Saturday, 21 January 2017

"Perfect Remains" Helen Fields

Perfect Remains (D.I. Callanach, #1)

This is a brand new Detective series from Helen Fields and will be devoured by fans of crime thrillers. It's been compared to MJ Arlidge and I think it will definitely hold it's own against the bestselling authors in this genre.

Set in Scotland the book opens with the discovery of a body in the remote Highlands. All that is left to identify the victim are a fragment of clothing and a tooth. It appears to be the body of lawyer Elaine Buxton but then if it is, why is the real Elaine Buxton screaming in the darkness of a hidden room in Edinburgh? DI Luc Callanach, new to the area and the team investigating the crime, needs to prove himself but can he solve this mystery before any more women are abducted? This is a killer who covers his tracks with meticulous care and whose mind is more twisted than anyone first imagined.

Fields starts this Detective series with an engaging premise and a really gripping opening. This is a novel that is gruesome, quite graphic in places, violent, dark and with a character that redefines "menace". 

What is unusual about Fields' detective book is that we know who the murderer is from the outset. We read chapters narrated by him, see his thoughts, watch his actions, get inside his disturbed head and more frighteningly know his name, meet his colleagues and follow him about his daily life - the public and the private! Although readers are often introduced to a chilling narrative from the murderers point of view, it's often anonymous so actually, it's a bit of a privilege to be given so much information about this character. Although it doesn't feel like it when you are reading it! I think this premise of knowing the captor from the outset is really interesting and begs questions about empathy, engagement and the sort of relationship the reader forms with him. How does it affect our reading of the novel and how does it affect the way we relate to his character, his actions and his victims?

But this really is not a character you want to really become involved in. As with all deliciously dangerous and dark criminals, he is warped, deluded and irrational. He also has the necessary intelligence and ability to appear publicly unassuming while working within a respectable, middle class profession.

He has a plan. He has a detailed, masterfully prepared and thoroughly considered plan. He is meticulous. He will not be caught. And like his chosen victim, he is "driven" and "constantly improving." Although initially appearing in control, he is subject to outbursts of extreme violence which are deeply unsettling and did make me want to turn away from the pages. But Fields is unflinching in her determination to make this book memorable and to make King a powerfully convincing and authentic murderer.

Her portrayal of him also means she has to create an equally memorable protagonist to eventually outwit him. And she does.

Detective Callanach is an interesting character. Half French and half Scottish, arriving from Lyon to start a new job in Edinburgh in a role that the rest of the team seem to begrudge ("How the hell did he end up walking straight into a detective inspector post?") it feels as if there is a lot stacked against him which immediately creates more tension and suspense within the novel. I enjoyed this angle of the book as we see the detective in a slightly different way to the more conventional way. We are used to detectives having emotional baggage and being disliked but Fields has presented us with something a little bit more refreshing here which certainly adds to the book.

There is also plenty here that intrigues the reader about the "clouds under which he'd left Lyon" and his backstory.  There is plenty here to be explored over future instalments and provide plenty of character development.

However, in "Perfect Remains", Callanach's real challenge is whether or not he has the ability to solve this crime and track down a murderer who is experienced enough not to leave any clues or make any mistakes.

"There would be no fingerprints, he thought. A man who found such a perfect place to destroy a body didn't leave prints."

This is a well written debut and a great first instalment in what will surely be a successful series. The setting, characters, dialogue and action are all depicted well and although perhaps a little too brutal in places for me, it definitely has all the ingredients for a bestselling detective thriller. I think the fact the audience know the killer from the outset and that the detective is out of his comfort zone create an exciting dynamic.

And to be honest, with a cover like that, there is no way any lover of crime, suspense, murder and detective novels will be able to walk past it!

"Perfect Remains" will be published on 26th January by Avon.

For more recommendations and reviews please follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

"The One" John Marrs

The One

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner - the one you're genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking - and deadlier - than others...

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I requested this book because I had seen so much about it on THE Book Club on Facebook. It seems  John Marrs is an author readers fall in love with - whatever their DNA determines! And now I can see why!

It's also a great cover - very eye-catching and definitely captures the atmosphere of the book.

This novel has such a great premise - it's so contemporary and so reflective of a society where we are time short and overwhelmed with technology, apps and algorithms. It reminded me of some of the concepts behind much more classic dystopian and futuristic novels but written in a style that is a little lighter and very accessible. Not that this is a light read - it's a page turner and the exceptionally brief chapters ensure you race through the stories but the emotion issues, dynamics and events are not in any way superficial or in any way making light of the course of true love and the debate of following your head over your heart.

But don't be deceived into thinking that this is another story along the lines of "Love Actually" or some kind of predictable RomCom. Marrs alerts us to the fact that this will be a novel full of surprises by opening with a shocking moment of drama and suspense. In chapter 2, we are introduced to a very sinister and dangerous voice of one of the people who is awaiting their match who clearly has a much more deadly agenda:

"He rose to his feet and returned to the kitchen to find here where he'd left her minutes earlier, lying on her back on the cold, slate floor, the garrotte still embedded in her neck."

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this novel but it is not difficult to do that. Marrs ensures that each snapshot or mini story is distinctive and each narrative voice different enough that we do not get confused. In fact we enjoy such a thorough exploration of the numerous journeys of love and the contrast in settings, characters, situations and endings. Marrs also manages to create characters which are convincing, with enough depth and complexity to engage the reader in every single storyline and with every single relationship. I enjoyed the variety of voices and admire the consistency which Marrs achieved as he sustained so many threads throughout the 370 pages. The reader happily invests in each relationship and is eager to find out what happens next to each couple trying to find their ideal match.

There were lots of couples to vouch for in this book - lots of couples where you wanted the match to work. There were couples where you didn't want the match to work. There were characters that you wish could meet their match and there were characters who you definitely wished wouldn't meet their match! I didn't really have a favourite storyline but enjoyed them all equally.

"You know that I love you with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but...what if we aren't actually soul mates?" 

Indeed, what of these characters who have decided they are meant to be together even though they haven't taken the DNA test? What happens if your genetic makeup means you aren't a good match? Marrs asks questions not just about falling in love, following your heart, being governed by your head but also the power of knowledge, the development of science and the danger of secrets.

Another thing I enjoyed was that apart from the very creepy voice of the murderer, the rest of the sections appeared to be more like plot lines you might expect to come across in RomCom and ChickLit. For a while I thought I knew where everything was heading and was looking forward to the happy endings I thought were coming. But Marrs doesn't let this happen. He has plenty of revelations, twists and turns which means the story lines suddenly propel off in a different unexpected direction. He manages an ambitions story arc with ease and keeps challenging the reader's expectations about the relationships and characters in "The One."

I'm not entirely sure I can define exactly what genre this book should sit within. It's a psychological thriller, it's a murder story, it's police procedural, it's crime, it's drama, it's romantic. It's immensely satisfying!

This is a story of happy endings, sad endings, tragic endings and satisfying endings. It's a story about fate, destiny, whether you can control the path of true love or whether it controls you. It's about why we fall in love and what keeps us in love.

As one of the characters says:

"Sometimes the grass isn't greener on the other side and we should stay in the field where we belong. And sometimes we just need to take a gamble and hope for the best."

I'm sure book groups, friends, married couples and partners will enjoy the debates that could grow from reading this book! Should love be a mathematical equation? Can we build a relationship merely on a scientific formula? And what about making mistakes? What about heartbreak? What does falling in love mean and what really does make for a perfect relationship?

As Valentine's Day approaches, why don't you read "The One" and enjoy watching how far people will go to find that perfect match?

"The One" will be published on 26th January 2017.

For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

"The Girl Before" JP Delaney

The Girl Before

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

This novel follows the story of two women in two different time frames: Then, Emma and Now, Jane. Immediately this creates a sense of intrigue- both lives are obviously connected somehow and obviously the connection must be through the flat that we see the women moving into. What happened to Emma while she was at One Folgate Street and what might happen to Jane while she rents there? What happened to the girl before?

First we meet Emma and her boyfriend Simon. After suffering a recent, very traumatic break in, Emma needs to move to somewhere she feels safe. One Folgate Street seems to offer this. Designed by an architect, it is minimalist in design and managed by the most state of the art equipment and technology. As the estate agent says, "No matter how often I come here, it always takes my breath away." Emma is completely blown away by the stunning effect of the beautifully designed open space with a particularly unusual staircase as its central feature:

"It's like something hewn into a cliff face: floating steps of open, unpolished stone with no hand rail or visible means of support."

But before Simon and Emma can secure their tenancy there, they need to read the rules.

"'Basically it's a list of dos and don'ts. Well, don'ts mostly. No alterations of any kind, except by prior agreement. No rugs or carpets. No pictures. No pot plants. No ornaments. No books-'
'No books! That's ridiculous!'" 

Well I have to agree with that!

After agreeing to the rules, there's a test to complete and an interview to attend. Landlord Edward Monkton has complied a demanding questionnaire that is like some advanced psychometric test. The questionnaire begins by asking the prospective tenant to list every item they consider essential to their life and then continues with some fascinating, searching, thought provoking and down right difficult questions which appear throughout the novel, breaking up the chapters and sections. This is a really clever technique - as well as breaking up the narrative and therefore creating more tension, Delaney also uses it to show the growing sense of unease that the reader, and the tenants, begin to feel towards One Folgate Street and JP Delaney. Some questions did distract me from the story a little as I couldn't help but wonder how I might answer and briefly consider the dilemmas they proposed, but ultimately they make you wonder why a landlord would be posing such complicated questions and what he was driving at?

However, the main thing that appeals to Emma is that because of the technology, the gadgets, the sheer cleverness and intelligent programming that runs the house, she feels completely safe here. This is a house where "Nothing bad could happen to you."

The chapters alternate between Emma and Jane. Jane also needs a fresh start. For her, One Folgate Street offers a sanctuary; a de-cluttered, open, clean space where there are no traces left of what should have been. But as soon as she moves in she realises that behind this polished facade there lies a secret. She sets out to untangle the truth from the lies but can she stop herself from making the same choices? Unwittingly, she begins to follow the same path as the girl before.

The most captivating character in this book is the flat itself. It is described so well that it really dominates the novel. It is so dramatic and so stunning in its design; so decluttered and pristine. And then there's the sophistication of the technology, for example the way the tenant wears a bracelet which triggers the shower - including your preferred temperature - and as the agent explains there are:

"'Ultrasonic motion sensors. Coupled with a detector that adjusts the level according to how dark it is outside.....Then you choose the mood you want from the app. Productive, Peaceful, Playful and so on. It adds extra UV in the winter so you don't get depressed.'" 

Both Emma and Jane see this flat as not just somewhere incredible to live, but as somewhere that will change them as a person. As if the presentation of a clean, clear space with nothing out of order- a place of perfection where everything is so efficiently controlled, will somehow bring the same order to their lives. As Emma says:

"Perhaps the house will turn me into a better person. It will bring order and discipline to the random chaos of my life."

Although JP Delaney's novel is really a psychological thriller, I think they might also be exploring a much larger metaphor. One Folgate Street seems to represent the internal state of Edward Monkton's mind; his quest for perfection, his quest for control. It also creates a metaphorical space to explore the internal struggles of the characters and to raise questions about the trouble people go to when trying to control their lives- hoping that the way we organise our homes may create a sense of order across our mental entanglements.

And then what's really compelling about the flat is the way that it's character begins to become so sinister. From being a home where Emma and Jane felt spoilt, treated, special and privileged, it then seems to become unfriendly.

"It feels like I'm being watched."

As their tenancy continues they are expected to complete assessments - hot water and other amenities are shut down until Monkton has the data he requires. The only search engine that Emma and Jane can access is "Housekeeper" which then controls what results they view. Gradually they realise that actually the landlord has a lot of information about them and can actually monitor every thought, every decision and every action.

Is this a house or is it a prison? Is it a space in which the characters are trapped? Is it a privilege or a punishment to be here?

"What if the house itself decides not to protect me? How safe am I really?"

And who is behind the house? Who is controlling the house? Why are they controlling the house? What happens the tenants who stay in the house?

I can imagine this book making a very good film. The location would be visually so stunning and the character of Edward Monkton is as intriguing, attractive and as chilling as characters like Christian Grey or perhaps occasionally more sinister like the captor in John Fowles' "The Collector."  Emma is complex - again with shades of Rachel from "The Girl on the Train" and Amy from "Gone Girl" - there is much more to her than meets the eye. And Jane - perhaps the most likeable character out of them all- but not a straightforward one. Each character has their own issues, emotional fragility and fallibility. Again this made me feel like One Folgate Street really was more metaphorical of something more internal and more psychological.

It's a page turner. It's going to be popular and it's going to appeal to all those who are enjoying the new titles within the rapid growth of the "GripLit" genre. It should become a film.

"The Girl Before" will be published on January 26th 2017 by Quercus. My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a review copy.

For further recommendations and reviews please follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

"The Trophy Child" by Paula Daly

The Trophy Child

Confession time. I have three of Paula Daly's books on my kindle but this is the first one I have managed to fit into my review schedule and actually finally get around to reading! And I now I know why I see so many rave reviews of her novels and that all the enticing things said about her writing are true!

I'm so glad I rushed to get an ARC of "The Trophy Child" but I must say, never has a book come along at a more pertinent time in my life!!

"The Trophy Child" is about Karen Bloom, tiger mum extraordinaire. Karen runs a tight ship, rushing Bronte from music lesson to dance lesson to school to more music lessons, believing that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She has an unending quest for perfection and excellence which she focuses particularly on her prodigy daughter Bronte.

But despite Karen's dedication to preserving a carefully constructed facade of a perfect family, things are beginning to crumble. Her son from a previous relationship is developing a drug habit, her step daughter Verity is beginning to rebel and protect Bronte and her husband Noel is trying to remember why he ever fell in love with this tough, driven, assertive woman who is putting her family first at the very expense of the family.

And then tragedy strikes. Bronte goes missing. And from then on, every boundary, barrier and wall that Karen has constructed around the Bloom family starts to collapse.

This is a good read. There is murder, mystery, drugs, bullying, sibling rivalry, infidelity, suspense and tension. What's appealing about this story is that, like any great psychological thriller writer, Daly takes a family that are seemingly ordinary. A family that is not unlike some you know or with features that you recognise in families in your community and shows that with a little digging beneath the surface things are not always as perfect as they seem. Daly explores the devastating consequences that can befall a family when they stop communicating, lose sight of what they really want for each other, what they really mean to each other and set off on a course of action that can only lead to dramatic results.

I don't think this novel was particularly good for my blood pressure. Or my stress levels. That Karen, wow, she really is a piece of work.

"You've not even got your shoes on. You know how I hate to be late. Being late is not who I am. Not who you are, Bronte Bloom. Late people are not only disorganised, they are disrespectful of other people's time. Is that how you want to be regarded? As disrespectful?"

And she doesn't let up. Ever. And that is how she speaks to everyone, all the time. Even Noel her husband. Karen truly believes she is doing the right thing by Bronte - she really isn't as bothered about Verity or Ewan as they clearly don't have the potential or talent that she is fostering in Bronte - and even just reading about the exhausting schedule she keeps Bronte to made me want to lie down. Listening to the mechanics of her life, the routine, preparation, the appearance puts the reader in a spin and what's even more upsetting is that Karen is completely devoted to Bronte. She thinks this is what she should do for her daughter, that this is the way to love and cherish her.

"Karen was a tiger mother and she was proud of it. Why shouldn't she be? Just because ordinary mothers had decided it was wrong to push their offspring, just because they took the easy way out, saying it wasn't a mother's place to mould a child into greatness, it didn't mean Karen had to go along with it. Because they would say that, wouldn't they? It was an easy way to justify their own lazy lives, their own acceptance of mediocrity."

You see, utterly charming isn't she?! Daly's characterisation of Karen is excellent. She is detestable. There is not one redeeming feature about her. Because she is so proud of her actions and behaviour, because she is so sure of herself and so deeply unpleasant to everyone else, it is easy to dislike her and not feel guilty about your reaction to her. I had no sympathy for her. Even when Bronte goes missing, it is hard to feel much sympathy for Karen as she does not miss an opportunity to make vicious comments, carry out underhand behaviour and make unrealistic demands on the police. She really is vile. And although usually it's fun to 'love to hate' the bad guy, it wasn't much fun here. It was just hating to hate the bad guy the whole way for me!

In contrast is our detective Joanne Aspinall. Calm, unflustered, real, genuine, and human. Joanne is perceptive. She will not be riled or goaded by Karen. She will not be brushed off by Noel or fooled by Verity. She will ask the questions, probe further, dig deeper. The background about Joanne and her personal relationships happening alongside the investigation paint the picture of a flawed woman, but a woman whose integrity, intelligence and balanced life view keep emphasising the dysfunctional behaviour of the Bloom family. It's a great balance.

Noel, the husband is a bit of a disappointing character - deliberately so I think. He is worn down by Karen. He is too weak to stand up to her but also knows too well what the consequences of any descent might be. He seems tired and resigned. ......But actually he has some secrets too, which then did affect the way I felt towards him. Ultimately, as a father whose daughter goes missing and then goes on to suffer further tragedy should gain all our empathy but Daly doesn't make it that straight forward. Why should she?! This is a thriller after all! There is a murderer out there don't you know!

It's difficult to say more without giving anything away. I would describe novel as domestic noir but it is not a crime thriller in the traditional sense. It is very compelling because the characters are so fascinating so you are gripped by their motivations. The story isn't so much about who needs to be arrested, but more about who is guilty and who is responsible. It is about watching the dynamics between people and really evaluating what it is that lies between them.

Karen is not a murderer but she suffocates Bronte. Karen is not weak but she becomes a victim. Verity is not a jealous step sister but she becomes a suspect and Noel is a not a faithful husband but does love his children. The definitions within the novel are complicated. The family is complicated. Things are not as they seem. People are not as they seem. This is a story about deception, ambition, callousness and lies. This is a novel about the fatal outcomes of modern day parenting gone wrong.

The real question is how much has been exaggerated by Daly? How much of this is just fiction and how much of it is nightmarishly true? How many of us have the faint beginnings of a Karen Bloom growing inside us, either wittingly or unwittingly, either despite our best efforts or because of our best efforts? Noel sees traces of Karen in other mothers. Joanne sees echoes of it around her. Has this novel created a despicable character beyond belief who horrifies us or has it raised a few questions in our own minds about the minefield of modern day parental pressures and expectations?

This is a story of murder, mystery and psychopathic behaviour; it is compelling but it is not just about solving a crime, it's not just about saving people. It's about parenting, motherhood, expectations placed on families by society and patterns of behaviour that are beginning to change the whole concept of childhood. It's a great read. Daly's depictions of the Bloom family are unsettling and quite terrifying.

This novel will stay with you. It may not be the most chilling crime read of 2017 but it will give you nightmares, haunt you and make you think about the characters long afterwards. Read it. Get your friends to read it because guys, we really do need to talk about Karen.

"The Trophy Child" will be published on 26th January 2017.

For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

Review of Criminally Good Books 18th Jan 2017

Bibliomaniac's Book Club: Criminally Good Books Event 

Cass Green, Leigh Russell, Angela Clarke and Susi Holliday 

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Thanks so much to everyone who came along to Bibliomaniac's First Live Book Event! For me, it really was a dream come true to meet some of my favourite writers and ask them more about their novels and their writing lives.

Thanks Angela, Leigh, Susi and Caroline for being such wonderful guests!

It was a brilliant event  - a full house of bibliomaniacs, book groups, people who want to start reading again and people who just enjoy a good book. The authors were absolutely fantastic - full of wit, charm, humour, stories, advice and happy to tell us all about their books, their writing and their book groups! Thanks so much to everyone who bought a ticket and came along. I hope you all enjoy reading your new books! Let me know on Facebook or Twitter how you get on!
Bibliomaniac's Facebook page
Bibliomaniac's Twitter page

Thanks so much for Harpenden Arms for providing such a perfect venue and with all their help organising the room and running the bar all evening - no book group can be without wine! The authors had a meal in the restaurant area first and were really impressed by the food. Since its recent refurbishment The Harpenden Arms really is a lovely venue and the staff are exceptionally friendly, helpful and supportive! The private room upstairs was a great setting for our evening!

Thanks also to Ines and Steph from Harpenden Bookshop for coming along and selling copies of the authors books all evening. It was brilliant to be able to buy the book you'd just heard tantalising and intriguing things about and then get them signed by the authors! If you were unable to get hold of the book you wanted then please pop into the shop and buy a copy there or order online via Waterstones. It is really lovely to have such a fabulous, well stocked bookshop on the high street with such dedicated, friendly staff who all have a passion for books and can all help you with recommendations on what to read next. They can also order books in for you (saving you the postage!)

Also thanks to publishers No Exit Press for all your continual encouragement, support and advice!
No Exit Press Website

So here's a few highlights from the event!:

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Book Recommendations from the Authors:

My Cousin RachelHexGood Me, Bad MeBehind Her EyesLie With Me

I have reviewed some of these books:
Bibliomaniac's review of Behind Her Eyes
Bibliomaniac's Review of Lie with Me

This link includes a review, a book trailer and all you need to run a book group session on Good Me Bad Me:
Bibliomaniac's Book Club: Good Me Bad Me

Susi's recommendation for something properly creepy is this - out in April!!!

The Binding Song

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And the Goody Bag - this should have included various treats......

  • In three of the books mentioned tonight, there are references to Butterflies so this inspired the Butterfly tattoos
  • A book plate or two to stick in the books you bought at the event or your favourite novels so everyone knows they belong to you!
  • Some sweets to enjoy with a coffee and a good book today!
  • Various bookmarks and postcards with lots of book recommendations including Bibliomaniac's business card so you can follow me on your preferred social media or email me to keep up with recommendations, reviews and live events! You can also sign up to receive blog posts via email on this website
  • Lots of information about the next event for which tickets are now on sale! Here is the link:

Bibliomaniac's Book Club: March Event

There was also a double sided card full of questions that can be used on any book by any book group. I *slightly* misjudged the size of the font when I ordered these so here is a link to the page which includes all the questions in a font you can actually read!!
Questions for any book / book group

Thanks again to everyone who came along. You made one Bibliomaniac exceptionally happy and it was amazing to share some book love with everyone!

I really hope you enjoyed the evening and I really hope you'll come along to the next event on 22nd March which will be the same format and will give you the chance to meet another four authors! Here's the link and tickers are now on sale!
Eventbrite: Tickets for Dazzling Debuts

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3, subscribe to this blog via email or friend me on Facebook Facebook Katherine / Bibliomaniac

Bibliomaniac's Book Club: Questions for any occasion!

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Here are some questions that can be asked about any book in any book group session! 

What were the central themes or questions in the book?

Who was the most interesting character in the book?

Does this story belong to a particular time or is it universal?

How does this book compare to others in its genre?

Did you relate to any of the characters? Did you share any of their motivations?

What is the significance of the title? What alternative title would you give the book?

Did this book provoke any emotional reactions in you?

Did the main character make good or bad choices?

What was your favourite passage in the book?

If the book were made into a movie who would you cast as the main characters?

What are the key characteristics  / strengths/ weaknesses / motivations of the main protagonist?

Which celebrity or person in power should read this book and why?

What one piece of advice would you offer the main character?

What life lessons are found in this book and do you agree with them?

What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?

Can you sum the book up in one line? Could you write a strap line to go on the front cover?

What one question would you like to ask the main character? Or any of the other characters?

Do the first and last sentence relate to each other?

Can you think of one question you would pose to a book group based on this book?

What one question would you ask the author about this book?

How could the conflict have been resolved differently?

Can you think of any other books which deal with similar themes, have similar characters or are written in a similar style to this book?

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At which moment does the major conflict in the book come to an end?

Was the author better at description or dialogue?

Is the story driven more by the plot or the characters?

What personal impact did this book have on you?

How did the author get you interested in this story?

Did you enjoy reading this book? Why?

Are the major themes in this book relevant to your life?

How would you summarise the story?

What famous actor would you like to hear read this story on an audio book?

Did this book inspire you to explore new ideas or to look at things from another perspective?

Did any of the characters help you to understand someone you’ve know?

What surprised you about this book?

Which character would you most like to know in real life?

How would you illustrate the cover?

Does the book end in the way you expected?

Was there anything missing from the book that should have been included?

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Follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk) for more recommendations, reviews and bookish chat!

Dazzling Debuts: Four New Authors, Four New Books

Bibliomaniac's Book Club presents:

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Wednesday March 22nd
The Harpenden Arms (Upstairs) 
Ticket: £10 (+VAT)

                  Tall OaksWithout TraceCut To The BoneThe Hidden Legacy

    Ticket price includes one free drink and entry to a raffle for signed copies of the books

 or find details on Twitter: @katherinesunde3 or Facebook: katherine.sunderland.14 

Tall Oaks


For fans of Twin Peaks and The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, this brilliant debut is dark yet hilarious, suspenseful and sad.

Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town.

Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.

Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.

Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.

Photographer Jerry, who's determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.

And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own . . .

In Chris Whitaker's brilliant and original debut novel, missing persons, secret identities and dangerous lies abound in a town as idiosyncratic as its inhabitants.

For my review of Tall Oaks please click :
bibliomaniac's review of Tall Oaks

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 . . .

Bearing the scars of a recent divorce - and the splatters of two young children - Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she's invited to travel all the way out to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman's will, she can barely be bothered to make the journey.

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.

To read my review of The Hidden Legacy click here:
bibliomaniac's review of The Hidden Legacy

To read my review of Lie In Wait click here:
Bibliomaniac's review of Lie in Wait

Cut To The Bone
CUT TO THE BONE by Alex Caan 

For fans of THE FALL a slick, dark contemporary thriller, in the tradition of SARAH HILARY and ROBERT GALBRAITH that grips from the very first page...

One Missing Girl. Two Million Suspects.

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls.

And she's missing . . .

But she's an adult - nothing to worry about, surely?

Until the video's uploaded . . .

Ruby, in the dirt, pleading for her life.

Enter Detective Inspector Kate Riley; the Met's rising star and the head of a new team of investigators with the best resources money can buy. Among them, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, the poster boy for multiracial policing. But can Kate wholly trust him - and more importantly, can she trust herself around him?

As hysteria builds amongst the press and Ruby's millions of fans, Kate and her team are under pressure to get results, and fast, but as they soon discover, the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

And the videos keep coming . .

For my review of Cut to the Bone please click here:
Bibliomaniac's Review of Cut to the Bone

Without Trace
WITHOUT TRACE by Simon Booker 

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and Making a Murderer.

"A cracking debut. A real page-turner with a compelling central character"
- Mark Billingham 

For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon - convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter.

When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa.

But then Lissa goes missing.

With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame - 'the one that got away'. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust...?

For my review of Without Trace please click here:
Bibliomaniac's review of Without Trace

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