Posted in Books I have read, Book Review

A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip – Alex Masters

Non-Fiction 3*s
Non-Fiction
3*s

Alex Masters was given the set of diaries by his long-term writing collaborator, Dido, who had found them in a skip with another mutual friend Richard and slowly, there was certainly never any real urgency, to work out who wrote them and just as importantly, why were they thrown into a skip in Cambridge.

As the title suggests, this is an unusual read with a narrative that reaches back to 2001 and 148 notebooks of different sizes and colours crammed with writing of an unknown person, someone who had felt the urge to document their life. Although Alex Masters has given us selective excerpts from the diaries the book is about how he played detective to find out who the writer was. He does a good job of leading us down some blind alley’s mirroring a true detective story where various statements are offered up as evidence and then dashed when a more certain truth makes itself apparent but… I have to admit that since the author failed to take what his friends advice, that is the most obvious way of finding the clues to the author, this all felt somewhat forced.

In order to find out who ‘I’ was Alex Masters visits libraries, he visits graphologists and he looks up births in a desultory way because when it comes down to it, the author is never really convinced that he wants to know who crammed their days full of writing about themselves. This wanting to know, whilst simultaneously willing the answers to present themselves via serendipitous events gives an odd, almost diffident feel to the book but I suppose while that feeling prevails the reader is perhaps forgiven for being downright nosey and voyeuristic is somewhat veiled. Yes, we all know reading someone else’s diary is wrong and unfortunately, without context or connection to ‘I’ or those in ‘I’s’ life, it isn’t terribly interesting either.

If you were expecting to have a good rummage around in some stranger’s thoughts, this isn’t that kind of book. This isn’t a narrative that starts with a youngster, with linear coverage to old-age, instead it is far more a look at hopes and dreams, it looks at a life spent wishing for something else entirely and then realising the moment has passed. In that respect this is makes for a somewhat sad read, however sympathetically Alex Masters has tackled the subject, the wit he employs never quite lifts the experience sufficiently for it to be anything except poignant.
While pursuing his project on the diary’s author, our author also inserts excerpts from his own life, a friend’s illness, was particularly well-written with a level of intimacy that bought this peripheral character to life in his well-chosen words.

Reading A Life Discarded made me realise how important the subject’s character is and whist you would imagine reading a diary would give you a surfeit of character, in this case, and many other’s I suspect this isn’t the case. We can draw some conclusions, as Alex Master’s did, and would imagine we would see the an emerging wisdom as the writer reaches into old age; we don’t, this ‘I’ appears to reject the growing older and wiser maxim, and that’s the problem when the subject emerges from the pages of the notebooks, I simply wasn’t sure that they shouldn’t have been left within them.

I’d like to thank the publishers 4th Estate for allowing me to read a copy of this quirky book, ahead of publication today, 5 May 2016. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

Posted in Uncategorized

Calling All Budding Novelists!!

WHSMITH
Bonnier Zaffre

I have been asked to remind all budding novelists that Bonnier Zaffre are offering a magnificent prize for one lucky winner! Don’t delay you need to submit before 31 May 2016!

The couple behind Britain’s biggest Book Club, Richard and Judy, are offering a £50,000 publishing deal for first-time authors.

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have launched a lucrative competition to find a new bestselling writer. The winner, who must be a first-time author, will win a £50,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre and receive specialist advice from literary agency Furniss Lawton.

”Search for a Bestseller”, supported by WHSmith, will open to unpublished writers on the 10 March 2016. Writers must submit 10,000 words, plus a synopsis of the novel. It must be a piece of original fiction that is aimed at adults. The full terms and conditions can be found here: http://www.richardandjudy.co.uk/rjbestseller.

After leaving their hugely successful Channel 4 TV series, where they fronted a weekly 15-minutes book club, the couple teamed up with WHSmith in 2010 to continue to share their passion for books. From day one, the Richard and Judy Book Club broke WHSmith records when it’s first recommendation, Sister, by Rosamund Lupton, made Number 1 paperback and became the fastest- selling title by a debut author in WHSmith’s 200-year history. Since then, the Book Club has gone from strength to strength showcasing an abundance of writing talent, from debut novelists to highly acclaimed authors.

