Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Her Last Holiday by C L Taylor

Her Last HolidayHer Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Avon books

Source - Netgalley/bought HB copy

Blurb from Goodreads

You come to the retreat to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller.

My Review

Split between timelines, then and now and characters Fran (Jenna's sister), Jenna who never came home after going to a retreat a few years previous and Kate - wife of the guru of the retreat Tom who is being released from jail after the scandal at the last retreat. The retreat Jenna attended and never came home from. Kate is picking up the pieces, rebuilding her and Tom's life/business. Fran attends as Geraldine, desperate to find out what happened to her sister. As we flip past and present we follow Jenna's journey up until her disappearance, present is "Geraldine" struggling to get information in the new retreat under the watchful eye of Kate, ooft Kate!

These type of stories can go wrong, duo timelines, multiple narrative perspective but Taylor draws you in and envelopes the reader with each of the characters. What happened to Jenna? Will Fran get answers and finally have closure, is Tom really the bad guy?

Even the small bit characters in the retreat setting, Fran's mum, you want to know more about them, why is Fran they way she is. The chapters are short and keep you hooked, when one chapter ended I didn't want to flip either timeline or person, over and over, Taylor has a gift! I read this in almost one sitting, the end came swiftly and as with a fair few authors you are left wanting more. I have read all of Taylor's books and cannot wait for her next offering, 4/5 for me this time.

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Sunday, 6 June 2021

When I was Ten by Fiona Cummins

When I Was TenWhen I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 367

Publisher - Macmillan

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

She had lived a lie for thirteen years, and the perfect life as she had known it was about to change forever.

Everyone remembered Sara and Shannon Carter, the little blonde haired sisters. Their Dad was the local GP and they lived in the beautiful house on the hill. Their best friend, Brinley Booth, lived next door. They would do anything for each other but everything shifted on that fateful day when Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were stabbed fourteen times with a pair of scissors in what has become the most talked about double murder of the modern age.

The girls were aged ten and twelve at the time. One, nicknamed the Angel of Death, spent eight years in a children’s secure unit accused of the brutal killings. The other lived in foster care out of the limelight and prying questions. Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down one of the sisters, persuading her to speak about the events of that night for the first time.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and Brinley Booth, now a journalist, is tasked with covering the news story which brings to light fresh evidence and triggers a chain of events which will have devastating consequences.

My Review

A child running from a horrific murder then present day - we flip from Catherine, mother to Honor and wife to Edward. She is everything you want to be, attentive, caring, worried about the change in her daughter who is becoming withdrawn, moody and night terrors, Edward is also behaving differently. Brinley is a reporter, never really sinking her teeth into anything worthwhile, dreaming of being with her colleague but noone looks at her like that nor takes her seriously. When a story comes about taking us back to a horrific family murder, Brinley has her chance to be involved in a real story but can she keep her past and present apart and how much will she risk to get what she wants?

Ooft this book has loads going on, as well as jumping from characters we also head back into the past, to the family of the murders. Two sisters living in what seems a perfect home, respected parents of the community - what would drive one of them to murder?

The book teases out the story as we go along, what does Catherine have to do with it and what is the deal with her husband, he is behaving cagey. The storyline that goes back to the siblings is hard reading in parts due to the subject matter. When we are in the present I want don't want to flip to the past and when I am in the past I don't want to flip to the present. It makes for compelling reading and keeps you guessing, where is this going, what does X have to do with Y?

This is my third book for this author and found there is another I have missed, now ordered and on route. For the people who work everything out I think you will enjoy this because it will keep you on your toes. For those who enjoy suspense/thriller/shocking then this is a book for you, 4.5/5 for me, looking forward to the one I missed and whatever she is working on next!

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Tuesday, 1 June 2021

The Body Lies by Jo Baker

The Body LiesThe Body Lies by Jo Baker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 288

Publisher - Knopf

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A dark, thrilling new novel from the best-selling author of Longbourn: a work of riveting psychological suspense that grapples with how to live as a woman in the world--or in the pages of a book--when the stakes are dangerously high.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote English countryside, it's meant to be a fresh start, away from the bustle of London and the scene of a violent assault she is desperate to forget. But despite the distractions of her new life and the demands of single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle. To make matters worse, during class a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative writing group. When a troubled student starts turning in chapters that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognizes herself as the main character in his book--and he has written her a horrific fate. Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it's too late? At once a breathless cat-and-mouse game and a layered interrogation of the fetishization of the female body, The Body Lies gives us an essential story for our time that will have you checking the locks on your doors.

My Review

I don't really know where to start with this one and I went back and forth on my rating multiple times. We open with the main character, woman - no name, who is sexually assaulted when pregnant. This has a huge impact on her as you could imagine, three years later she has given birth and is still suffering from the trauma. The opportunity of a teaching job, a good distance away, come up and she takes it. Her partner stays at home whilst she goes to pastures new with their son and they see each other as able. Before long trouble strikes and she finds herself in a horrible predicament with a student that risks her job and impacts even more on her mental health.

I was expecting something very different from this book which is maybe why I didn't enjoy it as much as other readers did. I didn't hate it I just didn't love it. I found myself getting very frustrated with some of her behaviours and choices, her interactions with her partner. I suppose the book maybe was going for the whole picture of impact and long lasting effects of an assault. I just found myself getting frustrated a lot and wondering where the book was going and what X had to do with Y.

Different and as I said a lot of readers have loved it, I think for me I just maybe missed what it was going for and was expecting a very different story as the blurb said dark/thrilling. It certainly has dark themes and mental health is infused throughout but I think I got confused by the blurb and thought I was going into a very different read which probably impacted my enjoyment. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again as she writes very well and paints vivid scenes in places but maybe I won't read the blurb before hand.

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Sunday, 30 May 2021

Your Life in my Hands by Rachel Clarke

Your Life in My Hands: A Junior Doctor's StoryYour Life in My Hands: A Junior Doctor's Story by Rachel Clarke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 280

Publisher - Metro Publishing

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

How does it feel to be spat out of medical school into a world of pain, loss and trauma that you feel wholly ill-equipped to handle? To be a medical novice who makes decisions which - if you get them wrong - might forever alter, or end, a person's life?

In 'Your Life in My Hands', television journalist turned junior doctor Rachel Clarke captures the extraordinary realities of life on the NHS frontline. During last year's historic junior doctor strikes, Rachel was at the forefront of the campaign against the government's imposed contract upon young doctors. Her heartfelt, deeply personal account of life as a junior doctor in today's NHS is both a powerful polemic on the degradation of Britain's most vital public institution and a love letter of optimism and hope to that same health service.

My Review

Rachel Clarke was a journalist and is now a doctor working in the NHS. I love reading real life stories, healthcare and think everyone should read them to get a glimpse of what it is to work in that kind of environment. Even people working in the NHS, reading other professionals experiences is an eye opener and makes you appreciate them more, in my honest opinion.

This one is different from the others I have read and I think it is two fold, one because the author was a journalist before hand. Two because whilst the story does have some of the stories on what Clarke experiences in her work a lot of it isn't. There is huge coverage of the junior doctors strikes, the governments impact on funding cuts and patient care, services cancelled and politics politics politics.

We hear a wee bit about her personal background/life and the steps taken, sleeping and camping outside, protests and a meeting with Matt Hancock. I tend to prefer these books about the actual hospital experience so this one was different. It is shocking how many patients and staff suffer due to government decisions and how the news manipulates things to slant in favour of certain politicians or against the NHS. Bureaucracy, quotes from the news and lots of information about the doctors strike, it makes an interesting read, just a tad different from what I was expecting, 3/5 for me this time.

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Monday, 24 May 2021

Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O'Flanagan

Three Weddings and a ProposalThree Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O'Flanagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages -

Publisher - Headline Review

Source - Vine copy

Blurb from Amazon

At the first wedding, there's a shock

The second wedding is unexpected

By the third, Delphie thinks nothing could surprise her. But she's wrong . . .

Delphie is enjoying her brother's wedding. Her surprise last-minute Plus One has stunned her family - and it's also stopped any of them asking again why she's still single. But when she sees all the missed calls that evening, she knows it can't be good news. And she's right.

Delphie has been living her best life, loving her job, her friends, her no-strings relationships and her dream house by the sea. Now she has to question everything she believed about who she is and what she wants. Is her mum right - is it time to settle down? Or does she want to keep on trying to have it all?

Each wedding of a glorious summer brings a new surprise. And as everything Delphie thought she had is threatened, she has the chance to reshape her future . . .

My Review

Delphie has a job she loves, she gets to experience the riches of life she can't afford, her boss is a great guy. What she lacks in her personal life she more than makes up for in her work achievements much to the Umbridge of her family. When tragedy strikes Delphie's life is turned upside down and she finds herself caught up in chaos, relationship dramas, feuds all whilst trying to sort her own life out.

I liked Delphie, strong, independent, career driven, focusing on what she wants despite everyone else pressuring her to settle down, marry a person instead of her job. I liked the dynamics between the characters, how different some of them are, bitchy, bridezilla and ugh the creeps at her work. I was spitting chips and some of the antics/attitudes. And one point I actually gasped out loud, I was raging!

Perfect book for a poolside read or just getting out of your own life to nip into someone elses, it has tons of drama to keep you hooked. Past love coming back into her life, marriages, scandal, families, job issues, a strong independent business woman - not just your typical love story. I liked it, sure I have read O'Flanagan before and I will read her again, 4/5 for me this time.

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

The Coffin Maker's Garden by Stuart MacBride

The Coffinmaker’s Garden (Ash Henderson, #3)The Coffinmaker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 496

Publisher - HarperCollins

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

My Review

Firstly let me say I didn't realise this was book three in a series and I haven't read the first two. That said, I liked it so much I will be going back and getting/reading them. A storm is raging and the house of Gordon Smith is slowly crumbling.....right into the sea. When part of it goes in his neighbour clocks human remains and detectives go in and have a look, elderly Smith is nowhere to be seen. Ex copper Ash Henderson is helping the team and comes across horrors in Smith's basement however evidence is falling into the sea and they already risked their lives by going in. An investigation kicks off with an unlikely alliance and lots of hinderance along the way. Where is Smith, how did he get away with it for as long as they did, how can they prove it with only old pictures, frictions in the team and another killer on the loose.

Oooh so obviously as I said I hadn't read the previous two books so Ash to me was new and brilliant, damaged - seriously the guy has a gun shot to the foot and hobbling. Grief stricken and had some temper and fists on him. He is very protective of his colleague who has her own demons to battle and trying to keep her heed out the bottle. So much has obviously transpired with these characters and I do love a bit of a rogue good guy.

There are two investigate themes in the book, one is a child killer and the police are actively investigating that. The main theme is the finding of this Smith and any evidence before it crumbles into the sea. A killer who has operated for years, victims men and women, undetected and now being hunted. We also have a wild card crackpot criminal who is desperate to find her grand daughter but she isn't opposed to battering someone, has a criminal history and not a fan of the police.

It has plenty of action, characters to love and hate, lots happening, bad words so don't pick it up if you get offended with swearing. There is also violence mentions of torture and harm to animals so just an FYI. I do enjoy Scottish characters/fiction and as I say I will be getting and reading books one and two. Not sure if he is coming back to this series but I do hope so, they are a good cast and I would like to hear more about them, 4/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2021

In Cold Blood by Netta Newbound and Marcus Brown

In Cold Blood: Discovering Chris Watts: The Facts - Part OneIn Cold Blood: Discovering Chris Watts: The Facts - Part One by Netta Newbound
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over a few days

Pages -

Publisher -

Source - Amazon Prime ebook

Blurb from Goodreads

We guess it’s safe to say most people will have heard of the Watts case.

Christopher Lee (Chris) Watts, the dashing, seemingly genteel, affable man who murdered his entire family in a calculated attack that shocked the entire world.

Shanann Watts, his pregnant, incredibly beautiful wife whose life was snuffed out because her doting husband decided he wanted a fresh start.

Bella Marie and Celeste Cathryn (CeCe) Watts, adorable sisters who worshipped their father, the very man who suffocated them both in cold blood using their comfort blankets against them. He then went on to dispose of their tiny bodies into huge tanks filled with toxic crude oil.

Nico Lee Watts, Chris and Shanann’s unborn son.

No doubt, most of you watched the story unfold on the news, open-mouthed, in total shock. What could push a loving father to brutally murder his family? Surely there was some mistake? We all have preconceived ideas of how a monster should look–grotesque, hideously deformed, a crazed madman–not this handsome, mild-mannered, shy, polite gent who was often portrayed as the perfect husband and father.

So, what happened?

During this series we will look at the facts, the police investigation, the evidence, hear Chris Watts’ explanation and his reasoning. We will try to make some sense of what occurred during the early hours of August 13th 2018.

We will endeavour to present to you all aspects of the case, right from the initial investigation and how it unfolded, to the first and subsequent confessions all transcribed word for word (where possible) from actual video and audio footage obtained from the FBI’s Discovery Files.

My review

So I haven't seen the FBI Discovery Files footage but I did watch the Netflix show on the Watts family and what Chris did. This book has the word for word transcriptions of the interviews with the police & Chris, Chris's secret girlfriend, the lie detector test and the conversation Chris has with his father when he confessed to killing Shanann.

They have transcribed the interviews pretty much verbatim, if there was ums and ams they are exactly as they were spoken. The book opens with a brief intro to the authors, then a look at definitions of sociopaths and the different kinds and which they feel is relevant to Chris. Then the rest of the book is all of the interviews. At the end of each there is maybe a paragraph or two from the authors with speculation on what has just been said.

It is interesting, as I said I hadn't seen the files, the authors stress if you have then the book is not for you. I assume because the majority of what you see if what they have scribed in the book, if you haven't seen the files and are drawn to true crime then you will be fascinated and shocked.

The text can be a bit heavy going and monotonous but it is exactly what was said, I would have expected much more input from the authors but there is really not much. It is largely the interviews which is shocking and we seen some from the Netflix but apparently it is much more in the files.

Now the title does say part one but I hadn't appreciated it would stop where it did, it ends abruptly just as Chris tells where he put the wee girls. Part two is £8.99 (at time of posting) and despite having seen the Netflix documentary and knowing exactly what happens I had to get part 2, I hate being left hanging. There is a third part but there isn't much to it, less than 100 pages I think but I will look at it properly when I finish book two, 3/5 for me this time.

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