, that there were things he was keeping from her, secrets she is only now starting to try and unpick, ones that have the potential to shatter her world again.

Slowly, through Clara’s voice in the present and Nick’s as he recounts the months up until his death, you start to get a picture of who they areas people and just what secrets are buried beneath a seemingly perfect surface.  It’s not all pretty, some of it is stupid, some of it is sad.  A lot of it seems avoidable.  As I read on, I realised that I had started to care for Clara and Nick as characters as each twist left me a little shocked, stunned or bereft.

The twists also left me wondering just what was going on.  I really had no idea if Nick was indeed the victim of foul play or, as the police insisted, just a man who drove too fast round a narrow bend.  When I finally made it to the end I felt as exhausted as Clara – it had been quite a ride.  Was it the ending I was expecting?  No.  Was it the right ending? Yes.  I have to say I finished the book completely satisfied with where I ended up. For once, even the epilogue didn’t bother me (my over pet peeve).

It all leaves me saying that I loved this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: 27th June, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 336
Genre: suspense / thriller
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buried Secrets by Lisa Cutts

35227796To most people, Detective Inspector Milton Bowman appears to have an ideal life. But some secrets aren’t buried deep enough.

After a tragic car accident, and a shocking murder, DI Milton’s colleagues have to start digging into every aspect of his life.

Suspicion and disbelief creep into their lives as a web of deceit unfolds – the Bowman family, friends and even colleagues come under suspicion. No one is to be trusted.

Nothing is as it appears.

Buried Secrets, the second in the East Rise series, starts with a tragic accident, closely followed by a murder, one that puts the police themselves at the heart of the investigation.  Front and centre of trying to find the murderer should be DI Harry Powell; unfortunately, he’s at best a witness, at worst a suspect, so off the case.

Instead it’s down to DI Doug Philbert and DCI Barbara Venice to head up what will prove to me a much more complicated case than any of them might have thought.  Amongst the team they are leading are some familiar faces, including DC Hazel Hamilton, who is appointed Family Liaison Officer and finds herself supporting the nineteen year old son of the victim.

I suppose one of the first things I would say about Buried Secrets, and one of things I liked about it, is exactly what drew me to the first in the series, Mercy Killing – the fact that this book really shows how the police work, and how team work is at the heart of what they do.  Whilst some characters here take front and centre, it is all the officers as a unit, working together, that solve the case.  No one is a lone wolf, so often the case nowadays in books.

What it does mean though is that it took me a while to get all the characters straight in my head, who they were, what their roles were and what type of personalities they had.  I did get it, but it was probably a good 10 chapters in before everything fell into place. The good new is, once I did, there wasn’t anyone I didn’t warm to or want to find out more about.

And this is something I am hoping I will get to as the series goes on because what Lisa Cutts did here is, I thought, quite clever.  Whilst Harry was one of the main characters in the first book, and is definitely present here, it was Hazel who dominated this novel (and not in a bad way).  I liked getting to know her here and understanding what made her tick

I also liked that she had the role of family liaison, something which I know exists but don’t really know what they do.  Hats of to them I would say now because it’s a hard, emotionally  draining, job by the sounds of it.  Focusing on this aspect of the case (though not to the detriment of the investigation, there was plenty of that), gave this book a different slant, which I liked.

Other things I liked? The twists and turns, which started to come thick and fast in the second half as you were left guessing who the guilty party was, and the sub-plot involving a local drug gang (which I’m hoping might be the subject of another novel because there are some nasty characters there that might make a good story).  Plus the fact that I got to see not just the investigation but the trial.

What I didn’t like? Not a lot, if I’m honest.  The getting my head round the large cast maybe but that’s a minor complaint and may just be down to my age and terrible memory for names.  Also, for me, it was just a little too long – not much, maybe fifty pages, but there were a few scenes of Hazel’s burgeoning relationship I could maybe have done without.

And that’s it really.  Overall, I found myself liking this book a lot and recommending it for fans of police procedurals…Enjoy!

Emma x

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 22nd June, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 432
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

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.

tuesday I also thought I would join in, for the first time, 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…

32991958My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

And here’s how it starts…

I’ve always delighted in the free fall between sleep and wakefulness. Those precious few semi-conscious seconds before you open your eyes, when you catch yourself believing that your dreams might just be your reality. A moment of intense pleasure or pain, before your senses reboot and inform you who and where and what you are. For now, for just a few seconds longer, I’m enjoying the self-medicated delusion that permits me to imagine that I could be anyone I could be anywhere, I could be loved.

Not sure, here are some teasers to peak your interest…

“When I first start to fall, I forget to be afraid, too busy noticing that the hand that pushed me looked so much like my own.”

and

“The knot in the pit of my stomach tightens as she exits the room.  I hear the door click shut before someone clears their throat.”

What do you think…would you keep reading?

Emma x

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

 

My Sister by Michelle Adams

51W0o7zGjYLTwo Sisters:

You don’t get to choose your family.

She thought she’d never go back home.

But there’s something in her sister’s voice she just can’t refuse.

