Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Beside Myself – Ann Morgan

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction

I’ll be completely honest that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the synopsis of this book which was kindly sent to me by the publishers Bloomsbury. It mentions literary thriller, but that could cover a multitude of sins, the key word psychological complex and but the word that really caught my attention was twins!

I opened the book and the style of the language gave me some insight into the literary part of the marketing. The voice is that of a young girl, something I’m not too keen on, but then not too many pages in while not thrilled I became involved in the story of the six year old identical twins who swapped names and by default roles. Ellie who became Helen was no longer the naughty twin, but the new Ellie’s frustration at being cast in the role soon meant that she took on the characteristics of it. The new Helen refused to swap back and their mother, neighbours and teachers refused to believe that it had ever happened and at times Ellie began to wonder whether she’d imagined it, maybe she was Ellie after all. Her distress is only compounded by the new Helen’s success, in comparison she is outgoing, sweet-natured and popular.

The tale is told partly in the present, 2013 while the other part follows the new Ellie from the day of the swap as she grew and lived the life seemingly prescribed to her by her name through the next twenty-five years. We watch from afar as Helen grows from a popular, well-liked young girl, while Ellie becomes more awkward and prone to risky behaviour. This is one harrowing tale, not so much because of overt violence or anything of that ilk, although Ellie finds herself in some horrible situations, but the unravelling of a mind unsettling and distressing.

What this book isn’t is a thriller in the normal sense of the word, that said I did want to know how life would work out for Ellie given the complex difficulties she faced so we follow her through some awful times as life goes from one disaster to another. Be warned there is very little uplifting about this story as it soon becomes clear that the family has other secrets hidden in plain sight so that the reader comes to realise them before Ellie herself. But this book isn’t about solving the mystery for Ellie, it is about watching her coming to certain realisations herself through the highs and the lows. While the ending is more positive than the rest of the book, there are still enough questions about what might happen next to keep you wondering.

Beside Myself
will be published on 14 January 2015 and I’d like to thank the publishers for allowing me to read a copy of this book.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 6)

This Week In Books

Hosted by 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

So I’ve finally started one of my most anticipated reads for early 2016; Coffin Road by Peter May, with a story set in The Outer Hebrides.

Coffin Road


A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive and borderline hypothermic. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road. He does not know where it will lead him, but filled with dread, fear and uncertainty he knows he must follow it.
A detective crosses rough Atlantic seas to a remote rock twenty miles west of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. With a sense of foreboding he steps ashore where three lighthouse keepers disappeared more than a century before – a mystery that remains unsolved. But now there is a new mystery – a man found bludgeoned to death on that same rock, and DS George Gunn must find out who did it and why.
A teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her father’s death. Two years after the discovery of the pioneering scientist’s suicide note, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would wilfully abandon her. And the more she discovers about the nature of his research, the more she suspects that others were behind his disappearance.
Coffin Road follows three perilous journeys towards one shocking truth – and the realisation that ignorance can kill us. Amazon

I’ve just finished Beside Myself by Ann Morgan which wasn’t the book I was expecting, but more of that when I review it… soon.

Beside Myself

Read the synopsis and a taster in yesterday’s post.

Next up I have a copy of The Widow by Fiona Barton which I received the first chapter of when I went to Crime in the Court back in June – since then I managed to get a full copy which will be published on 14 January 2016. I’m really looking forward to this is the premise is one that fascinates me in real life…

The Widow


We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.
But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.
Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.
But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.
Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 5)

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.

This week the opener comes from Beside Myself by Ann Morgan which will be published on 14 January 2016 kindly sent to me by the publishers Bloomsbury.

Beside Myself


Helen and Ellie are identical twins – like two peas in a pod, everyone says.
The girls know this isn’t true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.
Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.
But Ellie refuses to swap back…
And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself – until eventually only ‘Smudge’ is left.
Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister’s dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?
Beside Myself is a compulsive and darkly brilliant psychological drama about family and identity – what makes us who we are and how very fragile it can be. Amazon

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Out into the garden, sunlight blaring, Ellie lumbering after. Run along you two, don’t get into mischief. The leaves of the apple tree are blotching us with shadows.

Chapter 1

Ribbons of sound. The bright streamer of a child’s giggle, an ice-cream van’s flourish swirling like a sparkler in the gloom, the chatter of a long-finished game. Bird song spiralling, then stiffening and falling to the earth, congealing into something hard and metallic, measured out in mechanical portions, a harsh trilling. Again A pause. Again.

Note these excerpts come from a proof edition of Beside Myself

So what do you think? Do you want to know more?

If you have an opening to share, please leave your link in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (October 24)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

This week I am starting with a bit of history – Dead Centre by Joan Lock with a fictional murder in Trafalgar Square in 1887.

Dead Centre


1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
Trafalgar Square. London.
Unrest has been building for days, the unemployed gathering daily to protest and nightly to sleep.
The police are exhausted by extra duty; blamed for failing to do more to prevent the disorder, they grow increasingly bitter about the protesters’ accusations of brutality.
When a prominent member of one of the new socialist organisations is found dead at the foot of Nelson’s Column, it only adds more fuel to the protesters’ fire.
DI Best and Constable Roberts must juggle competing priorities as they search for the killer and attempt to manage the Trafalgar Square situation.
To make matters worse, Best catches a glimpse of Stark, a man guilty of murder in Whitechapel — the only witness to the crime is Florence Bagnall, Roberts’s fiancé.
As tensions rise and time begins to run out, Best realises that something terrible is about to happen…and that he may be powerless to stop it. NetGalley

I also have a copy of The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth which magically appeared on my reading shelf because I clicked on the invitation – not a book I would usually have chosen but I’m going to give it a go.

The Things We Keep


Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. NetGalley

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan came courtesy of Bloomsbury, this book will be published on 12 January 2016.

Beside Myself


Beside Myself is a literary thriller about identical twins, Ellie and Helen, who swap places aged six. At first it is just a game, but then Ellie refuses to swap back. Forced into her new identity, Helen develops a host of behavioural problems, delinquency and chronic instability. With their lives diverging sharply, one twin headed for stardom and the other locked in a spiral of addiction and mental illness, how will the deception ever be uncovered? Exploring questions of identity, selfhood, and how other people’s expectations affect human behaviour, this novel is as gripping as it is psychologically complex. Goodreads

And finally Midas PR sent me a book that I’m really looking forward to reading; The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minett which is being published in eBook format on 5 November 2015.

The Hidden Legacy


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 . . .
Graham Minett’s debut novel, The Hidden Legacy, is a powerful and suspenseful tale exploring a mysterious and sinister past. Amazon

Today is the day of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Book Sale here in Jersey, so it is likely that there may, just possibly, be more books added to my shelf before the day is done.

What have you found to read this week? Do share!