Imagine you are feted author with the world at your feet. You have a startlingly successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home. You go to teImagine you are feted author with the world at your feet. You have a startlingly successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home. You go to teach on a week-long residential writing course in Northumberland and meet a talented but troubled young woman. The chemistry between you is instant and you embark on an all-consuming affair like the ones you write about: or do you? Exquisite is a breathless and claustrophobic read which captivates you until the final page. I literally could not put it down. It's been a long time since I read a psychological thriller as good as this. I could see the action unfolding in my mind and already have a clear picture of who would play these characters in a TV or film adaptation.
The way in which Sarah Stovell has crafted this book requires a tremendous amount of skill. The narrative completely reflects the obsessive and confusing nature of the relationship between Bo Luxton and Alice Dark. Exquisite is layered to perfection and ensures that your sympathies never lie with one person for very long. Sadly, it's terrifyingly believable.
Stephanie Butland's third novel, Lost for Words, is being touted as a book lover's dream book and I'm rather inclined to agree. Loveday Cardew works iStephanie Butland's third novel, Lost for Words, is being touted as a book lover's dream book and I'm rather inclined to agree. Loveday Cardew works in a second-hand bookstore and prefers books to people. She has her favourite first lines tattooed on her body and an acerbic wit to keep people at bay.
Loveday is prickly to say the least but I, like several of the characters in this book, love her. The relationships between the characters are really intelligently written and are therefore totally believable. The attention to detail in this novel really adds to the story. I loved the scenes in which Loveday would discover notes in the margins of books or past treasures hidden in between the pages.
Stephanie Butland has created a compelling yarn, combining romance with deeper, darker questions and a well-drawn cast of characters that I was fully invested in. The flashbacks are skillfully woven into the present-day narrative to give the reader just enough information to keep them guessing.
I absolutely loved this book, for a bibliophile, it really has it all - performance poetry complete with original poems, relevant literary references everywhere you look in addition to characters to care about.
In the words of Shelley Harris: 'I cried like a motherf***er.'...more
If you haven't already read Six Stories, I recommend that you rush to your nearest bookshop and purchase it now. And then read it. Most likely in oneIf you haven't already read Six Stories, I recommend that you rush to your nearest bookshop and purchase it now. And then read it. Most likely in one sitting.
Six Stories, published by Orenda Books, is the book everyone is talking about and I, for one, would be happy to wax lyrical about it until... well, the end of this blog post but you know what I mean. In fact, I loved this book so much that if you meet me face-to-face, you will undoubtedly hear me refer to this book at least once during our conversation. I appeared at Pure Fiction on Thursday night and mentioned Six Stories during the Q&A. I did also mention other books too, obviously.
Anyway, Six Stories is a real stroke of genius. Following on from the success of podcasts like Serial, Six Stories revisits a mysterious death that occurred on the fictional Scarclaw Fell in 1997. The official verdict was death by misadventure but, twenty years on, the podcast aims to reexamine the circumstances and relationships surrounding teenager Tom Jeffries' death. The elusive presenter, Scott King, interviews the key players and encourages listeners to draw their own conclusions.
You can tell Wesolowski has taken a real interest in podcasts and he mimics the style of them with considerable aplomb. As with Serial, Six Stories builds up a picture each week and, just as you think you can conclude something, you're given a new piece of information that confuses or confounds your theory.
This is a brilliant character study and an interesting take on the benefit and wisdom of hindsight. I also loved the sinister undertones (although it made walking around my house at night slightly terrifying).
Six Stories is utterly compelling and despite being entirely engrossed, I defy you not to be shocked by the ending.
An original concept with excellent execution - totally unputdownable! ...more
A small Scottish university town is in thrown into chaos following a grizzly murder and a targeted bombing. Rumours abound of a terrorist plot which mA small Scottish university town is in thrown into chaos following a grizzly murder and a targeted bombing. Rumours abound of a terrorist plot which may or may not be linked to the disappearance of a soldier and lecturer.
DCI Jim Carruthers, having recently moved back to Castletown to get over his marriage break-up, finds himself dropped into the middle of a seemingly ever-expanding investigation.
In order to stop the violence and solve the crime, Carruthers must work with DS Andrea Fletcher - who has her own problems - to catch the perpetrators. However, the appearance of Jim's old enemy, terror expert McGhee, adds further complications to the investigation.
Robbing the Dead poses many interesting questions particularly in our ever-changing world. Recent events - Brexit, the attack on London last week and the death of Martin McGuinness - added so much depth to this story. There are lots of narrative strands to keep the reader interested and
Tana Collins has created two really compelling characters in Carruthers and Fletcher and there is plenty of potential for them to appear in more books. ...more
Although 'Matching the Evidence' is the third in the DI Harry Evans and Major Crimes Team series, don't worry if this is your first meeting with HarryAlthough 'Matching the Evidence' is the third in the DI Harry Evans and Major Crimes Team series, don't worry if this is your first meeting with Harry - 'Matching the Evidence', published by Caffeine Nights, can be read as a standalone story.
As always with Graham Smith's writing, 'Matching the Evidence' is dark, gritty and packs plenty of punches. There's a real tension that runs throughout this story and, due to its length, you will want to devour it in one sitting. Not only do you get this brilliant short story but you also get a sneak preview of 'I Know Your Secret' - Harry Evans's next case.
The Harry Evans series tackles a range of modern issues with a real grit and it looks like this cop is one who will be around for years to come. ...more
Bradford is the new Gotham and disgraced DI Harry Virdee is the city’s Dark Knight.
Despite his wife being due to give birth to their first child, HarrBradford is the new Gotham and disgraced DI Harry Virdee is the city’s Dark Knight.
Despite his wife being due to give birth to their first child, Harry undertakes the biggest battle of his career in order to discover the truth behind the brutal murder of a powerful public figure. Not only is he suspended from work, but he has to work with a man he despises in the form of former BNP leader Lucas Dwight in order to get to the bottom of the hideous crime.
Dhand doesn’t sugar coat his home city or his main character and that makes Streets of Darkness all the more hard-hitting. Harry Virdee isn’t a perfect cop, he’s got his dark side too. Virdee’s inner conflict works well in this novel, leading to an ever-increasing sense of tension which kept me turning the pages long after I should have gone to bed!
A.A. Dhand has perfected the art of slick crime drama, creating flawed characters and a compelling narrative. There are some killer lines of poetic prose in this novel as well as being fast-paced and utterly fascinating. I honestly couldn’t tear myself away from this fantastic début....more
Bettina May has opened a bakery in the village of Throckton and she’s a hit with the locals. Bettina, though, is hiding from something – and the memorBettina May has opened a bakery in the village of Throckton and she’s a hit with the locals. Bettina, though, is hiding from something – and the memory of an event that Bettina has been running from for fifteen years is about to confront her and send her safe life into a spin.
Having read Stephanie Butland’s debut novel ‘Surrounded by Water‘ (later retitled ‘Letters to my Husband‘), it was a pleasure to return to Throckton and catch up on the lives of the characters from the first book. However, the real pleasure for me in this book was meeting Bettina May, the secretive newcomer.
Bettina’s passion for bread and baking really appealed to the bread-addict in me and I found myself salivating over some of the tantalising descriptions of Bettina’s creations! I thought it was a great idea to put some recipes at the end of the book, too.
The cover may suggest that this is chick-lit, which it is to some extent but it is so much more than that, too. The relationships portrayed in ‘The Other Half of my Heart‘ are complex and completely believable. Stephanie Butland does not shy away from tackling uncomfortable topics and I respect her for the honest but sensitive way she portrays the issues in this book.
The slow-burn of having Bettina’s current life interspersed with flashback chapters really made me care about the central character as well as being able to empathise with her regarding the predicament she finds herself in. I found myself in tears several times during this story because I cared so much about Bettina....more