My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent @4thEstateBooks

Image result

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent August 29th 2017

There has been a huge amount of Twitter hyope for this novel, and all I can say is believe every word. This novel is stunning and extraordinary.

Meet Turtle. Turtle, is 15 and lives with her father in the run down family home in Mendocino California. Turtle appears to have no mother in her life, cares little for make up and clothes, the province of most 15 year old girls, can skin a rabbit, strip and clean an array of guns and can shoot as well as any man.

Yet Turtle is troubled, dealing with issues any child should never have to deal with. Her main issue is a father who is convinced the world will end, loves Turtle with a suffocating fierceness, and regularly abuses Turtle both sexually, physically and mentally.

Turtle sees no means of escape until the death of her grandfather and  sudden departure of her father that force her to reassess her life. She befriends Jacob and all of a sudden Turtle sees glimpses of a proper family life and of people who care about her in the right way. All too soon her happiness is shattered when her father returns, this time with a young girl and slowly Turtle’s eyes are opened to just how wrong her father is.

This is a dark, unsettling read and definitely not for the fainthearted. It does contain issues that some may find disturbing but if you can live with it then please read this book.

Turtle is one of the best characters I have read all year. She is feisty, and resourceful, naive in the ways of the modern world yet underneath she yearns to have friends and ultimately to live a normal live. She both loves and hates her father, but doesn’t know what a normal father, daughter relationship is. Her tenacity and sheer courage shine through in the latter stages of the book and you find yourself rooting for this young girl, reading faster to discover how her story will end.

Tallent’s settings are wonderfully done and  perfectly match the varied moods within the book and his knowledge of guns and nature is very well researched.

Tallent’s writing is full of drama and tension that leaps from the pages and certainly set the heart racing at times. The sexual abuse that Turtle endures is incredibly well done and handled with care. At no time did it feel out of place or written purely to shock the reader, it definitely had a place within the novel. I felt its purpose was to show the love hate relationship between Turtle and her father as though it was the only way that he could show Turtle how much he loved her, how much that she was his and his alone.

This is a novel that will grab hold of you, pull you in and not let you go until it you have experienced every conceivable emotion from utter despair to hope and happiness. Turtle will stay with you long after you have read the last page and I can honestly say this was a truly stunning novel.

Thank you to Fourth Estate Books for providing a proof copy yo read and review.

About the author.

Image result for gabriel tallent author

Gabriel Tallent grew up in Mendocino, California. He attended Mendocino Community College before receiving his BA from Willamette University.

Gabriel jobs have included working as a crew leader for Northwest Youth Corps, dining room staff at Alta Lodge and a checker at Target.

His stories have been published in Narrative and the St Petersburg Review. My Absolute Darling is his debut novel.

Gabriel currently lives in Salt Lake City.

Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah @sophiehannahCB1 @Louiseswannell @HodderBooks

Image result

Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah  Hodder and Stoughton August 24th 2017

Cara Burrows is running away. Using some of her families savings she books her self into a 5 star hotel and spa in Arizona. Arriving late at night she is booked in by the hotel receptionist and given the key to her room. As she enters the room Cara realises she is not alone, as a man and a young girl emerge in the darkness. Beating a hasty retreat Cara is rewarded for the receptionists mistake and upgraded to one of the hotels luxury suites, but that is not the end for Cara when she realises that the young girl bears a remarkable resemblance to America’s most famous murder victim Melody Chapa. Melody Chapa was supposedly murdered by her parents who are now serving a life sentence, but can it really be her and what is the true story behind the supposed crime?

And so Cara embarks on a search for the truth as well as a solution to her own issues.

This novel has it all, a twisty turny mystery and a delightful collection of characters. Cara herself, is a mystery, a mystery that is slowly revealed as the novel progresses. I loved the tenaciousness of Cara and her inner strength to fight her own demons yet remain strong in the face of adversity.

Bonnie Juror, the TV journalist is loud, self opinionated, and hugely annoying, to the point I wanted to shout at her to shut up at times, yet she is central to the plot with a huge secret of her own.

The mother and daughter, Tarina and Zellie whom Cara befriends provide light relief. The mother Tarin, outspoken and fancying herself as a bit of detective, and Zellie, hugely intolerant and despairing of her larger than life mother.

The mystery of Melody Chapa is complex and Hannah handles the complexities extremely well making it easy for the reader to navigate. The writing is engaging and compelling and whilst some aspects are slightly unbelievable it does not in anyway detract from what is a hugely enjoyable novel.

Having never read Sophie Hannah before I will definitely be reading another novel very soon!

Thank you to Louise Swannell and Hodder and Stoughton for a proof copy to read and review.

About the author

Born in 1971, in Manchester Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime writer. Her books have been translated into 32 different languages. In 2014 Hannah was approached by the estate of author Agatha Christie to write a new Hercule Poirot novel, subsequently named the Monogram Murders. Her second Poirot novel, The Closed Casket was published in 2016.

Sophie is also an acclaimed poet, and her collection Pessimism for Beginners was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Award.

Sophie currently lives in Cambridge where she is a Fellow Commoner of Lucy Cavendish College.

Clade by James Bradley @cityoftongues @TitanBooks

Clade by James Bradley  Titan Press September 5th 2017

It is sometime in the future, but we are not sure when. Adam is in the Antarctic collecting samples, his wife in Australia awaiting the results of their latest round of IVF.

Jump forward 3 years and Adam and Ellie are now parents to Summer, their relationship is fractured and virtually irreparable, much like the world they live in.

The climate is changing, seismic storms are wiping out countries, the heat is evermore intense and plagues threaten to wipe out entire populations.

In the midst of this Adam, Ellie and Summer are attempting to live in the ever changing world around them. As the years pass events impact on each of them both good and bad.

A bleak story you may think and in some respects it is. None of us know what the true effects of climate change will be but the events described in Clade are all a possibility. In other aspects this is a novel of hope and of the human ability to adapt and ultimately survive.

Clad is interesting and thought provoking, well researched and very well written.  It does however jump to various dates in the future and no dates or even a hint at how far in the future the book was actually set was a little annoying at times. I also felt that some of the characters were actually not needed or were not treated with the same depth but merely used to highlight a climatic catastrophe in another country. It didn’t however detract from my enjoyment of the novel and my discovery of a new author that I look forward to reading again in the future.

About the author

Image result for james bradley author

Born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1967, James Bradley trained as a lawyer before becoming a novelist.

His previous novel include , Wrack, The Deep Field and The Resurrectionist.

James is also a critic for, appearing in Australian Newspapers and magazines and bloggs at City of Tongues.

Yesterday by Felicia Yap @FeliciaMYap @Wildfirebks

Image result

Yesterday by Felicia Yap Wildfire Books August 10th 2017

Are you Mono or Duo? Confused?? I was when I embarked on one the most anticipated novels of the year. The confusion didn’t last long before I was drawn in and totally hooked on this unique thriller.

So, what is mono and duo? Mono and duo relates to your memory and your capacity to remember. If you are mono, you remember everything that happened in the last 24 hours, if you are duo 48 hours.  Individuals are required to keep idiaries to record their daily life and to allow them to remember past 24 or 48 hours. Duo’s are considered the elite within society, mono’s with their capacity to remember less, are often thought of as less intelligent and treated as mere second class citizens.

All this is a little complicated when it comes to solving a murder and as the blurb on the book says ‘how do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday’

That is exactly what police officer, Hans must do when the body of a woman is pulled from the River Cam in Cambridge.

Racing against time Hans sets himself the target of solving the murder in 24 hours, not easy when the main suspect is a high profile novelist and would be MP.

Meet Mark and Claire Evans. Supposedly happily married for the last 20 plus years, defying the odds that mixed mono, duo marriages can work, Mark is duo, Claire mono. Claire suffers from depression, and Mark is growing increasingly indifferent to Claire and their relationship and when it emerges he had an affair with the dead woman and is the prime murder suspect their relationship is plunged into complete disarray.

The body in the Cam is named as Sophie Ayling, a duo, a mysterious figure, with secrets.

Told from the perspective from Mark, Claire, Chief Inspector Hans and Sophie their pasts and what binds them altogether is slowly revealed.

This novel is clever, very clever, portraying a society ruled by idiaries, and a reliance on technology to document every part of a persons life. Yap is particularly adept at showing the effects it has on each of the characters, mono Hans racing to solve the crime before his memory disappears, and Sophie with her upper class duo mentality pouring scorn on those who are mono.

Sophie herself, is certainly the most interesting of all the characters and Yap is excellent at creating an air of mystery around her, slowly unveiling little bits of information to keep the reader hooked.

I occasionally got annoyed with Claire, finding her inability to deal with the situation a little tedious at times, but I guess this is perhaps how the author wanted us to feel. The authors use of Claire and Mark’s relationship to highlight the inequalties between mono and duos was very cleverly done.  Mark always having the upper hand, Claire a little downtrodden until events force them to reexamine who they are as individuals and as a couple

The plot line twists and turns and the reader is never sure just who is guilty, who is telling the truth and who is lying. There is a twist towards the end that adds just that little extra!

Whilst it took me a while to get my head around the whole mono, duo theme this book is clever, engaging and enthralling. It is unique within its genre and a real breath of fresh air.

I would highly recommend yo read it!

Thank you to Wildfire and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review.

About the author

Felicia Yap grew up in Kuala Lumpar. She attended Imperial College London studying Biochemistry before gaining her doctorate at Cambridge University. Yap is also an accomplished ballroom dancer.

Currently residing in London Yesterday is her debut novel.

We That are Young by Preti Tanejia @PretiTaneja @GalleyBeggars

Image result

We that Are Young by Preti Taneja Galley Beggar Press August 10th 2017

Many books published this year have been modern retellings of a Shakespeare classic. Many have met with great success whilst others have floundered. Preta Taneja is the latest author to join the list with her version of King Lear.

Set in a modern day India at a time of political unrest and social uprising against corrupt politicians and businesses, We That Are Young, is the story of the Bapuj family and their vast and hugely successful network of businesses, the Devraj conglomerate. A business that seemingly has its tentacles in every strand of Indian society.

At its head is -Devraj Bapuji, all powerful in both business and family life. His eldest daughter Gaju is the apparent heir and most senior in the business. Radha, head of Pr loves parties and beautiful things. Sita, the youngest daughter and recent Cambridge graduate is not yet embroiled in the business and is very much the spoilt and indulged of the three daughters.

Outside the family are Ranjit Singh Devraji’s aide de campe, his gay son Jeet, not yet out to his family and lastly Jivan, illegitimate son of Ranjit, returning from exile in America after the death of his mother.

Jivan’s arrival coincides with Sita’s engagement party, from which she flees, setting of a catalyst of events that plunge the entire family and business into deep turmoil.

Told from the perspective of each character this is a novel that explores the very heart of India, from the wealthiest to the poorest.

The characters are amazingly drawn and my favourite has to be Jeet. From party lover and admirer of beautiful things to a life in the slums and garbage dumps of India, Jeet’s transformation is the most revelatory and perhaps shocking. His story clearly shows the abject poverty in which vast swathes of India reside.

Radhu is the complete opposite portraying the trappings of wealth, of lavish parties and habitual drug taking, yet deep down deeply unhappy.

As the family disintegrates Taneji writing goes into emotional overdrive. The anguish, the sheer horrors of the trauma many of the characters face leap from the page. The imagery she captures, from the poverty ridden slums to the lavish hotels and parties are vivid and colourful.  The brutality and violence at times made me wince, but the scenes never seemed out of place or too much, perfectly complementing the story.

We That Are Young is a long novel at a mere 530pages but don’t let that deter you because once started you will find it very hard to put down. It is hugely engaging, the writing is stunning and it is definitely one of my books of the year so far.

Why oh why was it not on the Booker Longlist!!

A huge thank you to Galley Beggar Press  for a proof copy to read and review.

About the author

Preti Taneja 1 by Rory O'Bryen

Preti is a writer, broadcaster and human rights activist. She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Warwick University. Preti also writes for The Guardian, The New Statesman, Scroll.In and The Conversation.

Preti’s novella Kumkum Malhotra won the Gatehiuse Press New Fiction Prize.

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall @zoewhittall @FrancineElena @HodderBooks

Image result

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall  Hodder and Stoughton July 13th 2017

The Woodbury family are rich, they have lived and indeed had an overriding influence on the community of the small Connecticut town in which they reside.

George Woodbury, current head of the family, is a well respected teacher at local private school, Avalon Heights. Famed for saving his daughter Sadie, from a gunman in the corridor of the school George has super hero status, that it is until he is arrested for possible rape and sexual molestation of Avalon school girls on a ski trip.

The family gather round unable to believe his guilt. The wife Joan, in total denial, brother Andrew, a hot city lawyer, a man struggling with his sexuality, and Sadie, the daughter who idolised her father and the only one who perhaps believes he is guilty.

As the community railes against the family, they each must face up to the terrible consequences of George’s arrest and deal with the slow implosion of their neat, respectable family life.

The story particularly concentrates on the character of Sadie. Sadie is intelligent, top of her class, destined for a top notch college, happy with her boyfriend Jimmy and their numerous friends. George’s arrest is particularly catastrophic for Sadie. This wonderful Father, she so clearly adored, who saved her from the gunman has now been knocked from his pedestal. Sadie must reevaluate just who he is and more importantly who she is, to the point of shutting herself off from her family, and hiding herself away at Jimmy’s house. As her friends desert her and she begins to dabble in weed she develops a crush on her boyfriends mothers partner, Kevin. Kevin is writing a novel with little success until he realises he has the ultimate story right on his doorstep. Cultivating his relationship with Sadie he slowly weedles out her feelings and the details of George’s misdemeanors with devastating consequences for Sadie.

Whittall is particularly adept at portraying Sadie’s ever increasing conflicting emotions, her deteriorating relationships with her family. I loved the parallel story of Sadie falling under Kevin’s advances alongside the emerging details of her Father’s sexual assault charges. It perfectly highlights how young girls are so vulnerable and can be so easily drawn in and flattered by the attentions of an older man. It is so clearly a story of our times.

George’s wife, Joan was a character that I found particularly irritating, but I think that is how the author wanted me to feel! A woman so clearly in denial, inept at dealing with the fallout, I wanted to shake her , to tell her to wake up and deal with the situation. I was relieved when she finally did seem to act but there was always the nagging doubt that husband George would always find a way to draw her back in.

George is the one character in the novel that I found a little predictable. The typical rich, respectable pillar of the community, with a dark secret. Manipulative, clever and a little smarmy, using his finances to cover his tracks, to protect himself. He just wasn’t edgy enough for me!

Whittall is very good at highlighting small town mentality, of the nuances of people hell bent at protecting their respectability,  and the twist and turns in the novel beautifully highlight the many contradictions in the communities in which we live.

Whittall has written a novel that reflects the times in which we find ourselves and she has done it very well.

Thank you to   Francine Toon and Hodder and Stoughton for the proof copy to read and review.

About the author

Image result

Born in South Durham, Quebec Whittall has lived in Toronto since 1997. She is the author of two previous novels, Bottle Rocket Hearts and Staying Still for as Long as Possible. The Best Kind of People was shortlisted for The Gillier Prize in 2016

 

 

I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen @tessgerritsen @alisonbarrow @TransworldBooks

Image result for i know a secret (rizzoli & isles 12)

I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen  Transworld Books August 10th 2017

It has been quite some time since I last read anything by Tess Gerritsen. In fact I remember reading her very first crime novel Harvest way back in 1996 and being instantly hooked! I was interested to see if Gerritsen could still draw in the reader and if the format still had a spark and not appear tired.

Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Psychologist Maura Isles are on their 12th case and a lot has happened over the ensuing books, both in their personal and professional lives. I did wonder if this would mar my enjoyment of the story or make me feel like I had missed something important, but thankfully it didn’t. In fact their personal lives remained very much in the background, a mere sideline to the thrilling murder enquiry they become involved in.

If you don’t like blood and gore then this is definitely not a book for you. The opening chapters graphically recount the murder of a young woman found dead on her bed, her eyes gouged out and the eyeballs in her hands.

As Rizzoli and Isles start their investigation they are gradually drawn into a multi-layered plot of  long ago child abuse, and ritualistic murder. The only person that might be able to help them is Holly Devine who appears to have a connection with all the victims and knows that she may be next. Yet Holly is aloof, and cold and hiding her own terrifying secret.

From the first to the last page I was instantly drawn in and if life hadn’t got in the way would have devoured the whole book in one or two sittings!

Rizzoli and Isles are their usual feisty selves, working seamlessly together as the investigation becomes ever more complex.

The character of Holly Devine is brilliantly done. She is cold, chilling and clearly very selfish, only caring about her own needs and protecting the secrets she hides. The air of mystery surrounding her had me continually questioning her innocence throughout the book.

Gerritsen’s skills lie in her brilliant handling of the numerous characters and the twists and turns of a multi layered plot. At no point did I feel confused or that I had to turn back the pages to remind myself of previous events.

The imagery, if you can stand a bit of blood and gore is fantastic and the ritual based killings well researched and informative without over loading on too much detail.

The ending was something I wasn’t expecting and I am eagerly awaiting Gerritsen’s next installment of Rizzoli and Isles.

I Know A Secret is gripping, thrilling and fabulous . Gerritsen is on top form and I won’t be leaving it as long before I read another of her fantastic novels.

Thank you to Alison Barrow at Transworld Books a proof copy to read and review.

About the author

Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen is a graduate of Stanford University and obtained her medical degree from the University of California.

It was whilst she was on maternity leave that Gerritsen began to write fiction. her first novel was a  romantic thriller published in 1987.

Harvest her first medical thriller was published in 1996 and since then Gerritsen’s thrillers have been published in 40 countries and  30 million copies have been bought by the book reading public.

Gerritsen has now retired as a doctor and lives in Maine.