And hasn’t it always been that way?

What her sister asks, she does . . .

When Irini gets a call from her sister Elle in the early hours of the morning to tell her their mother is dead, Irini isn’t sure what to do or how to respond.  It’s not like she knows her mother…she hasn’t seen or spent time with her since she was three year old and she’s now in her mid-30s.

She hasn’t spent much time with her sister either.  When they were little, they were separated.  Irini went to live with an aunt.  Elle stayed with their parents.  Why was never clear and, now, for Irini, it seems it might be getting too late to ask.  Spurred on by her boyfriend, she decides to attend the funeral, visiting her childhood home in Scotland at the same time to try and uncover the truth.

So far, so good in the interesting plot stakes.  This was a book I liked the sound of for just that and which hooked me in pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it didn’t hold my attention as the story continued.  In part, it was the characters.  I really didn’t like Irini or Elle.  I found Irini confusing.  She said one thing, did another.  I get that this was supposed to be because she was under Elle’s thrall but I couldn’t see what that was myself.

Irini talks about how charming her sister is but I never saw it.  I saw a woman with issues, who was demanding and controlling and who gets her way because people are scared of her.  I also saw a damaged woman that nobody had ever seemingly taken the time to help.  This is a hard one for me because a bit part of the plot twists here were based on Elle being mentally ill.

I know I read a lot of novels where there is a character that could be described as a psychopath or a sociopath but when a characters behaviour is down to what is basically stated is a mental health condition I start to feel uncomfortable.  I work in the mental health field and this just has stigma written all over it.  I have to say, I don’t think this is Michelle Adam’s intention I think it was just poorly thought out from that perspective.

Perhaps if it had been handled in a different way I would have felt more comfortable reading as the book went on but I just didn’t.  I also didn’t quite get some of the plot twists.  Was Elle evil with a master plot or a disturbed young woman?  And was their a plot at all against Irini?  At times it felt there was, at others not, and in the end I was left confused and slightly disappointed in the outcome.

For me, the book needed to go all out and didn’t.  That said, this is a debut so maybe I shouldn’t be as harsh.  It wasn’t all bad, with a good first third before I started to flag and at times I could see a flash of what could be something great.  I don’t know enough about editing to say whether that was at play here but in my head this could have been tightened up and potentially shone.

All in all, then, I liked it, just not a lot – though from the reviews on goodreads I am in the minority here so don’t let me put you off (you can read the first chapter free on Amazon here if you wanted to see what you think).

Emma x

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Source: Publisher
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 384
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett

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, I’m reading The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett, which it felt like I was seeing everywhere not so long ago and really peaked my interest.   Here’s what it’s about…

32600066Have you met them yet, the new couple?

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

And here’s how it starts…

Sara’s gaze drifted toward the window.  It was dark outside now, and she could see her own reflection superimposed like a hologram on the house across the road. Their curtains were half-closed but the cold blue flicker of the TV could just be seen.  She imagined Gavin lounging in the Eames chair with a glass of red, Lou lolling barefoot on the sofa. They might be watching an art-house movie together – or perhaps just slumming it with Saturday night telly. It was all too easy to conjure – the flea-bitten heath rug, the aroma of Pinot Noir mingled with woodsmoke. Even after everything that had happened, the scene still had allure.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

27409074So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

Viral’s opening is pretty shocking and pulls no punches.  In a way, it feels ripped from the headlines (and possibly was?), with the story of a young woman getting caught on camera doing things that she normally wouldn’t.  However, on a girls holiday in Magaluf and fuelled by drinks and drugs, her defences were down and – as we all know nowadays – it doesn’t take long for someone to get out a phone and start recording.  And, once it was on the intranet, there is no going back.

This book just reminded me of everything I hate about the internet (which sometimes seems to overwhelm the good in it).  It shows people to be shallow, selfish and mean and just how little recourse there is for people who are it’s victims.  That’s certainly the case for Su and her family, all of whom feel the impact and all of whom come under the spotlight.

That one moment in time might be remembered forever and impact on everything you do (or can do) for the rest of your life is scary and Helen Fitzgerald makes that loud and clear and has made me think twice about everything I do online. I absolutely felt for Su and her family as their lives spiralled as a result.  After my shock, I started to feel despair.  Would any of them every be the same again?

Then there is light at the end of the tunnel (which won’t be shared for spoilers) and that made me happy.  Life, it seems, does go on and from adversity we often appear stronger and wiser. It all brought the story full circle.  I do have to wonder if in real life there would have been such a happy ending (there are a few plot leaps that make this happen and they don’t seem that based in reality but, hey, this is fiction) and that wonder has put a slight shadow over the book, but only a bit.

After my last outing with Helen Fitzgerald (The Exit), which didn’t go very well for me, this has restored my faith in an author who, for me, comes up with different storylines and strong, interesting characters.  This book was short (272 pages) and perfectly formed.  I really enjoyed it and think it’s a must read.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Library
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: February, 2016
Format: ebook
Pages: 272
Genre: thriller, suspense, general fiction
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

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