Keep Her Quiet, Emma Curtis
Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Mystery and Thrillers
Wow, what a read, full of surprises I didn’t see coming. Some stories you can see way ahead whats going to develop but this one threw all the curve-balls….
Leo, what a narcissistic man, concerned only about himself. It made me wonder what Jenny ever saw in him. When she strays that one time she has no idea Leo knows the baby isn’t his and yet I felt it wasn’t so much for love of her he kept quiet but because he didn’t want to lose his cushy life that allowed him to be An Important Author. How much of that was down to his childhood, with a weird mother and a father who felt he’d had to give up his dreams of being an author to teach because of Leo. Who knows what shapes people, or whether they just are that selfish.
Jenny, poor Jenny. I don’t condone cheating but Leo must be a hard husband to live with, she had to do literally everything in their marriage, so the man could focus on his writing. He made that very clear, he was going to be a great Man, make his mark on the literary world and nothing would stop him. She strays just that once and that changes the direction of so many lives. I so felt for her, she had her life changed by things totally out of her control.
Then there’s Hannah, not much more than a child herself, yet abandoned by her family, abused by those she trusted and left to make her own way. She and Leo hatch a plan on the fly, trap each other into long standing events. In a way I understood her actions, and her later ones, though I found it hard to believe she would have acted that way. It proved to me really that however much I felt for her she was in her own way as selfish as Leo. Put herself above everyone else.
Then the later events of the book, well, once more we saw there was no end to Leo’s selfishness. He was callous in his musings about what to do, it was all about what worked best for him. At times it was incredible the way he casually went through possible scenarios, how he felt he’d had no choice, how he portrayed himself, even after these terrible actions, as a good guy, just doing his best in difficult circumstances.
Its a gripping read, stunning the way shock after shock gets delivered, the way that one cataclysmic event had consequences that lasted years, that get wrapped in lies, falsehoods, actions beyond imagining. I really didn’t see so many of the twists, big ones and even up to the end, smaller ones. That letter shocked me.
There’s one true innocent at the heart of this who gets a life she really didn’t deserve. I so felt for her. What long standing consequences could come from her innocent actions.
I think what I always had in the back of my mind too was this is so far fetched and yet…we see over and over it actually does happen. There’s one particular story that sticks in my mind from a few years back that reminded me so much of the events here, how we can do unimaginable things for our own ends, to save face, how we can justify wrongdoings to ourselves, telling ourselves we had no choice.
Stars: Five. A great read, full of surprises. The characters were so perfectly written, I felt as if I was there with them, a voyeur in their lives. A read to treasure, to whip out on a dull day and lose oneself in.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
The Storm, Amanda Jennings
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, New Adult
I’m not really sure why this is listed as New Adult, everyone in it is well past that except for Hannah’s son 😉 Anyway, I was expecting to love this, it sounded very intriguing.
I liked it, a lot but didn’t love it. Its one of those I’m glad I’ve read but won’t reread.
I didn’t really like any of the characters, except for poor Alex, he was the innocent victim in everything.
Nathan is obsessed with Hannah right from the start and manipulates his way into her life. He’s got money and uses it to carefully lure her in, not in an obvious way, but in more subtle ones once he susses that she’s not impressed by wealth. Her boyfriend Cam though….he’s stiff competition. Cam’s a fisherman, to Nathan its no contest but of course Hannah is in love and for her Nathan is just a good friend. And then something happens that changes everything.
Nathan goes from being a bit of a stalker to a total control freak. As events unfold I can actually see where his issues lie and they stem from way back in his life, to childhood and I did feel even the tiniest bit sorry for him. He knows way more than he admits, and what seems like heavy handed OTT control is his attempt to stop Hannah – his love, his life – from leaving. It made a hard life for her but she puts up with it for reasons of her own.
Then there’s Cam who I hated at first, for leaving when she needed him, but of course as events unfold it wasn’t that simple. I had guessed at some, though not all, some parts came as total surprise. I felt so sad for some of the characters, life in a fishing fleet is tough, harsh and death or life changing injuries never far away.
Its a classic story in a way of Teen ( imagined) Invincibility meets Real Life, and led to sadness all round. Alex was caught in a trap not of his making, Hannah was in a situation she felt she had only herself to blame, Cam did what felt right at the time even though he lost everything, and Nathan, well Nathan thinks he has the girl he loves but its only by controlling every bit of her life that he has her….A really sad group of characters, and even the ending holds a hint of more to come.
Stars: Four. A great read but not a re-reader for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
White Swan, Lono Waiwaiole
Genre: | General Fiction (Adult), Literary Fiction
I wasn’t sure about requesting this, but am so glad I did. Its more of a journey read, one to savour each sentence, every event, more than a story where you race through to get to the end.
Eddie is a wonderful character but losing his parents, and killing his much loved cousin in a tragic accident really impacted on him, and that carried through to adulthood. In some ways he destroys his own happiness, its as if he feels he doesn’t deserve any. Yet he does, I so wanted that happy ending for him, for things to work out between him and his girlfriend. He faces such a barrier through life, his own circumstances, and of course the prejudice that always follows anyone in a minority group.
He loved Evelyn as soon as he saw her, still a child, and I feel that love never really left him, even though she married another, and he had other relationships. I was so angry with her even as I understood what she was doing, that she couldn’t continue to be the only one working at their relationship. It almost feels like Eddie is unconsciously sabotaging his own happiness through that guilt.
That makes it sound as if its a doom and gloom read, and its not. There’s so much going on, so much to see, a snapshot of life back in the sixties.
There are some interesting friendships, heartbreaking times when Eddie talks to his mum at her grave, when his father dips briefly back into his life, and of course his much loved grandfather who sees in Eddie a replica of his son, Eddie’s dad. He worries for him knowing how hard his dad found life, and how much Eddie misses having parents.
Eventually it feels like life turns full circle and that lost little boy is a dad and granddad himself, and those childhood relationships become family.
It didn’t have the ending I wanted for Eddie 😦 but it was still a good ending, a content one if not the one I wanted. I felt Eddie finally found peace and a way to live.
Stars: Five, a fabulous slow read novel, one to enjoy each chapter, to soak in the life that’s revealed and the way it affects Eddie.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
For UK readers this is currently just 81p, 99c in US. A bargain if you like crime novels, and i’m sure it will tempt you to get more from the series 😉 .
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
I love this series, and book eight is as fresh and original as book one was. Sometimes this far into a series books start to feel dull, plots repeat and the whole just feels like its time to stop. This though feels like there’s still lots more to come. It reminds me in a way of Patricia Cornwell’s novels. I used to read those avidly some years ago and recently was talking to th friend who introduced me to her books, returning the favour I’ve introduced her to Susan’s stories. Book one is currently free so well worth reading, if you like realistic crime stories you’ll be hooked and want more.
I’ve said before, if I was in the situation so many of Susan’s people find themselves I’d want a detective like Radhauser. He doesn’t just look at the obvious, doesn’t go for the easy solution but investigates all angles. He’s supported where its possible by Heron, the medical examiner for the police, but clashes frequently with his boss Murphy, who’s always wanting to wrap cases quickly, under pressure from the Mayor. I guess that’s where US and UK differ. Our policing is different, and Mayors have no say in police cases. I wonder if something will come of these clashes, Murphy seems to be more and more for the quick wrap up and praise for the force for doing so, rather than taking the time to find the real killer.
Its every parent and policeman’s nightmare, a school shooting, and as usual it looks clean cut. Radhauser isn’t so sure, and the more he investigates the less certain he is that Kristina Sterling was the shooter. Its a tough one because we just don’t know what is in another persons mind, what makes them do something like this. I’m so glad that are UK gun laws are so much more strict, we have occasions when knives are an issue, more than I’d like but the difference in killing numbers between a knife and gun is vast.
There are a number of possible suspects, and I was as usual trying to work out who dunnit. As usual I was wrong 😉 though I wasn’t really fixed on one person, I had no notion of the eventual person.
I love the contrasts between the horrific killings and the day to day minutiae, the way the police works, the stories each of the kids tell, Radhauser’s wife Gracie and their kids. The way he goes in to say goodnight to the horses each time he comes home for the night. I can smell the barn, that fragrance of horse, hay, shavings and feed that’s typical in a well run stable. The family and home provide that balance he needs to stay grounded, and Gracie really is a wife and mum in a million. Radhauser’s job, when he’s on a case like this, is long hours, days filled with sad stories, tragic families, and he needs Gracie and the family to keep him sane.
I was so sad at parts, and when Clive stand up to speak at Kristina’s funeral it had me in tears. A very emotional moment. Her parents were wonderful, and until now been a part of the town, valued and with so many friends. Now though, with the rumours seeping out, the bitterness and hatred directed at them is awful. Its very easy to believe though, as in real life folk want someone to blame and they were just There, a target for the anger that lurks beneath the sadness.
They forgot that Kristina’s parents were grieving too. They couldn’t go out, couldn’t get shopping, bombarded with hate mail and calls, and suffered from vandalism of their property. The crosses at school, how awful that must have been for them. Likewise organising her funeral, visiting her grave. No parent expects their child to die before them, and dealing with that is tough enough without having all this blame and hatred cast on them.
They really were in an awful place, grieving, wondering why this happened, convinced Kristina couldn’t have done this, but of course almost any parent would feel that way. The town has the girl judged, and her parents along with her though. How quick folk are to pass judgment, to blame the people they were friends with, who they respected, just days before. It made me think how tough it must be in real life for parents caught up in this scene.
Its another fantastic real life read, full of clues, motives and hints to keep the reader guessing at the culprit. There’s a twist at the end I really didn’t anticipate, that came as a shock, I’m still not sure how I feel about that. There’s good and bad possibilities I guess, caught up in this snippet. There’s one final, not twist, hmmmn, event I guess? I really liked that bit.
Stars: Five, once more Susan delivers a book to keep the reader hooked to the very end. A realistic story that at times was incredibly emotional.
Arc via author
Echoes, Maeve Binchy
Genre: | General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Bah! Women’s Fiction. Its 2020, not 1920 folks, Men write romance, men read romance.
Its years since I read a Binchy book. I’d forgotten how she takes you on a journey through the characters lives. She doesn’t just tell a story, she shows the progression of events and the characters growing along with them. I love that, a story where time is measured in years not just days.
We meet Clare and David when they are just children, living in the same town but with Clare’s family running a small shop and David’s dad being the local gp they are socially well apart. David mum certainly lives up the the Lady of the Manor ideal, she’s a real snob, but his father is wonderful to everyone. David being an only child after numerous miscarriages his mum devotes her life to him, and that creates certain pressures.
Clare is wonderful, fiercely intelligent and determined to get educated to the highest point, she has her life mapped out, and with the help of a wonderful schoolteacher Angela she’s on her way up.
I loved reading about them growing up., Clare and her family, bickering with her big sister Chrissie, working at her lessons, and then as she’s older, taking care of family problems. Angela the schoolteacher, with one face on the surface, and hiding secrets below it. Gerry the town heart throb, he’s one of those folk you can’t help but like, clever, and also opportunistic, he’s got the art of wooing the ladies down pat, but never dates them, its just fun and free with Gerry. He’s got hidden depths too.
I really enjoyed the story, the way things unfolded, the way we see behind the doors, to whats really happening. My heart broke for one person, and I was so angry at the [person who did it. Kidding themselves they weren’t doing any harm. Yes, of course its all OK. We know fine well that if things were the other way round they wouldn’t be. I’m talking in circles here, when you read the story you’ll know what I mean.
As well as the good, the bad and the indifferent characters there’s one bad seed, one person who’d always out for themselves, not matter who gets hurt in the process. I love a character like that, someone who really doesn’t care about the feelings of others, but just takes what they want.
Its a fabulous story, slowly unfolding, revealing hidden secrets, prejudices, ambitions, and of course Love.
Stars: Five, a fabulous slow to unfold novel, letting the characters really shine through, tell the story. Its heartbreaking at times, and a definite reread book.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
Side Trip, Kerry Lonsdale
Genre: General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction.
* sign * Women’s fiction again, oh how I hate that outdated category. Its 2020, an outdated category.
Anyway, I love Kerry’s stories, and was keen to see where this would take me. It was incredibly emotional, heartbreaking for both the young Joy and the person she is now. She’s doing her dead sister’s bucket list, mirroring what she thinks her sister wanted in life. Joy has her life planned to Judy’s lists for her future, and they are pretty fixed but Joy feels she needs to follow them. I felt she was so entrenched in Judy’s would-be life she has repressed her own wants and needs, its clear that she isn’t enjoying things in the way she expected. There’s no room for spontaneity in her life, its only whats on one of Judy’s lists that’s allowed. So what on earth happened to let Dylan on the trip with her? Well, blame Judy’s list for that :-), fortunately it has things that push Joy out of her familiar zone and having Dylan along helps her cross things off the list.
Dylan is totally opposite to joy, on his own private trip, he’s all for free spirit, no plans, spontaneity, his views are so opposite to Joys, and yet the two get on so well. I loved Dylan, was intrigued by his reasons for making the journey when it was so clear he hated what he was doing.
Both Joy and Dylan are in a way escaping from their pasts, affected by what happened then, even to the current day. The novel breaks into time periods, the past, the present and the future ( which is of course also the present). I don’t usually like stories set out like this. I find it frustrating, as just as I’m desperate to know more then time zones jump, but here Kerry keeps it short so it works – and works well. I was in tears more than once, and towards the end I was devastated. Gutted. Ugly crying. I really didn’t think that was coming, I almost stopped reading. I’m so glad I continued to the epilogue though – it was perfect. Wonderful. Satisfying. And cleverly done.
Its something I again don’t usually like, have only seen it done as a kind of escape effect when writer seemed desperate to get the H out of a situation that seemed to have no answer. Here though, I should have kept in mind the plots premise of fate v the what if’s.
“ What if Joy and Dylan had exchanged last names? What if he’d told her she made him believe love was worth the risk? And what if they hadn’t made that second deal when they couldn’t say goodbye?”
Its so important to bear that in mind and keep reading. I didn’t and it wasn’t until I re-read the description just before writing my review that I realised how intentional it was, and it made sense. Its a plot device I’m still not a fan of, but it works here. For me though it did mean I dropped half a star, as even though it works I just don’t like that kind of mechanism for a story. Maybe if I’d realised at the time I was reading, rather than next day just prior to review. If I’d not been reviewing I wouldn’t have read the description and realised that it was intentional, part of the “what if” premise that’s integral to the story. That’s my personal issues though, and of course others will feel very differently. A really emotional read.
Stars: four and a half. I’m being picky but I can’t get past how easily I could have missed that a huge part of the story was intentional, and not just the plot device I’ve seen before and disliked.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance.
I’ve read a few of CD Reiss stories, and one, Bombshell, is my favourite., so much so that I’ve read it three or four times now and still find new things in it. I expected to love this book as much but…I didn’t. 😦
I loved Kayla, and loved Justin’s gran Louise – I want to be her when I’m her age! Justin though, at first he was such a jerk and I found it took me a while to get past that.
What I really struggled with is that I felt there was so much going on the I was expected to understand but didn’t. The band and the separation – I didn’t really understand that, likewise it took over half the book before the truth about the last incident with them came out. Kayla and what she was running from, the significance of those bolts of cloth – they kept cropping up but they didn’t really mean anything. Even when I found out the backstory I didn’t understand really why they played such a big part, when it didn’t really go anywhere.
I found Kayla, Justin and others having conversations where I only understood part of what they were talking about – you know, the way long time together couples, friends that are very close – can talk and say so much with just a few words. Kayla and Justin would discuss something, come to a decision and I still didn’t follow what they were discussing, never mind where it was going. Justin and his agent, Justin and his band-mates, they’d talk and make decisions and I was in the dark. I just felt lost as to what was happening much of the while.
Sadly that meant I didn’t really love this book as I’d hoped, it was a fun read but not one I’ll re-read. I wasn’t really convinced of the love either, when Justin seemed ready to push her to the background even though she told her what happened, I felt, as with his band, he was putting his career above his friends and lover. I just can’t forgive that so easily as Kayla did, she was so spunky, had been through so much that she needed support, not pushing to behind the scenes. Possibly that wasn’t what they meant too – it was more of those conversations that I found hard to follow.
I loved the way Kayla finally got justice, and of course that things worked out for her and Justin, but it was a little too slick, too rushed, and I’m not sure that was best for long term happiness.
Stars: Three, for me there was too much unsaid, too much confusion, and Justin went from jerk to justice too quickly for me to really believe in him.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
One To Watch, Kate Stayman-London
Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance,
Arghhh, Women’s fiction again. Why? Why assume men won’t read this? Men write romance, men read romance.
This was a real treat to read. Somehow Kate brings in so many minority groups, plus size, black/coloured/LGBT/even asexual, and that rarely crops up. You missed my group though Kate ;-( Disabled. Wheelchair users very rarely crop up in romance, yet we want love too.
Still, it was wonderful to see so many groups here and brought in as part of the story, everyday stuff, not a triumphal “ wow!! look! A minority person!” I so hate the token folk – usually LGBT – that are the stereotyped lip service to inclusion in so many novels.
Anyway, the writing was sharp and funny, very on-point, I loved it. I really felt for Bea. She’s the odd one out in a happily married family, and knows her parents love her but inside she misses what the rest of the family have. She’s successful, loves her work, has good friends and yet still there’s that tiny bit that you can feel she misses, will she get love? Is she doomed to forever reminisce about her lost love?
Why don’t programmes like so many people’s secret addiction reality shows have people like her, minority groups, she wonders. So after her diatribe on exactly that, when the programme wants her to be their next star, she stipulates she does not want 25 of the usual, white, well muscled males but a group that represents reality.
There were some fabulously funny moments, and some emotional ones that made me almost tearful. Surprises? They are there in spades, this was a totally unpredictable novel and I loved that I just didn’t know what would happen next. The clothes she got – I know nothing really about fashion, so the names went over my head but the descriptions sounded so perfect. I want a clock like that first one!
I loved the mix of men, guessing who really meant what they said, who was just there for publicity, who was secretly thinking about Bea’s weight in an unpleasant way. ( Way to go Tim! Bea’s brothers certainly teach an excellent lesson in respecting their sister! )
Then there’s the wonderful dates, so enjoyed reading about them. Balloon trips, museums and art, Marrakesh and camel rides, just wonderful.
The ending? TBH I’m not wholly convinced by how it played out. I want to be, but after all the things she’s been through I’m not entirely certain its a HEA, but its certainly HFN.
I’ve seen some criticism of the way its laid out, tech style, and that made me cautious. I’ve tried – and failed – to enjoy books written in film script style, and was concerned this might be. Its not. There are a lot of email/twitter posts but that was fine. I use those everyday so embraced it, and it gave a way of the story connecting to the outside ( of the tv prog) world easily. I’m 62, its not a book just for the young, tech savvy people.
Stars: Difficult, I’d say five but I’m not entirely happy about the ending. So four and a half, the rest is just perfect and well done for all that inclusivity but fitting the characters in so naturally. Real world.
Arc via netgalley and publishers