All posts in the Contemporary category

Talking About The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne with Chrissi Reads

Published March 12, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: This book has been very hyped by others in the blogosphere. Did the hype worry you? We all know about that dreaded hype monster…

BETH: I think we all worry about that horrible hype monster. There’s been so often where I’ve heard nothing but good things about a book and for some reason, I just haven’t connected with it as much as other readers. But for some strange reason, I didn’t have that worry with this book. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve read a few of John Boyne’s books now so I’m already familiar with his style of writing (and I was pretty certain I was going to love it!) or if I’ve read enough reviews of it now that I knew I’d be into it purely on the plot alone. This was definitely the case with me, I knew I was going to love it, what WAS unexpected was just how much I would adore it.

BETH: What did you make of the relationship between Cyril and his adoptive parents, Charles and Maude?

CHRISSI: SO VERY STRANGE. I really felt for Cyril. I felt like Cyril’s adoptive parents merely adopted him just because it was ‘right’ thing to do, to have a child. I don’t feel like there was much love there which was a great shame. Charles and his constant need to remind Cyril that he wasn’t a real Avery. Ooh his Dad really made me cross. Ha! I find it funny that I’m still so annoyed about Cyril’s parents!

CHRISSI: Following Cyril through the course of his life takes us through much of the twentieth century. How was each decade most vividly brought to life for you?

BETH: Great question. We see Cyril from a very young boy, right through school and teenage years to a young adult, middle aged man and then an old man. Different things happen to him in each decade that affect his life irrevocably and it seems each decade also comes with a different challenge for poor Cyril. I think his life was brought into vivid detail by these experiences that he goes through and also the host of colourful characters that he meets along the way that all touch his life in some way, either for better or for worst.

BETH: How well do you think this novel explored what it’s like to be gay in Ireland from the fifties onwards?

CHRISSI: I found this novel to be incredibly intriguing as to what it was like to be gay in Ireland from the 50s. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind about what Ireland experienced, but I don’t think I’ve ever read something so memorable about Ireland’s history with homosexuality. I think the novel explored it well and in a way that was heart-breaking but incredibly memorable at the same time.

CHRISSI: Discuss the ending, how else might you have concluded Cyril’s story?

BETH: The ending was quite bitter-sweet for me but I’ll try not to give away any spoilers. I’m really happy we got to see Cyril as a seventy year old man coming near the end of his life. However, this was also really sad (and sounds a bit silly) but even though I’m aware he’s fictional, I just wish he hadn’t aged so quickly! By the end of the novel, he seems to have achieved some sort of closure about the events that have happened to him over the years and has made peace with those he needed to which was lovely to read. Some of the parts really broke my heart though, especially when you find out his future and when he’s talking to his nearest and dearest that he hasn’t seen for years.

BETH: There is a large cast of very different characters in this novel. Which character did you most warm to and why?

CHRISSI: There really is a large cast of characters. However, only one stole my heart and that was Cyril. I absolutely loved following his story across his life. I loved seeing him grow over time from teen, to young adult, adult to the elderly Cyril. I loved being along for the ride. I grew so close to Cyril and was desperate for everything to turn out right for him.

CHRISSI: How do you think this book compares to John Boyne’s other books that you’ve read?

BETH: I’ve read probably his most famous – The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Mutiny On The Bounty and Stay Where You Are And Then Leave. Although I rated the latter of these five stars on Goodreads, I would have to say without a doubt, The Heart’s Invisible Furies is my favourite book by John Boyne so far. It has the most beautiful writing, the most fantastic characters and was a novel that had me laughing and crying in equal measure. It’s easily made it’s way to my favourites shelf and is probably one of my all-time favourite books that I’ll be talking about and pushing into other people’s hands for a long time yet.

BETH: The Heart’s Invisible Furies is both funny and sad. Why do you think the author chose to use humour in the telling of this story?

CHRISSI: I think it’s really important that stories have a balance of funny and sad. Despite bad things happening, life does have its funny moments. I think if stories always dwell on the sad then it can be very tough to read. I like it when there are lighter moments in this story. I think the author included some lighter moments because some particular moments were difficult 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 Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was the nineteenth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!


The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

Published March 9, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The New York Times Top Ten Bestseller

The Immortalists is about as good as it gets’ Karen Joy Fowler

‘Like literary nectar’ Hannah Beckerman

‘I couldn’t put it down’ Carys Bray

It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them? Golden-boy Simon escapes to San Francisco, searching for love; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician; eldest son Daniel tries to control fate as an army doctor after 9/11; and bookish Varya looks to science for the answers she craves.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists is a story about how we live, how we die, and what we do with the time we have.

What did I think?:

It is a truth universally acknowledged (well, by me for certain!) that Tinder Press have been publishing some fantastic novels recently and I can always guarantee when I read a book by this publisher that I’m going to thoroughly enjoy it. Thank you so much to Caitlin Raynor and Tinder Press for sending this wonderful surprise my way late last year in exchange for an honest review and as expected, I completely adored it. The proof copy I was sent was brilliantly simple with just two sentences on the front and back of the book respectively. The front cover said: “How would you live your life if you knew the day you were going to die?” and the back cover said: “New York, 1969. Four siblings, too young for what they are about to hear, seek out their fortunes.” Well, the marketing was pure perfection as this was all that was needed to hook me in and made me unbelievably excited to learn the stories of our four protagonists.

Oh my goodness and what stories they are! The Immortalists is a delightfully slow-paced and beautifully detailed look at each sibling and how learning the date of their death changes the way they might live their lives as a result. We have Varya, the eldest and most sensible, her brother Daniel who becomes a doctor for the military, Klara who becomes a magician in San Francisco and lives with the youngest sibling, Simon who trains as a dancer in the same city. As I mentioned, the date that each sibling is given affects them all in different ways and perhaps encourages them to make different or riskier life decisions that they might have normally. Klara and Simon are the risk-takers of the family and run off together to make a new life where they can both be happy away from the sometimes constraining nature of their Jewish family but unfortunately, their own personal demons do return to haunt them. Meanwhile, Daniel and Varya remain at home to look after their sensitive mother and are more wary about making choices that could affect the quality/length of their lives. It is Varya however who has arguably the most interesting job and reaction to the prophecy, as a research scientist investigating what levels you can go to to extend the human life span.

This novel took me on the most amazing journey that I never wanted to end. We follow each sibling in turn from the late sixties until the present day as each of them reaches the day that they are expected to die, according to the fortune teller. We learn about all their hopes and dreams, all their worries and especially, the struggles and trials that they face as they each reach adulthood and are confronted with the inevitable spectre of Death. It covers so many different themes, like the bonds between families, religion, homosexuality, mental illness and of course, life and death. It’s rare to read a novel where you connect with every single one of the characters but for me, this is exactly how I felt, I loved them all for very different reasons and cried and laughed with them at each struggle and triumph.

Every era of time that is captured, from the easy, open environment of San Francisco to New York in the age of modern technology is drawn fantastically, with so much atmosphere and intricate detail that you can almost imagine yourself by the side of each sibling, experiencing exactly what they do in each moment. Chloe Benjamin has created something truly magical with The Immortalists with characters that have touched my heart, many of whom made me so emotional regarding the direction that their lives ended up and the choices that they made. It really made me think (and I’d love to discuss with you in the comments below), if you had the opportunity to know the date you were going to die, would you want to know? If yes/no, why? Let me know!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):




The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin was the eighteenth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Stay With Me – Ayobami Adebayo

Published February 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

What did I think?:

Stay With Me was the first book on my Five Star TBR Predictions list, was short-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction last year and I had heard nothing but rave reviews about it, with some people suggesting it should have won. I can’t comment on that as I have yet to read the rest of the short-list for last year but when I saw the author speak at the short-list readings just prior to the winner being announced, I knew it was going to be an incredibly powerful and affecting read and in this, I was completely right. I have to say, I did approach this novel with a bit of nervousness. I knew that it was about a woman who is struggling to get pregnant and unfortunately, this chimes quite a melancholy note in my own life. I was concerned that reading it it would be too difficult for me, emotionally speaking and it might send me back to a “bad place,” I found myself in last year. Now after finishing it, I can proclaim it is probably a difficult read for any person who has found themselves in a similar situation but an intensely rewarding one. I cried with Yejide, felt the weight of her despair and sadness and did not find myself wholly surprised at the lengths she went to in her struggles to have a child.

It’s quite difficult to talk in great length about this book without giving away any spoilers but I’ll just give you a vague idea of what it’s about, in case you haven’t managed to read it yet. It’s about a married couple, Yejide and Akin who have been together for some time and as you might have guessed, are struggling to have a baby together. They have decided to live a monogamous lifestyle, despite the expectations of their culture but Akin’s family, particularly his mother, are starting to get a little impatient and insist that he takes a second wife in order to give him a much longed for child. Of course, this is devastating for Yejide and the novel follows her as she confronts the idea and then the reality of this new wife, whilst doing everything she possibly can under immense pressure to provide the baby everyone is expecting of her. This leads to her experimenting with fertility concoctions that she drinks, visiting healers and opening her mind to spirituality, all with the dogged determination to become pregnant whatever the cost and oust the cuckoo from her nest.

There were parts of this book that were so visceral and utterly heart-breaking that occasionally I had to put the book down and take a break from it for a little while. However, there was no time at all that I didn’t want to go back to it. I fell in love with Yejide and had to know how her story continued, how much this strong woman could actually go through and keep living and how her story ended. Interspersed with snippets of Nigeria’s unstable political climate in the 1980’s, this story felt raw, painful and undeniably real. This is a story of secrets and lies with twists that will take your breath away and periods of intense grief that will touch your heart. It’s a stunning piece of writing that I cannot believe came from a debut novelist. Ayobami Adebayo is a literary force to be reckoned with and I have no doubt that anything she writes in future will be touched with gold.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


If I Fall, If I Die – Michael Christie

Published February 23, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A heartfelt and wondrous debut about family, fear, and skateboarding, that Karen Russell calls “A bruiser of a tale . . . a death-defying coming-of-age story.” 

Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who panics at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and fun- loving—full of art, science experiments, and music—and all confined to their small house.

But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside.  At his new school he meets Jonah, an artsy loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedoms of skateboarding.  Together, they search for a missing local boy, help a bedraggled vagabond, and evade a dangerous bootlegger.  The adventure is more than Will ever expected, pulling him far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood, and all the risks that everyday life offers.

In buoyant, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written an emotionally resonant and keenly observed novel about mothers and sons, fears and uncertainties, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love.

What did I think?:

Once again, a huge thank you to the wonderful booksellers at Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights in Bath for recommending me this book in a reading spa I attended with my sister, Chrissi Reads. Of course, they sold every book to us perfectly but I was particularly intrigued by the comparisons to Room by Emma Donoghue, one of my all time favourite books. Unfortunately, I think I was expecting something that reached the dizzying heights of the above mentioned novel and it ended up being a bit disappointing. This is purely in comparison to Room as I could definitely see some great qualities in the writing and characters. I have to be honest with myself however and if I judged it on its own merit alone without the pervading influence of Room, I still wasn’t completely blown away by this story which was a shame.

So as you may imagine, this is the story of a mother and her eleven year old son, Will who has never known life outside of his house. His mother is severely agoraphobic, to the extent that she suffers extreme panic attacks (which Will dubs “The Black Lagoons”) if she senses that her son or her own life is threatened in any way. This could be something as simple as changing a light bulb or running down the stairs – Will’s mother has become incredibly paranoid of the everyday challenges of life and relies heavily on her son and her relaxation tapes to keep the bad thoughts at bay. As a result, Will is home schooled and is very wary himself of the outside dangers which he finds out himself one day when tentatively venturing Outside for the first time.

It isn’t long before Will becomes desperate to be a normal boy like his new friend, Jonah and begs his mother to let him attend a normal school. Then Will’s adventures really start. Not only does he have to learn the social intricacies and interaction with other people that he has missed while being indoors but he starts to learn the true meaning of the word “adventure” and with Jonah, embarks on one of his own whilst trying to search for a missing boy and coming across some particularly shady characters. Will finally learns just how dangerous but also how exhilarating the outside world can be and discovers a lot about himself in the process.

As a coming of age story, this book is a fantastic portrayal of a young boy growing up in a very different world from which he had been originally raised in. I really did enjoy the parts of this novel that were set Inside with Will and his mother but I have to admit, she really did frustrate me at points (and I feel a complete cow by saying this), but there were passages where I just wanted to shake her as she didn’t seem to be making much effort to “get better” at LEAST for the sake of her child. She was content just to panic, put her relaxation tapes on and bury her head in the sand at her condition. Luckily, she does redeem herself near the end of the novel so I didn’t remain cross with her for too long but I have to admit, it bugged me.

I loved Will as a character and was gripped initially when he first came out of the house and had to adjust quite quickly to real-life outside of his little bubble. However, I felt the story descended quite quickly into a strange little place with odd villains where I didn’t quite understand their motive and parts of the narrative where I just wasn’t fully invested in where the story was going. As a story of Will and his mother, this was a great book but somehow, I felt it lost its way and tried to become something that I didn’t feel made a whole lot of sense. It was very much a novel of two halves for me and as a result, I found it quite a struggle to finish.

A huge thank you also to Random House UK who provided me with a digital copy via Netgalley.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

If I Fall, If I Die is the fifteenth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018!


Anatomy Of A Scandal – Sarah Vaughan

Published February 21, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

What did I think?:

I’ve lost count of the amount of amazing reviews I’ve seen about Anatomy Of A Scandal from my wonderful fellow bloggers. And guess what? They were all right! This is a fantastic novel that melds contemporary fiction with mystery and a legal thriller in a perfect way. This combined with some hard-hitting issues and intriguing characters produces a novel that is not only incredibly relevant and timely but difficult to tear yourself away from and I must have gobbled it up in less than two days as I found once I started, I definitely didn’t want to stop. This book rightly deserves all the acclaim it is getting and I feel my job now in this review is to get as many of you to read it (who haven’t already done so) as possible so you can all discover the powerhouse that is Sarah Vaughan.

Told from a number of different perspectives this is the story of a wife, Sophie and her husband, James, a politician and close friend of the Prime Minister. They met at Oxford University where they formed a fleeting relationship then re-connect later on in life, marry and have two children. Their relationship has been tested at times but Sophie now fully believes that they have a strong, loving partnership that absolutely nothing can shake. She is wrong. When he is accused of a terrible crime and protests his innocence, their whole world is rocked irrevocably. Of course, Sophie trusts her husband implicitly and stands by him through a horrendous trial situation but as more details of the incident come to light from the woman accusing him, she begins to question everything. We also hear from the brilliant Kate, who is prosecuting James’ case and determined to get a guilty verdict for him, whatever the cost.

This novel jumps across time-lines from the present situation that all parties find themselves in to their past experiences in the world of Oxford University where the rich and privileged seem to get away with anything as long as they have enough money, prestige and connections to make the situation go away. I loved how this was a eye-opening reflection on scandals we have heard about, particularly politically (and across the globe, not necessarily in Britain) in recent years where if you have power, the world is your oyster no matter how badly you might behave.

I was shocked to realise that the exclusive club at Oxford that Sarah Vaughan writes about, where the young men go around, getting horrifically drunk, wrecking restaurants and then settling the bill for the damage at the end of the night IS an actual thing and indeed, some of our illustrious leaders in the country at the moment were part of this club. There’s also the very timely issues of sexual abuse/rape and how this is treated in the courtroom and by a jury i.e. “was she asking for it?” and the real fact that convictions for this crime are so staggeringly awful. There is no doubt that change needs to happen.

This is such a brilliant novel, for all of these above reasons and also because you really feel each character is so beautifully written, you could almost know them inside out. They could be a family member, your best friend, your colleague from work etc. However, even though I felt like I connected intimately with some of these characters, and knew what they might do, particularly Kate and Sophie at points, Sarah Vaughan is not shy of throwing a few spanners in the works and there are some fantastic twists to the tale that you just won’t see coming. I’d love to chat more about this novel in the comments so if you’ve read and loved this please tell me what you loved the most and if you haven’t read it yet, tell me when you’re going to start reading it! You just have to. It’s that good.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


Talking About The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond with Chrissi Reads

Published February 19, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before starting it?

BETH: A few, yes I did indeed. First of all, it’s on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list for 2018 and I normally trust the novels they pick as being compelling reads so I was looking forward to it on that count. Secondly, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel from bloggers I admire and whose opinions I trust. As a result, I went into it with slightly raised expectations, expecting a fantastic, memorable read. Now I have such mixed feelings I don’t know where to start!

BETH: Did you believe in Jake and Alice’s relationship? Do you think their marriage will last beyond the novel?

CHRISSI: I did actually. You could tell as a reader that they really did love each other. There were moments when I felt like Jake felt more deeply for Alice than vice versa, but in the main part I did believe in them. Alice did have moments of vulnerability which made me realise how she felt. I thought they both wanted the best out of their marriage. Whether joining The Pact was a way to go about it, I don’t know. As for whether it would last beyond the novel? I’m not sure. They went through so much together and perhaps they’d take the best bits out of The Pact to improve on in the future?

CHRISSI: What do you think motivates people to join cults such as The Pact? What motivates Jake and Alice in particular?

BETH: I have no idea! Personally, I would never be tempted to join a group like this especially when we find out further along the novel what they are really like. Jake and Alice however, although they clearly love each other dearly are motivated to join The Pact as it is advertised to them as simply a way of making sure they have a happy marriage and are unlikely to ever get divorced. They are sold completely on this idea and perhaps Alice feels a bit vulnerable, really wanting her marriage to work. Of course, it all seems completely above board and just a lovely thing to be a participant of, as well as making new friends so they don’t hesitate in signing up.

BETH: What were the best/worst parts of this novel for you?

CHRISSI: Ooh what a tricky question. As I mentioned to you when we were reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to rate it. That’s mainly because some of it I thought was bloody brilliant and other parts made my skin crawl. What I liked about this book was that it certainly kept me turning the pages. I’m not so sure it was always in the right way that I wanted to continue. Mainly I was like ‘WTF am I reading?’ but perhaps that was the author’s intention? It certainly got me thinking and reading. I didn’t want to put it down. The worst parts were when really disgusting things happened to a person and Jake enjoyed (?) it!

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too much?

BETH: And so it begins…In a word, yes. At times, I really felt like I had to suspend my disbelief in what was going on to Jake and Alice and this normally wouldn’t bother me in a novel. I love a bit of fantasy, a bit of uncertainty and a thrilling plot that just takes you along for the ride and in some ways, this is exactly what I got. However, at some points I’m afraid to say my eyebrows remained perfectly raised and I just thought erm….really?! I think there’s only so far you can go with pushing the boundaries of what people will believe and if you step over that line, there is a real chance you’re going to lose that reader. Unfortunately by the last third of the book, this was definitely the case with me. Then there were those scenes…… where Alice is chained and being taken away and Jake gets turned on. Then another woman is naked in a jail cell and looks a bit unkempt and has obviously been treated violently, AND HE GETS TURNED ON. I mean, really? Did she have to go all Fifty Shades on us? Quite unnecessary and frankly, a bit warped and creepy. It is a shame because I did really enjoy parts of this novel, it was just these other parts that foxed me a little bit and lowered an otherwise “brilliant” rating.

BETH: Did you find this book thrilling or suspenseful at all?

CHRISSI: For me, thrilling? No. I didn’t think it was a particularly thrilling read because as I mentioned, some parts really didn’t work for me and made me feel uncomfortable in a way that made me want to stop reading. Suspenseful? Totally. I was intrigued and wanted to know what was going to happen next. I really was captivated…just not always in a positive way.

CHRISSI: Are there any rules of The Pact that you think could strengthen a marriage? Are the principles behind the extreme methods sound, or not?

BETH: Apologies for the above rant. I had a few issues! Yes, I think some of the rules were quite good for strengthening a marriage. Things like making sure you go on holiday with each other often to get away from it all. buying a gift no matter how silly every month I think is nice and obviously, prioritising each others feelings and wants and not letting work get in the way to much. However, the extreme methods that The Pact goes to when enforcing these principles are in no way sound and are very frightening. I couldn’t believe that Jake and Alice put up with what they did for so long!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Tricky one. I really think it depends on the subject matter. She can clearly write but I’m not sure the content is my sort of thing!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Maybe.


BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is the thirteenth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Blog Tour – Come A Little Closer by Rachel Abbott

Published February 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

They will be coming soon. They come every night.

Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.

Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.

These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there?

How many more must die? Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Maura Wilding and all at Black Dot Publishers for getting in touch and asking me if I’d like to read a copy of the latest Rachel Abbott thriller in exchange for an honest review. Now I have to be honest, I hesitated a little bit initially. I’m a bit of a stickler for reading things in order and (confession time), I haven’t read a single one of Rachel Abbott’s novels before. However, I have read many, many good things from my fellow bloggers about the other books in the series so I threw my normal caution to the wind and thought I’d give it a go. I’m so glad I did as Come A Little Closer is a gripping, thought-provoking read that can easily be read as a stand-alone and at no time at all did I feel I had missed out too many crucial parts of the back stories of our returning characters.

I mean, who could resist wanting to try this book after reading that thrilling synopsis? It begins, as the synopsis suggest with two women sitting in a kitchen in complete silence and another woman who has made a very bad decision on a night out just before she is due to get married. Who are these women and how do they connect to the narrative? All will become clear, but the suspense was already needle sharp and I loved the whole mystery behind these intriguing women. Then we meet our main character, Callie who is attempting to escape a miserable relationship by going on a cruise. She meets an elderly lady whilst on holiday (and a rather intense young man) the former of whom provides an emotional crutch on which she can lean on and spout all her worries about the relationship she has with her horribly leech-like, very persistent and stubborn boyfriend.

Sooner or later however, Callie is forced to return to reality and face her demons, including her boyfriend. What she isn’t expecting is for her life to take such an unexpected and dangerous turn that has her questioning everything, including her own sanity. Combined with all of this, as if this wasn’t enough drama, we have DCI Tom Douglas who is investigating a strange murder of a woman found in the snow and they are unsure whether she took her own life or there are suspicious circumstances involved. When tenuous connections are found to another historical death, Tom must discover what on earth is happening to these women and all these other links in the narrative start to make a horrific kind of sense.

I didn’t mean to make my explanation of the novel so long but honestly, there is so much that could be said about it! From the very first page, you start to understand that you are dealing with a very convoluted story, involving multiple characters with potentially, numerous twists and turns to be had. Essentially, this is exactly what I got from Come A Little Closer. It’s thrilling, occasionally shocking and definitely difficult to stop reading once you get started. I became quite invested in the characters, particularly Callie who I found myself hugely frustrated with at points and terribly sorry for at other times. Sometimes she can be very naive and there were times when I just wanted to shake her and open her eyes as to what was going on or push that little bit of courage into her so that she could finally break away from her situation. As the reader, you kind of know what’s going on pretty early in the novel, but that’s no bad thing – what we really want to know as we absorb the tale is WHY? Of course, Rachel Abbott writes a fascinating enough plot to keep you guessing and surprise you in equal terms by the time you get to the grand finale.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):



Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure.

This became her debut novel Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.

A true self-publishing pioneer, Come a Little Closer is Abbott’s seventh novel. All of her previous thrillers have hit no.1 in the Kindle charts. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

Find Rachel on Goodreads at:

on Twitter at: @RachelAbbott

on her website at:

Thank you once again to Maura Wilding and Black Dot Publishers  for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Come A Little Closer was published on the 15th February 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now. If you want some more fantastic reviews don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads:

Amazon UK link: