5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. @rhiannonnavin @MantleBooks #bookblogger #greatread #5star

onlychild
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin.

My Review:

Sometimes a book comes along that climbs right inside of you and lodges itself right into your heart. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does you know that the book is really something very special.

That is what happened to me when reading Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. It isn’t an easy book to read, I think that even the most hardened reader will struggle to stop the storyline from affecting them.

This book grabbed me from the start when Zach was hiding in the cupboard at school listening to the pop pop pop of a gun going off. Little does he know that his life is about to change forever. I loved Zach as a character, aged only six that could have been very different, but he is believable and just wonderful in so many ways.

As his family falls apart Zach struggles to understand what has happened and how he can get his family working together again, as they once did. I really liked Zach’s Dad, while his mother fell apart he struggled to keep things as normal as possible for Zach and although he hadn’t been the best Dad before he works hard to make things better. I think that he was underused as a character and I loved reading the scenes between Zach and his Dad.

Readers of my blog will know that I love reading crime and thriller books, but once I finished Only Child I really struggled to read anything with a gun in it. Very unlike me but that is the impact that this book had on me. It didn’t last (thankfully), but this book did have a strong and long lasting impact on me. It really was a wonderful read but not an easy one. For a debut novel it is nothing short of outstanding, I can’t wait to read more from the author and I am pretty sure that Only Child will be on my top reads of 2018 though.

Thank you to the publisher Mantle, for a copy of Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

Readers of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty will also like this tenderhearted debut about healing and family, narrated by an unforgettable six-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

About The Author:

Rhiannon+Navin,+AuthorRhiannon Navin grew up in Bremen, Germany, in a family of book-crazy women. Her career in advertising brought her to New York City, where she worked for several large agencies before becoming a full-time mother and writer. She now lives outside of New York City with her husband, three children, two cats, and one dog. Only Child is her first novel.

 

You can follow the author on TwitterFacebookGoodreads and on her website.

 

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

3.5*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#BlogTour #Review Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan @LivKiernan #TooCloseToBreathe @riverrunbooks

tooclosetobreathe

My Review:

I love the cover for Too Close To Breathe, just looking at it made me want to read the book and I don’t think that I even read the blurb. So that meant that when I started the book I had absolutely no idea what to expect, which is how I like it when I read a book.

Too Close To Breathe is the first book in a new series, but I did have to double check that when reading it as I felt as though I was missing something, but nope, it is definitely the first book. It is also quite a slow burner, most detective series takes place over a few days or maybe weeks, but this book takes place over months, but it is an intriguing story that keeps the reader wondering as the story twists and turns and many different suspects come under suspicion.

There were a few instances where plotlines seemed to be forgotten halfway through or character traits. A heavy cold suddenly disappearing, or characters that started off swearing colourfully and then suddenly stopping and not swearing again for the rest of the book.

Many of the characters are pretty unlikeable, even the victims, which is unusual but I quite like. I did want to find out more about Baz, the sidekick detective. There is the promise of a good series and it will be interesting to see where the characters go next.

Too Close To Breathe is an original book and is definitely not your standard detective book which can only be a good thing.

Blurb:

9781786489869 (1)Perfect for fans of Tana French, Jane Casey and Gillian Flynn

TOO SOON TO SEE

Polished. Professional. Perfect. Dead. Respected scientist Dr Eleanor Costello is found hanging in her immaculate home: the scene the very picture of a suicide.

TOO LATE TO HIDE

DCS Frankie Sheehan is handed the case, and almost immediately spots foul play. Sheehan, a trained profiler, is seeking a murderer with a talent for death.

TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE

As Frankie strives to paint a picture of the killer, and their victim, she starts to sense they are part of a larger, darker canvas, on which the lines between the two blur.

Olivia Kiernan’s debut is a bold, brilliant thriller that will keep you guessing and leave you breathless.

About The Author:

7128026Olivia Kiernan is the author of TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE, a crime thriller where DCS Frankie Sheehan investigates the murder of Dr Eleanor Costello. At first glance the murder appears uncomplicated but soon spills out onto a dark canvas of fear, lies and murder.

Olivia Kiernan grew up in the Irish countryside, a background which left her with a great appreciation of storytelling. Being almost sensible she shelved aspirations of becoming a writer and embarked on a career in science, spending six years in university studying anatomy and physiology before receiving a BSc in Chiropractic in 2003. She worked in this vein for over a decade, always writing in the evenings after work and completing an MA in Creative Writing through part-time study in 2012.
In 2015, she began writing TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE as part of National Novel Writing Month, polishing off half the first draft by the end of the month-long writing marathon. After hiding the manuscript on her hard drive for close to a year, revisiting it from time to time to add a scene or remove one, she sent it out to agents. Within a month she had signed with a literary agent and in 2017 a dream was realised when TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE sold.

