The Octopus by Tess Little – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

There’s more than one way to capture a life.

When Elspeth arrives at her ex-husband’s LA mansion for his 50th birthday party, she’s expecting a crowd for the British film director. Instead, there are just seven other guests and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank. 

Come morning, Richard is dead.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new boyfriend, the manager, the cinematographer and the ex-wife, Elspeth herself. As stories of Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage, she begins to question not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would want to trap this mysterious, intelligent creature.

From the LA hills to the Norfolk marshes, The Octopus is a stylish exploration of power: the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Octopus was a novel that instantly appealed to me because it sounded so original. After all it’s not everyday you come across a novel where one of the suspects in a murder investigation is an octopus.   

When Richard is murdered at his own party the only culprit could be one of the handful of guests, or the octopus which had the ability to escape from its aquarium at night. It does sound strangely believable. But the more I read, and started to realise what a vile character Richard was I was more inclined to believe that it was one of the guests. I just had no idea who.

Elspeth, ex wife and chief narrator was the only one I really liked. She was the one who had more reason than most to want him dead, but the one I suspected least. Only because of what she kept hidden to protect their daughter from the truth. What she went through was terrible and to be able to cope alone showed a lot of strength. 

It was a little strange to read, even though there was only one narrator the story covers multiple periods of time and it switched from one to the other every few pages. It took me a while to adapt to this style but I became increasingly hooked. Especially after one of the characters was arrested and went to trial. 

I am amazed that The Octopus is a debut novel, it is definitely one of the best novels I have read this year. 

The Safe Place by Anna Downes – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A BEAUTIFUL HOME MIGHT HIDE DANGEROUS SECRETS

Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’ wife take care of their daughter, Aurelia. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again.

But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamourous facade. 

Rather than throwing herself headline into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool, Emily can’t help but ask questions. Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does Aurelia refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night? 

The only problem is, the more Emily knows, the less chance there is she will ever be able to leave . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Emily is down on her luck. A failed actress, sacked from her temping job and soon to be evicted from her home. She isn’t close to her adoptive parents and doesn’t know what to do to escape her quandary. But then her ex boss appears, like a knight in shining armour and offers her the chance of a lifetime. To move to France, and be a companion to his wife and child. To Emily it is a chance to escape and she doesn’t mind that she can’t tell anybody her whereabouts or that she has to sign NDAs. She is just ecstatic, and when she sees her new home and builds up a good relationship with Nina and Aurelia she couldn’t be happier. But as Emily gets more settled she realises not everything is as it seems.

I didn’t think of this book as twist driven but there were a few surprises. The flashbacks at the end of certain chapters added to the intrigue and made me think about what might have occurred in Nina and Scott’s past. I thought I knew what had happened but I was completely wrong. 

Emily was a character who I didn’t warm to straightaway. At first I thought her to be petulant and self pitying but seeing her relationship development with Aurelia and the way she reacted when she realised what was happening in the family home I appreciated her more. 

The Safe Place is perfect for that holiday read. 

Finders Keepers by Sabine Durrant – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Ailsa Tilson moves with her husband and children to Trinity Fields in search of the new. 
New project – a house to renovate. New people – no links to the past. New friends – especially her next-door neighbour, the lonely Verity, who needs her help. 

Verity has lived in Trinity Fields all her life. She’s always resisted change. Her home and belongings are a shield, a defence to keep the outside world at bay. But something about the Tilsons piques her interest.

Just as her ivy creeps through the shared garden fence, so Verity will work her way into the Tilson family. 

And once they realise how formidable she can be, it might well be too late.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Finders Keepers is the first book I have read by Sabine Durrant and on the strength of it I will be definitely reading more. It is one of those novels where the readers assumes that they know what is going to happen only to be mistaken.

