The Turnout by Megan Abbott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student. The three have perfected a dance that keeps the studio thriving.

But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker-a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration-an interloper arrives and threatens their delicate balance.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. As soon as I heard about this book I wanted to read it. I used to do ballet when I was at school so was familiar with The Nutcracker, ballet classes and the excitement of being part of a performance. I was also aware, but never experienced it, the pain, wrecked bodies and jealousy from other dancers. 

Ballet does form a large part of this novel. The way that dance takes over every part of your life if you are that dedicated. Some may find this baffling but I found it believable. Every minute of Dara’s life was taken by ballet classes, preparing for the show and guiding her students through rehearsals, bullying and trying to maintain her belief that she couldn’t touch her students. Marie, her sister, wasn’t as strict with herself, but she had other concerns.

This was a novel that left me with conflicting feelings. I had a lot of sympathy for Dara, but at times thought she seemed a cold person. I felt that she didn’t seem close to anybody, even her husband and sister. It was all about ballet.

Marie was a person I Initially disliked but especially in the latter part of the novel I had a lot more understanding and liking for her. I think after finishing she was the stronger and more likeable person.

I hated Derek with a passion, everything about him made me cringe. Even though he was only in the book and not in my world I felt intimidated at every appearance. The complete opposite to Bailey, who was my favourite. A lesser character but I loved her determination and her passion. 

This is a very entertaining but sinister novel. I had no idea which way it would go but it worked perfectly.

Silver by Chris Hammer – Review.

About The Book

Journalist Martin Scarsden returns to Port Silver to make a fresh start with his partner Mandy. But he arrives to find his childhood friend murdered – and Mandy is the prime suspect. Desperate to clear her name, Martin goes searching for the truth.

The media descends on the coastal town, compelled by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity, and religion. Martin is chasing the biggest scoop of his career, and the most personal.

As Martin draws closer to a killer, the secrets of his traumatic childhood come to the surface, and he must decide what is more important – the story or his family…

My Review

Scrublands was a book that I enjoyed reading a lot so I was looking forward to reading Silver the second book in the series. Following on from the events in Riversend Martin and Mandalay are hoping for a quieter life in a new town. However whilst this is a new town for Mandalay it isn’t for Martin. It is the town where he grew up and he has a lot of bad memories. But their fresh start doesn’t go as planned when almost immediately Mandalay is implicated in the murder of Martin’s childhood friend.

This book is very much a slow burner but I feel that this is the only way it could be. Martin, because of his childhood, was familiar with the town and its inhabitants but he could see it differently. The way the lure of huge amounts of money showed a different side to an individual’s personality. You could see how the promise of ‘improvements’ in the local area could benefit in some ways but could also see it destroy in others. My choice would be to protect the natural world and turn away from the money making opportunities.

It is one of those novels where you don’t initially see what is happening. I had doubts about Topaz but wasn’t sure why. But she wasn’t the only one, there were others whose true personalities were revealed in the latter half of the novel. Some I liked more, a few I liked a lot less. 

I have to admire an author who can write a novel where all of the characters are important and where most have some type of impact on the reader. Even the town of Silver seems to have its own personality. The old way of life competing with the new way, led by corruption.

I can’t wait to read Trust the next book in the series. 

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A sudden tragedy pits neighbour against neighbour and puts one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of suburbia, Good Neighbours excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Gertie and Arlo move to Maple Street, Long Island, with their children Julia and Larry they are over the moon. A proper home with stairs and a garden. Admittedly Gertie isn’t the best at housework but Arlo is and tries to encourage the children to be like him. Gertie thinks she has found a friend in next door neighbour Rhea but she is mistaken. Rhea has many issues, and despite looking like a good mother, wife and teacher she is far from it. But she also has a lot of power in the area and many of the neighbours fall over themselves to impress her. When a sinkhole appears on Maple Street, and Shelley, Rhea’s daughter falls in Gertie and her family soon realise how unwelcome they are and that the vicious rumours that are being spread by Rhea could destroy them. 

The book takes place in 2027 with brief interviews and press reports from the 2030s and 2040s. Both worked perfectly, you could see how hysteria, paranoia and jealousy affected nearly all of the adults who feature in the novel. I found it interesting how their accounts changed, like they were trying to justify their actions. It is close to a miracle that their children, known as the ‘Rat Pack’ were on the whole decent people who could see that things weren’t quite like their parents insisted they were and were willing to risk their own lives to find  Shelley.

I loved the way the author played with the reader. I couldn’t guess at what each neighbour might say or do next. Some of them manipulated their children into tormenting Gertie and Arlo and ignored the guilt caused by their actions. I felt that it was the media reports that were published years after the event that showed what they were really capable of. There was little remorse and a lot of self pity. 

Many people have neighbours they  become best of friends with but some have ones that they go out of their way to avoid. If I lived anywhere like Maple Street,  I would have done everything I could to avoid most of the adults who were neighbours in this book. 

Substitute by Susi Holliday – Review.

About The Book

Three people live. Three people die. You make the choice.

Like any mother, Chrissie wants to protect her family. She would do anything to keep them safe. So when a mysterious stranger turns up at her door, offering to prevent the deaths of the people she loves, it sounds too good to be true. The only problem: she must choose someone to die in their place. A substitute.

When her daughter Holly has a terrible accident, Chrissie has no option but to enter the programme. In that horrifying moment, she would do anything to save her. But even after Holly makes a miraculous recovery, Chrissie is convinced it’s just a coincidence. After all, who can really control the laws of life and death?

But as the dangers to her family escalate and her chosen substitutes begin to disappear, Chrissie finds herself in an underworld of hidden laboratories and secretive doctors. And the consequences of playing by their rules are far deadlier than she ever imagined…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I can always rely on Susi Holliday to entertain me with one of her novels. They are original with a storyline that I know will always have me reading one more chapter.

A dual time framed novel, in the 1980s we have two scientists who have differing views on how their work should be handled. Excited and fearful but maybe not fearful enough. These two are completely out of their depth despite their differing passion for wealth and knowledge. And in modern day there is Chrissie, young mother who struggles with loneliness but is devoted to her young daughter Holly and insists on family time where her and her husband Nathan take Holly to the park and just spend time together without their phones. Sounds ideal, but you just know that nothing is as it seems. It doesn’t take long for this seemingly happy family unit to be torn apart by the work of the scientists years earlier.

How do you handle knowing that you have the option of choosing who has to die to protect the ones you love? And then realising that you may have chosen incorrectly. Both to live or die! It is a feeling that made me slightly uncomfortable. And despite feeling relief at being able to take advantage of the offer Chrissie also felt a lot of guilt.

Whenever I read a novel there are always characters I dislike but it was different in this book. There were ones I wasn’t keen on initially but the more I read and realised what happened to them I was more inclined to feel sympathetic. Mistakes made mainly due to the thrill of wealth and power, but which had catastrophic results. And there was also a character whose actions I misunderstood throughout most of the novel and then saw that person completely differently towards the end. 

I found Substitute a great read, I really hope that none of the fictional discoveries become reality.

Mimic by Daniel Cole – Audiobook – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The stand-alone thriller from best-selling author of Ragdoll – soon to be a major TV series.

In life, she was his muse…. In death she’ll be his masterpiece….

1989: DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished. 

1996: Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated..

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the audiobook received. Listening to audiobooks is a relatively new thing for me so I jumped at the opportunity to listen to the new novel by this author. His Ragdoll series was one that I enjoyed a lot.

A dual time framed novel, the first part concerns a series of deaths. Chambers and Winters are convinced that they are linked but with lack of help from their superior officer, a somewhat unconvincing confession and finally a tragic accident the investigation is dropped.

Jump forward seven years and a young female officer, Marshall, who had known one of the victims, wants Chambers to look at the case again and find the killer. Despite misgivings and breaking a promise to his wonderful wife Eve he agrees. 

Life hasn’t been kind to any of them. All three have suffered during the seven years and I really hope that there are no members of our police who are like this trio. Not because I didn’t like them but because they have all been damaged by what happened. To the extent that I worried for their safety and sanity. Marshall was very much an open book, you knew immediately how she coped and some of the trauma she experienced. Winters was more reticent, in some ways I felt he suffered more than Chambers. 

But despite their issues they had a friendship that went beyond the job. Chambers was very much the father figure and managed to help both of them. In particular Marshall who he quite easily could have had removed from the investigation. Instead he showed encouragement and a belief in her abilities. 

Whilst the case was an interesting one, that sent me to the internet a few times to learn more it was the relationship dynamic they grabbed me. This felt like an honest example of a team. Working on their strengths and supporting their weaknesses. And there was also some dark humour, mainly caused by frustration.

This novel is described as a standalone but I feel that there could definitely be a follow up. There is certainly potential.