Thriller

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Blog Tour – Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Published April 25, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

What did I think?:

I’ve been familiar with the name Chris Brookmyre for a little while as one of my good friends has been doggedly persuading me to try some of his fiction for months. With previous works entitled: Quite Ugly One Morning and All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye I really don’t know why I’ve waited so long to read the author’s work – who could resist with intriguing titles like that? Yet still I wavered until the lovely people at Little Brown publishers asked if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Chris’s new stand-alone novel, Fallen Angel. Of course I thought it was a perfect opportunity to sample his work so I jumped at the chance. Thank you so much to Caolinn Douglas and Grace Vincent for inviting me onto this tour and providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Chris Brookmyre, author of Fallen Angel and the Jack Parlabane series.

Well I’m so happy to report that my friend was absolutely right when it came to Chris Brookmyre. He is a fantastic author with such a talent for characterisation and timing that this novel was truly a delight to read. Being Scottish myself, I loved the subtle Scottish references throughout, especially to certain words familiar to the Scots language i.e. “wean,” and for me, this brought an extra something special to the entire reading experience as I instantly felt so comforted by the writing style. I have to admit at the beginning, I wasn’t sure where the author was going to be taking the story. It’s very much a slow burner that initially sets the scene following the lives of multiple characters both within and close to a specific family.

I’ve mentioned in recent reviews how much I love intricate character development in crime fiction and although I may have hesitated for a chapter or so at the start, unsure of how the crime element related to the narrative, I soon realised that this is part of the beauty of Fallen Angel. This is one of the reasons why I love crime so much that focuses specifically on individuals rather than plot. We learn so much about each our protagonists, in fact we get to know some of them incredibly intimately and this only bodes for a more explosive release as the tension begins to build and the secrets are finally unearthed.

A large proportion of Fallen Angel is set in Portugal where the families we follow have holiday villas.

This is a work of crime fiction so as a result, I don’t want to tell you very much at all about the plot. This is the kind of book you need to savour and discover all the shocks and surprises yourself without it being spoiled. All I can say is that if you’re a fan of family drama, deceit and scandalous events, you’re in for a treat with Fallen Angel. There are not many likeable characters to be found and occasionally there are some where you can’t understand their motives or thought processes at all, but to be honest, that’s my favourite kind of characters. It felt like Chris Brookmyre was writing very candidly about a family where many of the members have multiple, very difficult emotional issues or skeletons in their closets just waiting to burst out. It was a pleasure to be a reader along on the journey, eagerly awaiting the next dramatic event or twist in the tail. As a result, ALL of Chris Brookmyre’s books have now gone on my wish-list and I hope I’ll be reviewing another one for you very soon.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. His debut novel was Quite Ugly One Morning, and subsequent works have included One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which he said “was just the sort of book he needed to write before he turned 30”, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2005).

Find Chris on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/167572.Christopher_Brookmyre

on his website at: http://www.brookmyre.co.uk/

on Twitter at: @cbrookmyre

Thank you so much once again to Caolinn Douglas, Grace Vincent and Little Brown for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Fallen Angel is published on 25th April 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Fallen Angel on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43063636-fallen-angel

Link to Fallen Angel on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Angel-Chris-Brookmyre/dp/1408710838/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_3?crid=3RZ7UEV65XWV1&keywords=fallen+angel+chris+brookmyre&qid=1556133445&s=gateway&sprefix=fallen+angel%2Caps%2C327&sr=8-3-fkmrnull

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Call Me Star Girl – Louise Beech

Published April 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

What did I think?:

I first came across the wonderful Louise Beech’s writing in her last novel, The Lion Tamer Who Lost which was published last year and completely captured my heart from the the first page to the very last. When I heard she was writing a new book and that it was a psychological thriller, I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on it so a huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. Having only read one other book by this author, I’m no expert on her style but personally, I felt Call Me Star Girl was quite a departure from the genre she usually commands and only confirms how beautifully versatile she is a an author. Once again, I was delighted by the gritty nature of the narrative which was only amplified by the specific plot-line of the story and the fact that it involves the unsolved murder of a young, pregnant woman.

Louise Beech, author of Call Me Star Girl. 

Louise Beech has a fantastic knack for twisting the reader round her little finger in the way she creates her characters, develops an enthralling plot and manages to keep us hooked with tantalising little surprises here and there. I was instantly intrigued by the character of Stella and how we see her life as flashes of memories from her distant past and her fractured relationship with her mother, the most recent past regarding her intense relationship with her boyfriend, Tom and her present situation during her last ever shift as a late night presenter on a local radio station. As with all brilliant psychological thrillers, I’m afraid I simply cannot tell you a thing for fear of spoiling it, but I adored how the author used her natural literary flair to portray the intricate characters and their relationships between each other which only served to drive the narrative and ensure it became something very special indeed.

Our main protagonist, Stella McKeever works at a radio station and through the novel, is participating in her final work shift.

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you might know that I have the greatest respect for both genre and literary fiction. Sometimes I want a novel with a fast-paced, action-filled plot with short, snappy chapters and where it doesn’t really matter what the characters have for breakfast or not (joke!). Then at other times, I live for that literary crime fiction with all the intricate character details that I’ve been craving. I love when an author creates characters that you can really see, feel and hear and that you actually feel closer to purely because you understand every aspect of their daily existence and emotional well-being. This is exactly what Louise Beech has done with Call Me Star Girl. I was fascinated with Stella, her boyfriend Tom and her mother, Elizabeth and as it is told from dual perspectives and across different time-lines, you start to KNOW these characters intimately rather than just feeling merely acquainted with them.

Even then, the author has the power to pull the rug out from under your feet and completely turn the tables on what you might have been thinking or hoping. As I’ve mentioned in countless other reviews, I admire when an author can do that so effortlessly, like Louise does. This is probably because as a regular reader of crime fiction and literary crime fiction, I can’t help but try to work out what might be going on before the official reveal. As a result, the book climbs exponentially higher for me when that element of surprise is maintained and I don’t guess what may be going on.

As a psychological thriller, the author has surpassed all of my expectations with Call Me Star Girl and even though it’s a few days since I’ve finished it now, I’m still thinking about the final outcome of this novel. Perhaps more importantly, I’m also thinking about their characters and the relationships they had, which is definitely a clearer sign that the book managed to get under my skin.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley #3) – Cara Hunter

Published April 17, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING ON THE NIGHT THE ESMOND FAMILY WERE MURDERED? 

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME and IN THE DARK comes the third pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

What did I think?:

I’m so excited to talk to you about Cara Hunter’s incredible new novel, No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley crime series set in Oxford and published in paperback on 18th April. If you’ve read my previous reviews of Close To Home and In The Dark, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m a massive fan of Cara’s writing, her characters and this series in general so my expectations were sky high for this latest instalment. Thank you so much to Jane Gentle at Penguin Random House UK for sending me a complimentary copy a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. I deliberately held off on reading this book until a couple of months ago as I prefer to read and review as close to publication date as possible. Finally, when I couldn’t hold back any longer, I finally cracked open No Way Out and was delighted to fully immerse myself within Fawley’s world once more, a world I had been sorely missing since I finished In The Dark last year.

Cara Hunter, author of No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley series. 

Each of Cara’s novels in this series has the beauty of being able to stand on its own, as a story in its own right and so you could potentially read it without having read any of the other novels in the Fawley saga. However, for all the specific nuances of the individual characters and the way in which we slowly get to know them through these three books, I would honestly recommend starting right from the beginning with Close To Home. One of my favourite things about this series is the way in which the author develops her characters. I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous review that it’s not just all about Adam Fawley with the other characters playing supportive, occasionally bland and vague roles as I’ve seen with some other crime fiction series.

I’m happy to announce this remains the case with No Way Out – the characters are all fully developed, interesting, personable and individually valuable and more often than not, Adam Fawley will step back within the narrative and allow another character to take centre stage. As a reader, I adore when an author does this. It’s so refreshing to see such a host of vibrant personalities that all have their own, very unique story to share. I feel as if I’m getting to know each one – Gislingham, Quinn, Somer and Everett separately and as a result, it makes them instantly more relatable and authentic, especially with the delicate way the author drip feeds information about their lives through each novel.

The city of Oxford, UK – the setting for No Way Out.

As with all my reviews but particularly for thrillers or crime fiction, you won’t be getting any spoilers here but it’s safe to say I was once again completely engrossed by this fascinating and devastating case of a house fire which involves a family with two children. The compelling element behind this tragedy is that the parents of the children appear to both be missing as the police start to investigate what happened. In classic Cara Hunter style, she uses social media, articles and transcripts from interviews to compliment her writing in what becomes an intense, highly gripping narrative which completely took my breath away. I’m familiar enough with the author’s style that I know she’s going to surprise me and I try to keep an open as mind a possible and not think too deeply about what might be going on or whom the “villain” of the piece may be. Nevertheless, she still manages to knock it out of the park every single time. I’m always shocked, constantly captivated and increasingly bereft that I’ve reached the end. Saying that, it does leave me with an exciting little fizz of anticipation in my stomach, ready for the next instalment!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Five Books I’d Love To Receive For My Birthday – 2019

Published April 16, 2019 by bibliobeth

Happy Birthday to me! April is my birthday month and my birthday actually falls on Easter Sunday this year. Like any other regular bookworm, the only thing I want for my birthday is BOOKS. I did this post last year in 2018 and enjoyed doing it so much I thought I’d have another go this year. Let’s be honest, there’s no chance of my wish-list ever getting any smaller – there’s just too many good books out there people!! This post isn’t a hint to loved ones or family members but if I’m lucky enough to get any vouchers, this is what I’ll be buying. Let’s get on with it.

 

1.) My Sister The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

What’s it all about?:

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Why do I want it?:

This book has been on my radar for a little while and now it’s been long-listed for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2019 that’s just bumped it up on my wish-list even further. I’ve heard great things and that synopsis is far too intriguing to pass up, right?

2.) The Silence Of The Girls – Pat Barker

What’s it all about?:

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war’s outcome. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and coolly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position, able to observe the two men driving the Greek army in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate not only of Briseis’s people but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war—the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead—all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives—and it is nothing short of magnificent.

Why do I want it?:

I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology and re-discovered my love for it after reading The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller and Mythos by Stephen Fry a little while ago. Again, I’ve heard great things about this re-telling and it’s on the long-list for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2019.

3.) Remembered – Yvonne Battle-Felton

What’s it all about?:

It is 1910 and Philadelphia is burning. For Spring, there is nothing worse than sitting up half the night with her dead sister and her dying son, reliving a past she would rather not remember in order to prepare for a future she cannot face. Edward, Spring’s son, lies in a hospital bed. He has been charged with committing a crime on the streets of Philadelphia. But is he guilty? The evidence — a black man driving a streetcar into a store window – could lead to his death. Surrounded by ghosts and the wounded, Spring, an emancipated slave, is forced to rewrite her story in order to face the prospect of a future without her child. With the help of her dead sister, newspaper clippings and reconstructed memories, she shatters the silences that have governed her life in order to lead Edward home.

Why do I want it?:

This book looks absolutely fascinating and a must-read from everything I’ve heard. Again, it’s long-listed for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2019. If you read my Birthday TBR from last year, you’ll notice I’m AGAIN mentioning mostly Women’s Prize books. Guys, I can’t help it if the long-list is released so close to my birthday! 😀

4.) Normal People – Sally Rooney

What’s it all about?:

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

Why do I want it?:

There’s been so much buzz about Sally Rooney and although I still haven’t read her first novel, Conversations With Friends, I’m really intrigued about this one. It was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year and is also long-listed for the Women’s Prize 2019. Surprise surprise!

5.) My Year Of Rest And Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh

What’s it all about?:

A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.

Why do I want it?:

Yes! An outlier that isn’t on the Women’s Prize 2019 long-list! In all seriousness, although I’ve heard mixed reviews about this novel I’m too intrigued to pass up on it. It might be a love it or hate it kind of book but with those kind of reads I really love to make up my own mind.

 

I’d love to know what you think of my birthday wish-list selection. Have you read any of these books and what did you think? Or do you want to read any of them and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Talking About Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty with Chrissi Reads

Published April 14, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: There’s been mixed reviews of this book. Did that affect your opinion going into the story?

BETH: I hadn’t actually realised there had been mixed reviews until you told me – haha! I’m a huge fan of Liane Moriarty although I’ve only managed to read a couple of her books – the incredible Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret (although I have Truly Madly Guilty on my shelves). I have to be honest and say that because of that, I probably look at the author’s work through rose-tinted glasses and was determined to keep an open mind, ignore the haters and try and make up my own mind about the novel as I read my way through.

BETH: I found Moriarty’s dry wit brought something a bit more interesting to this story. Do you agree?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I think without dry wit this book would have puzzled me even more. I think it made the story more cold? If that makes sense. It wasn’t a heart-warming story. It was almost clinical for me. I hope that makes sense, I know what I mean. I felt like the way in which the book was written, didn’t really make you feel for the characters. It was almost like Liane Moriarty was making fun of her own characters.

CHRISSI: Why do you think the author chose to tell this story through multiple perspectives? How would it have changed your view of each of the characters if the story had been told through just one voice?

BETH: I always love a story told through multiple perspectives. You get a much more rounded view of the situation as it happens and a true view of each individual personality. I think if it had been told through one voice, you would have that individual bias of how just one character saw a situation and other people around them. It does make it more exciting too – especially if you’re not a fan of a particular individual but you’re keen to get back to another one’s point of view.

BETH: Who was your favourite character in Nine Perfect Strangers and why?

CHRISSI: Oh wow. This is a tough question because like I said in my previous answer to your question, I felt like I didn’t feel for any of the characters. That disengagement meant that I didn’t have a favourite character. I guess, if I had to pick I would pick Yao because I found him the most intriguing.

CHRISSI: Discuss the pros and cons of the retreat’s ban on technology and social media. What do you think the author is saying about the effects they have on society?

BETH: I’m not sure about the author’s personal views on social media and technology but I find it crazy sometimes how much they take over our lives. Obviously having blogs, we probably spend a good deal of our free time on social media. I know I post a lot on Instagram, try to blog hop every day and re-tweet other bloggers posts every day but I can also remember a time when we didn’t have the internet and I got my kicks by watching Top Of The Pops on a weekday night and recording the TOP 40 off the radio on Sunday afternoons! In a way, the fact that we have constant access to information (and funny animal videos which I have a particular fondness for!!) has isolated us slightly from those around us and I do try to restrict the time I spend on my phone and have normal, face to face conversations too. From the point of view of Nine Perfect Strangers though, it is fascinating to watch how individuals cope when these things we now take for granted are taken away from them.

BETH: I sympathise with your struggle to give this book a rating. Why do you think you’re torn in this way?

CHRISSI: I think it’s because I wanted to love it. I love Liane Moriarty’s writing and I know she is highly thought of. I also really enjoy reading her ideas. I just felt for me this book was too ridiculous and unbelievable. Not every book has to be believable, but something like this got too far fetched for me. I wanted to love it, I didn’t hate it…so I’m somewhere in-between. I think if I could have connected with the characters, then it might have been completely different.

CHRISSI: Would you ever go on a retreat like Tranquillum House? Why/Why not?

BETH: Maybe not EXACTLY like Tranquillum House haha. However, I could see myself doing something like this. I love the idea of getting away from the world and learning new techniques to relax. As long as I had a big pile of books to accompany me, I think I would quite enjoy a retreat like this. For now, I’ll take pleasure in my reading holidays to Malta with you my sister! 🙂

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I do like her writing and I’m not put off at all.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes?

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Talking About The Last Thing She Told Me By Linda Green with Chrissi Reads

Published March 28, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?

The new emotionally-charged suspense novel from Linda Green, the bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed and After I’ve Gone.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too far-fetched?

BETH: This might not be the same answer for everyone who reads it but unfortunately for me at points, I found it difficult to connect with. Not necessarily unbelievable but there were points when I thought the way certain characters reacted to circumstances weren’t how I imagined they would in a real-life situation. However, I don’t have any personal experience similar enough to what some of the women suffer through in this book so who can say for certain how someone would/should react? I have plenty of experience with grief and it certainly does crazy things to a person, emotionally and psychologically speaking. Also, the part with the fairy bone and Maisie being allowed to keep it for a night according to the police – I really don’t think that would actually happen.

BETH: What did you think of the relationship between the women, primarily Nicola and her mother Irene? Did you find any similarities between Nicola’s relationship to her oldest daughter, Ruby?

CHRISSI: I felt like the relationships between women in this story were quite fractured. Nicola and Irene definitely had a difficult time within this story, mainly down to what had happened to Irene in the past. Nicola may not have realised this. I feel like Nicola tried to be more open and honest with her own daughter although she hid a major secret from her. There were so many secrets in this story that affected all of the female relationships.

CHRISSI: What purpose did William’s letters to Betty serve throughout the book?

BETH: I thought they served as a nice little addition to the narrative. I really enjoy the inclusion of letters in a novel, it gives such a fascinating insight into a character’s life and personality but the danger with them is that if you’re only hearing from one person’s point of view, it gives only one side of the story. With the different threads going on throughout this book, I couldn’t help but be slightly suspicious of William’s character and motives and it was interesting to read how it all panned out in the end.

BETH: Did you predict what would happen at any point in this novel?

CHRISSI: I don’t think so. I had some ideas along the way but nothing that was particularly solid. I think it could have gone in any direction really… it was that sort of book!

CHRISSI: Without spoilers. why do you think Nicola finally acknowledges what happened to her at age 20?

BETH: I think Nicola goes through so much inner turmoil as she relives her own personal experiences through that of her mother and grandmother. It reminds her how different life was for women just a generation or two ago and how little power or control they seemed to have over their own destiny. As a result, it makes her think again about how times have changed. She now has the perfect opportunity to break her silence and speak out whilst arriving at the realisation that telling her family the truth is better than hiding terrible secrets.

BETH: Why do you think Betty mentioned the babies to Nicola before she died?

CHRISSI: In my opinion, Betty wanted her family to be able to move on. If she told Nicola then the secrets would be out in the open. I think it somewhat took a weight off Betty’s mind and she could die knowing that she had done the right thing.

CHRISSI: What significance do the fairy statues have throughout the story?

BETH: I love the addition of the fairy statues (and I’m sure you did too, I know you have a fondness for fairies!). However, they do represent something a lot darker and more saddening than you would normally associate them with. I believe they represent childhood, innocence and how these things can be permanently altered through traumatic experiences.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I haven’t read this author before, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy her writing was to read.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Beautiful Bad – Annie Ward

Published March 24, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

IN THE MOST EXPLOSIVE AND TWISTED PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER SINCE THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A PERFECT LOVE STORY LEADS TO THE PERFECT CRIME.

‘Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists… a riveting read’ Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the always wonderful Quercus Books for hosting a bloggers event at the end of last year where they showcased some of the fiction they were most excited for in 2019 and secondly, for providing me with a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I picked up Beautiful Bad, I turned to my blogger bestie, Janel @ Keeper Of Pages and told her that I NEEDED to read this book. The proof copy was beautifully simplistic and incredibly effective with just a few lines of text on the back cover that went like this:

“Things that make me scared:

  1. When Charlie cries.
  2. Hospitals and lakes.
  3. When Ian gets angry.
  4. ISIS.
  5. That something is really, really wrong with me…”

I mean – wow. Who couldn’t resist but pick this book up with a teaser like that?

Annie Ward, author of Beautiful Bad.

Now, I hope those of you who have followed my blog for a while understand by now that I will always, always give you an honest review. If I absolutely don’t like a book and DNF it (i.e. a one star rating), I won’t review it as I don’t think it’s fair to the author or his/her future readers to review a book that I haven’t read the whole way through. My two star ratings are for books I finished but I had a few problems with and didn’t really enjoy that much but can see why other readers might. I’m sure you also appreciate that I don’t revel in writing more critical reviews and even if I didn’t enjoy a book, I will ALWAYS try and find something positive to say about it rather than ripping all an author’s hard work and efforts to shreds. Three stars and above = I enjoyed the novel but to varying degrees depending on whether I rated it three stars, four stars or the big five stars. I feel that I had to put that little disclaimer in because I did enjoy Beautiful Bad in general but unfortunately, I did have a few problems with it that were purely personal to me and I completely understand that other readers might feel very differently.

My expectations were so high with Beautiful Bad, partly because of that intriguing taster on the back cover and there were just a few ways in which it didn’t meet those ridiculously high standards of mine. As it’s a psychological thriller, I don’t want to get too deeply into the nitty gritty but I want to assure readers that haven’t read this yet and are excited about it that it really is a very compelling and fascinating read. The reason I kept on reading was that I was curious to find out what exactly was going on and what happened on one terrible day.

The novel is told from both Maddie and Ian’s point of view and we hear in intricate detail about how they met, fell in love, the initial struggles of their relationship, where they are right now in the present as a married couple and what difficulties they continue to face. Annie Ward explores mental health and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in an assured, often saddening way and I was constantly gripped by the relationship between the couple and how they managed to navigate through their troubles, especially with the addition of a gorgeous little boy, Charlie to their family.

Iraq, one of the many settings we visit in Beautiful Bad.

Image from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iraq-lawmakers-seek-timetable-for-withdrawal-of-foreign-troops-1519933363

Through the eyes of Maddie and Ian, we are taken to a multitude of different settings including Iraq, Kansas, Manhattan, England and the Balkans and piece by piece, their journey to becoming a married couple is slowly explored. With such a variety of locations to explore you may be wondering exactly what my issue was, especially as I normally thrive on learning about different places and cultures. However, in Beautiful Bad at times it felt like there was too much unnecessary detail within these settings. That is to say, I didn’t feel I learned much about the place in enough detail as I would have liked. I understand this might have been to explore the juicier details of Maddie and Ian’s relationship but even then, I don’t feel as if the right sort of things were explored. It just seemed to be them going for a drink, fighting with Maddie’s friend Jo, falling in love WAY too quickly and him calling her “Petal” far too much which became slightly sickening. As a result, I didn’t feel as if I connected with any of the individuals as characters because sadly, I just couldn’t find their relationships believable on any level.

This book has so many potentially great things going for it, it was such a shame I felt such a disconnect with the characters and parts of the narrative. It’s mysterious and puzzling and even though I found some parts a bit slow, by about the middle of the novel, I was gripped enough by the story that I wanted to continue and see how it ended. Additionally, I have already seen so many positive reviews for this book so please don’t let my variable opinion sway you towards not picking it up – it certainly has some incredibly thrilling moments and in the hands of a different reader, you might get the completely opposite reaction. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to chat with you in the comments, please let me know what you thought!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art