Tuesday, 17 October 2017

#TheLastMrsParrish #LivConstantine #Review

by Liv Constantine 

*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received an advance copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an unbiased review*

Watch out for Amber Patterson; she is fed up with being ignored and being in the background. She's had enough of never being given a second glance by the wealthier, more glamorous women who exercise alongside her in the gym. Why shouldn't she have a life of wealth, luxury and leisure too? 

And so Amber sets her sights on Daphne Parrish - well on Daphne's husband really, and puts into action a long term, cunning, manipulative and meticulously calculated plan to make sure she gets the life she thinks she deserves. She sets her sights on Jackson Parrish.

This is a good story which explores themes of envy, greed, desire, infidelity, jealousy and cruelty. It's domestic noir with an extra dose of spite. 

We start the story with Amber who has very few redeeming features. Amber sets out to befriend Daphne, the golden girl of Bishops Harbour, Connecticut, slowly but surely working her way into every aspect of Daphne's life until she can catch the attention of Jackson, Daphne's husband. Her diligence, perseverance and outright nerve is impressive and it's amazing how quickly Amber instates herself in Daphne's life. It's not long before she is sharing meals with Daphne's family, squeezing out old friends and even getting herself a job in Jackson's office. There is nothing Amber will not consider doing to ensure she is Daphne's new confidant and best friend; nothing is too low or underhand to get the prize she so coverts. The lies fall fast and fall easy. 

Amber's voice is very direct and strong; the sarcasm, distain and dislike for the women she interacts with was at times amusing in its bluntness or wry insight, but by and large she is actually quite unpleasant. But then we are not going to warm to Amber as she is so openly manipulating a woman who has done nothing to warrant such deception. Our sympathy and alignment is with Daphne, a woman who loves her daughters, runs a charitable organisation and shows nothing but openness and hospitality to Amber. I thought it was bold of Constantine to leave us with such an unlikeable character for so long and was intrigued to see what Constantine had in store for us.

 Constantine rewards us for our patience and for enduring Amber. Just when I was getting weary of this character who was so callous and malicious, there is a change in narrative and suddenly everything Amber thinks she has been clever enough to secure, looks very fragile. Has someone discovered something about Amber's past that could undo all she has been trying to gain? Is someone else as clever, as cunning and as duplicitous as Amber? Yes, things suddenly became much more intriguing indeed....!

I liked the twists, I liked the themes and premise; I found the ending very satisfying and well executed. I liked Daphne. I would say that possibly Amber's narrative was a little over long at the beginning, but the book was very readable and kept me entertained over a couple of evenings. I think the author shows a sound understanding about how to create tension, pace, manage converging plot lines and can craft bold characters that provoke reactions from the reader. Perhaps there are echoes of other novels in this one, but stories about jealousy, envy, female friendships and the phrase "be careful what you wish for" are always going to be popular. This is definitely a book for fans of Liane Moriarty. I think it would also appeal to fans of the TV shows Doctor Foster and Liar.

The Last Mrs Parrish is published by Harper Collins on 17th October 2017. 

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

Sunday, 15 October 2017

#HerLastSecret #BarbaraCopperthwaite #BlogTour #Review


*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received this book in return for being part of the Blog Tour and for writing an unbiased and honest review*

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

This novel is dark, it's chilling and it's full of secrets. Her last Secret is a gripping story of hatred and anger, bitterness and resentment. Every single character has a motive, every single character has a secret and every single character seems to be capable of murder. I was captivated. You will be too. 

Her Dark Secret is about the Thomas family; Ben, Dominique, their teenage daughter Ruby and their younger daughter Mouse. They seem to have it all. Success, wealth and emotional stability. But, as all of us who love a psychological thriller know only too well, appearances can be deceptive. 

Copperthwaite starts the novel by introducing the crime scene. We know it happened on Christmas Day. We know there is a lot of blood, we know a brutal crime has taken place - one that shocks the police called to the house where some harrowing tragedy has occurred. Immediately this builds tension as the reader is then taken back in time and shown the events that lead up to this horrific crime scene. The novel then moves forward in almost chronological order with a few chapters from the present day police investigation taking place on Christmas Day. This means there are revelations not only from the characters' narratives but the revelations from the police findings also increase the suspense, moments of surprise and intrigue.  Copperthwaite manages both story lines with such a perfect adherence to pace, tension and dramatic effect. They never seem to overlap, only add complication, but gradually things start to converge with a crescendo that is exciting, impressive and completely breathtaking.

