Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds – Review.

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About the Book

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

My Review

Close to Me is a new novel that follows the fairly common theme of having an unreliable narrator. But this book is slightly different with the narrator not being in her twenties. Here, Jo is in her mid-fifties, and struggling with having nothing to focus on now that her two adult children have left home. Neither of them have lived up to the high expectations that their parents had of them and their disappointment is evident. Rob, her husband is quite critical especially when Jo decides to help out a walk in centre where they help people to find work and with other issues they may have.
After her accident, she has no memory of the previous year, either within her family or the work she does at the centre. The book goes back and forth between the year leading up to the accident and a daily diary of Jo’s attempt to try and remember.
At first I struggled to warm to any of them. But as I read more I had more empathy for Jo and the difficult relationship with both of her children. I felt her frustration at not being able to remember the people she had known quite well before the accident. And not knowing what happened to damage the family she thought was close knit. I would have liked to get to know more about Fin, he was probably the character I liked most.
Its strange reading a novel where the reader knows what happened in the previous year but the character doesn’t and I liked it very much when everything was revealed and how exactly she had been deceived.
Well written and easy to read. I will read more by this author in the future.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds – Blog Tour – Extract.

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Today, I am delighted to publish an extract from Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds that will be published as an e-book on 31st March. You can preorder the book here

About the Book

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.
Dramatic psychological suspense for fans of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, and Linda Green’s While My Eyes Were Closed.
When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

Twenty-One Days After The Fall

I turn away from my husband, shifting my weight on to my side, as far from him as the bed will allow. The movement is instinctive, dulled by the fact I’m only half awake, in the place between reality and unreality. I shiver, close my eyes tighter. Outside, the blanket of deepest night is unrelenting, the wind charging its way between the tall trees which edge the drive. I listen to the rain hitting the tiles as it pummels the roof and stone walls of our converted barn; a lone parapet at the top of the hill. I imagine the water tracking its way down the huge windows, swamping our garden and then soaking into the ground beneath.
My husband’s slow steady breaths and the familiar night-time noises within the house find my ear. I pull the duvet around me and allow my subconscious to take over, unlatching from the present, an almost physical letting-go. As I succumb to sleep the memories come, but I know they are unreliable; broken and unpredictable. The harder I search the further they retreat, but then something breaks through, at once unbidden and yet desperately wanted. As much as I crave the past, I fear it too.
He lunges, his right arm raised, slamming me hard against the wall; the force of his body holding me there. In his eyes I recognise passion, but of what nature and from what emotion it’s derived I cannot tell. I reach out again to the memory, my hand touching his face, turning him towards me to read something in his expression, to look into his eyes, begging him to stop. He pushes me away, grasping my wrist to dig his fingers hard into the pale skin and then the veins beneath, his rapid breaths hot against my neck. Insistent and urgent he holds me there, pinned to the wall. I’d fought him, of that I’m certain; my nails deep in his skin until he’d cried out.

I open my eyes; traces of early morning sunlight warming the room, creating patterns on the ceiling. I watch the rise and fall of my husband’s chest; the gentle sound of his breathing. Then he wakes too, turns to me and smiles, an easy smile, no trace of deceit; as though the last year had never happened.

With thanks to Headline.

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary – Review.

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About the Book

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.
Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

My Review

The series featuring Marnie Rome and Noah Jake is now one of my favourite. One of those where you soak up every word and look for hints for what might happen in the future.
This latest offering focuses on a missing child, revenge attacks on perpetrators of crime, gang culture and more insight into the personal lives of Marnie and Noah. Whilst we have got to know them both quite well in the past this time it is slightly different. There seems to be a connection between their personal and professional lives.
As always it is very believable. Low income, poor housing and limited opportunity areas that recruit their gang members early. Some of the gang members here are devastatingly young, showing vulnerability and fear but also a hard side where if these emotions are not controlled there would only be one way out.
Steven, who is now serving his sentence in an adult prison has a hold over Marnie, his grip gets tighter with every novel. The scenes where he features make me cringe with the distress that she can’t escape from. But this time it is Noah who I feel more sympathy for. The situation he is in becomes increasingly difficult and he has only one option. I can see both storylines continuing into the next novel.
It’s a brilliant series that I have followed from the first novel. I have enjoyed getting to know all the characters that Sarah Hilary has created.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. You can buy the novel at amazon or Waterstones

Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch – Review.

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About the Book

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.
After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.
Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.
But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.
And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My Review

Her Husband’s Lover messed with my head. Two women, Louisa and Soph are linked by tragedy when Sam, Louisa’s husband and Soph’s lover dies after a high-speed car crash. Everything points to the accident being caused by Sam trying to kill Louisa so he can start a new life with Soph. Louisa attempts to rebuild her life under an assumed identity but Soph is after revenge and financial security for her daughter.
But this is not a book where you can even begin to assume anything. The only character who I could take as face value was Adam. When there had been a few chapters concerning the past I thought I knew the real story but I was increasingly horrified as I got nearer the end. One of the more eerie things about the book were the parts that were merely hinted at. The parts where I was left thinking about what might have happened.
I found it fascinating, very unsettling and impossible to put down. I don’t think that I have read anything like it before.
Julia Crouch is one of the authors who will be participating in tonight’s First Monday Crime. For anybody who can attend I’m sure it will be a great night. The details can be found here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland.

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About the Book

Riddle me this: I have a price, but it cannot be paid in gold or silver.
1361. Porlock Weir, Exmoor. Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence, plague strikes England for the second time. Sara, a packhorse man’s wife, remembers the horror all too well and fears for safety of her children.
Only a dark-haired stranger offers help, but at a price that no one will pay.
Fear gives way to hysteria in the village and, when the sickness spreads to her family, Sara finds herself locked away by neighbours she has trusted for years. And, as her husband – and then others – begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable.
The price that I ask, from one willing to pay… A human life.

My Review

The Plague Charmer is the first book that I have read by Karen Maitland and also the first that I have read that is set in the 14th century.
It is set in Porlock Weir, an area of Exmoor and features several people. Will, a ‘manmade dwarf’, Sara, a wife and mother and Matilda, otherwise known as the ‘Holy Hag’ are the main characters. When the village is cursed by Janiveer a woman who was rescued from the sea and the plague decimates the village population all three are affected. They all survive the plague itself but their battle doesn’t end there.
I remember learning about the plague at school and how devastating it was. The rapid spread and agony experienced by the victims was exactly how I imagined it to be. I loved Will’s character, he was very determined, loyal and a great sense of humour especially regarding Matilda who was a very nasty individual. I’m not sure whether his storyline was a true reflection but it made fascinating reading. All the women who featured had strong characters and were determined to do everything to survive. They were more than willing to attempt their husband’s work.
Even though the novel was at times traumatic there was still plenty of humour. I was still laughing two days after reading a comment regarding childbirth from Cador. The only part of the novel that I wasn’t as keen on was the storyline concerning the Prophet. I found it a bit too intimidating compared to the rest of the novel. However, it was only a small part of the novel.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.