Talking about The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin with Chrissi

Published March 4, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: The novel is all about family – discuss the relationships between family members and with Rabbit.
BETH: Rabbit appears to be at the core of the whole family unit and so when she is diagnosed with cancer and especially when the cancer comes back and she is told it is terminal, the family looks like it might fall apart. She is very close to both her father and mother – I especially loved Molly, a very strong, funny and independent Irish character who is trying not to let the rest of the family know that she is breaking inside and is attempting to be there for not only the rest of her family but for her dying daughter – a huge feat. Rabbit has also had periods during her life where she has been closer and more distant from her brother and sister, Davey and Grace but at the time of her illness, she finds the old closeness once again and the entire family becomes a force to be reckoned with.
BETH: Who was your favourite character in the novel and why?
CHRISSI: Ooh, Beth that’s a tricky question! There are so many characters in this story. I really enjoyed reading about many of them. I think one of my favourites has to be Davey though. His love for his niece was adorable. I loved that he was willing to change his lifestyle in order to care for his niece. Aw. <3
CHRISSI: What do you make of the blog posts used throughout? Would you have liked to have seen more of them?
BETH: I was actually a bit surprised that more wasn’t made of the blog posts, there seemed to be very few of them. In them, Rabbit talks about the time when she was first diagnosed with cancer and the way she feels when the cancer returns. We do hear a little about her feelings at the present time when she is moved into the hospice but other chapters when written from her point of view focused mainly on the past and the love of her life, Johnny as she evaluates her life so far. I would have loved to see more blog posts but I think I understand why the author didn’t expand these – there was already so much going on in the novel and a number of different characters who all needed to be explored.
BETH: Juliet is with her mother until the end, and helps care for her when she is sick. What effect do you think being with a parent at such a harrowing time can have? Was it better for Juliet to be with Rabbit at the end?
CHRISSI: I really felt for Juliet. I think it must be so tough for children to go through caring for a sick relative. I imagine it’s hard enough for an adult, but when you think about young carers and the emotional turmoil they have to go through…it breaks my heart. At the same time though, I think for Juliet’s peace of mind she had to do everything she could for her mum and spend the time she did have with her.
CHRISSI: Talk about the ending of the novel – how did it make you feel?
BETH: From the beginning of the novel we know that Rabbit Hayes has terminal cancer in a number of different places in her body including her bones so the ending was never going to be a walk in the park. I was one hundred percent convinced I would leave the novel feeling incredibly depressed. What I was surprised about was how uplifted I also felt. The author uses humour very well to make the best job of a bad situation and I think it worked beautifully with this particular story. By the end, we don’t feel that Rabbit is leaving her family forever, she’s just going on a different journey and will see them at some point later on.
BETH: Molly puts her foot in it many times, but always makes Rabbit laugh. Is laughter the best medicine?
CHRISSI: I think it can be. Of course, it doesn’t always cure everything, but having a good laugh can make you feel better. I also think that this book needed some humour within it, otherwise it would have been incredibly depressing. It’s not an easy subject to tackle or read about, but Anna McPartlin cleverly weaved in the humour amongst the sadness.
CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in its genre?
BETH: There are a lot of novels similar to this out in the world and I think it sits very comfortably in its own genre, even surpassing some. The author creates such wonderful characters in a family everyone would love to be a part of and I think the combination of such authentic people you can really believe in, humour and misery and a take-home message of love and support for your nearest and dearest makes this novel a joy to read and one I will remember for a while.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: Yes. Much like you mention in the question above, I think the author has surpassed others in the genre. I found her writing incredibly easy to read.
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons

Published March 3, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

The gripping first novel in an explosive new crime series by Tony Parsons, bestselling author of Man and Boy. If you like crime-novels by Ian Rankin and Peter James, you will love this.

Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable.

Detective Max Wolfe has recently arrived in the Homicide division of London’s West End Central, 27 Savile Row.

Soon he is following the bloody trail from the back streets and bright lights of the city, to the darkest corners of the internet and all the way to the corridors of power.

As the bodies pile up, Max finds the killer’s reach getting closer to everything – and everyone – he loves.

Soon he is fighting not only for justice, but for his own life …

What did I think?:

The Murder Bag is novelist Tony Parsons first foray into the crime genre, having previous success with his novels that include Man and Boy, Man and Wife and The Family Way which focus on the relationship dramas of thirty-something men. He even coined the phrase “Lad Lit,” to describe what he writes as opposed to “Chick Lit.” I’ve read a couple of these books and did enjoy them but personally speaking, there was no huge “wow” factor for me. As a result, I was a little apprehensive when I saw that his first crime novel was featured on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club here in the UK. Well, I need fear no longer, it seems that Tony Parsons has found his niche with a fantastic plot-line, brilliant male lead and exciting writing.

Our detective in this story is Max Wolfe, whom when the story begins has just started work in the Homicide Department based in London’s Savile Row. Max is a bit of an adrenalin junkie and doesn’t really play by the conventional rulebook after an incident where a man was killed led to him being transferred/promoted to Homicide run by Detective Chief Inspector Victor Mallory. On his first day on the job, he is introduced to an intriguing case where a banker has had his throat slit quite violently and very professionally. At first, his wife is the most immediate suspect as she had recently caught him being unfaithful but then the plot thickens. The victim had a photo on his desk of himself with friends during his school days at an exclusive private school, Potters Field. A chilling connection is then made when the other boys in the photo (now men) become targets for the murderer save one boy who had killed himself as a young man. So why are these particular men being targeted? What happened twenty years ago that was so horrific that someone may be looking for revenge? Max Wolfe has to unravel the very dangerous mystery behind the brutal killings, protect the men that are left and avoid becoming a target himself.

This is a fast-paced, thrilling and intriguing crime novel that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I actually did. At first glance, Max Wolfe seems to be your typical action-hero detective who throws himself into the case he is assigned, regardless of the danger to himself but Tony Parsons makes him believable and normal with the addition of small details about his personal life. In other words, he is a single father trying to care for his daughter in the best way that he can, he adores dogs and walking and he is not afraid to admit when he makes a mistake. I loved the mystery and the way that things were revealed piece by piece which led to a brilliant and explosive ending. My only criticism is that the female characters felt a little one-dimensional and it would have been nice to have a stronger female voice alongside the powerhouse that is Max Wolfe. If you’re looking for an action-packed read with some excellent twists and turns however, I definitely recommend this novel and look forward to the next instalment in the series.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


Short Stories Challenge – The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Published March 2, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s Five Orange Pips all about?:

Sherlock Holmes’ new client, John Openshaw is worried about a curse that appears to fall on his family. Both his uncle, his father, and now he himself have received five orange pips in the mail with the lettering K.K.K. on the envelope. This appears to be a threat as his uncle and his father have now died in mysterious circumstances after receiving the pips.

What did I think?:

Where do I start with this one? Well, as usual I’ll give a little (spoiler-free, of course) summary of the story and then I’ll try and talk about my very fragmented thoughts on this particular tale. Watson and Holmes are sitting peacefully in the study at Baker Street commenting on a few of their old cases as a gale is howling outside the windows. This provides a perfect opportunity for the next client to come knocking and plead his case to the ever superior Holmes and his willing assistant Watson. The client is John Openshaw and he promises that his case will be one of the strangest that Holmes has ever heard which instantly intrigues our canny detective.

It all started with John’s uncle, Elias Openshaw who emigrated to America as a young man and had a lot of success on a plantation in Florida. He then fought in the army as a Colonel and returned to his plantation where he stayed for a few years before returning to Britain and taking up a small estate in Sussex with his fortune. It is said that he left because he had “an aversion to the negroes, and his dislike of the Republican policy in extending the franchise to them.” Elias was a bit of a belligerent character, not liked by many and enjoyed a drink or three but had a bit of a soft spot for his nephew, John and begged him to come and work on his estate as household manager which John agreed to do. John had no problems with his uncle and they managed to live in harmony together yet John was always curious about one room that was out of bounds which, peeking through the keyhole, seemed to contain only chests and bundles of paper. Then one day at breakfast, his uncle receives an ominous letter postmarked from India which instantly makes him nervous:

“Opening it hurriedly, out there jumped five little dried orange pips, which pattered down upon his plate. I began to laugh at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at the sight of his face. His lip had fallen, his eyes were protruding, his skin the colour of putty, and he glared at the envelop which he still held in his trembling hand, “K.K.K!” he shrieked, and then “My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!”

The next day John is called up to the curious room which always remains locked where his uncle is burning papers and making his will with his lawyer. Turns out he was right to do this as after a few tense weeks where his uncle is constantly on edge (and mostly drunk) he is found at the bottom of the garden face down in a small pool. The estate passes to John’s father whom after a few weeks receives the same letter with five orange pips and the K.K.K. marking with the postmark Dundee, letting the receiver know that some “papers” should be placed on a sundial in the garden. John thinks that they should inform the police, but his father doesn’t seem too worried and he tells us, is slightly obstinate, but John is still shocked when he receives a telegram to say that his father has been found dead, apparently after falling over a deep chalk pit. Now John has received the same letter, the same request and the same five orange pips with the K.K.K. marking and he is desperate for Holmes help.

I’m not going to give away the ending but I have to say this has to be the most frustrating Sherlock Holmes story I have read so far. I really enjoyed the build-up, the whole mystery and the way Holmes went about figuring it out. Then, comes the ending and I was so disappointed! Although I think it’s great that Conan Doyle doesn’t end every single Holmes story with him solving the case, catching the perps, getting a pat on the back etc and there are even times when Holmes is beaten, I just really really wanted to have the mystery explained in this case. It’s still bugging me. I am still giving it a three star rating however, as I was captivated by the story up until that point. For people who have read it, did you feel the same as me? I’d love to know.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure. Probably for the story – not sure for the ending.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: She Murdered Mortal He by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2015 – FEBRUARY READ – Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Published March 1, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

A miraculous story about the power of optimism.

When an orphaned Pollyanna moves in with her maiden aunt, she transforms the lives of everyone she meets with her optimism. She uses the “glad game” her father taught her to appreciate what she has – until one day something so terrible happens that even Pollyanna doesn’t know how to feel glad about it.

What did I think?:

Pollyanna was one of those stories that actually passed me by in childhood so I was excited to read it for the first time as an adult and as part of our Kid-Lit challenge. The story opens by introducing us to a lady called Miss Polly Harrington whom we understand from her maid Nancy, is quite a cross and particular sort of person that lives alone in a large house. This all changes however when she receives a letter informing her that her brother in law has died and her niece Pollyanna is now an orphan. As a result, she now feels it her reluctant “duty” to take Pollyanna into her house and care for her. What she isn’t expecting is a little girl like Pollyanna, who changes her life and whole disposition forever.

Poor Pollyanna hasn’t had the easiest of lives. After losing her mother, she was raised by her minister father and the infamous Ladies Aid, who we hear a lot about in the chapters to come. Even though her family was poor, her father was an eternal optimist and told her there was always something to be glad about, even turning it into a game. So when Pollyanna desperately wanted a doll and the aid package that arrived contained a pair of crutches (which obviously made her sad) her father turned it into something to be glad about. What was that? That she should be GLAD that she didn’t need crutches!

When Pollyanna arrives at the house, she immediately puts into action the “glad” game with everyone that she meets in the town – all except her Aunt Polly, who does not want to know about anything concerning her brother-in-law. As it was him who invented the game, Pollyanna has to stop herself from trying to explain it to her Aunt at every opportunity. As a result of all this wild optimism going round, Pollyanna manages to help many people in the town, including a bedridden lady and a man called John Pendleton, both of whom are notorious for being difficult, angry and self-pitying characters. Her cheerful disposition and way of seeing the brighter side of life make her beloved amongst the townspeople and it is only when something terrible happens to Pollyanna that her Aunt Polly understands how precious she actually is, which leads her to change her outlook and life for good.

I’m really torn about how to rate this novel! Some parts of it were very Anne of Green Gables, others What Katy Did, which are two of my most favourite children’s books ever so it was quite strange to see something so similar. I’m not sure how I would have dealt with Pollyanna’s consistent “gladness” as a child – as an adult, sometimes I have to admit it was a little grating but that’s probably just my old adult cynicism talking! I have to also confess that the message it sends out is beautiful (if you can keep it up) and I ended the novel with a slight warm feeling in my body, so perhaps it worked on some level. Encouraging children to keep a positive outlook can only be a good thing in my opinion and if it works, hey all power to Pollyanna I say!

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):




Author Interview – Allan Boroughs, author of Ironheart and Bloodstone

Published February 28, 2015 by bibliobeth

Alan B

 Photo of Alan Boroughs, with permission from the author


Allan Boroughs is a writer and a traveller with a passion for big adventure stories “in which a lot of stuff happens”. His first novel, Ironheart, was inspired by his travels in Siberia and tells the story of a young girl who goes in search of her missing father and makes friends with a military android.
As well as journeying to Siberia Allan’s travels have taken him to Mongolia, China and, most recently to the Antarctic. For his next book, he is planning a trip to the jungles of Venezuela.
His adventures have included swimming beneath the Antarctic circle, crashing a dog sledge into a tree, eating fresh scorpions and a very unfortunate incident involving a Siberian toilet. But, he says, the absolute best thing about travelling is the chance to meet people and hear their own stories.
When he is not travelling or writing he enjoys reading, practising martial arts and eating cake. He lives in London with his wife, two children and a snake called Elvis.

Interview with Allan Boroughs

I’d like to welcome Allan Boroughs to bibliobeth today and thank him for giving up his time to do this interview.

1.) Ironheart is an action-packed adventure story right from the very beginning. Did you always know what was going to happen plot wise or did some of it come to you while you were writing?
·         I think failing to plan for an action adventure novel leads to disappointing results – I find you really do need a sense of how things will develop – what’s connected and how the story will wrap up.  I am a detailed planner by nature – spreadsheets, notes, drawings, photos and scrapbooks help me know exactly how the plot will unfold before I start writing.  At least that’s the plan – inevitably when you do actually start writing some part of a story will develop in ways you didn’t expect (strangely those are often the best bits).. 
2.) At the beginning of the novel we see a future and quite depressing London struggling to hold back the floods. Is climate change a particular concern for you?
·         Of course – as I think it is for most people who think about what sort of future their children might have.  However it wasn’t the primary reason for the scenario in the book.  Ironheart is something of a wild west story with sci-fi elements thrown in – in order to make that work I needed something to have happened to unbalance the order of things. 
3.) This novel is inspired by your travels in Siberia. Are any of the characters based (or loosely based!) on people that you met there?
·         Yes and no – I really did meet a shaman in Siberia although it was not the two hundred year old tent dwelling woman in the book – this guy carried an iPhone and wore a shell suit.  There are snippets of other people in all the characters but I’m not sure I have the courage to base a character wholly on one person – what if they read the book?
4.) You have created a strong and very likeable female protagonist in India Bentley and some fantastic villains in Clench and Lucifer Stone. Have you any favourite heroes/villains from literature?
·         I’m glad you like them – I have a great fondness for a good villain as this is the most essential ingredient in any good story.  From literature I love Gollum, Lord Voldemort and, for sheer perversity, Mrs Coulter from Northern Lights.  My absolute all time favourite villain(s) are the Dickensian assassins Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar from ‘Neverwhere’ – absolute genius.
·         Heroes can often look a bit anaemic next to a strong villain so I like a hero that has a bit of bite to them – my favourite heroine of the moment (and a big inspiration for India) is Mattie Ross from True Grit by Charles Portis.
5.) Can you tell us a little bit about what comes next for India and her crew?
·         Lots – as we speak the sequel, Bloodstone has just been released which takes India and her friends (plus some new ones) to Antarctica in search of the lost city of Atlantis – there are more than a few surprises including sea monsters, tunnel drilling machines and a rocket pack.
·         I am currently planning a third book in the series which I can’t say too much about except that my research includes a trip to the jungles of Venezuela, a visit to a particle accelerator and a lot of reading about dinosaurs.
Now for some quick fire questions!
E book or real book?  – Real book (unless a suitcase is involved)
Series or stand-alone? Stand alone (with potential for expansion into a nine volume boxed set if I like it)
Fiction or non-fiction? Fiction, fiction, fiction every time (except for ‘The Right Stuff’ by Tom Wolfe which the best real life adventure story ever)
Online shopping or bookshop trawling? I love bookshops but if you’re after something really rare my experience is you’re most likely to find it on line.  But really, I buy far too many books.
Bookmarking or dog-earing? *sigh* dog-earing – you got me.  bibliobeth – *Aw, Alan you were doing so well… :-)*
And now… a preview of the second book in the series, Bloodstone published on the 1st January 2015.
What’s it all about?:

‘What is a myth but a truth retold many times over? Atlantis is real!’

Apprenticed to notorious tech-hunter Verity Brown, India Bentley has spent the last year travelling the globe, finding and selling long-lost technology and doing her best to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has a habit of finding her.

Accused of an assassination attempt and thrown in jail, India is rescued by scientist-adventurer Professor Moon: a man obsessed with finding the Bloodstone; key to a source of unlimited energy hidden in the lost city of Atlantis. Now Moon wants India and Verity to join his quest.

Pursued by gangsters, lumbered with a stowaway and haunted by the ghosts of her past, India must risk everything to uncover Atlantis’s secrets. But the truth comes at a price.

India must make the ultimate choice. The fate of humanity is in her hands. 

A brand new thrilling adventure-quest in Allan Boroughs’ Legend of Ironheart series and available NOW.

And for those of you who haven’t read Ironheart yet, I’m pleased to announce an opportunity to win a copy, published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Enter by clicking below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks again to Allan Boroughs for making this interview possible and to find out more about Allan visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @allanboroughs.


Ironheart – Allan Boroughs

Published February 27, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

‘First comes the iron and then comes the snow, and then comes the winter when nothing will grow.’ Since her father went missing while prospecting for oil in Siberia, life has been tougher than ever for India Bentley. Little does she know that he was actually searching for Ironheart, a legendary fortress containing the secrets of the old world. A place some say could save humanity . . . or destroy the world. Along with tech-hunter Verity Brown and her android, Calculus, a killer from the old world turned protector in the new, India must make the journey to remote Siberia to try to find her father and finish his work. But there are others fighting to find Ironheart too – and they have very different goals in mind. If India fails, it won’t just be her father who pays the price. It will cost her the Earth.

What did I think?:

First of all, a big thank you to the author, Allan Boroughs who gave me a copy of his thrilling debut novel for children in exchange for an honest review. Our story begins in a future, dystopian London where the floods have rolled in, leaving the area almost unrecognisable from its former state. London at this time is a dangerous place to be with food shortages, mutant fish in the waters, pirates and other criminals as the population struggles to get through everyday life. Enter our main character, a thirteen year old girl named India Bentley who is having her own share of troubles. Her father disappeared while searching for oil in Siberia and she is left with a younger sister, Bella, under the care of a (wicked) step-mother who doesn’t particularly care about India’s welfare and has hopes of marrying her off to a much older (and rather disgusting) man, the aptly named Mr Clench. Both girls have their own pendant inscribed with their names which was left to them by their father and it is India’s only real comfort in these difficult times.

Luckily for India, her life is about to change forever. Whilst out foraging for food one day, India runs into a woman called Verity Brown and her bodyguard, a wonderful android called Calculus, or Calc for short. They happen to have “business” with her step-mother and India notices that Verity holds a card which has the same picture on it that her father had on his overalls. They want to keep everything about the meeting very quiet and India is not sure that she can trust them although she is instantly intrigued and excited that their visit may have something to do with her lost father whom she has never given up hope.

When Verity and Calc appear at her stepmother’s door that evening, it turns out India is about to embark on the biggest adventure of her life. Verity explains that India’s father was not simply prospecting for oil in Siberia (the official story) but searching for a legendary fortress called Ironheart which has the potential to save or destroy the world, depending on whose hands it is placed in. Verity believes that India’s father may have found Ironheart before he disappeared but for some reason has kept its whereabouts shrouded in secret. India offers up her father’s journals as they may hold valuable clues but in return she demands that she should accompany Verity and Calc on their trip to Siberia as it might be a way of finally locating her father. Unfortunately, there is another group of people also desperate to unlock the secrets of Ironheart for their own evil purposes – Lucifer Stone and his son Sid and they will stop at nothing to make sure they are the first to tap on and utilise its power. This makes it a very dangerous time for India, especially if she any knowledge about Ironheart in her possession.

So the adventure begins! And what an adventure it is. The group manage to commandeer a ship under the watchful eye of the proud pirate-rigger Captain Bulldog who is delighted to assist them on their quest. Hot on their heels however is a frustrated Lucifer Stone, desperate to capture India and reach Ironheart before they do:

“There is enough treasure to satisfy the greediest pirate, but there is much more. The men who built it chose it as the place to store their greatest achievements. I’m talking about weapons…old-world weapons of horrific purity. Missiles that can lay waste to entire cities, chemicals that will shroud the land in poison gas and diseases for which the cure would only be available to the highest bidder. All of these toys lie hidden at Ironheart – can you imagine what fun I will have with them?”

Ironheart is a terrific adventure story that I’m really glad I had the opportunity to read. The action and tension in this novel packs an almighty punch and it had me absolutely glued to each page, hungry to know what would happen next. Allan Boroughs has created some fantastic characters in the form of heroes such as the brave and strong India Bentley, the confident and hilarious Captain Bulldog and the loveable and very human-like android Calculus, but also in his villains – our twisted and power-hungry Lucifer Stone, his loyal and blood-thirsty son Sid and Mr Clench, who ooze evil from their every pore but are undeniably exciting and very readable. In Ironheart, the author has written a thrilling story that will appeal to countless children (and adults, myself included!) that has the potential to turn into many more adventures for India & co, and make its characters amongst the most beloved in children’s literature. Personally, I can’t wait for the next instalment, entitled Bloodstone, to see what the gang get up to next.

Coming up – don’t miss my Q&A session with the author, Allan Boroughs with a sneak peak at his new novel, Bloodstone and a giveaway opportunity so you can try Ironheart for yourself!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):



Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Published February 25, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Top ten bestselling author Liane Moriarty returns with another gripping read.

She could hear men and women shouting. Angry hollers crashed through the soft humid salty summer night. It was somehow hurtful for Mrs Ponder to hear, as if all that rage was directed at her . . . then she heard the wail of a siren in the distance, at the same time as a woman still inside the building began to scream and scream . . .

When a harmless quiz night ends with an act of shocking violence, the parents of Pirriwee Public School can’t seem to stop their secrets from finally spilling out. Rumours ripple through the small town, as truth and lies blur to muddy the story of what really happened on that fateful night . .

What did I think?:

Liane Moriarty first came to my attention with her fantastic book The Husband’s Secret which I devoured in a very short space of time, therefore I was very excited when I heard about this new novel which is also published as Big Little Lies (not sure of the reasons behind this). Again, there are a number of different and very interesting characters to get your head around – Jane, a single mother who has recently moved to the area with her son, Ziggy after the break-up of a relationship, Madeline, outspoken mother of three who has her own issues with her ex-husband but a heart of gold and Celeste, beautiful mother of twin boys, who appears to have everything you could ever want, but again, as with the other women, nothing is as it first seems.

When the story begins, we know that a shocking incident has taken place at the local school on what was supposed to be a fun quiz night for all the parents to dress up, relax and get to know one another a little better. All we know in the beginning is that someone has died and the police are interviewing witnesses, so any information we get at this stage is small (and exciting) tid-bits that indicate the event was a culmination of factors stemming from an earlier incident involving one of the mother’s children. The themes running through this tale include bullying, playground politics, the importance of friendship and family, the horror of domestic violence and the danger of exclusion and cliques. It turns out that adults are not above acting like children on some levels and indeed, that children learn from their parents what behaviour is right and what is wrong.

There are a multitude of layers to this story, which I loved, and with each chapter seems to come a new surprise or a new area of a particular character that is revealed. This is only my second Liane Moriarty novel, but I’m starting to recognise that along with a very strong and compelling plot-line her characterisation and moving prose is second to none. That is, even the minor characters felt strong and well thought out and I felt like I knew them all intimately. As a reader, this meant that when certain secrets came out, I felt more devastated than I thought I would be as I felt a connection between each of them. Aha, maybe this was what she planned for all along?! Well, I’m not embarrassed to admit she’s hooked me. I shall definitely be dipping into her back catalogue now to see what other goodies I can find, and I can’t wait.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):





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