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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