Here And Gone ARC

Here And Gone ARC

NETHere And Gone by Haylen Beck
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Ebook
Expected publication 20 June 2017
304 pages
NetGalley

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I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention and finds herself on an empty road in Arizona, far from home. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining…

Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.

OPENING 

The road swayed left then right, the rhythm of it making Audra Kinney’s eyelids grow heavier as each mile marker passed. She had given up counting them; it only made the journey slower. Her knuckles complained as she flexed her fingers on the wheel, palms greasy with sweat.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

Here and Gone is a well-paced thriller, full of twists and turns and brilliant misdirection. This is the kind of book you can’t put down. As I read I found myself compelled to read on to find out what the hell was going on and to see the cops get their comeuppance. The novel starts brilliantly, with a seemingly innocent encounter turning brilliantly menacing. My jaw hit the floor! Even though I knew from the start what had happened to Audra’s kids this didn’t spoil the book in any way. The enjoyment was from watching Audra’s gut-wrenching ordeal as she’s demonised and wondering when the cops would finally slip up. I loved the way the novel is paced, getting more and more intense as it rattled towards a very satisfying conclusion. I had a great time with Here and Gone and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Bluewords Greening

Bluewords Greening

Bluewords Greening by Christine Stewart-Nuñez
Published by Terrapin Books
Paperback
Published 2 September 2016
100 pages
Review Copy

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I was given a copy of the book by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it. 

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Bluewords Greening is a book about motherhood–love and family and fear and failure and mini-ninjas. We observe a mother’s bewildering experiences with her son as the poems detail his diagnosis with a rare form of epilepsy and the “bluewords” that result from his aphasia. The speaker is in deep conversation with the son’s frustrated and often surprisingly beautiful lexicon; she’s also in conversation with the work of contemporary visual artists and the craft of printmaking and the twelfth-century visionary, St. Hildegard. Stewart-NuNez’s music and skilled syntax and stubborn insistence on the beauty of the world–even as the poems explore the heartbreak of recurrent miscarriage–keep the reader rapt and grateful and illuminated. Bluewords Greening is a marvellous book.

Beth Ann Fennelly, Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother

EXTRACT

From Signing 101

Pay attention, she says, to relationships –
How the hands convey meaning in degrees
Of proximity to the body…

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I’ve never read this poet before. I thought this was a great collection of poems. Like me, Stewart-Nuñez writes poems to explore her own experiences and fears, in this case her son’s rare form of epilepsy and how this affects him and the rest of the family. The poems in Bluewords Greening were personal, intimate, painful and incredibly sad at times. I really felt the poet’s pain, confusion and at times sense of loss as she and her son adjust to his condition and the side effects of his aphasia. I enjoyed the poems Temporary Innocence, Portraits before Epileptic Aphasia, That Sticky Tango, Tentative Pregnancy and Verge the most. The other poems are great but these spoke to me a little bit more. Bluewords Greening is a great, enjoyable collection and I’d highly recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Whiskey From Small Glasses

Whiskey From Small Glasses

TWR_mainLogoWhiskey From Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrick
Published by Polygon
Ebook
Published 12 February 2014 (first published 1 November 2012)
368 pages
Library book

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I read this as part of the new Together We Readdigital book club.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

When the body of a young woman is washed up on an idyllic beach on the west coast of Scotland, D.C.I. Jim Daley is despatched from Glasgow to lead the investigation. Far from home, and his troubled marriage, it seems that Daley’s biggest obstacle will be managing the difficult local police chief; but when the prime suspect is gruesomely murdered, the inquiry begins to stall. As the body count rises, Daley uncovers a network of secrets and corruption in the close-knit community of Kinloch, thrusting him and his loved ones into the centre of a case more deadly than he had ever imagined. The first novel in the D.C.I. Daley Thriller series, Whisky from Small Glasses is a truly compelling crime novel, shot through with dark humour and menace.

OPENING 

Lights sparkled and flashed before her eyes. The movement of her limbs slowed as though of its own accord. The pain she had felt was dull now; the panic subsiding. She was aware that her bowels had opened; she no longer cared. Her last emotions were a fading mixture of anger, injustice and overwhelming sadness, the cause of which she could barely recall.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I didn’t enjoy Whiskey from Small Glasses as much as I expected. Some elements worked and others didn’t. For me, the book was too uneven to really work. I loved the setting. Kinloch is a fictional, remote community. This makes it the perfect place for sinister events to take place. The author does a good job of bringing the community and the sense of isolation to life. I felt like I was really there. The plot was okay but nothing really original. It reminded me too much of so many crime novels that have come before. I just felt that Whiskey from Small Glasses didn’t offer anything original. Been there, read that a few hundred times. The author creates good atmosphere in the novel but the lacklustre plot left me cold at times. The book contains quite a lot of Scots dialect at times which is really unnecessary and came across as cheesy and rather cringeworthily at times.  This part didn’t work for me. The local dialect was completely unnecessary. Whiskey from Small Glasses didn’t work for me and I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

Elizabeth Is Missing

Elizabeth Is Missing

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Published by Penguin
Paperback
Published 1 January 2015
275 pages
Owned

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I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book with a red spine’.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago…

Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son – not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.

Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.

Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum. 

EXTRACT 

‘You know there was an old woman mugged around here?’ Carla says, letting her long, black ponytail snake over one shoulder.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I’m not completely sure how I feel about Elizabeth Is Missing. I was wavering between giving it a three or star but went with four stars in the end because it made me cry a little. This book isn’t what I was expecting and I didn’t like some of it. One issue I had is the way the book handles dementia. Maud’s dementia is quite far advanced. I felt she was at the stage when she couldn’t be left on her own. She was wandering out of the house and could easily have come to harm because she was so confused. I felt her family were neglectful of her at first. I thought Maud, however, was a great character, very realistic of someone with dementia. My gran, who’s been dead for sixteen years, had dementia. She came to live with my family when neighbours told my mum she was wandering the streets in her night-dress, looking for her dog that had died ten years before. Maud reminds me a lot of her. She’s a well written character. I found the narrative confusing at times. I didn’t mind that it moved back and forth in time. I like this structure in novels. It just wasn’t always clear what time we were in. I suppose this helped to convey Maud’s confusion but it could have been handed a bit better. The title is a misnomer – Elizabeth is not missing, it’s just Maud’s memories of her are missing and confused in her head with her sister’s disappearance thirty years before. I felt a little bit cheated. Never mind, Elizabeth Is Missing does involve a mystery, just now what I was expecting. There is a lot of misdirection, caused by Maud’s memory and I suppose it’s good the author went in an unexpected direction. I ended up really liking Elizabeth Is Missing and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Dead Certain

Dead Certain

Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Ebook
Expected publication 1 June 2017
348 pages
Kindle First

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most gruelling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?

EXTRACT

 I have news!

For someone who fancies herself as a writer, Charlotte’s texts are extremely heavy on exclamation points.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I really enjoyed Dead Certain. I liked the way the novel was structured, littered with extracts from Charlotte’s novel in progress, providing links to her disappearance. I liked the use of novel-within-a-novel in this book. I thought the characters were excellent, well written and very real. I liked Ella the most. Her bond with her baby sister was very touching. Dead Certain has fantastic pacing. I liked the chapters from the killer’s point of view which take place towards the end of the novel. His indifference to the woman he’d killed as chilling, especially when his real identity is revealed. I love the ending of Dead Certain. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

The Girl In The Steel Corset

The Girl In The Steel Corset

The Girl In The Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Published by MIRA Ink
Ebook
Published 1 January 2011
477 pages
Library book

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I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a steampunk novel’.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

In 1897 London, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the thing inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch. . . . Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. Griffins investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

EXTRACT

 London, The Age of Invention, late April 1897

‘You’re the very spawn of Satan and I’ll not have you darken this door ever again’.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I was going to say this was my first steampunk novel but that’s not true, I love The Lunar Chronicles. I thought The Girl in the Steel Corset was great. I was surprised that it was set in Victorian London and would have expected this kind of novel to be set in the future. But what do I know, eh? This novel has clearly been influenced by Frankenstein and I really enjoyed this take on it. It’s not the deepest and most profound novel I’ve ever read but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and there’s nothing wrong with that. I plan to read the series and would recommend this book.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

To Love A Stranger

To Love A Stranger

NETTo Love A Stranger by Kris Faatz
Published by Blue Moon Publishers
Ebook
Expected publication 23 May 2017
309 pages
NetGalley

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I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Sam and Jeannette have two things in common: a passion for music and a need to escape from themselves. In the fall of 1986, when President Reagan is in his second term, Elton John plays on the radio, and Spike Lee is conquering the box office, Sam and Jeannette meet in Virginia. Both of them have landed their first jobs with the Richmond Symphonic Artists, a small orchestra that’s fighting to survive.

Jeannette, fragile and shadowed by demons from her past, quickly falls in love with the charismatic and brilliant Sam. She thinks he will bring her stability and redemption. But she doesn’t know that he has secrets of his own: especially that the mystery disease AIDS, the so-called “gay plague” that fills the news and terrifies the American public, could possibly touch his life.

As Sam and Jeannette struggle to save their orchestra, they look for deliverance in each other. But their past secrets – especially Sam’s – threaten to destroy the future they’re trying to build.

A beautiful debut novel filled with human emotion and an undeniable passion for music, To Love A Stranger explores a story of love and personal redemption that is impossible to forget.

OPENING 

Sam couldn’t land a decent job.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed To Love A Stranger. I thought the characters were fantastic, so real and flawed it was almost painful to read the book at times. I thought Sam was a very sympathetic character. He was faced with difficult choices trying to do his best. Jeannette was also very sympathetic and my heart went out to her for loving Sam, someone she didn’t know at all. Sam is a horrible person at times, completely shutting his wife out, acting with little regard for her feelings and treating her with indifference. It would be easy to hate him but because of his struggle to accept himself I felt great sympathy for him. I wanted to dislike him but I couldn’t because the author made me care about him. I understood Jeannette’s decision when she finds out what Sam has been hiding even though I didn’t completely agree with every choice she made. To Love A Stranger has a heart-felt, emotional conclusion without being over the top. I loved To Love A Stranger; it’s raw and emotional and I’d highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING