Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Image of You – Adele Parks

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

It’s always good to read Adele Parks books when you want to escape life and The Image of You was no different.

It all starts with Anna joining a dating website to find the man of her dreams. This romantic and lovely woman in her early thirties has come to accept that she will never find him if she waits for their eyes to meet across a crowded room. Anna has recently moved to London and as you’d expect she’s had her heart-broken but she’s also across the Atlantic from her family, her parents and her twin sister Zoe. The girl’s names designed to bookend the alphabet also have entirely different personalities. Zoe isn’t sweet and romantic, she’s a woman who parties hard, is flirty and unpredictable. Zoe is however on hand to make sure that Anna’s profile is designed to meet someone suitable, not someone who will hurt her.

Anna meets Nick, a high-flying banker who joined the site to worm his way into places other than a girl’s heart. Nick isn’t looking for love, he’s looking for fun. But he meets up with Anna and finds that sometimes a wholesome woman is better than his normal type.

So far so simple. Girl meets boy. Boy likes girl but only time will tell whether he is going to be the womanising cheat that Anna is keen to avoid. And then Zoe visits London and we find out what she makes of the relationship.
This was a compulsive read and so even though I guessed which direction the story was going in, I was still doubting myself until all was revealed. The twin’s characters whilst overtly stereotypical at the outset became more nuanced the further through the book you read so although Anna was way too sweet and perfect for my taste and Zoe far too wild, there was a proper back-story to explain their extremes. I think it is impossible for someone who isn’t an identical twin to be fascinated by this closest of all the genetic relationships, after all they are closer to each other in this respect than they are to their parents, or children if they have them. This alone makes the story a great premise and as it progresses this relationship is the one at the heart.

I also enjoyed the realistic portrayal of internet dating. The different aims of the people who use it in this consumer society is demonstrated in the early scenes which doesn’t forget the assumptions made by others about those who choose this method to find a partner.

Ultimately this is a book about relationships, not just romantic but between siblings, parents and workmates. Nick’s scenes with his mates and his colleagues all had an authenticity about them which are often rare in women’s fiction.

The Image of You kept me turning the pages, of course to find out how it all ends, that’s a given, but the author kept me interested in these people who I maybe would avoid in ‘real life’ but who fascinated with throughout the book.

I am very grateful to the publishers Headline Review who provided me with a copy of The Image of You ahead of the publication date for the paperback of today, 22 February 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 February 2018
Publisher: Headline Review
No of Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 21)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy 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

Well at the moment I’m reading Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton which is the second of my Classic Club reads.

Blurb

‘He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface’

Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena’s vivacious cousin enters their household as a ‘hired girl’, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. In one of American fiction’s finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio towards their tragic destinies. Amazon

That was after finishing The Image of You by Adele Parks, a compulsive read that had me entertained throughout with a surprising amount of perception.

Blurb

Can you ever trust someone you meet online?

Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing – or no one – can rip them apart.
Until Anna meets charismatic Nick.
Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.
Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar.
Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems.

Lies may hurt. But honesty can kill.

Next I’m going to be reading the psychological novel by one of the mistresses of the genre; Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris.

Blurb

The Disappearance
Twelve years ago Finn’s girlfriend disappeared.

The Suspicion
He told the police the truth about that night.
Just not quite the whole truth.

The Fear
Now Finn has moved on.
But his past won’t stay buried… NetGalley

Having made a big effort to read some of my own books as well as joining The Classics Club has really mixed up my reading this year which means I’m approaching each new book with even more enthusiasm than previously. It was one New Year’s resolution that has been worth sticking to.

So what do you think? Do any of these titles take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 7)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy 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 The Girl in the Woods by y Camilla Läckberg which will be published on 22 February 2018. This book is the tenth in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck series.

Blurb

A missing child
When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjällbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered.
A murder
Back then, two teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could it really be a coincidence that one of the girls – now a world-famous actress – has just returned to Fjällbacka? Detective Patrik Hedström starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.
A community torn apart
But as Patrik and Erica dig deeper, the truth becomes ever murkier, because it seems that everyone in the tight-knit community is hiding something. And soon, the residents must confront the fact that they could be harbouring a murderer in their midst… Amazon

The last book I finished was The Last Day by Claire Dyer which will be published on 15 February 2018. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from this tale and my review will follow soon, but in the meantime I can say I was instantly drawn into this tale full of emotion but told in an enigmatic fashion.

Blurb

They say three’s a crowd but when Boyd moves back into the family home with his now amicably estranged wife, Vita, accompanied by his impossibly beautiful twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend, Honey, it seems the perfect solution: Boyd can get his finances back on track while he deals with his difficult, ailing mother; Honey can keep herself safe from her secret, troubled past; and Vita can carry on painting portraits of the pets she dislikes and telling herself she no longer minds her marriage is over.

But the house in Albert Terrace is small and full of memories, and living together is unsettling. For Vita, Boyd and Honey love proves to be a surprising, dangerous thing and, one year on, their lives are changed forever. Amazon

Next I plan to read The Image of You by Adele Parks which is being published in paperback on 22 February 2018 but already available in eBook format and hardback if you can’t wait.



Blurb

Can you ever trust someone you meet online?

Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing – or no one – can rip them apart.
Until Anna meets charismatic Nick.
Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.
Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar.
Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems.

Lies may hurt. But honesty can kill. Amazon

What does your reading week look like? Have you read any of my choices? Are you planning to?

Please leave your comments in the box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 19)

Last Sunday we managed to have a family trip to watch Murder on the Orient Express and although we weren’t completely convinced by some of the attempt to inject some fast-moving action into the story-line, a good time was had by all. Kenneth Branagh’s moustache was especially impressive.

The week finished with my annual visit to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Book Sale with a dear friend. The consequence of helping her find some great books to read is that I have a nice pile of new (second-hand) books.

This Week on the Blog

My first review this week was of The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst, an exciting read which despite the supernatural bent I still enjoyed despite normally avoiding books that bend in that direction.

My excerpt post was for an upcoming read The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans, historical fiction which I hope will make me feel more elegant by default.

My This Week in Books post featured authors Gillian McAllister and Nicci French and a whole heap of others (what is a collection of authors called?) in the CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour which is edited by Martin Edwards.

My second review of the week was for The Scandal by Fredrik Backman, a book that totally won me over despite my doubts at the beginning of the read. I’m was so impressed I know this needs to be in the top ten reads of 2017.

And then I reviewed Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister which has also contributed to the now total confusion of what my best reads of 2017 are going to be – I’ve never had quite so many late contenders!

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, a story where the past doesn’t merely collide but crashes into the present. With the present part of the story feeling right on the button with a strand that explores the needs of Syrian refugees which was sensitively explored without the need for the author to over state her views on the subject. With an equally enthralling past mystery, or two this was a welcome reminder of just how skilled this author is.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb


‘There are lots of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kinds of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . . Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well apart from the Eleven books I picked up at the books sale which include three Reginald Hills, two Agatha Christies, Anne Cleeves, Kate Atkinson & Beryl Bainbidge amongst others, I also have added The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton which will be published in February 2018.

 


Blurb

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath… NetGalley

And Fiction Fan has started her annual awards and given that she awarded The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes her winning entry for the Vintage Crime Fiction/Thriller 2017 award despite having Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate on the list meant I have to try it for myself.

Blurb

The Buntings are an elderly London couple who have fallen on hard times. They take in a lodger with the strange name of Mr. Sleuth, who pays handsomely for their shabby rooms. He seems to be a perfect gentleman but none the less they begin to suspect that he may be the Jack-the-Ripper-like serial killer known in the press as ‘The Avenger’. As the number of murders in the city begins to mount, and Mr. Bunting’s teenage daughter from an earlier marriage comes to stay, the couple must decide what to do about the man in their upstairs rooms. An early example of a psychological suspense story and a brilliant evocation of the fog-bound and gaslit streets of late Victorian London, The Lodger is still a wonderfully compelling thriller. Amazon

Finally I have a copy of The Image of You by Adele Parks from Headline Review which will be published in paperback on 22 February 2018 although if you can’t wait it is available for the kindle now.



Blurb

When all you can see is what they want you to see… Can you ever trust someone you meet online?

Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing – or no one – can rip them apart.

Until Anna meets charismatic Nick.

Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.

Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar.

Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems. Amazon

tbr-watch

All of those books mean that despite reading 4 DNF 1, having gained just a few more than that, my TBR now has stands at a total of 180
Physical Books – 108
Kindle Books – 55
NetGalley Books – 17

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Stranger in my Home – Adele Parks

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

This is the first novel I’ve read by Adele Parks having previously assumed that she wrote light women’s fiction I’m afraid I’d never looked beyond the covers, until I saw this, her latest contemporary fiction book. Reading the blurb I couldn’t resist the premise, imagine someone coming along, telling you that the child, the perfect daughter, that you’ve lovingly cared for over the past fifteen years, isn’t your daughter!

I know an unlikely opener but that’s what happened to the fictional Alison when a handsome stranger, Tom Truby knocks on her door one evening. The story he tells is terrifying as it appears that his daughter Olivia, is actually Alison’s, and her beloved Katherine belongs to Tom, a recent widower.

Adele Parks having set off the bomb in her happy and blessed couple Alison and Jeff then reveals how they react to the news. Is Jeff, a writer, able to observe the destruction right at the heart of his family in his normal observant if removed style? What about the naturally more anxious Alison? What about her new daughter, Olivia who has just lost her mother? And yes the questions just keep rolling in and the author make us wait for the answers by weaving a storyline so tight around those affected. I must admit I had my strong suspicions about a key aspect of this plot fairly early on, but there was enough misdirection dripping off the proverbial pen, that I wasn’t entirely sure, which only served to increase my satisfaction to be proved right.

All of the characters, including the teenagers (Tom has three children in all) are realistically portrayed as they cope with an upheaval that would test anyone’s sanity. Given the unusual situation they behave with the range of responses that seem entirely plausible and not anywhere near as outrageous as a less confident author might have been tempted to take them. The tension is however, palpable. How on earth will the families resolve the issues that the accidental swap has posed?

With the action starting in the autumn term the author cleverly marks the time with annual events such an autumnal walks with Tom’s dog and Bonfire Night we see everything unfold through Alison’s eyes in the first person present tense. Can she come to terms with the fact that Katherine is not biologically hers and deal with the fact that Olivia, who is at best stand-offish, reflects so many of her own characteristics. There are also secrets from the past that helpfully muddy the already murky waters.

With all of the elements of secrets, half-truths and lies running through the entire book, this could have easily been quite a depressing read but there were many interjections of wry humour to lighten the read with observational humour, simple but incredibly effective in keeping this reader turning the pages, completely engrossed in all the different elements. This meant that the original self-satisfied Alison became far more appealing, not just because who wouldn’t sympathise with someone in her situation but because she keeps moving forward, overwhelmed and distraught she might be, but she’s also not prepared to lose her daughter without a fight.

This was a gripping read, well-plotted and full of suspense. It is not light women’s fiction but something entirely darker and full of foreboding. In many ways it reminded me of Lisa Jewell’s novels, a story that pulls you in which also makes you laugh at life, making for one very satisfying reading experience.

I was lucky enough to be offered a copy of The Stranger In My Home by Amazon Vine ahead of the paperback publication on 9 February 2017 although it was published in eBook format on 28 September 2016.

First Published UK: 28 September 2016
Publisher: Headline Review
No of Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (October 23)

Weekly Wrap Up

I will be in Wales having celebrated a wedding of one of my partner’s school friends when this post gets published. Sadly my reading still isn’t up to the normal rate, real life is just too busy at the moment. That said I have managed to write a respectable four reviews this week.

Monday’s review was from The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane by Jane Housham. This is a non-fiction historical true crime story set in the Gateshead area in the mid-Victorian era. The book is as much about what happened afterwards taking in a look at the newly opened Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane – a fantastic read that easily deserved the full five stars.

Tuesday’s excerpt came from the fifth in Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone series, Blood Lines which was up to her usual incredible high standards – my review of this book will be published soon.

On Wednesday my reading week also took in Elly Griffiths and Alex Caan, neither of which were finished at the time of writing this post but hopefully I will manage some reading during the travelling!

Thursday’s review was of Pariah by David Jackson, a book I purchased following his incredibly A Tapping at my Door. This series is set in New York and is an action packed thriller.

I returned to the historical crime fiction on Friday by reviewing a shortlisted book for the Man Booker Prize; His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – a stunning read which was also set in the mid-Victorian era, this time in Scotland.

My final review of the week was for the stunning debut The Two O’clock Boy by Mark Hill, a book that reaches back to the 1980s for the seed of a current murder spree.

 

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall. Although I personally preferred the earlier books featuring Kate Austin set in the UK, this book set in Luxembourg has lingered in my mind which to me says I probably liked it more than the review at the time suggests.

Nowhere Girl

Blurb


From the top of the Ferris wheel, Ellie can see everything. Her life, laid out beneath her. Ellie looks up. She wants freedom.
Down below, her little sister and mother wait, watching as people bundle off the wheel and disappear into the crowd. No Ellie. Must be the next box.
But the Ferris wheel continues to turn.

When Ellie goes missing on the first day of Schueberfouer, the police are dismissive, keen not to attract negative attention on one of Luxembourg’s most important events.
Probation officer, Cate Austin, has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realises just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself.
She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the centre of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie’s whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home. Amazon


Stacking the Shelves

This week from NetGalley I have a copy of Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham, an unusual choice for me but I read Jubilee by this author many years ago which was a huge hit with me so I’m hoping for not only a change of style but more great writing.

another-day-gone

Blurb

Coventry, 1939. Days before the outbreak of World War II, a terrorist bomb explodes on a busy street, killing and maiming innocent civilians. A man is hanged on the evidence given by a young witness. As time goes on, the witness doubts her recollection of events, but her testimony has already had far-reaching consequences.
Over sixty years later, in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings, Sara returns to her childhood home to find that her sister, Polly, missing for more than ten years, has finally come back too. Why now—and where has she been? The sisters grew up under the fierce protection of their nanny, Bridie, herself haunted by a family secret. And there are other secrets that Bridie has kept from the two girls she brought up as her own. Polly’s return sets in motion events that will stretch the women’s fragile bond to its breaking point.
Set against three generations of violence and retribution, Another Day Gone reveals the enduring consequences of a single mistaken memory. NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of The Stranger in My Home by Adele Parks, a book that caught my eye because I’ve heard wonderful things about this author but haven’t read any of her books.

the-stranger-in-my-home

Blurb

What would YOU do if your child wasn’t yours?

Utterly compelling, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks’s new contemporary novel The Stranger In My Home, is sure to move, grip and delight her fans, along with readers of Liane Moriarty, Jane Shemilt and Lisa Jewell.

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world.

Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it.

Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.

The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose. Amazon

Lastly, unrequested but gratefully received from Trapeze Books is a copy of Ragdoll by Daniel Cole. Fortunately this won’t be published until 23 February 2017 so I have a space on my spreadsheet for it!

ragdoll

Blurb

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move? Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 2 books, and gained 3 and so my TBR has reached a new high of 182 books!

93 physical books
69 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?