The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton – Review.

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About the Book

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

My Review

The Craftsman is a dual time frame novel that takes place in Sabden, a small town in the foothills of Pendle, Lancashire. Witch Country. The Pendle Witch trials and stories are part of this book.
It takes place in 1969 when Florence, Flossie, is a young officer and in 1999 when she is Assistant Commissioner. She has returned to the area to attend the funeral of a convicted murderer who she has stayed in contact with.
Whilst there is the spookiness connected with the witches the storyline in the novel is crime fiction. In 1969, Flossie is one of the team who are trying to find three missing children. She has to put up with discrimination, suspicion and general misbehaviour from the local residents as well as from her colleagues. There are places where an outsider will never be accepted and there was little chance of Flossie ever being considered one of the team. By anybody. All of the attitudes were convincing and it was good to see that she was successful in her career.
In 1999, the storyline is more sinister. I was brought up on stories regarding the Witch trials but had never thought about how they affected the communities nearby. How the legends and history were still evident. Some I had heard before, but the novel shows the lesser known facts.
Many of the characters weren’t particularly likeable, and even though much of the treatment Flossie received was unnecessary she wasn’t an easy person to like. I did like the descriptions of the local people, I found them believable. The older ones, brought up on superstition, some who probably had families who had lived there 400 years earlier, at the time of the trials. And the younger ones who wanted to go to the cities to have a good time.

Beautiful Liars by Isabel Ashdown – Blog Tour Review.

 

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About the Book

Eighteen years ago Martha said goodbye to best friend Juliet on a moonlit London towpath.
The next morning Juliet’s bike was found abandoned at the waterside.
She was never seen again.

Nearly two decades later Martha is a TV celebrity, preparing to host a new crime show… and the first case will be that of missing student Juliet Sherman. After all these years Martha must reach out to old friends and try to piece together the final moments of Juliet’s life.

But what happens when your perfect friends turn out to be perfect strangers…?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Netgalley.
Beautiful Liars is the first book that I have read by Isabel Ashdown and after finding this book impossible to put down it won’t be the last.
Apart from a chilling prologue, which had me wondering just how it could be linked, the rest of the novel had two narrators. Martha is a successful TV presenter who is researching a cold case for her new TV show. This cold case is very close to her heart. Juliet was a very close friend when she was a teenager and both her and another friend Liv have always felt guilty over her disappearance. The other narrator is Casey, she bought Liv’s house and when she receives a letter addressed to Liv from Martha she assumes her identity.
Casey was one of the most compelling characters that I have come across. I have never felt a combination of fear, a little revulsion and a lot of sympathy for one character before. I had to look past her actions to understand the reasons why she was behaving the way that she did and gradually the feelings of revulsion faded.
I find cold cases fascinating. The determination of a handful of people, whether they are police or media to solve a murder and bring peace to friends and family is humbling and is shown brilliantly here. Especially with regards to Juliet’s father and the guilt shown by both Martha and Liv. Some of it I guessed correctly, but only a small part. I was duped very convincingly.
Recommended.

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The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Undertow by Katie May – Review.

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About the Book

THE WHITSTABLE HIGH TIDE SWIMMING CLUB is a serialized novel told in three parts – taking you through a year in the life of Deb (ageing bikini, sunglasses) and Maisie (black wetsuit, swimming shoes, goggles) and the other high tide swimmers. This is Part Two.
Deb has finally cut her feckless husband loose, but in many other ways her life is spiralling out of control. With no home, no money, and a chaotic love life, she finds an unusual way to keep both body and soul together.
She’s not even sure of her friendship with Maisie anymore. But there’s still something that bonds the two women together: their determination to stop anyone building on their beloved West Beach. And yet, as they begin to mount their protest, they find themselves threatened and ridiculed, and must fall back on every ounce of their resourcefulness to keep going.
What would they do without the High Tide Swimming Club, whose intrigues, dramas and escapades keep them afloat in troubled waters?

My Review

When I read the first part of this trilogy a few months ago I was surprised how much I liked it and I have been waiting impatiently ever since for part two. I placed it on pre -order and it arrived on my kindle on publication day.
It picks up exactly where it left off. The fight has increased between the developers and the swimming club regarding the building of bars and restaurants on the quieter area of the beach that the friends use. After a debate on the local radio station the knives are out between the local MP and Deb who refuses to back down.
But Maisie has other things on her mind and can’t give her full commitment to the fight. When she confides in Deb though she realises that she has more help than she thought.Deb’s life is still in a downturn, she needs somewhere to live and a job, has a very ungrateful daughter and a relationship that everybody else feels is unsuitable.
It is about as far removed from my usual choice of fiction as you can get and if it had been published in the usual format I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. But the power of social media in regards to the publishing world brought it to my attention. It is a novel that makes you feel good about the world while you are reading it. There is the fight to protect what is important but it is all light-hearted. There is also poignancy and I feel that in part three I may need tissues. I hope I don’t have to wait long to read it.

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Diving In by Katie May – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

In the gorgeous seaside town of Whitstable, broken-hearted Deb begins to swim each day and gathers a new group of friends around her. But can the magic of sea heal the hurt of the past? Or will family ties drag her underwater again?
A heart-warming, funny and poignant story of romance, friendship and second chances. It’s also a song to the author’s home town of Whitstable, where the sea is smooth, the shingle is painful on bare feet, and the air is full of possibilities.

My Review

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Diving In is the first part of a trilogy that will be released over the next few months. I have only ever seen something like this once before and liked the idea then.
After reading this delightful novella I am eagerly looking forward to part two. I liked Debs very much, and had a lot of sympathy for her and the way she felt she was treated by her estranged husband and adult children. I can see some great friendships form between all the women, even though they don’t initially have much in common. Part one focused mainly on Debs and Marcie, I feel that each of the women will be focused on in the rest of the series. One of them I wasn’t keen on but if we do get to know more about her later my feeling may change.
It’s not an area I know but I could picture it clearly. A quieter area of a seaside town that has the usual beach huts and bars that the little club wanted to protect. They all get pleasure from the club and all use it for different reasons.
There is poignancy and loneliness, humour and loss. And an overwhelming unity to keep the club going. Bring on Part Two.
With thanks for the publisher for the copy received for review.

 

Cocktail Hour

Cocktail inspired by The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club from Katie May.

My Instagram feed is testimony to the fact that I’m a bit of a cocktail fiend. Here is a cocktail to sip while you read.
West Beach Martini
A fragrant dry martini that reminds me of the beach in high summer.
50 ml gin (I love Bombay Sapphire in this)
I tsp white vermouth
1 strip orange zest
1 sprig rosemary
1 pinch sea salt

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add all the ingredients, crushing the rosemary between your fingers as you put it in (this releases the oils).
Shake very well, and strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with another shred of orange zest, or an olive

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Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton – Review.

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About the Book

One day changes Jody’s life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.
One day changes Mags’s life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…

My Review

It seems common now, to have a novel that features an unreliable narrator. Tattletale is unusual in that it has three of them. After Abe is seriously injured in a fall, his sister Mags tries to get answers. She doesn’t believe what she is being told by his fiancé Jody and his neighbour Mira also seems to be keeping something back. There are flashbacks, and it isn’t clear who they concern. It also isn’t clear who to believe.
It’s a slow burning novel. At first I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go and my attention slipped a few times. But then, suddenly I was gripped and read the remainder of the book in one sitting. All three women had their problems and all had their own interpretation of the accident. Some of the flashbacks were quite upsetting, even more so because it was unclear whose they were and if they could be believed. At times it was intimidating. The threat from the thugs on the estate and some of the residents in the flats and the childhood  memories of both Mags and Jody.

The ending was superb. So often now I read a novel where there is a loose thread or the ending doesn’t make sense. But everything was wrapped up nicely and all to my satisfaction.

To preorder the book click here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.