Attend by West Camel – Blog Tour Review.

 

About The Book

Under their feet lies magic…

When Sam falls in love with South London thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, the mysterious world that lies beneath their feet and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read anything like this book before. I had expected it to be a crime novel with mention of gang related crime in the synopsis. But, while there is violence it is more about the emotion that the acts cause. The reasons why the violence has to occur and the loyalty portrayed by the friends and family of the people responsible. And bizarrely the lack of sympathy to the victim. 

The three main characters are ones that will stay with me for quite a while. Two of them, Sam and Anne are trying to rebuild their lives. Anne finds it very difficult, the daily struggle to stay off drugs, having to rebuild her family’s trust and the sense of loss over missing so much. Sam, who realises that he can only be really happy if he is honest about his feelings. Deborah is different, older but adamant that she will get what she wants by helping Sam and Anne come to terms with their situation. 

It’s a great feeling when you realise very early in a book that you are in for a treat. West Camel’s writing is stunning, his characters who all give me the impression of being very lonely, are ones that I was thinking about constantly. Deborah especially, with her life story and the thing that she was desperate for.  The accounts of her childhood and her experiences in the blitz are very moving,  and had me thinking of stories passed down in my own family.

It’s not only the characters in the novel that I am still thinking about it is also the setting in Deptford. When I was reading the acknowledgments I realised that the areas mentioned exist. I then spent a fascinating hour looking at local history websites and photos on the internet. And I had a strangely emotional feeling when I think I found the ‘real’ Deborah.

A wonderful book with a  fascinating setting. 

 

My Sister, Myself by Jill Treseder – Blog Tour Review.

My Sister Myself Cover

About The Book

Hungary, 1956. Russian tanks brutally crush the revolution against the Communist regime. Sisters Katalin and Marika escape Budapest with their family and settle in London.

However, the past is not so easily left behind. Their father is a wanted man, and the sisters’ relationship hangs in the balance. Their futures are shaped by loss. For Katalin, this means the failure of her ambition and a devastating discovery; for Marika, an equally heart-breaking experience.

Caught between their Hungarian heritage and their new lives in Britain, the sisters struggle to reconnect. Family secrets are exposed, jeopardising Katalin’s and Marika’s identities.

Can their relationship survive war, division and grief?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Before I started reading My Sister, Myself I was under the impression it was auto biographical. Why, I have no idea, I must have misread the blurb. But all the way through, I couldn’t shake off that feeling, even though it is fictional.
I do know there were problems in some parts of Europe after WW2 but am ashamed to say I know nothing about what happened in Hungary. In the novel the things seen and described are through the eyes of a young girl. The things that somebody that age should never see, and they are things that an adult would struggle with.
Because of that I could forgive Katalin for some of her behaviour.
There are three narratives, Katalin, Marika and Klára, their Aunt. Klára has lived in Devon for years, a refugee from a different time. She was widowed in the war and was childless. Her life changes dramatically when she has to take in the two girls when they struggle with their new life in London.
There is so much that makes you think. The type of life they had in Hungary, followed by the way they were initially treated when they were refugees who couldn’t speak the language. Both girls made different choices, I was surprised the way they did. The one who I thought I would like more and who I thought would be more successful wasn’t. Much of the novel concerns their fractured relationship and I had a lot of sympathy for Klára who had to pick up all the pieces.
It’s a wonderful book that I am thrilled to be given the chance to read. It’s a book that is out of my comfort zone and possibly wouldn’t have heard about.

My Sister Myself Blog Tour Poster

Too Close by Natalie Daniels – Guest Post – Review – Blog Tour.

 

Too Close Cover

Today it is my pleasure to publish a review and also show a guest post from the author. I will let you read about Natalie’s favourite books first, we have similar tastes, and then tell you what I thought of the book.

Guest Post

I had to think hard about my favourite reads. Fortunately I was expelled from a Cult in my early teens when things began to take on a sinister take. After a lapse in my own mental health, I was eventually placed in a normal school and it was then that I discovered books! With hindsight, I can see that the books I loved usually contained a darkness, a twist, a kink. I repeatedly devoured Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch and Kiss Kiss, any Daphne du Maurier book – My Cousin Rachel, Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn; I was delightfully shocked by Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho and John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire where the protagonist spent a day in bed with his sister (very Greek tragedy). I loved Martin Amis. And Jenny Diski really opened my eyes! On a lighter note, I also enjoyed Elizabeth Jane Howard’s family sagas. A quote of hers stuck with me for many years: ‘I can either write or be in love, but I can’t do both at the same time.’
As an adult I have recently been catching up on classics I never read and my new favourite book of all time is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I’m not normally a fan of science fiction but I just LOVED it. His prescience is astonishing. And he writes with such simplicity and humour.
My favourite writers are Julian Barnes, Jonathan Franzen, Hilary Mantel, William Boyd, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler and I’ll read anything at all by Dorothy Parker. And I know it sounds pretentious but surely the best book in the world has to be War and Peace because Tolstoy lets you play God, loving the characters for their faults as much as for their virtues (although I must add, were he with my agent, the last 50 pages would have had a red line drawn through them).
The last 2 books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed are John Boyne’s A Ladder to the Sky and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

About The Book

For fans of THE GIRLFRIEND and THE WIFE BETWEEN US, TOO CLOSE is a twisting tale of friendship and betrayal.

How close is too close?

Connie and Ness met in the park while their children played. As they talked, they realised they were neighbours. Perhaps it was only natural that they and their families would become entirely inseparable.

But when Ness’s marriage ends in a bitter divorce, she is suddenly at Connie’s house all the time. Connie doesn’t have a moment to herself, no time alone with her husband, not a second to chat to her kids.

It’s all too much. Something has to give.

Connie has woken up in a psychiatric hospital. They say she committed a terrible crime but she says she can’t remember a thing.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Too Close wasn’t what I expected it to be. This isn’t a bad thing, because it is different to many other thrillers that I have read this year. It is crime fiction but it is approached differently. You see the thoughts of Connie who has been accused and judged by everybody. You also get to see what her psychiatrist is going through and I can understand fully why their friendship started. You also get to read Connie’s daughter Annie’s diary which added some humour to the narrative. Innocence is so lovely to read in a novel that at times could be upsetting.
The crime Connie has committed is a terrible one, but apart from a brief moment fairly early you are not aware of the details until the end. It’s only a small part of the novel. Instead the focus is on what led to it, the emotion, betrayal and from those she loves and the jealousy that she feels. You see the lack of help from those who should do more and the devastating loss of somebody very close. But you also saw her bizarre friendship with Sita, something I could visualise clearly and loved the description of.
You also get to know her psychiatrist Emma and how she dealt or otherwise with her own issues. Strangely I found her harder to warm to, it’s a strange feeling to feel more empathy with the accused rather than the one who was trying to understand. I admired the way she dealt with the way her patient was regarded by her friends and wondered if this was how many who worked in similar situations felt.
It’s clever, a book that you really need to concentrate on to understand the feelings behind the actions. It is crime fiction but unlike many others it concentrates on what lead up to the event. I found it fascinating, often sad, often chilling but also glimpses of humour.

Too Close blog tour 2

Into The Night by Sarah Bailey – Blog Tour Review.

 

INto the Night Cover

About The Book

Senior Detective Gemma Woodstock is a small-town policewoman working on the biggest homicide cases in Melbourne. When an up-and-coming movie star is stabbed to death while the cameras are rolling on his new blockbuster, Gemma, eager to prove herself, is assigned to the case.

With the whole thing caught from multiple angles, how hard can it be to catch the crazed culprit? And who would want to hurt Australia’s adored boy-next-door? As Gemma uncovers the deadly underside of fame, her investigation turns into a dangerous game against those with money, power and everything to lose…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.Into The Night is the second book to feature Gemma Woodstock. I hadn’t read the first but had no problem following the storyline. It was one of the more original crime fiction novels that I have read this year.
The initial murder investigation is a sad but fairly normal case, the stabbing of a homeless man who has nobody apart from an estranged daughter to mourn his loss. But when somebody more prominent is also murdered everything changes.
I enjoyed this book for so many reasons. Initially, because it was set in Melbourne, somewhere I have visited a few times and I knew the areas that were mentioned, albeit with different weather conditions. I can’t imagine Melbourne being cold, having only experienced an Australian summer.
There was the morbid fascination with the second murder. The way that the murder of the homeless man was suddenly a lot less important in the eyes of the slightly grotesque media. Not just social media but also journalists from the TV and the newspapers.
Gemma, who has some severe personal issues is initially difficult to like. She is partnered with Fleet who was a character whose issues were more elusive. At times they seemed at odds but their relationship changed slightly and left me wondering what could happen next. By the end of the novel though I had warmed to Gemma a lot more.
And finally the crime. I didn’t have a clue but seeing the murderer revealed was a fascinating read. The chapters covered a day and time from the start. At first, when interviews were taking place and lot of witness statements were being taken time seemed to go slowly. But the days got shorter as the evidence started to dry up. I thought this worked very well, just how I imagine a real life investigation to be. What also worked well was how the murder of an unimportant man in the eyes of society took a back seat to the murder of a younger, wealthier and more famous victim.
I hope that this book will be part of a long one series, it’s definitely one I would like to read more of.

Into The Night Blog Tour Poster

Bait, Grist and Security by Mike Hodges – Blog Tour Review.

 

Bait Cover

About The Book

In ‘Bait’, a slippery PR man, Mark Miles, is unaware he’s being manipulated and dangled as bait by an investigative reporter until he’s swallowed by a sadistic mind-expanding cult from America. In ‘Grist’, the bestselling writer, Maxwell Grist, ruthlessly uses real people as fodder for his crime novels before finding himself living up to his name and becoming grist for his own murder. In ‘Security’, an American movie star, unhappy with the film he’s working on, refuses to leave his hotel for the studios, while in the corridor outside his luxury suite mayhem and murder take over.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Bait, Grist and Security is a series of novellas written by Mike Hodges who produced many movies, the most familiar to me being Get Carter. Each one of these I could visualise clearly on TV or in the cinema.
Whilst the main theme of each is different, they do have their similarities. Each feature unlikable people who have more power than they should, each show how easily people are misled by the ones who have the power and the money, each feature some of the more bizarre storylines that I have read and each feature some moments when I couldn’t read for laughing. Especially with the first one, Bait, which was probably my favourite. Not just because it was the longest, but because the storyline was so clever. Even though it did make me cringe.
The way all of the characters are described is brilliant, the author manages to show what they are really like compared to the image they show to society.
It’s all different, very refreshing, at times crude and like a breath of fresh air.

Bait Grist Blog Tour Poster