Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America. 

Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something. 

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Don’t Turn Around is an extremely fast paced novel that was also very quick to read. Many people could easily read it in one sitting.

It has two main narrators, Cait and Rebecca but there are also occasional chapters from others who feature, none of whom were particularly likeable. It wasn’t easy to work out who was responsible for the danger that faced the two women on their journey across the border. I liked both of them and appreciated the way they gained each other’s trust.

There were many reasons why this novel worked for me. The uncertainty who was responsible, the reasons why they might be and what their true feelings were. How these men were known to the women but neither of them had any idea what they really thought. The storyline itself. Original and heartbreaking and impossible to judge. And also, the start of a friendship and feeling of being able to trust for both women. Something lacking in both of their lives.

Jessica Barry is the pseudonym for a well known American author, I have never read any other books under either name. I will definitely be so soon.

Keep Him Close by Emily Koch – Review

About The Book

ONE SON LIED. ONE SON DIED.

Alice’s son is dead. Indigo’s son is accused of murder.

Indigo is determined to prove her beloved Kane is innocent. Searching for evidence, she is helped by a kind stranger who takes an interest in her situation. Little does she know that her new friend has her own agenda.

Alice can’t tell Indigo who she really is. She wants to understand why her son was killed – and she needs to make sure that Indigo’s efforts to free Kane don’t put her remaining family at risk. But how long will it take for Indigo to discover her identity? And what other secrets will come out as she digs deeper?

No one knows a son like his mother. But neither Alice nor Indigo know the whole truth about their boys, and what happened between them on that fateful night.

Keep Him Close is a dark domestic drama from an award-winning writer.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The first thing that struck me whilst reading this fascinating novel is that you shouldn’t be too quick to judge people. For example, my first opinion of Alice was that she was cold and unapproachable. My first opinion of Lou was that he was a thug who had no respect. I was wrong about both, but it took a while, especially with Lou to see, what they were really like. My thoughts regarding Alice changed gradually as I saw her way of coping in secret and started to understand why she came across as so unfriendly.

 Most of the narrative switches between Alice and Indigo, you see how they both cope, or otherwise, with the way their lives have been destroyed by Lou’s death. But there are occasional chapters that concern the other characters and you start to see what happened on the night out. 

This is a crime novel but for me it was more a character study. How different people react to an impossible situation and how they try and improve it. It shows the strengths and the flaws in all of the characters and how important family and friends are. 

The Snakes by Sadie Jones – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.

When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. 

Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its rotten core, and now neither Bea nor Alex can escape…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Snakes was one of those books where I was mesmerised but also horrified by the characters. There wasn’t that many, the five members of the family, the police and the lawyers were the main ones but there was only one who I had any empathy for. That character was Alex, broken and struggling with events from his childhood and addiction. Bea was one I had mixed feelings about. I had sympathy for her but I think she could have done a lot more. She let Alex down and she wasn’t honest about her family life with Dan, her husband. Most of the others made me cringe.

I found this novel difficult to put down but strangely a long time to read. I think it was because the characters were so horrible and I felt I had to absorb every description of them. I struggle to pick out one phrase but every time Griff ‘spoke’ I felt sickened. Rude, a critic and a bully doesn’t even begin to describe him.

I loved the descriptions of the setting, the dilapidated hotel in a remote French village. The peace and quiet that was tarred by the arrival of a family that could only be described as venomous as the snakes in the title. I could understand why Alex would choose to live there rather in the huge mansion with his parents. 

The ending wasn’t what I expected and I have read differing opinions on it. It is one that I will be thinking about for a few days.

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware – Review.

 

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About the Book

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.

There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy Ruth Ware’s novels so I was pleased be given the chance to read an advanced copy of her new book.
When Harriet, or as she prefers to be called Hal receives a letter that could make her life easier she jumps at the chance. Despite feeling that it wasn’t intended for her. But the risk that she was in at home in Brighton was nothing compared to what she faced in the now dilapidated home in Cornwall. The house that she goes to is nothing like the image that she had seen on a postcard.
A family, united by the death of their mother, but the undercurrent of malice gets more evident as the novel progresses. It’s difficult to tell which of them, if any, genuinely welcome Hal into their lives. Especially when the will is read.
I loved the way everything was described. The way the house had fallen into disrepair through neglect. Most of the rooms were cold, dark and unwelcoming, Hal’s bedroom especially. I had a vivid impression of a home that wasn’t full of happy childhood memories where everybody was loved and visitors made welcome. Instead this was a home where children grew up in fear of their mother and the housekeeper Mrs Warren. The mother only appears through memories and diary entries but they were a clear image of a woman who wasn’t able to show love easily. Mrs Warren does appear. It did feel a little strange that the family accepted her rudeness and lack of respect. But then I started to wonder what she knew.
I was a little dubious about the storyline involving tarot cards. I have always thought I would be too scared to attend a reading of any kind but the way it was described showed a different way of approaching it. I still wouldn’t do it, but I now think about what the cards reveal slightly differently.
I liked Hal a lot, she’d had a tough life and lost the only parent she had too young. I ached for her to be able to be close to her new family but not knowing who was a threat. For that reason I won’t reveal my thoughts about the other characters. Make up your own mind.
Recommended.

The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd – Review.

 

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About the Book

Dan Leno, the great music hall comedian, was known in his lifetime as ‘the funniest man on earth’. So how could he have been involved in one of the most curious episodes in London’s history when, in a short period during the autumn of 1880, a series of murders was attributed to the mysterious ‘Limehouse Golem’?

In Peter Ackroyd’s novel the world of late-Victorian music hall and pantomime becomes implicated in a number of sinister scenes and episodes, and the connection between the light and dark sides of nineteenth-century London begins to attract contemporary figures as George Gissing and Karl Marx. But there are also less well-known characters who play a significant role in the narrative. What, for example, is the secret of Elizabeth Cree, about to hang for the murder of her husband?

My Review

I first started to read this book about twenty years ago when it was originally published as Dan Leno and The Limehouse Golem. Then I didn’t really care for it, but over the years the books I choose to read are a lot darker and when the publisher asked if I would like to review I decided to try again. I am happy to say, that this time round I liked the novel much more. So much so that after finishing it yesterday morning, I then went to the cinema to watch the film adaptation. And now I want to reread the book. It’s safe to say I’m a fan!
It is incredibly dark. London isn’t romanticised in anyway. You see the poverty, the prostitution, the death and disease. I could taste the fog, the description of ‘miner’s phlegm’ was a strong indication of how damaging it must have been to health. We’ve probably all seen photographs of Victorian London shrouded in mist but I’ve never thought what it must be like to live in.
There are plenty of violent scenes combined with the scenes from the theatre, both of which are present throughout the entire novel. You see the story from a few points of view which gets a little confusing and it was only in the last quarter that I started to see what was happening.
It’s not a book that has many likeable characters, some are factual some fictional and the only moralistic person was Karl Marx who was saddened by a friend’s death. Everybody else was unfeeling and self-obsessed.
After rereading this novel for the second time I will be interested in reading more by Peter Ackroyd.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.