Categories
Uncategorised

Publication Day Book Review – ‘Down to the Woods’ by M. J. Arlidge⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Thank you to NetGalley, M. J. Arlidge and Penguin UK for the chance to read and review this novel.

There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…

DI Helen Grace and the rest of Southampton’s Major Incident Team are back for book 8 and have a new series of shocking and savage crimes to solve. It is the height of the camping season and a killer is targeting the holidaymakers under the cover of darkness. After a barbaric death, the brutalised victim is then left displayed between the branches of the ancient trees in the picturesque New Forest like a macabre piece of art. Is there a reason behind the way they are killed and displayed? Or is the killer just doing it to shock and haunt those who have to witness the aftermath of his violence? How and why does the killer select their victims and kill without a single witness or clue seeming to be left behind? Helen has to delve into the depths of the forest to find answers. But will she make it out unscathed?

I have been a fan of this series of books ever since the first one was published. I’ve loved all the previous novels and how well written the characters are and you get to know and care about them more with each book, feeling their joy and their pain. I also grew up not far from the New Forest so feel a connection with the characters and places in these books that makes it even more fun to read. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this installment ever since it was announced, so to get the chance to read and review it before release was an exciting privilege. 

Very quickly the fear, suspense and mystery begin and you’re on the edge of your seat reading every word. You feel every bit of terror, confusion and pain that victims experience, the evil delight as their murderer stalks and dispatches his prey and the desperation felt by Helen and her team as they try to find the killer and bring them to justice.

The addition of a new team member in this book added an extra element of mystery as you try to figure out his motives for joining the team and reason behind his obsession with his new boss. Is he a suspect? Or is he up to something altogether unconnected to the crimes?

M. J. Arlidge has done it again.  He’s written an exciting, grisly thriller that you can’t put down.  He weaves multiple characters and storylines together intricately, masking their full connection until the dramatic reveal. From the start of the book my head was constantly spinning with ideas of how the victims might be connected, who could be doing this and why. The answers were shocking and the author is able to throw us off the scent expertly in order to keep the true identity of this heinous killer a mystery. Reading the previous books did help me connect with the characters but you could definitely pick up this story without having read any of the others and still enjoy a fantastic, nail-biting read.

Released today.

 

Categories
Uncategorised

Book Review – ‘The Lucky Ones’ by Mark Edwards

cof

 

“It was the happiest day of her life.  Little did she know it was also her last

It’s no secret that this year I’ve become a big fan of Mark Edwards’ work.  His books are gripping, haunting and exciting. His characters are well written and the many twists and turns he takes will have you questioning what you thought you knew about them and what the outcome will be.  ‘The Lucky Ones’, my sixth read by this author since June, was no exception and lived up the the brilliance of the books I’ve previously read.

It begins with the murder of a woman by a killer who seems to believe his victim is lucky, that he just helped her.  It’s clear she is not his first kill, and nor will she be his last. When she’s found in the grounds of an old, ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises that she is dealing with a serial killer, this victim being the third one found fitting the strange m.o.  As Imogen and her colleagues try to track down the killer before they can strike again we’re introduced to another character, single dad Ben Hofland, who’s just moved back to his small hometown with his eleven year old son, Ollie, following the breakdown of his marriage. As Ben’s luck begins to change he thinks life is finally starting to go right for him, completely unaware that someone lurking in the shadows is watching and waiting for the perfect time to strike.  To make him one of “the lucky ones”.

Once I started reading this book I couldn’t stop.  It was a riveting and captivating book that had me on the edge of my seat from the start.  Although it lacked the eerie twist that is seen in the other books I’ve read by this author, that didn’t make the story seem lacking in any way.  In fact I think trying to add a supernatural element would have made it less frightening as the horrors of this tale were all too real and able to happen to any one of us.  No one ever thinks that a killer wants you to be happy. You imagine they want to terrorise you and make your last moments the most awful of your life, so reading a story where the person who wants to end your life also wants to enhance it was chilling.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well written and captivating crime fiction, thrillers and mysteries.

Out now.

 

Categories
Uncategorised

Publication Day Book Review – ‘My Real Name is Hanna’ by Tara Lynn Masih ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

39346604.jpg

Thank you to NetGalley, Mandel Vilar Press and Tara Lynn Masih for an ARC of this novel.

First of all do not read this book unless you have a whole day free. You will not be putting this book down!

The story is narrated by a teenage girl named Hanna who lives in Ukraine during WW2. Hanna and her family are Jews and the novel tells the story of their lives from 1941 to 1945 when the Germans begin to invade and rid the village she and her family live in ‘free of Jews’. With rumours of death camps and Jews shot on sight whispered between the adults, Hanna’s Papa decided they have no choice but to flee their home and hide in the forest and then the caves near their village.

Hanna describes the confusion, heartbreak, longing, boredom, frustration, hunger and sheer terror of their seemingly never ending struggle so vividly that you feel you are there alongside her. You wonder with her how they can survive this, how anyone could, and despair that such evil exists to want to destroy others because of hate.

This poignant and beautiful story has to be read to truly understand the utter devastation of Hanna’s ordeal and incredible strength in her will to survive it.

I did also enjoy reading the Historical Note at the end of the book. It was so interesting to learn more about the real story that inspired this book and learn more about a time in our history that we should never forget or not learn from.

Out now.

Categories
Uncategorised

Book Review – ‘In Bloom’ by C J Skuse ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

51Q5EULtBfL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Thank you to NetGalley, HQ Stories and CJ Skuse for the chance to read an arc of this novel.

Rhiannon’s back and killing for two…

“If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME!

After her carefully plotted plan to frame her cheating fiance Craig for the murders she has committed was successful, pregnant Rhiannon Lewis is now finding she’s not as happy as she thought she’d be. While Craig languishes in jail for her crimes, she’s living with his parents on the coast and dealing with early pregnancy, journalists vying for her story and that urge to kill haunting her every thought. Then there’s the unexpected complication of the little voice inside her telling her to stop fulfilling her murderess urges or else!  She is frustrated, bored and miserable. Without killing who is she? What is there to make her happy in life? Can Rhiannon give up the thrill of violence and be happy as your run of the mill suburban mum? Can she evade suspicion for her crimes and stop her life crumbling around her as the pressure mounts? Will she ever bond with her baby and is he or she even safe with her as their mother

In Bloom, the fantastic sequel to the book that everyone’s talking about, jumps straight in where Sweetpea left off.  I’d been slightly apprehensive before reading and wondered could it really live up to such a spectacular debut? I needn’t have worried. While there isn’t the shock factor of not having read anything like it this time around, there is again instant tension and dark humour as Rhiannon tries to avoid being caught red handed as the police look for clues against her fiance. I loved being back with this character and even though it was a few short weeks since I read book one I found I’d missed reading her unique, caustic, crude and  witty prose

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about these books is the cultural references that are thrown in at random and regular moments such as “….it’s back like Backstreet”. For me they add to the relatability of the character and make many moments even more hilarious. Putting Rhiannon in the extremely uncomfortable situations of living with Craig’s parents, being pregnant and trying to curb her thirst to kill made it an interesting read that was totally different to Sweetpea, where she’d been in the comfort of her own home, in a job she could do with her eyes closed and in control of who and when she killed. Seeing her become increasingly desperate and overwhelmed as she grappled with where she is now in life, particularly her struggle to bond with her baby and fears about motherhood, humanised her even more. We may not all be serial killers but any mother can recognise that urge to protect your child and worry that you won’t be good enough.  The moments of true emotional anguish and turmoil were another unexpected dimension to her character and a flair of brilliance from the author

This book surpassed expectations. It was hilarious, bloody, heartfelt, scathing, emotional and intoxicating. Rhiannon is the best character I’ve read in years. She’s someone you should really loathe and despise, but instead you find yourself drawn to her and rooting for her. She is the friend with the sharp, quick wit that you’d love to have, bar the murderous tendencies of course. The ending was even more electrifying than in the first book. Now I just have to face the long, arduous wait for book 3 to see what Rhiannon does next….

Out now.

Categories
Uncategorised

Book Review – ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

cof

This classic book is set in the early 1900s in America’s poverty-stricken deep south. It tells the story of Celie, a young black girl who knows only struggle, segregation and suffering. She is repeatedly raped by her ‘Pa’ who then takes away the two children she bears, forced to marry an older man who mistreats her and then loses her beloved sister Nettie after she is sent away. She seems destined to a life of drudgery and pain. Then she meets the alluring singer Shug Avery and life begins to change for Celie. Shug is an independent woman who refuses to marry and has a career that takes her all over the country. She shows Celie there is a different life to be had and that everyone deserves to be loved. Slowly, Celie begins to embark on a journey of self discovery; finding her worth and finding joy in the most unexpected places.

I have had this book on my shelf for over three years. My partner bought it for me for my birthday that year as part of a theme of my favourite colour, purple. I’d obviously heard of the book and the film but had never thought or desired to read it before and in all honesty knew very little about it. As it was a gift I thought I would read it eventually, but it was never a high priority over the multitude of other books sitting waiting to be read. I decided to finally pick it up for three reasons: (1) I kept seeing it come up on Bookstagram, (2) the BookBum Book Club theme for September was ‘Back to School’ and the book is on current school curriculums, and (3) as part of Operation Clear Your TBR on Bookstagram.

As I knew little about this book I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I certainly wasn’t expecting the opening pages to hit you like a bomb, with the horror and violence of this young girl’s life is instantly thrown at you. I found my stomach in knots at her anguish and resignation to such a brutal existence forced upon her. Her helplessness breaks your heart as she allows herself to live this way.  She knows fighting against how her Pa and husband treat her would mean ending up dead and to Celie being alive, even if it means suffering, is better than dead.

I did initially find the book hard to read as it is written exactly how Celie speaks and it takes a little time to adjust to that. However I do think writing the book that way helps the tone of the book and enables you to really get inside Celie’s mind. I also loved how it was written as letters. To me this felt like I was really reading about someone’s life and not a work of fiction.

Having now read The Color Purple I have no idea why I waited so long. It is a beautifully written book that is haunting, heartbreaking and wonderful all at the same time.  I devoured this book and could have read it in one sitting very easily. This novel deserves it’s classic status and if you haven’t read it then I suggest you do so as soon as possible.

Categories
Uncategorised

Roald Dahl Day

Today we celebrate the birth of the man who is arguably the best children’s fiction writer of a generation.  Roald Dahl was born on 13th September 1926 in Cardiff to Norwegian immigrant parents.  After serving in the Royal Air Force during WW2 he then became well known as a writer in the 1940s, initially for his work for both adults and children. He would go on to become a best selling author in children’s fiction.

His much loved stories were known for their dark humour, portraying adults as villains and the children as heroes. He also espoused those of a gentle and warm-hearted nature in his books and underneath the dark humour was an element of tenderness that added to their charm.

I was a child at the time he was becoming so celebrated for his children’s books and he was definitely my favourite author at that time.  I was devastated upon hearing of his death in November 1990; the idea that there would be no more of his wondrous books just seemed so wrong and tragic to me.  As a child you felt like he really understood your world in a way other adults didn’t, and his genius of making adults into villains helped him resonate with his young audience. As an adult I look back at his work with a different perspective: there’s the nostalgia of my childhood innocence and also seeing just how brilliantly funny his work really is. I loved sharing his books with my own children and have no doubt that one day my Grandchildren will be reading them too.

To me, Roald Dahl truly earned the right to be referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th Century”.  Happy Birthday Mr. Dahl 🎂🎉

Question – What are your memories of Roald Dahl and his books? Which is your favourite? Comment below.

 

 

Categories
Uncategorised

‘A Little Bird Told Me’ by Marianne Holmes🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Publication Day book review.

IMG_20180912_145121.jpgThank you to NetGalley, Marianne Holmes and Agora books for the chance to read an ARC of this novel.

Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?

It’s the summer of 1976. A heat wave means perfect weather for swimming at the Lido for 9 year old Robyn (Little Bird) and her brother Christopher (Kit). The only things spoiling their perfect summer is their Mum bringing home women in tears and the town gossip about it, the bullies that mercilessly tease her, the mysterious appearance of The Man in the Cowboy Hat. Then something happens that summer. Something that changes the course of Robyn and Kit’s lives forever. Something Robyn feels she must atone for before it’s too late…..

The story switched between 1976 and 1988, when Robyn and Kit return to the village to solve the mysteries surrounding what happened and so Robyn can right her perceived wrongs. In ‘76 she is a child on the cusp of adolescence, trying to figure out adult secrets and behaviours while also learning who she is. Her sense of frustration and mistakes she makes as a result of childish naivete often left me wanting to shout at Robyn “don’t tell him that” or clue her in but it was great for the story and you felt your heart break with hers as the adult Robyn is filled with deep regret for what those mistakes now mean.

The bond between Kit and Robyn and the intricacies of sibling relationships, are pivotal to this story and are well written. The author weaves the layers of the story elegantly and reveals its secrets in piecemeal; teasing you with the promise of a revelation then ending prematurely so you’re left trying to decipher it’s meaning.

I was so excited to be approved for this book. The premise was intriguing and I loved the fact that it was the chance to read a debut novel. There’s a thrill of the unknown, the possibility of finding a hidden gem of a story and a new voice who you just know you’ll follow the rest of their career. Just reading the introduction to the author started the book with a smile and the sense I was about to read something special. The letter from the publisher solidified those feelings and I wasn’t disappointed in hoping I’d find all those things. I will definitely be reading any future novels by this author. A wonderful book.

Out today  

Categories
Uncategorised

Book Review – ‘The Memory Chamber’ by Holly Cave ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley, Quercus books and Holly Cave for the chance to read and review this novel.

An Afterlife of your own design – what could go wrong?

Isobel is a Heaven Architect. In Fact she’s the best Heaven Architect there is, acclaimed for the beautiful and perfect heavens she creates. Each client’s personalised heaven is comprised of their chosen memories, ensuring them an eternity surrounded by those they love in the highlight reel of their lives. Isobel loves her job but then risks everything when she falls for her newest client, Jarek. When his wife is murdered Isobel is the only one who can prove his innocence and finds that it leads her to the unsavoury side of the business and her whole life crumbling around her.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. The premise was like nothing I’d read before and had my interest piqued with the unique storyline of artificial heavens.You feel like you’re reading about the present day but then little things that are woven in remind you that it is actually the not too distant future. Holly Cave has a beautiful way of writing that paints vivid pictures in your mind as you read.

The book got off to a slow but intriguing start and I found it addictive once the pace increased and suspense heightened further into the story. I was eager to find out who killed Sarah and couldn’t read fast enough as I tried to figure out the answer myself. There were some great twists and the outcome was not one I would’ve predicted at the start of the book, or even until it was almost revealed, my own disbelief at the truth mirroring Isobel’s.

A combination of romance, mystery, thriller and sci-fi all interlaced together to make an unusual, exciting and brilliant read.

Out September 20th (picture courtesy of Quercus books).

Categories
Uncategorised

The Journey Begins

First of all, let me introduce myself ; I’m Emma, I live in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, with my partner, our two teenage boys and two crazy cats. I’m a coffee and coke zero addict (I need my caffeine lol) and my obsessions besides books are anything purple, butterflies, The Wizard of Oz and The Little Mermaid. I also never met a cheesecake I didn’t like. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love books and reading. For years I’ve been obsessed with buying books and anything related to them. I was certainly born with a tbr pile I will never finish 😂

I have Fibromyalgia, M.E and a number of other chronic illnesses (if you’d like to follow that journey my personal insta is @emma_butterfly) and haven’t been able to work for about 7 years now. Fibro and M.E also impact my reading as the brain fog makes it hard to take in what I’m reading, the fatigue can make comprehension impossible and holding a book is painful and often unmanageable. The latter is why at Christmas I finally relented and got a kindle. While I will never not love books, the kindle is so much easier. I can highlight and make notes so I can remember things and it sits on my cushion most of the time so I don’t even have to hold it. I’ve gone from hardly being able to read to being on book 78 this year.

I have an eclectic taste in books and enjoy most genres, though my favourites are crime fiction, thrillers, mystery, true crime, and I’ve got into YA fiction quite a lot this year too. Some of my favourite authors are Jodi Picoult, Tess Gerritsen, M. J. Arlidge and John Grisham, John Marrs, Matt Haig, Mark Edwards and Shari Lapena.

I decided to start reviewing books as I’d sometimes post thoughts on a book online and got lots of positive comments. So, I decided to start taking it seriously as a way to give me something to focus on. It’s great to feel like I’m doing something more worthwhile with my time and I’m loving being a part of the #bookstagram community. I started my page on Instagram on 9th August and decided to as a one month celebration to start an official blog. I’m new to this so please bare with me as I learn the ropes.

Emma 💜🦋📖