Follow on Twitter: @LivKiernan 
On Facebook: Olivia Kiernan Author

Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

3.5*, blog blast, blog tours, book review, debut author, psychological thriller

#BlogBlitz The Choice by Jake Cross @JakeCrossAuthor @Bookouture

The Choice - Blog Tour

My Review:

I enjoyed The Choice by Jake Cross, it’s a fast-paced read with lots happening, but in order to enjoy this book I think that you really need to just go with the book and not think about how realistic something is (or isn’t).

If you were driving along a road when it is dark and there are no houses or other cars around and suddenly in front of your car was a woman, you slam on the brakes and she begs you to help her, would you help? That’s what Karl is faced with at the start of this book, it is clear that the woman is terrified and so he decides to help her. But it soon becomes clear that people are after the woman and Karl knows that they have seen his van. The woman, Liz, insists that Karl is at risk, that the men she is running from will find him but he dismisses it. She also refuses to go to the police, something that Karl goes along with.

It soon becomes clear that Karl and his pregnant wife are in danger and Karl teams up with Liz to try and survive. This is when things get a little bit far-fetched, but if you ignore that then you’ll enjoy the ride!

Thank you to Bookouture for a copy of The Choice by Jake Cross, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

The-Choice-Kindle‘You’ve got to help me,’ she pleads.
On a wet road in the black of night, Karl Seabury is driving home to his pregnant wife. Suddenly, caught in his headlights in the middle of the road is a woman shaking with fright.

The woman says her name is Liz Smith, that her home was attacked, and that she was the only one to escape.

In a split-second decision, Karl decides to help her to safety. But Liz is hiding a dark secret and now his good deed has put his family in terrible danger…

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, with twist after twist after twist, that will leave you breathless. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, John Marrs and Harlan Coben.

About The Author:

davJake has been making stuff up from a real early age. His parents never believed his silly lies when he was young, so he still has no idea why he thought he could invent a decent story as an adult. But he kept trying, and here we are. THE CHOICE is his first novel, the first of three thrillers to be published by Bookouture, and he hopes you like it. If you don’t, he at least hopes you don’t ask for a refund.

 

The Choice by Jake Cross is out today and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Home by Amanda Berriman. @DoubledayUK @MandyBerriman @jounwin @TransworldBooks @bookreview

35103181
Home by Amanda Berriman.

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Home I knew that I wanted to read it, I then started to hear from others who had read it and they all seemed to love it so I was even more determined to read it. And I’m so pleased that I did.

From literally the very first page I was hooked. The book is narrated by Jesika, a four year old who lives with her Mummy and little brother Toby after her Father moved to Poland, never to be heard from again. Jesika’s Mum is struggling with life, she doesn’t have enough money and they live in a flat that’s got many things wrong with it, including mold. As a result Toby and their Mum both have a bad cough that won’t go away. Life is about to get very difficult for Jesika.

A book narrated by such a young child could easily be awful but thankfully that is not the case here, not even close. It is written in a simple language but I really liked that. From the very start Jesika worked her way into my heart, she was such a wonderful little girl who felt so very real. Her innocence was wonderful and I loved seeing her world through her eyes, but this isn’t always an easy book to read.

Home gives a brilliant example of how grooming happens, the subtleties and ways in which an adult will convince a child to keep secrets for them. While it is not easy to read I thought that Amanda Berriman handled it sensitively and realistically, something that is impressive for any author, let along a debut author. But some will find this very difficult to read so be warned.

But despite this darkness, there is much light in the book. The love that Jesika has for her Mother is wonderful, but also for her little brother Toby. Jesika really is a special little girl who unknowingly brings out the best in people.

Home had me going to bed early so that I could read and check in on Jesika because I’d be worried about her and how she was doing, that is how real that she felt to me. When I finished the book at 2am I felt as though my heart had been shattered by little Jesika and what she went through, but filled with hope that her life was going to get better. The most upsetting thing? That I won’t get to check in on Jesika again and see how she is doing. Home really is a special book and for a debut author it is nothing short of brilliant.

Blurb:

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

About the Author:

Berriman-Mandy-Author-Pic-640x707Mandy was born in a British military hospital in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills. She studied music at Sheffield University, where she met her husband, and they climbed some more hills in the Peak District before setting off to travel around the world. After learning to teach in Glasgow, she taught in a primary school in the Cambridgeshire fens (not very hilly), where she rediscovered the joy of making up stories and started writing again. She’s now a specialist music teacher at a primary school in Oldham and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two lego masterbuilders and dog.

Home by Amanda Berriman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author, psychological thriller

#BookReview The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

 

36355177
The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

 

My Review:

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.

Blurb:

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:

20374489_158877098004329_719442257321190286_nC. 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.

5*, book review, debut author

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman @GailHoneyman @HarperCollinsUK

 

eleanoroliphant
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

 

My Review:

At first, I wasn’t really sure what to make of Eleanor Oliphant, I mean the way in which she speaks and thinks is more than a little unusual, but by the end of the book I think that she had a little piece of my heart that will stay Oliphant shaped for quite some time to come.

Eleanor is an incredibly lonely person, she goes to work and drinks too much on the weekends to make the time go faster so that she can go back to work and have something to do. She thinks that her colleagues hate her and spend a lot of their time laughing at her. She has no friends, only her mother who she speaks to on the phone once a week. Which for Eleanor is still too often. Despite all of this, Eleanor thinks that she is happy, she doesn’t feel the need for people in her life, she’s self-sufficient and happy with that. I have to admit that I really empathised with Eleanor, as an introvert I think that Eleanor and I have more than a few things in common.

When Eleanor meets the man of her dreams she thinks that life is going to be getting a lot better. She starts to pay attention to her appearance and to what she’s wearing for the first time, and begins to see and experience things differently. She also finds herself spending time with Raymond, the IT guy from work, he gradually gets Eleanor to open up and they become friends, something new and alien to Eleanor.

When the love of her life turns out to be a lot less perfect that she’d thought, Eleanor plunges into a destructive depression. But with the support of her new friend, and a very supportive boss, Eleanor starts to put her life back together. I couldn’t help but cheer her on, and even feel proud of this fictional character whose funny way of speaking and thinking now felt endearing.

As the book goes on the story behind Eleanor and why she is how she is becomes clear, I think that the reader can’t help but feel sorry for her, but as the book progresses I felt a sense of respect for Eleanor, that she’d survived so much and yet here she was, coming out the other side.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a wonderful book that will hopefully make people think about the people that they know, how much they really know about them, and what struggles they might have that you know nothing about. Loneliness is becoming more and more of a problem in our society, and this book is a wonderful example of how dangerous and destructive it can be. With a debut novel this good, Gail Honeyman is definitely an author to watch!

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins UK, for a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman via Netgalley.

Blurb:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

About the Author:

gailhoneyman

Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, and was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Gail lives in Glasgow.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author

Book review: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole.

 

ragdoll
Ragdoll by Daniel Cole.

 

This book is a belter and what a way to start 2017 on If only I could read faster! I have a strong suspicion that this book will be in my top reads of the year.

My 5* review:

I’d heard a fair bit of rumbling about Ragdoll before I read it, all of it positive but I had avoided reading too much about it as I do like to avoid the hype and building my expectations too high.

I loved how Ragdoll started. The author, Daniel Cole, told us how the book had come about. He told us about years of knockbacks and rejections and how he wrote many, many, short stories. But one story stayed with him and he decided to turn it into a book. And that book is Ragdoll.

Reading Ragdoll reminded me of books that I used to read, real proper police procedural, crime books. A bit like Patricia Cornwell in the early days when her books were gripping and wonderful to read. I loved so much about this book! The crime that kicks it off is suitably gruesome and unpleasant and as the police try to untangle the crime and who is behind it suspicion turns to one of their own, pulling the team apart and making them question everything.

The way that the story unfolds with a time pressure with lives at stake makes it a gripping read, who will survive? Will the police catch the killer in time? Who can they trust?

The writing was good and solid, the characters were really well developed and interesting, everyone gave something to the story. And they are characters that I’d very much like to read about again, and soon. It would appear that this book is the first in a new detective series which makes me very happy, I cannot wait to find out what happens to detective William Faulks next! If this is the author’s debut book then we are surely in for an outstanding series.

I’m trying hard not to give too much away, but if you like crime books then read this. I am sure that you won’t be disappointed. Seriously, this is without a doubt one of the best crime books that I have read and I am now waiting (im)patiently for part two.

I received a copy of Ragdoll from the publishers via Netgalley but was under no obligation to review it.

Blurb:

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

Ragdoll is set to be released on February 23rd, 2017 by Trapeze and is available to pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon US.