Aspiring authors have until 31 May 2016 to submit their entries, via Richard and Judy’s website. The couple will lead the selection process, helped by editors from Bonnier Zaffre and agents at Furniss Lawton. The £50,000 publishing deal will be for world rights.

Mark Smith, Chief Executive of Bonnier Zaffre commented: ‘We are very excited to be teaming up with Richard and Judy to search for their next bestseller. At Bonnier Zaffre, we work closely with debuts and are proud to be involved with authors at every stage of their careers.’

Richard Madeley commented: “Judy and I are so excited to host the “search for a bestseller” competition, it gives us a chance to keep doing what we both love- reading and discovering a fantastic title for our devoted Book Club audience. We can’t wait to read the submissions!”

For further information please contact Emily Burns, Head of PR at Bonnier Zaffre Emily.burns@bonnierpublishing.co.uk or +44 (0) 20 7490 3875.

About The Richard and Judy Book Club
The Richard and Judy Book Club launched in September 2010 and since then has launched Spring (January), Summer (May) and Autumn (September) Book Clubs.

Following an overwhelming response from readers when it launched in Autumn 2010, the Richard and Judy Book Club broke WHSmith records when it’s first recommendation, Sister, by Rosamund Lupton made Number 1 paperback and became the fast selling title by a debut author in WHSmith’s 200-year history.

The accompanying Richard and Judy Book Club website whsmith.co.uk/richardandjudy, boasts an ultimate and exclusive guide to all the Book Club titles, as well as offering access to an abundance of additional content that covers everything you will ever need to know about the duo’s favourite Book Club books and authors. From news and reviews, exclusive content, sample chapters and archive material; to downloadable podcasts – the website has it all, adding even more value for bookworms across the country.

For further information or to get involved in Britain’s Biggest Book Club log on to whsmith.co.uk/richardandjudy.

About Bonnier Zaffre
Bonnier Zaffre is a division of Bonnier Publishing, which encompasses the children’s imprints Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press and adult fiction imprints Zaffre, Manilla and Twenty7. Bonnier Zaffre combines brand new voices with established storytellers to bring a broad spectrum of high quality and innovative fiction to all ages. Bonnier Zaffre is also home to the Totally Entwined Group, a leading e-book publisher in the UK and US.

About Bonnier Publishing
Bonnier Publishing is the fastest growing major publisher in the UK, with group sales of £115m. It has divisions in Australia, France and the USA with 460 employees worldwide. In the UK it comprises imprints Hot Key Books, Piccadilly Press, Zaffre, Twenty7, Manilla, Totally Entwined Group, Templar Publishing, Blink Publishing, Studio Press, Weldon Owen, IglooBooks and Autumn Publishing. Its overseas imprints are The Five Mile Press & Echo Publishing in Australia, Paris based publishers Piccolia and Elcy, little bee books in New York and Weldon Owen US in San Francisco. It is ultimately owned by Bonnier Books, which is a top 15 world publisher with revenue of £550m.

About Furniss Lawton
Furniss Lawton was formed in 2012 by Eugenie Furniss, former head of the UK literary division of William Morris Endeavor (WME) , and Rowan Lawton, former agent at Peters, Fraser & Dunlop and WME. Between them, Eugenie and Rowan have 30 years’ experience in the industry and have represented 50 Sunday Times Bestselling writers.

About WHSmith
WHSmith currently operates over 1,300 stores, both in the UK and in international locations including Northern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. The retailer occupies over 730 retail units in airports, railway stations, hospitals and motorway service areas and more than 600 high street stores. http://www.whsmith.co.uk serves customers online 24 hours a day.

 

So you talented people, dust of those manuscripts and submit – I for one can’t wait to see who wins!

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 4)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading Little Bones by Sam Blake, a book that will be published in eBook format on 17 May 2016.

Little Bones

You can read the synopsis and a short extract from this book in yesterday’s post.

The last book I finished was The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan kindly sent to me by the publishers Penguin Ireland.

The Last Days of Summer

Blurb

She can forgive. They can’t forget.
After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she’s letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.
Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.
Jasper says he’s all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door … Amazon

The Last Days of Summer will be published tomorrow, 5 May 2016.

Next I am going to read the highly anticipated, the author’s previous two books were great and so different from each other, I can’t wait to see what she has in store for me this time! Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica which will be published on 19 May 2016 by Mira UK.

Don't You Cry

Blurb

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.
Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbour town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where 18 year old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister.
As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted rollercoaster ride that builds to a stunning conclusion. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 3)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

The book I am featuring this week is another from the publishers Twenty7 Books; Little Bones by Sam Blake which will be out in eBook format on 17 May 2016.

Little Bones

Blurb

Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.
And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.
Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.
Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?
Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become… NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

PART ONE

Coming Apart at the Seams

In clothing: where two pieces of material come apart and the garment can no longer be worn. Often caused by a weakness and break in the thread.

1

The door to the back bedroom hung open.
Pausing at the top of the narrow wooden stairs, Garda Cathy Connolly could just see inside, could see what looked like the entire contents of the wardrobe flung over the polished floorboards, underwear scattered across the room like litter. The sun winter weak, played through a window opposite the door, its light falling on something cream, illuminating it bright against the dark denim and jewel colours of the tumbled clothes on the floor.

So what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Please leave your thoughts and links in the comments box below!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Wicked Boy – Kate Summerscale

Non-Fiction 5*s
Non-Fiction
5*s

I do love Victorian true crime and Kate Summerscale managed to stumble across a fairly obscure one in 1895 West Ham, that of a young boy, thirteen year old Robert Coombes who was accused of murder and stood trial at the Old Bailey on just that charge.

The beauty of Kate Summerscale’s books are the minutiae of detail that surround the actual substance of the book, and this one is no different. The crime in this instance isn’t the puzzle that we met in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, rather this is a book about the attitudes of the day both in the media and those in the legal profession. It also looks at the contemporary view of the medical profession on inherent wickedness including a fairly popular one that considered children little more than wild animals to be tamed.

Robert and his younger brother Nattie Coombes had gone to watch the cricket at Lords in the aftermath of the murder as well as going to the seaside and playing in the vicinity of their home. However as the accused they could not defend themselves in court:

The law barred defendants from testifying, but since Fox, Robert and Nattie had no legal representation they were entitled to question the witnesses that Baggallay called.

Can you imagine boys of thirteen and twelve who had never been in court before having the wherewithal to question witnesses that accused them of murder? I can’t!

The media was less concerned with this fundamental flaw in the proceedings and were instead highly concerned in the ‘penny bloods’ that Robert devoured. When one journalist at St James’s Gazette was tasked with reading the publications he stated the following:

The task was ‘repulsive and depressing’, he said; the writing ‘brutalised my whole consciousness’, reviving ‘the fundamental instinct of savagery inherent in us all It disgusts, but it attracts; as one reads on the disgust lessens and the attraction increases. ‘The Coombes boys, he concluded, ‘with their intelligence scientifically developed at the expense of the ratepayers, had been wound up to regard murder as a highly superior kind of ‘lark’ by a sedulous study of the worst kind of gory fiction and cut-throat newspaper’.

This of course was one of the first generations of children who had been educated at the Board Schools set up in each district. It seems from this piece that there was a general feeling that this money was wasted on the poorer members of society. The biggest concern however was around the number of the publications of penny bloods that were found in Robert and Nattie’s home, their influence was considered by some as the chief catalyst in the murder – not so very different to our own newspapers in recent years lamenting various films and games that were also a big attraction to teenage boys. In fact there were a number of media reports in this book that could quite easily be transported to today’s press with only minor alterations needed to update them!

This book isn’t just about the murder and the trial though it goes on to follow Robert through his life to see what life for a child murderer looked like in Victorian England. The answer may not be quite what you expect! All through this time Kate Summerscale draws comparisons to other happenings of the day, other crimes that filled the courts, the life of those who lived in the same area as the Coombes boys. Nuggets of priceless information abound the pages with subjects quite wide-ranging while always linked the central story but give lovers of historical facts like me a treasure chest of facts to wonder upon.

Each male patient was allocated an ounce of tobacco a week, drawn from the government stock of contraband seized by Customs & Exercise officer.

With so much to absorb, particularly as my maternal ancestors moved to West Ham around the turn of the Twentieth century and in particular one of the newspaper reports featured in this look at crimes at this time involved distant relatives of mine, there was much to keep me entertained and engaged from beginning to end. The End notes are a delight all of their own:

The sun rose at 3:53 a.m. that morning according to the London Standard of 8 July 1895 and set at 8:15 p.m. The Standard of 9 July reported that the temperature on Monday rose to 81 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.

leaving me in no doubt at all regarding the quality of the research undertaken by Kate Summerscale.

I am very grateful for the publishers Penguin Press for allowing me to read a copy of The Wicked Boy ahead of publication on 5 May 2016 although I’m equally excited to receive my own copy which is on pre-order so I can cross reference the end notes side by side with the main chapters for ease. This review is my own, unbiased opinion.

Other Books by Kate Summerscale

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace

Posted in Books I have read

White is the Coldest Colour – John Nicholl

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

This was one of the hardest book I’ve read in a long-time purely because of the subject matter, child abuse by a suave, determined paedophile who is in a position of power. Fortunately though, having been written by a former Police Officer and Social Worker it is impeccably researched and backed up by his professional experience.

Dr David Galbraith is the first character we meet, he is a child psychologist and the ring-leader of a paedophile ring, and he has an obsession with an eight year-old boy. I won’t deny that the details in the first chapter nearly had me set the book aside but fortunately the rest of the book doesn’t go into the details of the abuse rather it is an exploration of Dr Galbraith’s character viewed by the reader through his interactions with his PA, wife and young daughters as well as those with his patients and their parents, guardians and carers. These different faces that this arrogant and determined man shows the world with his innermost thoughts relayed to the reader that kept me gripped. In this respect it is rare to find a book that goes beyond the text-book definitions, John Nicholl has gone a step further and produced a ‘real-life’ monster resulting in a truly sinister character.

Fortunately we have some good characters in this book to balance out the evil Dr Galbraith. From these viewpoints we see the background to both the investigation and the multiple agencies involved when there is a suspicion of child abuse. Watching from the side-lines, so to speak, of these good people making decisions which will directly impact one young child, the tension ramps up to an almost unbearable level. Of course, as a reader we have pieces of the puzzle that these men and women don’t.

If you like your reads to be set at a fair old pace, this is a book that ticks that box without a doubt. Despite my initial reservations about the subject matter and the feeling of discomfort that lingered even when the book was set aside for real life, I was desperately keen to pick it up again and find out what was going to happen next which meant that I read some of this in short snatches in-between other activities. I know some of you read like this most of the time but I prefer to settle down with a book only when I have a reasonable stretch of time to do so – it really is a measure of quite how compelling the different stories within this book were that I over-rode that rule.

Leaving aside the despicable Dr Galbraith the other characters were well-drawn although if I were being hyper-critical some of the police et al lacked some depth probably because to focus too much on these would have interrupted the pace of the book. However even those viewed purely through Dr Galbraith’s eyes were realistic, his wife and PA particularly so because they were being seen through a distorted lens, a great achievement.

I am really glad I read this book although it will take me quite some time before I will forget some of the disturbing views it explored and I really appreciated the fine line the author trod to ensure that this didn’t become gratuitous. White is the Coldest Colour was published in April 2015 and I bought my copy after reading a number of great reviews by fellow bloggers.

Posted in Uncategorized

#CoverReveal – Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minett

The Hidden Legacy Cover Reveal

I was honoured and thrilled to be asked by the lovely Emily Burns from Midas PR to reveal the cover for the paperback verion of The Hidden Legacy which will be available on 25 August 2016 by Twenty7 books. This book really wowed me and so I think it is fitting it has such a brilliant new cover, one that will soon be gracing bookshelves up and down the land – Isn’t it a beauty?

Blurb

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.
2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .
Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.
But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.
Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . . Amazon

The Hidden Legacy was initially published in eBook format on 5 November 2015 which is how the publishers Twenty7 Books launch the debut novels they have hand-picked for our delight. There was little doubt that it would make one of my Top Ten Books of 2015 Readers of my blog may have been able to predict this as the tone was somewhat gushing, it started like this…

Every now and again a book really hits all the individual spots that make perfect reading experience for me, this is one of those books!

You can read the rest of the review here

I’m not the only one to be deeply impressed by this book, 99 other reviewers on Amazon UK have also awarded The Hidden Legacy the full five stars!!

When I was contemplating which book to recommend to Maxine on the blog set up in her memory Petrona Remembered,  it didn’t take me long to realise this was the one that was the best fit for an ‘intelligent’ crime novel and even better it is immensely readable.

That post started like this…

…being a lover of ‘intelligent’ crime fiction and in my opinion this book, a debut novel, fits that phrase exactly. The Hidden Legacy doesn’t just have excellent plotting, it is one of those books that ask the big ‘moral’ questions wrapped up in a story that touches on some big issues.

Interested? You can read the rest of this review which talks about the many layers to this book, the different time periods and narratives, here

But better still if you prefer reading a physical book then you can pre-order this now and plan to finish the summer with a bang!!

If now you’ve read more about this book you can’t wait to August why don’t you purchase it for your eReader?

You can tweet with Graham at @GJMinett or follow him on Facebook G.J.Minett author – he really is such a lovely man so I can’t quite work out how he dreamt up the shocking opening to The Hidden Legacy

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain – Barney Norris

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Set in Salisbury where five rivers do indeed meet we first learn a little about its history, touching on the magnificent Stonehenge that is built upon Salisbury plain. So although this wasn’t part of the story it does the job of setting the scene in the present when an event causes the lives of five people to collide.

‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’


This is a more literary book than I’m usually found reading, full of metaphors, poetic phrases and a strong theme of story-telling but it is terrifically well-written and avoided the pretension that easily accompanies such a book.
So we are in the city of Salisbury where we meet our first character, Rita a flower seller with a turn of phrase that was certainly unexpected, readers who are averse to bad language may well wonder what on earth Barney Norris is playing at but once you get past the obvious Rita’s story has hidden depths, some of which only become apparent later on, it is definitely worth moving onto Sam. Sam is a sixteen year old boy who lives in a house where talking isn’t normal. This story really touched me and I felt it was an accurate portrayal of a young man on the cusp of adulthood. The other stories, involve an elderly man a recent widower, a woman whose husband is serving in Afghanistan who is one lonely woman without roots, and finally Liam, who has returned to his hometown after the end of a relationship.

Each of these five stories is a portrait of a person at a certain point in their life and each and every one has elements that had me feeling empathy and even understanding for them, and yet these aren’t headline stories, what made the tales so delightful was that they examined the everyday happenings which dominate individual lives. One or a combination of these stories may well have happened to you, they certainly will have happened to someone close to you and yet the way the tales unfold was far from ordinary. In essence it reminded me that we all have stories to tell, some are just bigger than others.

