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

Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid – Blog Tour Review.

 

Perfect Liars PB 1

About The Book

Sixteen years ago, at an elite boarding school secluded in the English countryside, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable.

Their secret forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. – she knows there’s nothing that can’t be resolved by three courses in her immaculate kitchen.

But the evening does not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Perfect Liars was a brilliant twisty novel that had me hooked. It starts with a funeral of an unnamed person. You don’t find out who they are until the end. The rest of the novel is dual time frame with 3 different narrators. I don’t think there will be many readers who like all of them.
I will describe my feelings about each of the three but will keep their identity private, to reveal too much will spoil the read. One of them I quite liked, I understood her a lot more than the others and definitely had more sympathy for her. Another, I preferred as an adult. Still not keen but she showed a softer side. The final one, I disliked her both as a teenager and an adult. A horrible person who didn’t have a good side to her.
I couldn’t work out which of the three would die or what happened at the school. Even though I did have an idea who it would involve. I hope that there aren’t schools like this. I really hope that there aren’t people like this but I suspect I could be wrong on both accounts.

Perfect Liars Blog Tour Poster Week 2

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly – Blog Tour Review.

Open Your Eyes Cover

About the Book

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Paula Daly is one of my favourite authors so I jumped at the chance to read her new book.
Jane is happily married to Leon, they have two young children and a good life. Leon is a successful author, something which Jane has always dreamed of but she has never been published. Their life changes when Leon is found badly injured on their driveway, moments after Jane left him to go back in their house.
Initially the novel focuses in Leon’s recovery and how different everybody behaves around him. His fascinating mother and sister seem to refuse to see a big change but Jane sees the more threatening side to him. Some of these scenes were intimidating, more so because it was so easy to see what could happen if she couldn’t calm him down. The only person he could interact with easily was their nephew.
Alongside the storyline of a family trying to rebuild their lives was the image of life inside the publishing industry. It shows success stories but also the envy and the pressure to write the next novel. Much of what is mentioned will be familiar to authors, publishers and keen readers who follow the book related news. One aspect of this was discussed in great detail after a book event a few years ago.
All of the novel takes place in Liverpool, a favourite city and there were a few scenes and observations on the characters that made me smile. They were welcome, much of the novel is unsettling with its loneliness, intimidation from Leon, the neighbours from Hell and at times an almost claustrophobic feeling.
It has been a few years since I read a novel by Paula and I’m looking forward to the next one. Just brilliant.

Open Your Eyes Blog Tour Poster

The Child by Fiona Barton – Review.

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About the Book

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

My Review

Sometimes it pays to persevere with a novel. At first, I struggled with The Child, I couldn’t form an attachment to any of the narrators, even though the tale did intrigue me. But suddenly it grabbed me and I was hooked.
Kate, who is the journalist who featured in the authors previous book The Widow, is back and keen to get a story to attach to the child’s bones that were found on a building site. Along with a photographer and a trainee she starts to delve. The changing methods of journalism were demonstrated well, how online 24-hour news has had a significant impact on printed news and the affect that it has had on jobs.
The narrative switches between four narrators. One of them was Kate who I liked a lot more in this novel, she came across as much more compassionate and less of a newshound. Out of the other three, one was utterly repulsive. Cruel, selfish and bitter just about begins to cover it. I won’t reveal their name but will leave you to make your own mind up.
My favourite character was Joe, the trainee. I hadn’t expected him to be so trustworthy and keen to help and he was quite refreshing with his ability to charm those around him. I hope that both Kate and Joe will appear in future novels together.
It’s a different type of crime novel, it focuses more on how the media approach an investigation rather than the police and once I put aside my feelings towards journalism I enjoyed it.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

This Family Of Things by Alison Jameson – Review.

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About the Book

On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

My Review

This Family Of Things is a novel that focuses mainly on two families in a small town in Ireland. Midge comes from an abusive family, all her brothers and sisters have left home and are not in touch. Bird, Margaret and Olive are siblings who run a farm nearby. When Bird finds Midge late at night all their lives change.
I haven’t read much Irish fiction but the books that I have read I have enjoyed. I like the humour and the approach to life that you never seem to see in novels set elsewhere. I found though, that I didn’t get into this immediately. I think this was mainly because I was only reading a bit at a time. Once I could read it in bigger chunks I enjoyed it a lot more.
All the characters were different, even Bird and his sisters had little in common. All coped with their various problems in different ways and none could be judged with how they chose to live their lives. I did struggle though with the way I felt about Midge until the second half of the novel.
Set in Ireland and Oregon, I preferred the Irish setting. The way the villagers communicated with each other was magical, if not always likeable. A combination of compassion, ridicule, denial, fear and sarcasm that all felt natural.
A different type of novel from my usual crime fiction but it was a welcome one. Recommended.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.