When a family moves next door to Verity she is eager to make friends although a little apprehensive. But when she develops a rapport with the son Max, who she helps with his schoolwork she gets closer to Alisa his mother. His father, Tom, though is a little less friendly. He isn’t very happy with the state of Verity’s garden, and even less happy when he discovers that she is a hoarder. I admit, I’d be the same, the description of her house made my toes curl.

I have to say that Verity is a little strange. I suspect that many have a neighbour like her. Little social skills, brittle and causing concern with hoarding. I did misunderstand a lot about her though, especially with what made her so protective of her sister’s bedroom and their disagreement.

Alisa wasn’t a character I warmed to, There were times I suspected that her life wasn’t quite like she said it was. And she wasn’t really a good friend to Verity. But there were aspects of her I admired, especially as the novel progressed. I did like Max though, very much. He was probably my favourite character in the whole book. Warm, hurting and desperate for a friend.

A great introduction to a new author for me.

The New Girl by Harriet Walker – Review

About The Book

She’s borrowed your life. What if she decides to keep it?

Glamorous Margot Jones is the fashion editor at glossy women’s magazine Haute, and pregnant with her first child. Margot’s used to her carefully curated life being the object of other women’s envy – who wouldn’t want her successful career, loving husband, beautiful house and stylish wardrobe? 

Maggie, a freelance journalist, certainly knows she doesn’t measure up. So when Margot gets in touch to suggest she apply for her maternity cover at Haute, Maggie seizes the chance at living a better life – even if it’s only temporary.

But the simultaneous arrival of Margot’s baby and a brutal end to her oldest friendship sends Margot into a spiral of suspicion and paranoia. Are Maggie’s motives as innocent as they seem? And what happens at the end of the year when Margot wants her old life back – especially if Maggie decides she doesn’t want to leave?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Secret Readers. The New Girl was a book that I wouldn’t usually read, I prefer my books to be a little grittier. But the synopsis intrigued me with hints of trouble in the past, a broken friendship and a threat that many career women who are on maternity leave must feel.

At first it’s told by two view points, Margot who is on maternity leave with her first child and Maggie the woman who has filled her position. I liked both of them, appreciated Maggie’s enthusiasm and Margot’s fear over being replaced and her hurt at the way her school friend Winnie has severed connection. I liked her more and understood her feelings when events that happened when she was at school were slowly revealed.

When Winnie appeared the novel became a lot more sinister. It was via Winnie that I got to understand Margot more, especially with what happened when they were at school. I could see how Margot felt threatened but I could also see the pain that Winnie felt. I wasn’t sure what she could be capable of. I could also appreciate how much Maggie helped her, albeit unintentionally, with not knowing the connection that she had with Margot.

This was a novel about friendship, loyalty and envy. It was also about guilt and insecurity and how both could affect judgement. It also taught me a little about the fashion industry, something I know absolutely nothing about. 

I’m glad I decided to read something a little different, this was a book that I really enjoyed.   

The Burning Men by Will Shindler – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When a development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters runs in to save a man spotted at the window.

They come out without a body. They quit the service. They plan never to speak to each other again.

Five years later one of them is set alight at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did that night. What they chose over their duty. And there are still three men left to burn . . .

DI Alex Finn and his new partner DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the next man faces the fire.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Burning Men is a new crime thriller series and I don’t think I will be the only one who will be pleased that Finn, Paulsen and the rest of the team will be returning. This a partnership which has plenty of potential. Not only are they dedicated officers who are determined to solve a case they also have personal lives and problems that I am interested in. 

They do seem an unlikely pair but are forced to work together when the team that they are part of is struggling with other cases. They don’t connect immediately, there are issues and I think there will be many more as the series progresses. I expect clashes but also friendship that will include colleagues Ojo and Skegman.

The case itself was an intriguing one. Fire fighters who made a spur of the moment decision that whilst it brought benefits also brought danger. There were quite graphic scenes of what a body looks like after a fire, I’m only glad that I couldn’t smell the scenes as well as visualise them. 

A brilliant debut with an ending that I definitely didn’t expect.