The triumph of this book was the intersecting of these dissimilar characters, their troubles are their own, the way they deal with those problems are individual and yet there are threads criss-crossing Salisbury that connect them all, some in the past, all in the present. In the hands of a less accomplished writer it would be easy for these connections to feel false, to rely too much on coincidence and yet Barney Norris avoids any clunkiness, there is absolute authenticity in the device as well as the characters.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning the writing style which for all the poetic turns of phrase and strong metaphors didn’t fall over the line into pretentiousness, the real reason why I tend to avoid ‘literary books’ and it was far from an expedition which favoured style over substance. I won’t deny that one of the five stories was less compelling to read than the other four but perhaps because I didn’t connect with this one through my own experiences, but other readers will have their own favourites I’m sure, but even this one had enough links to the others to keep me hooked. If only all literary books were this accessible and enjoyable!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Doubleday who gave me a copy of this book for review purposes, this unbiased review is my thank you to them. Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, the debut novel by playwright Barney Norris was published on 21 April 2016.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

When this book turned up, beautifully wrapped and with a complimentary book mar and a do not disturb sign I really wasn’t sure what to expect, and so with some trepidation I embarked on another psychological thriller, but this time there was a difference the most obvious being the setting. I’ve not read one yet based on a cruise ship. As a warning for any of you looking forward to a summer cruise, this book may well make you think again!

The book opens with Sarah telling Adam that she’s off to a conference for a few days and will return to Ireland from Barcelona early next week. Despite wanting to go with her, Adam has finally had his big break, his script has been accepted and he needs to spend their time apart re-writing. The young couple have been together for a good decade and finally they will have some money so life is looking good. Having told Adam that her texts and calls may be infrequent Sarah sends just one to say that she’s landed, and he hears nothing else…

This is an incredibly well-plotted tale with realistic and likeable characters, not for Catherine Ryan Howard the instant panic and breast-beating that weaker books indulge in, rather Adam behaves in a normal fashion, starting off by telling himself why everything is ok, getting a tad worried, becoming panicked and cycling between these states until revelations changes his view of their relationship entirely.

In amongst Adam and Sarah’s story we witness life on a cruise ship as told through the eyes of one of Blue Wave’s employees, Corrine. Corrine cleans the cabins, makes friends with a new employee and shows us around the staff quarters. I’ve never been on a cruise ship but it all sounded totally authentic to me. The crew work hard to make the fortunate travellers have a good time, working around shortages and minor mishaps as many a service provider does the world over.

We also hear from a young boy in 1990s France whose relationship with his mother is a little rocky to say the least. There is something very unsettling about these pages and their inclusion serves to enhance the already elastic-band-about-to-snap tension in the rest of the book.

But the really scary bit is the way that crime on a cruise ship is managed based upon would you believe it nationality. The police force responsible for the ship is that in the jurisdiction its registered so our cruise-liner which makes trips between Barcelona and Nice in France is actually the responsibility of the police force of the Bahamas, unless, you happen to come from the US who have their own laws, then any serious crime is investigated by the FBI, fascinating stuff!

What more can I say? The plot was excellent, the writing captivating and the characters realistic. There were a number of heart-breaking moments, a few of those wonderful ‘aha’ moments when bits of the puzzle slid into place and a smooth writing style full of suspense that urged me to keep turning those pages – a brilliant debut from an author I hope we hear a lot more from in the future! Innovative books are what we need and so despite the psychological thriller tag that I won’t repeat but gets added to many book titles these days, this was in fact something different, the type of read that simply can’t be compared to anything else!

I’d like to thank the publishers Corvus for sending me a copy and this review is my unbiased thank you to them. Distress Signals will be published on 5 May 2016 and look out that week as I have a special blog post for the blog tour.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 27)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading a hard-hitting psychological thriller; White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl who worked as a policeman and a child protection officer.

White is the Coldest Colour

Blurb

Be careful who you trust…
The Mailer family are oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage.
Fifty-eight year old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic predatory paedophile employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters.
Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality. Amazon

I recently finished Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris which despite not being a book I would have thought to pick up in a bookshop (my copy came unsolicited from the publisher) made for exceptional and thought-provoking reading. My review will follow soon!

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Blurb


‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life. Amazon

Next I am planning on reading The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale which is due to be published on 5 May 2016.

The Wicked Boy

You can read the synopsis and a short excerpt in yesterday’s post.

What are you reading this week? Do share in the comments box below