So today I’m delighted and excited to be part of the blog tour for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski today. Hydra is book two in the Six Stories series based on Scott King and her Serial style investigative podcasts. I had heard a lot about the first book, Six Stories, and was really keen to read it so I jumped at the chance to read Hydra and resolved to read Six Stories first, which I almost didn’t do but once I started Hydra I quickly realised that I needed to read the first book forst. But that makes this a bit different as I’m going to review Six Stories before I go on to Hydra. If you’ve read Six Stories or are only here because of Hydra then feel free to scroll down.
My Review of Six Stories:
I was intrigued to read Six Stories having heard so much about it but I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I got was the story of a young boy called Tom who had gone missing, only for his body to be found a year later in a quiet and secluded fell, the crime had never been solved and the case was now considered to be a cold case.
Scott King has a podcast, over six episodes her talks to different people involved in one crime trying to uncover what really happened and who might have done it. So here she talks to Tom’s friends who were with him that fateful night and to the adults who were in charge at the outward bound centre that he went missing from.
I liked how the story was slowly revealed as we put the pieces of the puzzle together as we found out more about Tom and his friends and what they had been up to before he went missing. But the story doesn’t put all the pieces into place, we get to think for ourselves and make up our own mind about what we think might have happened.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Six Stories, it’s a bit different and very well written and definitely the start of a promising series.
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.
2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…
As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
My Review of Hydra:
Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Six Stories I was looking forward to reading Hydra, book two of the six stories series. Firstly, I would definitely recommend that you read Six Stories first as I started to read Hydra without having read Six Stories and I didn’t get very far before I had to admit that I was very confused and wasn’t really sure what on earth was going on. Once I read the brilliant Six Stories I was able to return to Hydra and get into the story or Arla, a woman who murdered her parents and little sister.
This case is a bit different to Six Stories in that that one focused on a cold case, but this case had been solved and everyone knew that Arla had killed her family. But what nobody knew was why. So when Arla said that she would only speak to Scott King he was keen to see if he could find out what had happened on that fateful day and why.
If I’m honest I preferred the story in Six Stories, but Hydra was still a cracking read that kept me guessing and thinking right the way to the end.
Thank you to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for a copy of Hydra. All thoughts are my own.
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess…
Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.
About The Author:
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.
Six Stories and Hydra by Matt Wesolowski are out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Dora aged seven: It is quite funny sometimes but it is a bit not kind which I didn’t really like as they weren’t very nice to the trolls. The pictures are a bit different to other kids books but I do like them, they aren’t that colourful though. The writing is also a bit different but I could read it ok although it was harder to read than normal books.
I liked the book, there wasn’t a particularly strong storyline to it and there was no message in it as there often are with kids, it is just a book that is purely for fun. And it definitely is fun. The illustrations are great, they are quite simple and as Dora said not very colourful but the expressions on the trolls faces are often amusing and made my children giggle. I think that at seven the book is too young for my children, it would suit ages 2-6 quite well and I’m sure that the story would get lots of laughs from younger children who would enjoy the pictures and the lyrical story.
Day of the Trolls:
Jake aged seven: It was really gross when the troll farted and when the troll had snot. It was really funny when the granny got thrown to the roof. The pictures were really funny because it looked like it was so weird and silly. I think that boys and girls aged three to five would really like this book.
Dora aged seven: It was quite gross but it was quite funny when the troll picked his nose. I do think that it was quite good and I did like the pictures a bit too.
I enjoyed reading Day of the Trolls and felt that it was better than the first book as it had a better storyline and more happening in it. It is a funny book and the words and the pictures make it funnier, they go well together. I think that this book would be perfect for children aged 2-6 who I’m sure would find it hilarious to hear about these naughty and rude trolls!
Through gaps in the roof we didn’t repair
through cracks in the walls we pretended weren’t there…
…the trolls have come creeping
while we were all sleeping.
Trolls on your chair, trolls in your bed –
is anything worse than a troll on your head?
What happens when your house is invaded by trolls – mischievous creatures who do nothing but cause havoc and mayhem? Find out in this zany and charming book which tells you how to get rid of them for good and make your house a troll-free zone!
It’s the Day of the Trolls: Fart-Fart and all the trolls are back! Join them in the shopping mall where they go wild, causing havoc as they overrun the place. But when they follow sign saying All Trolls – This Way, things turn out very differently to what Flycatcher, Bumscratcher, SnotFace, Squeer and the rest of them expected …
About The Author:
Ron Butlin is an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, short story writer and librettist whose works have been translated into many languages. He regularly gives creative writing workshops in schools, and was Edinburgh Makar from 2008 to 2014.
James Hutcheson is Creative Director at Birlinn. He has been designing books, book jackets and album covers for many years.
The books are out now and you can buy Here Come The Trolls here and Day of the Trolls here.
When I first heard about Veronica’s Bird I was immediately intrigued and I wondered what would it be like to be one of the only women working in a men’s prison. So that is what I asked Veronica Bird to write about. I hope that you find it as interesting as I did.
‘Being a woman among male prisoners’
Veronica came to male prisons following several years in female jails – some would say she was taking on a far harder job, solely because the cells were filled with men. But, one should understand that running a female prison is just as difficult, and certainly as dangerous. One female inmate managed to put all six of her nurses in hospital with broken limbs, and described by the doctors as: ‘capable of attacking with murderous severity.’ As she was escorted to a prison van she required six prison officers to attend to her.
Men may be physically more powerful, but one can die from a well-placed shard of glass, as a squeeze to the throat. It is, perhaps, the sheer bulk of some of these men, the silent ones especially, who are the most intimidating, but staff are well-trained to understand each prisoner’s characteristics and react accordingly.
Veronica’s time with men began when she took over at a male young offender’s prison where they stood deferentially when she entered a room. Packed with testosterone they often got up to high jinks, but it was just that, and she began to earn their full respect. This was never more clear than the time she arranged for Frank Bruno, the heavyweight boxer at the height of his fame, to spend a day in the prison, flying in by helicopter to be met by almost hero worship. Frank spent the day talking with the inmates, exhorting them to stay on the straight and narrow. His visit must have been worth a hundred visits by official visitors’ groups and when he left at the end of the day at least one prisoner was heard to say to Veronica: ‘…that was the best day of my life, Miss.’
In Veronica’s experience over thirty-five years, she found men would respect a Governor if she was to keep her word on pledges made. Fairness as well as strict attention to the rules to both staff and prisoners, allowed prisoners to see where she was heading and they, along with her. In all of her time as a serving Prison Officer, she was never assaulted, though, naturally she has never down-played the inherent danger of her job. She had two mantras: never to find out what they were in for, and always to honour a promise to help a prisoner with a particular problem in life. Her plan was to get the inmate through his term with as little disturbance to the life of the prison as was possible.
Some prisoners show a curious mixture of gentlemanly behaviour, being polite and co-operative and at other times they could ‘lose it’, making restraint a task for half a dozen burly officers. Charles Bronson was one of these, a man who Veronica looked after for a month, to give Wakefield Prison respite from the day to day stress which arose from his conduct. Bronson, now renamed Salvador, after his hero artist, is one of the best-known prisoners in the country with a documentary film to his name, his paintings sell all over the world. He has written books with proceeds from sales going to charities of his choosing. Reputed to carry out two thousand press-ups a day and built like a bull, this same man who would politely discuss the time of the day with Veronica through an open cell door, could also wreak havoc when ‘…the demons take hold of me.’ She was never allowed to come too close to him, but Charlie was always a gentleman and never swore.
To be a woman in a male only prison means understanding each and every one of one’s charges, getting to know their foibles, fears and faults in equal measure but refusing to allow them to overstep the mark. There is a red line which, from time to time, they may lap against, but Veronica never permitted them to cross to the other side. It is probably not surprising, therefore, to find that, given a ‘basket case’ of a prison to take over, with no extra money, she turned it around in a year making it into a model against which all others would be judged.
Male or female, they both have their own demands, their own strengths whether it is physical or mental; both have to be watched just as carefully as the other, for unpredictability is the watchword.
Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.
A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.
He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.
Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.
Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.
After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.
Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.
About the Authors:
After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.
A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.
Veronica’s Bird is released on 23rd January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. I haven’t read this book….yet, but I will be doing so. The blurb alone makes me want to read it, let alone all the great reviews the book is getting. Amy has stopped by to tell us about unlikeable narrators and difficult characters. I hope that you enjoy it!
Unlikeable Narrators and Difficult Characters
Poor Samantha gets a lot of stick for being an unlikeable character. She’s got extremely low self-esteem and makes some terrible choices but this is why I found her so interesting to write. I don’t want characters that do exactly what they’re supposed to, what fun is that?!
When Sam and Carrie first meet in the novel they riff on the idea of what a ‘strong woman’ is. There’s a temptation to make every woman character in your novel a kind of role model, a feminist badass who we can all look up to. Or at least to make them ‘likeable’ (*shudder*), relatable and inoffensive.
I’m here to fly the flag for the deplorables. I say, Let women be awful too! Aren’t we all a little awful sometimes?
Male characters are allowed to be flawed but we hold women in fiction to a different standard. Take, for example, the way Hannibal Lecter was received when Silence of the Lambs was in cinemas. Some audiences applauded each time he appeared on screen. They revelled in his evil; they loved to be afraid of him.
Compare that to reactions to Amy in Gone Girl. I’ve seen her character called misogynistic and misandrist, depending on which Reddit forum you’re looking at. My own reaction to Amy was one of excitement. Finally! I thought, now women can be real villains too. Not an evil stepmother or a Lifetime movie mistress but a bon-a-fide psychopath just out there doing her thing. Progress!
So I was dismayed to see so many think-pieces devoted to analysing how her character reflects on all women. We accept that Hannibal Lecter is an evil character and we celebrate him but we are afraid to do the same for Amy because, as a woman, she is representative of her gender as a whole.
I’ve always found it fun to not like characters in fiction. I like to feel conflicted, frustrated by a protagonist’s flaws and to follow a murderer or a liar down the wrong path. I read so I can live different lives and have alternate experiences, so this was also how I wanted to approach writing.
It would be easy to dismiss Sam as weak or pathetic but she’s more complicated than that. Many people have said that there are moments where they related to her and those moments reminded them of when they were their worst selves.
We meet Samantha at a low point in her life. She is broken after a terrible relationship and she’s taken a huge leap that she’s not entirely confident in and this is what makes her so vulnerable and why she allows herself to be treated so badly by Dennis. This is hard to accept and it should be! We want her to find her strength and stick up for herself but will she? Or is there something more sinister about her motivations…
You love him. You trust him. So why are you so scared?
Her obsession started eighteen years after the first documentary … As the story
unfolded on screen everything else started to fade away. At the heart of it the boy,
too young for the suit he wore in court, blue eyes blinking confused at the camera,
alone and afraid. It hurt her to look at him … barely eighteen years old, alone on
You’re in love with a man who’s serving time for a brutal murder on Florida’s
Death Row. He’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a
You’re convinced he’s innocent, and you’re determined to prove it. You leave your
old life behind.
Now, you’re married to him. And he’s free, his conviction overturned.
But is he so innocent after all?
How do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?
About the Author:
Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan
University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and
her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was
borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with
her partner and two cats.
I jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour for Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, Deep Down Dead, but really wanted to having heard so much about it. So I figured that if I agreed to read and take part in this tour it would give me a good reason to read the first book. Unfortunately life gets in the way and I just didn’t have time to read Deep Down Dead before Deep Blue Trouble but thankfully I’m pretty sure that that didn’t matter.
The events of book one quickly become apparent and more is revealed as the book progresses, I’m sure that it is always better to read the books in order but if you haven’t read book one, don’t let it stop you reading Deep Blue Trouble.
I really enjoyed reading this book, it has a fast pace and plenty of twists and turns along with the who can you trust element too. I liked Lori, the main character who is a bounty hunter in Florida who finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she goes to California to hunt a dangerous man. It is a job that she doesn’t want to do but she is forced into it by an FBI agent who promises her that he will help out a friend who is in trouble with the law.
The case proves to be more difficult than Lori had hoped and it causes her to push herself in ways that she had never imagined but will she manage to catch the fugitive in time?
The only little gripe that I had was that we were constantly reminded of the reasons why Lori had agreed to take the case, we knew why she was doing it and how much riding on her succeeding and I didn’t need to be reminded so often. But apart from that I loved the book, I still really want to read the first book in the series and I look forward to the third book! It’s great to read about a feisty female character.
Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT—Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything—alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson “The Fish” Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.
About The Author:
Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her ‘alter ego’ Crime Thriller Girl she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. He debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories and hit number one on the UK and AU Kindle charts.
Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Ok, so this review could be very, very short. Basically, all that I will say in it can be summed up in these few words ‘It is bloody brilliant and you should read it.’
If you’d like to know a little bit more about the book then keep reading, no spoilers obviously, but if not then you get the gist and that is all that you need to know.
I’d heard a lot about The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor and was desperate to read it, I just couldn’t wait until publication day so I totally abused my position as a book blogger and begged the publisher to let me read it earlier. Luckily for me, they were very obliging. I was so excited when it landed on my Kindle that I started to read it straight away and once I started I struggled to stop. It was just so so good I couldn’t put it down! Forget the washing/cleaning/cooking/shopping/kids/pets/work/tv/sleep/anything, it won’t get done until you finish reading this book. I’m a slow reader and I read it in two days, sleep didn’t matter, I just had to keep reading.
That this book is a debut is incredibly impressive, the writing is solid and the plot is twisted and well written, the characters are believable and realistic. It’s pretty much as close to a perfect book as you can get.
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank… until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.
About The Author:
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.
She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.
In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.
While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.
She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’
The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’
She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.
She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.
Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.
She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.
She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.
Everyone calls her Caz.
The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor is released on 11th January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
I was immediately attracted to the blurb of The Child Finder by Rene Denfield. The thought of someone whose job was to track missing children was interesting and something that I really wanted to read.
Naomi Cottle is an unusual character, I didn’t find her particularly likeable but she was certainly interesting and her backstory was intriguing. Although the story focuses on Madison, a young child who went missing three years ago in an isolated wood while looking for a Christmas Tree with her parents, we also find out about some of the children that Naomi has found previously which helps to add depth to the story and also a sense of urgency. And we hear from Madison herself, finding out where she has been for three years and how she has managed to survive.
The concept is great and I did enjoy reading it, but I didn’t think that it was particularly well written. This didn’t spoil the read for me though and it was a real journey in many ways as while tracking Madison, Naomi is forced to confront her past as it brings up some of her own childhood that she has blocked out and feels scared to remember, but also aware that it is something that she needs to do in order to stop running from her past.
I really don’t want to give too much away, but this is a great read that I really enjoyed. If you like psychological thrillers then this is a book for you.
Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own harrowing experience that allows her to succeed when others have failed.
Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they’d gone to cut down a tree for Christmas. Soon after she disappeared, blizzards swept the region and the authorities presumed she died from exposure.
But Naomi knows that Madison isn’t dead. Can she find the child – and also find out why this particular case is stirring the shadows of her own memories? Could her future be bound to this girl in a way she doesn’t understand?
About The Author:
Rene Denfield is the bestselling author of THE ENCHANTED and THE CHILD FINDER. Her lyrical fiction has won numerous awards including the prestigious French Prix, an ALA Medal for Excellence and an IMPAC listing. In addition to writing, Rene works as a licensed investigator. She has worked hundreds of cases, including missing persons, and was the Chief Investigator at the public defender’s office. The child of a difficult history herself, Rene has dedicated her life to helping others. She has been a foster-adoptive parent for 20 years, and is the happy mother to three children she adopted from foster care.
The Child Finder by Rene Denfield is out in the UK on 11th January 2018 and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK. Or you can order the hardback from Amazon US now.
So finally here is my post with my books of the year from 2017. Yes, yes, I do realise that it is now 2018 but I just didn’t have time to get this post written and done before Big Ben chimed. Hopefully it will be worth the wait!
I’ve picked ten books that I think were my best reads of the year, it’s never easy to choose but I guess that this is where my dyslexia is a good thing because I read far fewer books than the average book blogger. I only have 63 books to choose from but some have hundreds. It still isn’t easy and there’s always going to be one or two that I wish I could have squeezed in!
None of the books are in order but one book will win the highly coveted If Only I Could Read Faster Book of the Year 2017!
First up we have The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. I used to love Emily Barr many years ago but hadn’t read any books of hers in such a long time. The blurb on this book really appealed to me and I do enjoy reading young adult books.
This book really took me by surprise. Flora Banks is a young adult with memory problems after being involved in a car accident, she proves to be incredibly resourceful and finds a way around her amnesia by leaving herself notes, but when her parents are called away Flora is left to look after herself.
I have to say that I absolutely loved Flora Banks, she is such a wonderful character that I really learnt from and took a part of her with me when I finished the book. It is a beautiful story and one that I will remember for a long time to come.
I was very excited to read The Mountain In My Shoe by Louise Beech, the story of a little boy who is looking for someone to love and care for him. It’s a wonderful tale of how we sometimes find love in the most unexpected places. Louise Beech is one hell of an author, she could make anything interesting to read, her talent is huge and, in my opinion, very special. Publisher Orenda Books is skilled at finding these amazing authors and The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech easily earns a spot on my top ten list.
I really wasn’t convinced about the premise for The One by John Marrs, dating apps is not something that particularly appeals to me but it did sound intriguing and lots of people were raving about it.
The One follows different people after they sign up to a dating agency that uses your DNA to find your perfect match. While some of the characters were better than others I enjoyed reading about all of them, but some were so good that I found myself wanting to read their bit. I read the book quickly and I have to say that I absolutely loved it, it was such a clever and unique story and, well I just loved it.
You can read my review for The One by John Marrs here.
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne is one book that I totally wasn’t prepared for. Before I started blogging and getting to know publishers and other bloggers I read a lot of books set in America, now it is rare that I do, almost all of the books that I now read are set in the UK. The descriptions in this book meant that it felt like I was there with the characters, I can still picture it in my mind now which is pretty impressive.
One thing that had me in awe was the detail in this book, I could only imagine the amount of research the author had done to make the story so rich and realistic, and while I didn’t know whether her descriptions of guns and hunting techniques were correct, I’d place good money on them being so.
The story that unfolded was unexpected and fascinating and I wasn’t surprised when I heard that the author had herself lived in similar conditions so was able to use her own experiences.
You can read my review of The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne here.
Rachel Rhys is the pseudonym for Tammy Cohen, a successful psychological thriller author, whose books I really like. What I didn’t like, or so I thought, was historical fiction. But when I read Block 46 which narrowly missed out on being on this list I realised that I was wrong to discount a huge genre and that it was time to change that. Dangerous Crossing was just the book to do it with.
I loved this book, it’s one book where I enjoyed every page. The story was so rich and wonderfully told with some great characters and I am sure that at times I could smell the smells that the character was experiencing. The author didn’t forget her psychological thriller background which perhaps made me feel more at home reading it. This was definitely a book that I was sorry to finish.
You can read my review of Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys here.
Regular readers of If Only I Could Read Faster will know that I love the author Angela Marsons and her Kim Stone books. Broken Bones is the seventh book in a series that has gained many fans and sold millions of books. The most impressive thing with the Kim Stone series is that every book in it is a great book, there’s no weak link which I think is hard to do when you’re writing so many books in a series.
Whenever I start a new Kim Stone book I am a little bit worried that this one will be the one to let the side down, but I really should have learnt by now that Angela Marsons is an amazingly talented author who certainly knows how to hook the reader into the story and give lots of twists to keep them guessing.
My favourite book in the series has previously been Evil Games, mainly because of a truly evil character who was so wonderfully written that she scared the hell out of me. I really didn’t think that any book would knock Evil Games off the top spot until I read Broken Bones that is.
I remember finishing this book and late into the night posting that I felt as though I’d just been tossed around in a tumble dryer. In case you aren’t sure that is a compliment! I love a book that has so many twists that I don’t know what is going on and who to trust and how the book will end. It really was a brilliant read and if you haven’t read any of the Kim Stone books then you really should!
You can read my review of Broken Bones by Angela Marsons here.
In 2016 my book of the year went to Behind Closed Doors by B.A.Paris so when the Breakdown was coming out I just had to read it but boy did I have high hopes for it. The Breakdown wasn’t as good as Behind Closed Doors in my view, but it was still a damn good book.
What I loved about it is that I just didn’t know who to trust, how reliable were the characters and could we trust what they were telling us? Of course I’m not going to tell you the answer but if you like a book that keeps you guessing and you’re never quite sure what’s going on and why then you will love The Breakdown. The author’s third book, Bring Me Back is out in March 2018 and I am lucky enough to have an early copy of it which I am desperate to read, perhaps it will be third time lucky for the author making my top reads of the year?!
You can read my review of The Breakdown by B.A.Paris here.
I do like Barbara Copperthwaite and Her Last Secret has to be one of her best. I loved the start of this book, goodness I remember reading it and I just wanted to keep reading right to the end as fast as I could to find out what happened. This is truly a book that I can imagine people would read in one sitting, sadly something that I’m just too slow a reader to do myself.
Once the book grabs you at the start it keeps you hooked as the story unfolds to show the reader how the events of at the start of the book happened. It is so cleverly written and revealed that I really didn’t know what the ending was going to be. Brilliant storytelling and a great read.
You can read my review of Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite here.
Now technically this book shouldn’t be here as I read it in 2016, but it was the last book that I read that year and too late to be included in my top reads 2016, but it definitely deserves a place so I’ve carried it over to this year.
I really enjoyed reading this book, sure at times it was a little bit far-fetched but I loved it, the characters and the twists and the who done it and the ride that it took me on was great. As a debut novel, I thought that it was great, not perfect but a fun read if not a perfectly written one. I do love reading about the hunt for a serial killer.
You can read my review of Ragdoll by Daniel Cole here.
So, now we need a drumroll so that I can tell you which book wins my Book of the Year 2017 award. The book has been hugely successful with so many people talking about it and how much they loved it and the main character.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is not a book that I expected to enjoy. Everyone was talking about it so I figured that I’d give it a go, fully expecting to hate it and give up reading it. At first I thought that would be the case, the main character, Eleanor Oliphant, has a very strange way of speaking and at first, it annoyed me and I really did think that I wouldn’t get passed it, but thankfully I did.
This book is not in a genre that I would think of as one of my favourites, psychological thrillers are normally my favourite but this book is nothing at all like one of them. But soon enough Eleanor Oliphant wormed her way into my heart, literally. I really felt when I finished the book that part of her remained with me and will continue to do so for a long time to come. She was so wonderful and inspiring, a bit like the character Flora Banks that I talked about earlier, Eleanor is definitely a one in a million.
This book said so much about loneliness and how all sorts of people can be affected by it, both young and old. But it also said a lot about reaching out to others and allowing them to help you, no matter how scary that might be. Any book that raises awareness of mental health issues gets bonus points from me but this book was just so wonderful and very, very special. I loved it and if I had the time I’d definitely read it a second time.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a really deserving winner of my book of the year 2017 and you can read my review here.
Ok, so yes that is ten books that I’ve told you about but there are so many other good ones that I just can’t totally leave out!! Is that cheating? Perhaps but it’s my blog so I can do it if I want to!
I do like Netta Newbound, she’s on Facebook and we both belong to some book related groups and I have to say that she appears to be a really nice and normal person with a family that she loves. So quite how she manages to write such chilling and gruesome books I don’t know. Her author mind really is twisted and this is evident by the ways in which she kills people, in her books I hasten to add.
I loved this book but it did make me want to close my eyes sometimes, which of course doesn’t work for a book but if you are squeamish you could skim the gruesome parts if you wanted to.
This book was really creepy and a lot of fun to read, I don’t think that I have ever felt so sorry for a character though as the main character in The Watcher really does go through a lot!
You can read my review for The Watcher by Netta Newbound here.
I really like Tammy Robinson as an author, firstly she’s from New Zealand which is a place that will always have a special place in my heart and she manages to describe scenery unlike any other author that I have read. But her books also have such heart and are lovely to read, although often sad too.
Since I read this book it has been picked up by a publisher (hurrah) so it’s currently available to pre-order and is released on 30th January 2018. You can read my review for it here along with a Q&A that I did with Tammy Robinson.
And finally I am going to give you two children’s books that myself and my children enjoyed reading this year.
This was such a lovely book, we really enjoyed it and the illustrations were brilliant. A wonderful little story with a great environmental message. I’d definitely recommend this book for kids under six. You can read my review here.
My kids loved this book, a lot. Although a little bit scary it is a great Christmas tale and I just loved that the girl took the main role and helped to beat the baddie. You can read my review of it here.
Right, that’s it! This has taken me hours and my bed is calling. I really hope that you enjoy my top reads and I’d love to hear what you think, do you agree with my choices?