What makes this novel so fabulous is that the reader is constantly having to reassess their opinion of each character and reconsider who might be responsible as the police uncover the victims. At times it reminded me of a game of Cluedo, or a Christie novel as we know the crime, we know the characters involved, but we are not entirely sure which ones are the victims and which are the perpetrators. As the story unfolds the links, issues, problems and concerns that exist between them develop and deepen and suddenly it seems that each of them could be responsible for causing murder - each have a motive, each have the potential to act on their emotions and each could be dead. It's very clever.

I also love Copperthwaite's characters. They are all well crafted. Some gain our empathy, some gain it and lose it, some leave us not knowing how to feel about them and some quite frankly are not worthy of our empathy. Each voice is distinctive, authentic and with palpable emotional reactions to situations and other characters. The way the characters impinge on each other's lives is also very well done and once again, executed with great accomplishment. I liked that every character might make a slip or error that showed they might be capable of carrying out a murder but then our instinct was never to really believe them capable until the point when things become so desperate that actually, may be each of them does have enough anger, fear, jealousy, guilt or frustration to commit a deadly crime.

Her Last Secret is so readable and well written. It's easy to visualise, compelling and evocative. I particularly noticed the number of times 'hate' and 'kill' were used and how Copperthwaite used these words to great effect. Everyone says "I could kill them" flippantly, but what if this flippancy becomes a truth or the level of emotion behind the sentence is ignored or not taken seriously and the person actually is stating an intention. "Hate" and "Kill" are simple, blunt, short words and their repetition was very effective in highlighting the bleakness and darkness in this novel. I think her use of "the shot rang out" - sometimes considered a cliche in crime fiction - is used for huge dramatic impact and other comments such as characters putting on '"the mask of normality" showed real insight into human nature.

There are some really interesting issues explored in the novel. Sleepwalking, trauma, self esteem, bullying, infidelity, financial problems and disastrous business decisions mean that this really is family noir. But the number of layers, different plot threads and character flaws are so well written and so well woven together this is a truly gripping novel that cannot fail to hook in every reader that picks it up.

I have to say that the ending was truly thrilling. I was literally unable to breathe or turn the pages fast enough. Knowing half of the outcome of the story was heading made it even more captivating as events hurl towards one of the most masterfully delivered denouements I have read for a while. The countdown to Christmas Day ensures that a high level of anticipation is maintained throughout the story, and as the day fast approaches I kept panicking as so much was still unresolved, still spiralling out of control and, to me, there seemed to be so many potential endings I could not wait to find out what was actually going to happen.

When a book carries the blurb that it is for fans of "The Girl on the Train" I can be a little sceptical but do you know what? Forget "The Girl on the Train", this is the psychological thriller you want to make time to read! Her Last Secret is dark, compelling and as thrilling as any of the big crime fiction hits this year and it deserves the comparison. Utterly breathtaking. Full of heartfelt characters, emotion and a complete roller coaster of a ride. The only secret you need to know this year is that Barbara Copperthwaite is a writer to watch out for.

Her Last Secret was published by Bookouture on 13th October 2017.

Author Bio:

What people say about Barbara's books:
"Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed... Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact," Sunday Mirror 
"Enthralling, tense and moving," Real People magazine 
"Totally gripping, and scarily believable," Bella magazine

Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. She is also the author of THE DARKEST LIES, and her latest book HER LAST SECRET is out on 13 October.

Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years' experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She's interviewed the real victims of crime - and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That's why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs. 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCopperthwait
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_barbara_copperthwaite/
Website: www.barbaracopperthwaite.com

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

Bibliomaniac Book Events: Christmas Books November 29th

The Boy Made of SnowCovent Garden in the SnowThe Little Village ChristmasThe Deaths of December


29th NOVEMBER 2017

I am so excited about this event! It will be the best early Christmas present I could ask for and I cannot wait to chat to these authors about their festive titled books! 

All of these novels are publishing in late October and November (in paperback) so I'm delighted to bring you a panel featuring the latest books hitting the shelves this Christmas. 

I'm thrilled to welcome back both Susi and Sue who have both featured on Bibliomaniac panels earlier this year and delighted to welcome Jules and Chloe along for the first time. We have a mixture of genres and types of stories in this panel, with books that will appeal to fans of crime, romance, popular fiction and thrillers. Something for everyone! 

I very much hope you will come along to hear the authors, and as always there will be a chance to buy copies of the books on the night - so why not make a start on your Christmas shopping? 

Why not kick start the festive season and join us for a drink, a chat, the very exciting raffle and a goody bag? Tickets are just £10 and available via the link below:

The Deaths of December

The hunt is on for a serial killer in a thrilling festive crime novel.
It looks like a regular advent calendar. 
Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors...and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. 
The police hope it's a prank. Because if it isn't, a murderer has just surfaced - someone who's been killing for twenty years. 
But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? 
As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them...
It's shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.
Deaths in December is published by Mulholland Books in paperback on November 16th 2017.
The Little Village Christmas

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community cafĂ© it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

The Little Village Christmas is published by Avon in paperback on October 17th 2017 

Covent Garden in the Snow

‘A delicious Christmas delight’ – Sunday Times bestseller Katie Fforde 
The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Karen Swan.
Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!
But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it's not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…
Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it's a match made in hell.
And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancĂ© isn’t at all what he seems, it's Marcus who's there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.
Covent Garden in the Snow is published in paperback by Harper Impulse on October 20th 2017. 
The Boy Made of Snow

In 1944, in a sleepy English village, Daniel and his emotionally-distant mother, Annabel, remain at home while his father is off fighting a war that seems both omnipresent and very, very far away.

When mother and son befriend Hans, a German PoW working on a nearby farm, their lives are suddenly filled with excitement - though the prisoner comes to mean very different things to each of them. To Annabel, he is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel's birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the mythical world of fairy-tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise or a magical woodchopper. But Daniel often struggles to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, and Hans has plans to spin a special sort of web to entrap mother and son for his own needs

The Boy in the Snow is published by W&N on 9th November 2017.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your ticket now! Only £10 and ticket price includes a free drink, entry to the raffle and a goody bag as well as the chance to hear 4 fabulous authors and get your books signed! 

Bibliomaniac Book Events 
29th November 
Harpenden Arms 

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

#TheTreatment #CLTaylor #Review #YAFiction


*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received this book via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest review*

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”
All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.
Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.
Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.
Before it’s too late.

Well, it's no wonder I requested this as well as preordering it, and I will almost undoubtedly be buying it for every teenager I know this Christmas. It's C L Taylor. She's brilliant.

So it seems that not only can Taylor write the most compulsively page turning psychological thrillers for adults, she can also write the most compulsively page turning dystopian fiction for Young Adults. The Treatment has a great concept. There are a few other novels that explore similar ideas about sinister institutions and aggressive means of attempting to reform wayward teenagers, but it's always an idea that will enthral and fascinate any reader. Here Taylor brings a fresh twist and once again casts her spell, creating a truly engaging and exciting story that will have readers of all ages hooked to the last page. 

I'm not going to say too much about the actually story in this review because I want you to discover the book for yourself and I think the blurb does a great job of establishing the premise of the story. The main characters are well crafted and there is a lot of action which keeps driving the story forward. There is a lot of dialogue which feels authentic and there are plenty of twists, turns, surprises and moments of drama. It is dark, it is chilling and unsettling. It provokes that delicious that 'what if' thought and that moment of drama and tension when you find out something more sinister is afoot. Everyone loves a story about families, schools, mysterious goings on and authoritative institutions. It's going to be a popular read.

Taylor does not patronise her Young Adult audience with a dumbing down or a simplified use of language; she respects them and gives them a novel that can be read by teenagers or adults, that delivers a gripping story with believable characters about issues that are relevant and emotive. Just as her adult fiction can be used as a case study in how to write the perfect psychological thriller, this novel also illustrates how to write the perfect dystopian novel for young adults. Taylor is a talented author with a gift for storytelling and accomplished understanding of pace, structure, tension and characterisation. 

It's been a while since I read any Young Adult Fiction but it's a genre I used to be addicted to, particularly when I was a Secondary School Teacher. It's a genre where you often find some of the most exciting novels that challenge genre, break boundaries, explore complex ideas and use unusual or threatening situations to produce some of the most thought provoking and sophisticated stories. The Treatment does all of this. 

Pacy, full of authentic dialogue, convincing characters, exciting storytelling and insight, this is a five star read. 

The Treatment is published by HQ on 19th October 2017. 

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk