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Posts Tagged ‘secrets’

Audiobook narrated by Aoife McMahon. The narration was excellent.

This is not the first Jo Spain book that I have read/listened to, but it is the first in the DCI Tom Reynolds series. I didn’t realise it was part of a series until after I had started listening to it, but it didn’t matter, as I didn’t need to be familiar with the previous books to follow this one.

17 year old Luke Connolly, dies after being pushed out of a third floor window of an abandoned house, and police quickly arrest and charge his friend Daniel Konate with raping Luke and then murdering him. Luke has a group of well-to-do friends with parents in well paid positions of power, but Daniel, being black, openly gay and from a lower socio-economic group, has never fitted in and only Luke himself really liked him.

When DCI Reynolds is asked by a colleague who also happens to be Daniel’s aunt to look into the matter, because she is convinced that her nephew is innocent, Ton agrees to do so and soon comes to the conclusion that the investigation which led to Daniel’s arrest was deeply flawed, and that there is a strong possibility that Daniel is innocent. He starts to investigate Luke’s other friends and as he does so, secrets are revealed.

I really enjoyed the book for the main part – I definitely liked Tom and his wife Louise, his friend and Chief Superintendent Shaun McGuinness (who is about to retire, and who’s position Tom is about to step into), and colleagues Ray and Laura. Luke is dead at the beginning of the story, and despite what happened to him it soon becomes clear that neither him nor his friends were particularly pleasant people. They have grown up with privileged lifestyles and believe that money and influence will allow them to get away with anything – and so far they have been correct.

I do have a slight niggle about the ending – on the one hand, it came as a complete surprise which is always welcome. On the other hand, it seemed very sensational and unbelievable compared to the rest of the book. Nonetheless the rest of the book held my attention and overall I would certainly recommend it to fans of the mystery genre, and I would definitely read/listen to more of the Tom Reynolds series.

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I listened to this in audiobook format, and it was narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis.

Four years after the death of her husband Joel and her subsequent breakdown, Darcy Hilton is finally beginning to look to the future and plan a life with her two sons, Harrison and Kane.

When Kane suffers from an accident during a day out in the park, he is helped by a handsome doctor named George, who quickly becomes Darcy’s friend, and before long, coffee and a cake has turned to dating, and then into a full blown relationship. Joel’s family are not happy as they feel that Darcy is moving too fast with George, and they worry about losing their closeness with Harrison and Kane. But it seems that someone else is trying to cause trouble. A number of sinister incidents cause Darcy to wonder who has it in for them – is it someone from her own past, or maybe the obsessed ex-girlfriend of George? And why is George’s housekeeper Maria so cold towards Darcy?

As the truth is revealed, Darcy starts to worry that she and her boys are heading towards danger.

I don’t like leaving negative reviews, but unfortunately this book did not really work for me on any level. The first problem is that the book is full of stupid women, making stupid decisions, and doing stupid things. Some of the things that happened to Darcy might as well have had flashing red lights spelling DANGER above them, but she still managed to convince herself that all was fine. And the ending was ludicrous and in no way believable – almost comically so. The writing was clunky in places with certain significant points being made, and then apparently forgotten about.

K L Slater certainly has many fans, judging by other reviews I have read of her books, so don’t let my review put you off if this book appeals to you. However, having read two of her books and reached the same conclusion with both, I am sorry to say that I don’t think she is an author I can enjoy.

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I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Philip Stevens, over the course of two weeks. The story is mainly narrated by Ed Collier, with chapters also told in the third person but showing the point of view of other characters.

When Ed and his wife Claire meet their daughter Abby’s boyfriend Ryan for the first time, Ed instantly distrusts him. He is shocked when Abby and Ryan announce that they are going to get married in just over a month, and he instantly determines to find out more about this stranger who has entered their lives, and get his daughter to at least postpone the wedding.

The bulk of the book mainly follows Ed’s investigations, with the last part being the culmination and consequences of what Ed does or doesn’t discover.

I liked the premise of the book, but unfortunately did not find that it lived up to its promise. Whether or not Ed was right about his suspicions (I’m not saying), his instant and extreme reaction seemed unbelievable. Based on literally nothing more than an uneasy feeling, Ed starts following Ryan and using underhand methods to discover more about him, even paying thousands to a private investigator.

The characters – even Ed, who narrates large parts of the book – never really seemed fleshed out or ‘real’ and it was hard to invest in any of them. Abby and Claire were bland, Ed was obsessive and Ryan was a cardboard cut out.

It’s a real shame because there was potential for a great story here. Still, lots of other reviewers online seem to have enjoyed it, so if this a genre you enjoy, you may want to give it a go.

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This is an audiobook narrated by Patience Tomlinson.

Siblings Robert (62) and Phoebe (60) are concerned about their 85 year old father James. After a fall renders the upstairs of his house out of bounds to him, they decide they need to hire a carer for him. After a few carers come and go for various reasons, they hire Mandy – hard-working, down to earth and plain speaking (sometimes too much so). Although Mandy’s outdated and somewhat questionable views are completely at odds with those of their father, Robert and Phoebe are grateful to her for her hard work, and pleased that Mandy and James seem to hit it off, with her presence lending him a new lease of life. But then they start to get jealous of her, and suspicious of her motives. Why is she going through their father’s private papers. And why did a previous client of hers leave her a flat in his Will? Is there more to Mandy than meets the eye?

I have mixed feelings about this book. First the narration – no complaints there; Patience Tomlinson did a great job with all characters. The first part of the book – with alternating chapters told from the points of view of Phoebe and Robert – was enjoyable with some amusing moments, and some believable insights into their situation, watching their once distinguished father grow older and frailer, and seeing him much closer to his carer than he often was with them when they were growing up. There is a twist which I genuinely did not see coming, but which set up the change of direction and narrative for the next part of the book, which is told from the points of view of James and other characters (unnamed here for fear of spoilers). I did not enjoy this part of the book anywhere near as much as the first part, and the conclusion when it came was something of an anti-climax.

I don’t doubt that Deborah Moggach can write believable scenarios and characters, and her prose is very engaging but I did feel a slight dissatisfaction with this book in the end. However, I would certainly try something else by this author.

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I listened to this audiobook over the course of a week. It’s narrated by Lisa Coleman, who did an excellent job. This psychological crime thriller is apparently the eighth in a series featuring DCI Tom Douglas, and had I known that going in, I may well have skipped it; I have always felt that book series needed to be read in order from the beginning. However, it didn’t matter one iota – clearly there is a backstory to Tom’s personal life but it’s all explained clearly enough, and this book could actually serve as a standalone novel.

The story centres, and is largely narrated by, Anna Franklyn – mother, wife, headteacher, and a respected member of the community. As she is driving to work one day, Anna hears a voice from her past on a phone in radio show – that of her ex-boyfriend Scott, who says he is going to phone back in a weeks time and tell the story of himself and his lost love ‘Spike’ and their tragic relationship. The only problem is….Scott died 14 years earlier, taking Anna’s most guarded secrets with him…and now it seems he is here and ready to expose her past. Anna has a week to find out what happened to Scott, and to stop him ruining her life.

The narrative jumps forwards and backwards between Then (14 years earlier) and Now, and also includes chapters written in the third person which focus on the police investigation.

I actually really enjoyed this book. Yes, it is fairly implausible, and I did guess the twist about halfway through, but it was a well told story which did a good job of illustrating how a young naive woman found herself in such a predicament all those years ago. I HATED the character of Scott, but he was far from the worst character in the story. I felt sorry for Anna, but also wanted to shake her and tell her to get a grip! I’m not going to reveal any spoilers because the ending, although partly predictable, was still written well, and there was in fact one final twist which I didn’t expect.

My only niggle is that sometimes things were over explained. For example, there is a poker game that happens at one point where every play seems to be explained in detail. Unless you play / understand poker, this bit is all unnecessary filler – it would be enough to explain who won and who lost. But still – a minor niggle.

Overall, excellent narration and an enjoyable storyline (kept me listening for the most part anyway) made me give this a thumbs up, and I would definitely read / listen to moron this series.

 

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Described as Gosford Park meets Groundhog Day, by way of Agatha Christie, this is a twisty, confusing book with a brilliant premise.

The formerly grand Blackheath House is hosting a party, and the hosts’ daughter Evelyn is going to die at 11.00pm. It’s murder, but it won’t look like murder and until the culprit is brought to justice by Aiden, a young man who is visiting the house, the day is going to repeat itself over and over. But as if that wasn’t enough of a mystery, every day Aiden will wake up in the body of a different party guest, seeing the party and the crime through a new set of eyes. He will have to use the clues that he picks up in each persona to piece together what happens and work out who kills Evelyn. Only then will be free to leave Blackheath.

Right, so I have very mixed feelings about this book. I was very much looking forward to reading it; I like the whole Groundhog Day scenario, as well as the idea of seeing the same day through different eyes and perspectives. The writing itself was eloquent and often quite poetic – there were occasions when a sentence really caught my attention just by how beautifully it was phrased. But my goodness this book is confusing and I can’t help feeling the author got a little bit too clever with the idea, and tried to cram almost too much in. (I am in awe at the planning he must have made to get the timeline in order!) With every day starting over, every ‘host’ was somewhat affected by the actions of the previous host, and the times and locations of certain events became quite hard to follow. I would genuinely recommend keeping a notebook nearby and jotting down when key events happened, because it gets very convoluted, with most characters literally not being who they seem.

Despite all this, I still found myself drawn in and didn’t feel like giving up – this is partly due to the aforementioned writing style. I will say that the ending when it came was excellent, very clever and to my mind unpredictable.

I’m not sure if I would read another book by this author. Possibly, but I’ll be sure to keep that notebook handy next time!

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I listened to this audiobook, very well narrated by Emma Spurgin Hussey, over a few days. After a brief opening chapter by an unnamed character (all is revealed later), the story properly starts with a young woman named Vicky – who also narrates the story – going to Corfu after graduation, and deciding to stay there. She loses touch with her mother, with whom she has had a fractious relationship ever since her mother remarried and had children with her second husband. In Corfu she meets the charismatic William and falls madly in love. Before long their son comes along. But when real life and big responsibilities kick in, the bliss fades from their relationship and Vicky makes a shocking decision.

At this point the story switches abruptly to narration by a lady named Caro, who runs a holiday cottage business on a farm with her husband Gilbert and their son Fergus. She has a daughter named India, but there is clearly friction between India and her parents. I’m wary of giving away too much of the story, so I’ll just say that Vicky’s and Caro’s stories do converge, and their individual histories come to have great bearing on their current lives, and both end up fighting for their own families.

I actually really enjoyed this book. I definitely did not like all of the characters; Barbara was an awful woman, although not entirely unbelievable. I also intensely disliked India and really wanted to have someone give her some home truths. However, I loved Caro and Fergus, and felt for Vicky.

The ending was very good as it gave closure, but resisted tying everything up in a neat bow; I was expecting something different, and was pleasantly surprised.

If you like human dramas, I’d recommend giving this one a try.

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In Margaret Atwood’s tenth novel, published in 2000, she tells the story of two sisters, Iris and Laura Chase.

The book opens with a report of Laura’s death by possible suicide, shortly after the ending of World War II. An older Iris, writing from the tail end of the 20th century, tells the story of her current life, and also the story of her and Laura’s lives. There is a second narrative – that of Laura’s posthumously published novel The Blind Assassin, which is about two unnamed lovers and their clandestine meetings, during which the man entertains the woman with a rather macabre and violent sci-fi story set on the planet of Zycron.

Margaret Atwood is one of those authors who I love, even when I don’t love her. The Handmaid’s Tale was a solid 5/5 for me, whereas Oryx and Crake was something of a disappointment. But generally speaking I always get something from her books and rarely forget them.

The Blind Assassin was not at all what I expected and for the first part, I was not sure I was going to like it. But it kind of crept up on me and I realised that I was enjoying it. In all honesty I never really felt as though I got a handle on Iris despite her narrating much of the book. In fact, Laura was more of a rounded character – sure she was an enigma, but she was meant to be, even to those closest to her – despite being dead before the story started.

As always with Atwood, the language is intelligent and luscious, and often at times quite cutting. Nobody quite comes out of her books without some sort of mark by their name! I didn’t like the direction that Iris’ life took, but neither did she, so I imagine that was deliberate.

I would recommend this book to any fans of Margaret Atwood – although I probably don’t need to because they will have already read it. I felt always slightly detached from it; it was always a story with me on the outside looking in, instead of one of those books that you find yourself completely immersed in, but I liked it a lot for the writing and for never quite knowing where and how it was going to end.

 

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I have thoroughly enjoyed previous novels by Sarah Waters, and had high hopes for this one. The story is set in the early 1920s, and Frances Wray and her mother have fallen on hard times, and are forced to take in lodgers. When Leonard and Lilian Barber arrive, Frances is shaken out of her small world, and drawn into their lives. However, when passion mounts, the consequences are shocking and everlasting.

This is a strange book in that it starts off being fairly slow moving – in keeping with the pace of Frances’s life. Every day is the same for her – housework and spending time with her mother, before retiring to bed. But as her new lodgers arouse her interest and she gets drawn into their lifestyle, the pace picks up. The last third of the book is a very different tone and I did get very absorbed, staying up late to find out how the story ends (without revealing any spoilers, I would have to say that I found the ending surprising, but in a weirdly anticlimactic way).

I cannot say I didn’t enjoy the book, but whereas with Waters’ previous novels Fingersmith, Affinity and The Night Watch, I couldn’t put them down, with this one I found myself not really engaging until the last part. The characters were not particularly likeable, which was not a problem, as I don’t believe they were written to be. They were believable though and the idea of Frances, being an intelligent woman trapped in claustrophobic lifestyle, was convincing.

Overall, not one of Sarah Waters’ best, but still worth the read and I will continue to read anything that she writes.

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In the late 80s, the Thunder Girls were the biggest girl band on the planet. Chrissie, Carly, Roxanne and Anita had the world at their feet, until it came to an abrupt end. Three of their careers were destroyed and the friendship was in tatters.

Thirty years later, they are invited to get back together for a reunion gig, but after all the backstabbing, betrayals and recriminations, can they even bear to be in the same room?

This book follows the girls throughout their separate lives, which include divorce, children, addiction, and bankruptcy. Not to mention that while they are planning the huge comeback which will see them back on the pedestals, someone else is plotting to bring them down…

I wanted a book that was undemanding and light hearted, and this book fitted the bill. It wasn’t always light hearted, but it also wasn’t ever to be taken too seriously. There’s a fairly healthy dollop of Jackie Collins-esque storylines here (although without the X-rating), mixed in with The Bold and the Beautiful type scenes and some of the events require a suspension of disbelief, while others were were predictable.

This is not the kind of book that wins literary prizes and nor is it meant to be. But if you want some pure escapism, this might do the trick.

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