Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Her Husband’s Lover – Julia Crouch

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

This book sits firmly in the psychological thriller genre, not only is this completely mind-blowing it is a fast-paced read too. Not that I expect anything less from this excellent author who I think is one of the best writers in this genre.

The book opens with a woman, later we discover, Louisa Williams, being chased in her car by her husband Sam. Worse still she isn’t alone in her white Fiat, her two young children are in the back. Louisa wakes up from the resulting coma in hospital, alone and to add insult to injury is told that she is ‘lucky.’ That’s not quite how Louisa sees it! Sam may have lost his life in the crash but Louisa has to live her life without her precious children.

It doesn’t take long, not long enough for the reader to have absorbed the shocking facts of the car crash, that we discover that Louisa’s battle is far from over. Not anywhere near recovered Louisa is visited in hospital:

“If you survive,” the voice says, “if you survive, I’m not going to let you get away with it. If you survive, you’d better watch out, Louisa.”

As Louisa gets stronger and faces the inquest into Sam’s death her name is prefixed with ‘Tragic’ in the media but Louisa is strong, and with the help of her lawyer, Fiona, she moves away from the home she shared with Sam and starts a new life in a new home in a new city with a new job with a new name, no longer Tragic Louisa!

Sam had a lover, Sophie and she doesn’t believe the inquest verdict. As far as she’s concerned the Sam she knew wouldn’t have driven Louisa off the road on purpose but Sophie has lied before, she has form and no-one wants to hear from the devoted mistress.

For a while we hear the outline of the run up to the crash and slowly it becomes clear that this isn’t the straightforward domestic violence storyline you are expecting. Oh no, imagine the darkest books you’ve read in this genre, and then go blacker still. Some of the clues are given by Louisa herself while other parts of the story are revealed by Sophie and somewhere in the middle, perhaps is where the truth lies? You will need to find out for yourselves though…

And that is all I’m going to say about the plot because like all these types of books, the least you know before opening the first page, the more enjoyment you’ll get from the resulting ride which isn’t unlike the opening scenes. One moment you’re travelling along a fairly well-known road, with a bullish husband, a meek wife and a dodgy affair, the next everything is turned on its head before you roll down the slope not knowing which way is up… or down.
What Julia Crouch does to keep the story anchored in reality it to insert scenes that are so familiar that we all have reference points, this is reality. After all many of us may not have been to an inquest, but most of us have started a new job. Some of us may even have started a new job and realised that we have chosen the wrong clothes, as Louisa did. Those of us who are parents may well have attended a mother and toddler group and faced the embarrassment of having the child that is at the ‘grabby stage’ and had to face down the poor subject’s hostile mother. These scenes are so spot on, written in a style that makes them more than just a footnote to the storyline, a means of bonding the reader with the character, the common ground that says ‘I know you’

The plotting is sublime, the use of the information to flesh out the story while at the same time keeping that tension maintained through what is a fairly long book is no less than an art form. All of this contributed to the feeling that although on one level unlikely, this really did happen and Louisa and Sophie exist along with the other incredibly life-like people that inhabit Her Husband’s Lover. This is a stupendous read one that deserves the real world to fade away and let you enjoy the scary journey.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Julia Crouch who sent me a copy of this book complete with a written card some time ago. It has taken a huge amount of willpower to leave it until closer to the publication date of 26 January 2017 to read and review, but the wait and anticipation was worth every minute.

First Published UK: 26 January 2017
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages:  480
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Books by Julia Crouch

Cuckoo
Every Vow You Break
Tarnished
The Long Fall

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 18)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lipsyy 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

My current read is one for my Mount TBR challenge The Cipher Garden by Martin Edwards the second in the Lake District Mystery series. I purchased this one in  December 2015 and having really enjoyed the first in this series, The Coffin Trail, last month I think I’m in for a treat.

The Cipher Garden

Blurb

I thought you were dead…’
In the peaceful village of Old Sawrey, in the idyllic Lake District, Warren Howe is brutally slaughtered with his own scythe by a mysterious hooded figure. The police have several suspects, but there is insufficient evidence to make an arrest.
Years later an anonymous tip-off sparks the interest of DCI Hannah Scarlett, who heads the local Cold Case Review Team. With the help of historian Daniel Kind, Hannah digs deeper in the quest for truth and discovers that, in Old Sawrey, old sins cast long shadows. Following the killer’s trail, Hannah arrives at a shocking conclusion, one that will change lives forever. Amazon

I have just finished the excellent, gripping, page-turning extravaganza which was Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch – my proper review will follow shortly!

her-husbands-lover

Please see yesterday’s post for an excerpt and the synopsis.

Next up is a book which has caused great interest amongst the early readers on twitter; Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough and comes complete with the hashtag #WTFthatending

behind-her-eyes

Blurb

Only two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He’s a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

As Louise, David’s new secretary, is drawn into their orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong–and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets. NetGalley

So that’s what I’m reading this week – what have you chosen? Do let me know in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 17)

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.

My opening paragraph this week comes from Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch, another book I’ve been looking forward to reading with a huge amount of anticipation.

her-husbands-lover

Blurb

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her? Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

‘Get back. Get back!’
In the roar of the night, her blood-red eyes flick to the rear-view mirror. Behind, the scarlet Porsche bears down on her, the headlights dazzle blinding her, even through thick sheets of rain. She takes a sudden turn onto the unmade track that leads to the clay pits. But, he follows, stuck to her like the devil. Stones ricochet against the side of her little white Fiesta, whose worn wheels lurch in and out of potholes, which, brim-full of water, are deeper than they appear in the darkness.
The children, blanket-wrapped and strapped snug in the back, do not stir.
Thank God.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well that definitely got my adrenaline rushing and there was no way I wanted to stop after this opening paragraph although I dreaded to read what would come next.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 25)

Weekly Wrap Up

Another horrendously busy week here, so sorry that I haven’t kept anywhere near up to date with your comments & tweets, I will get around to them all today, I hope.

Last Week on the Blog

Following last weekend’s blogathon for Agatha Christie’s birthday Monday continued the theme with a review of The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, a fictionalised account about the Queen of Crime.

My excerpt on Tuesday came from The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, the second psychological thriller I’ve read this year set on a ship, the first being Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Wednesday’s post captured my reading for the week – all crime this week!

Friday saw me post a review one of the books I didn’t get to in my 20 Books of Summer Challenge, Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

The last review of the week was one of my own books; A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward which I had to buy because In Bitter Chill, her first book, was an exceptional read.

 

This Time Last Year…

Coincidently last year I was reading the second book by Kimberly McCreight, Where They Found Her which tells the tale of a fledgling reporter who investigates the death of a small child whilst being conflicted by personal issues.

A snippet from my review indicates that she coped!

A very satisfying and intricate novel which I really enjoyed, this is very much a character driven novel and although the police are involved to be honest it is lucky for them that they have someone who is as keen to get answers as Molly because they don’t seem to have much of a sense of urgency, or even the most basic detection skills.

Where They Found Her

Blurb

Motherhood hasn’t come at all easy for Molly Anderson. But she’s finally enjoying life as mother to five-year-old Ella and as Arts reporter for the small but respectable Ridgedale Reader. That is, until a body is found in the woods adjacent to Ridgedale University’s ivy-covered campus. This is a discovery that threatens to unearth secrets long buried by the town’s most powerful residents, and brings Molly to two women who are far more deeply connected than they have ever realised.

Where They Found Heris a riveting domestic thriller which offers a searing portrait of motherhood, marriage, class distinctions and the damage wrought by betrayal.

 

Stacking the Shelves

Well it was the annual book sale here on the island, held to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sadly rumour has it that this is the last one and consequently there were fewer books than normal as they are running down the stocks rather than adding to them. Even so I managed to add a few to the stack, all in a good cause of course.

booksale-2016An Agatha Christie featuring Miss Marple – The Thirteen Problems
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill – the only book I could find by this author, this being the 11th in the Dalziel and Pascoe Series
The Island by Victoria Hislop because I visited the former leper colony Spingola on my holiday to Crete this year
The Murder Room by PD James for  nostalgia’s sake
I’ll Be There For You by Louise Candlish for a lighter reading moment
and a portrait of Henry James written by Colm Tóibín in The Master
The London Train by Tessa Hadley, I’ve already read so this can go to the charity shop!

I also was a winner! From Linda’s Book Bag, a blog really worth following for the sheer breadth of books she reviews,  I won a copy of The Conversation’s We Never Had by Jeffrey H. Konis

the-conversations-we-never-had

Blurb

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. Amazon

I was delighted to get a copy of Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch through the post with a lovely message from the author! This book will be published on 26 January 2017.

her-husbands-lover
Blurb

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.
Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.
But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.
And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her? Goodreads

I also did a bit of shameless begging for the latest, long-awaited book, by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly called He Said/She Said. This book has a publication date of 23 February 2017 and as you can see is still awaiting its cover design.

he-said-she-said

Blurb

He said it was consensual.
The woman said nothing.
But Laura saw it…
… didn’t she?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.
Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.
When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.
As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.
But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light. Amazon

From NetGalley I was incredibly excited to receive a copy of The Fifth in the Kim Stone Series, Blood Lines by Angela Marsons which will be published on 4 November 2016. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’ve got time before the latest episode is released!

blood-lines

Blurb

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them… NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have only read 2 books, and gained 10 and so my TBR now totals a diabolical 180 books!

90 physical books
70 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Long Fall – Julia Crouch

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller
4*’s

If you are looking for the perfect holiday read then this may just be it. Julia Crouch takes her readers on a journey to the island of Ikaria, taking in France and Athens on the way and the descriptions of the adventure Emma James is embarking on is extremely evocative especially with an adults perspective of what lone travelling can mean when everything you need has to be carted from one grotty hostel to the next. Set in 1981 Emma James is travelling alone, full of the bravado that only a sheltered eighteen year old can possess, especially when that young girl is determined to leave the northern town of Ripon behind, along with her boring parents and have an adventure before going to University with a tale to tell. Sadly the trip isn’t quite what she dreamed of and the events are set to change her life forever.

In the present Kate is the ‘Face of Kindness’ having set up a charity to help young girls in Africa, a charity born out of despair following the death of her young daughter Martha. Having conquered her fear of flying to visit a newly opened school she is back at home with her hedge fund manager husband Mark and teenage daughter Tilly. When Tilly announces she wants to go travelling Kate’s tenuous grip on normality begins to unravel but worse is still to come, a bit of her past comes bounding back into her life and choices must be made.

I love books that flip backwards and forwards through time particularly when the past is in the form of journal entries, and this one has the added distinction of the past being set during a trip where the life’s normal boundaries are different. I felt I was there with Emma, drinking at the tavern, sleeping on the roof and meeting new people feeling that she was following in the footsteps of her favourite writers. The spell was only momentarily broken when modern phrases crept into the journal that weren’t exactly authentic to the time it was set in, but I was able to forgive this and favour instead, the fast-moving plot and maternal feelings I felt for the young Emma, alone and unsure in a foreign land.

To enjoy this book you do have to leave some logic behind especially in relation to some of Kate’s decisions and I have to admit I guessed most of the outcome but I wasn’t quite sure enough that it spoilt my enjoyment of this fast-paced and disturbing book.

I was delighted to receive a free copy of this book from the publishers Headline ahead of the publication date of 19 June 2014 as I have read all this author’s previous novels.

Cuckoo – Psychological thriller set in the domestic setting. Polly comes to stay with Rose and her family and doesn’t seem to want to leave but not before strange things start happening.

Every Vow You Break – I wasn’t as convinced by this story with its setting New York. Marcus and Laura decide that a break will hep their marriage so travel with him while he works on a play.

Tarnished – An outstanding read which I was absorbed and repulsed by in equal measure. Read my review here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (March 7)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

This week I have just one addition from NetGalley, and this is one from an author who I’ve read all their previous books, The Long Fall by Julia Crouch

The Long Fall
Blurb

How far would you go to protect your secrets?
Greece, 1980
Emma takes part in a shattering, violent event. An event to which she is anything but an innocent bystander.
She is only eighteen, but this marks her fall from innocence.
It will haunt her for the rest of her life.
London, now
Kate has the perfect existence: a glossy image, a glamorous home, a perfect family.
But there are cracks.
All is not what it seems.
And now the two worlds are about to collide.
Somebody’s out for revenge.
Someone who has been waiting thirty years… NetGalley

And showing an unseen amount of self-control, no new books have made their way into my house this week! I have however, seen a few good books that I have added to the TBR.

From Fleur In Her World I came across The Lie Of You by Jane Lythell

The Lie of You


Blurb

Can you hide your deepest fear?
To the outside world, Kathy is the very picture of a happy and fulfilled modern woman. She has a beautiful baby boy, a clever, handsome husband and a glamorous, high-powered job.
But not everybody is fooled. Her employee, Heja, knows the truth: the cracks in Kathy’s marriage, her self-doubt, her fear of failure at work. Heja is perfectly placed to destroy Kathy’s life. And if she succeeds, she can claim the one thing she wants most…GoodReads

See Fleur’s review here

A kind visitor to my blog L has recommended the following book; Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Tigers In Red Weather

Blurb

Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha’s Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their ‘real lives’: Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.
Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena’s husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena—with their children, Daisy and Ed—try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same. Goodreads

Lastly Bilbliophile By The Sea featured the following book on her blog; You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz  and to me this sounds like the perfect read.

You Should Have Known

Blurb

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself, devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice. Grace is also the author of You Should Have Known, a book in which she castigates women for not valuing their intuition and calls upon them to examine their first impressions of men for signs of serious trouble later on. But weeks before the book is published, a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disast and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.

My last book that I have added to the TBR was found on Crime Fiction Lover’s blog Never Look Back by Clare Donoghue.

Never Look Back

This is another book that deals with stalking to add to my other recent reads on this subject, The Book Of You by Claire Kendall and Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott

Blurb

Three women have been found brutally murdered in south London, the victims only feet away from help during each sadistic attack. And the killer is getting braver . . .
Sarah Grainger is rapidly becoming too afraid to leave her house. Once an outgoing photographer, she knows that someone is watching her. A cryptic note brings everything into terrifying focus, but it’s the chilling phone calls that take the case to another level.
DI Mike Lockyer heads up the regional murder squad. With three bodies on his watch, and a killer growing in confidence, he frantically tries to find the link between these seemingly isolated incidents. What he discovers will not only test him professionally but will throw his personal life into turmoil too.
I’d love to know what you have all found this week….Goodreads

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Tarnished – Julia Crouch

Women's Fiction 4*'s
Women’s Fiction
4*’s

I thought Cuckoo, the debut from Julia Crouch was a really good read, although I wasn’t as impressed with the author’s second book Every Vow You Break, so I had reservations before reading this book which I received through Amazon Vine. I’m really glad I gave it a go; an intriguing story backed up by skilful writing meant that this was an enjoyable read.

Peg has no childhood memories of being brought up by her lovely grandmother, Dolly in the same house as her obese aunt Jean. When Dolly starts suffering from dementia Peg decides to track down her father but maybe she should have left the past where it was? Peg is in a relationship with a much stronger partner, Loz who is pushing her to find out what it was that the family are reluctant to reveal to Peg. Events soon take a very dark turn as the two women dig into the past.

Julia Crouch manages to raise the tension in this book with the aid of Peg’s slowly returning , memories, the descriptions of the house where Dolly has hoarded stuff and Jean’s obesity are so well described it made my skin crawl. The reader may need to suspend a certain level of belief, particularly towards the end but it is no less thrilling for that. A book to become absorbed in and to be repulsed by in equal measures, I can’t wait for the next one.

See my reviews for Julia Crouch’s previous books

Every Vow you Break

Every Vow You BreakEvery Vow You Break by Julia Crouch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this story as much as Julia Crouch’s debut [[ASIN:B004P8ITIS Cuckoo] which I thought was a great read.

The first half of this book seemed to meander introducing us to Lara, her actor husband Marcus and their 3 children, teenage twins Olly and Bella plus 4 year old Jack. They are moving to Trout Island in New York as Marcus has been asked to play the lead part in MacBeth at the local theatre. There are lots of bemusing happenings in the creepy house, Olly finds some local layabouts and Bella falls in love. Meanwhile Lara decides that she is no longer in love with her husband partly due to her recent abortion which she felt he’d forced her into. It’s fair to say the break isn’t going to plan.

After the very long build up, during which I didn’t warm to any of the characters, an awful lot happens in the last few chapters. As the main revelation had been fairly heavily signposted earlier, it wasn’t as exciting as it could have been. There are still a fair number of loose ends by the end of the book which added to my disappointment.

Hopefully Julia Crouch’s next offering will be more to my taste.

View all my reviews

Cuckoo

CuckooCuckoo by Julia Crouch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this book and it certainly held my attention, I was eager to find out what happens to Polly and Rose the two best friends from Brighton who’d first met at the age of 7.

The book is set in a rural part of England near Bath and describes the pain and pleasures of renovating a home to bring up the perfect family, then…. Polly’s husband Christos has died and she wants to bring her boys back from Greece and Polly offers to let them stay.

At first I sympathised with Rose but as the book goes on it is slowly revealed how she is no innocent. The relationships between all the characters are well defined, Rose and her husband Gareth have recently gone through a bad patch and he is reluctently persuaded to let Polly stay, then things start to unravel but whose fault is it? I can’t say too much without spoiling the story but no character in this book is a role model.

I have wavered between a 4 and 5 start review mainly because I wasn’t overly convinced by the last section when Rose and Polly visit Brighton but make no mistake this is a great debut book and is not to be missed.

View all my reviews