contemporary fiction

All posts tagged contemporary fiction

Louis & Louise – Julie Cohen

Published January 24, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

If you could look at one life in two different ways, what would you see?

Louis and Louise are separated by a single moment in time, a strike of chance that decided their future. The day they were born is when their story began.

In one, Louis David Alder is born a male.
In the other, Louise Dawn Alder is born a female.

Louis and Louise are the same in many ways – they have the same best friends, the same parents, the same dream of being a writer and leaving their hometown in Maine as soon as they can. But because of their gender, everything looks different. Certain things will happen in their lives to shape them, hurt them, build them back up again. But what will bring them back home?

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to the wonderful Orion Books who just before Christmas, hosted a Books And Baubles event in London where they showcased some of the fiction they’re most excited about for 2019. I was fortunate enough to pick up a few proof copies that gave me a bit of a “book flutter,” but I think it was Louis & Louise that provoked the biggest reaction as I’m sure my blogging bestie, Janel from Keeper Of Pages can confirm as I was delighted to meet up with her again at the event. I’ve been a huge fan of Julie Cohen’s work after reading Dear Thing and more recently, her last novel Together and absolutely adoring them so it was a no-brainer that I was going to pick this one up too.

Cohen always chooses such thought-provoking subjects to write about and puts so much heart and soul into her writing that you can almost see her individual thoughts about the issue exuding from the pages. As I’ve come to expect from her novels, Louis & Louise was such a contemplative and touching reading experience that encompasses subjects which I will continue to mull over for days to come.

Julie Cohen, author of Louis & Louise.

As a rule, I tend to steer clear of stories that are generally sentimental, for example, romance novels, stories about Christmas etc – things along that vein. That’s not because I’m turning my nose up at them or the authors writing them because they’re doing a fantastic job and obviously have a huge market of readers. It just isn’t me. I like my stories to be a bit meatier, have a bit more substance, some dark and difficult moments and characters that you can really appreciate for their originality and development. That’s why I love Julie Cohen. Don’t let some of the cover art fool you, Julie is an absolute wonder at taking extraordinary people, following their lives, throwing in some despair and struggles whilst the reader remains breathless, desperate to know whether they’ll sink or swim. There aren’t always happy endings, not everyone gets that fairy-tale or handsome prince but I appreciate this even MORE – it’s a metaphorical smack to the face that screams of authenticity and gritty real-life.

Louis/Louise ?

In Louis & Louise, Cohen follows two different people that are actually the same person. Kind of. We learn about a couple, Irving and Peggy where in one thread they have a baby boy whom they call Louis and in the other thread they have a baby girl and call her Louise. The narrative than follows Louis and Louise in alternate chapters, almost like a Sliding Doors effect and explores how different their stories might be depending on what gender they are, even down to the relationships they have with their parents. I found this to be a tremendous way of investigating how much gender defines us as a person and how certain live events can shape the future trajectory of our future depending on how we are treated. As Cohen herself expresses in the very early moments of the novel, gender begins to press itself on us from the very moment we are born, from being one of the first things the doctor/midwife tells your mother i.e. “It’s a boy/girl!,” to the kinds of clothes and toys that are bought to eventually, the expectations put on you as a female or male.

Louis & Louise is a stimulating, intelligent piece of fiction that made me consider a lot of things including my own sub-conscious gender biases that I’m trying very hard to address and challenge. I connected with both Louis and Louise as people and found their individual journeys through life fascinating and at times, heart-breaking. The author has once again outdone herself with not only a beautiful character study but a story that digs deep into the relationships between families and friends, the nature of sexuality and gender and how the principles individuals are given according to this affects their lives. It was a moving, poignant novel that I thoroughly enjoyed, leaving me in eager anticipation for whatever Julie Cohen might write next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Talking About The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn with Chrissi Reads

Published January 17, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What was your initial impression of Anna? Did it change as the book went on?

BETH: I’m not sure what I thought of her to be honest. It’s perfectly obvious she was an unreliable narrator as I’ll get to in the next question but as a reader, I’m always prepared to give a character a chance and get to know more about them before I make a judgement. I felt terribly sorry for her because it was obvious she had severe mental health problems with her agoraphobia and because I knew this was a psychological thriller I knew that nothing she would witness from her window was going to be good!

BETH: Why did you think Anna was so obsessed with observing her neighbours? How did it make her feel more connected to the outside world?

CHRISSI: I truly think Anna was bored with her life. Observing her neighbours felt like she had something to do, what with being stuck in the house all day and night. I think observing her neighbours made her feel connected to the world because she almost ‘lived’ through them. She got to experience their every day routine and that became her routine too. Observing her neighbours gave her a sense of normality.

CHRISSI: There have a been a number of thrillers/suspense stories with an unreliable narrator suffering from a drinking problem. Why do you think the authors make that choice? How does drinking impact the story they’re telling?

BETH: Initially, this book very much reminded me of Girl On The Train i.e. mature female protagonist with a drinking problem witnesses something horrific. In this way, I think that it’s a narrative I’ve read about before so the author has to do something special to make it a bit different. Obviously, drinking can impair your judgement especially if you’re drinking to the extent that our female lead is AND mixing it with strong medication so things you see can be mis-interpreted. In this novel, we’re not even sure if what Anna sees actually happened as the drugs she is taking do have the potential to cause hallucinations….did it happen or didn’t it?

BETH: If this book were to become a film how do you think it would translate? Would you watch it?

CHRISSI: Hmm…I think it could potentially be a good film especially if an extremely talented actress was cast as Anna. I think the agoraphobia gives it an edge that many thrillers don’t have and it would be interesting to see them tackle mental health. I’m not sure if I’d watch it though. For me, it was a little repetitive in points, but they could take some of the repetitiveness out. I haven’t watched The Girl On The Train which is a similar book. I think for me to watch an adaptation, I have to totally believe in the cast.

CHRISSI: Do you think this book has enough about it to stand out in its genre?

BETH: Personally, I think it does. As I mentioned, this trope has been done before so you have to do something different and I think with the addition of the agoraphobia, it made things slightly twistier as you knew whatever Anna did see would be more difficult for her to deal with as she wasn’t able to leave the house and raise the alarm. It was a fascinating read and I think the author did a good job in describing how debilitating and frightening this condition can be for its sufferers.

BETH: What did you think of the ending? Were you satisfied or did you want more?

CHRISSI: I was interested in the story throughout but I found it to be a little bit predictable in points. Personally, I think it was a very cinematic ending. I wasn’t overly sold by the ending, but it certainly was full of drama. It is here that I could see the book being turned into a movie. They could do a lot with it.

CHRISSI: Did the story grip you throughout or did you feel your interest go at any point?

BETH: Generally, I did find it a compelling read and one that I would recommend however, I did kind of guess what was going on towards the end which was slightly disappointing. There was a moment where I was surprised (but I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet!) but as for what Anna saw out of her window – I saw it coming. I’ve done this a lot recently with thrillers I’ve read so perhaps I’m just getting better at predicting things or I’ve read too many thrillers recently?! Who can say? It didn’t affect my enjoyment though, I still thought it was a great read.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would definitely read more from this author. I thought it was a very accomplished debut and I liked the fact that the author tackled mental health.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Blog Tour – Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #2) – Will Dean

Published January 14, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Red Snow is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Dark Pines, selected for ITV’s Zoe Ball Book Club

TWO BODIES

One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?

TWO COINS

Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.

TWO WEEKS

Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?

What did I think?:

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour today for the second book in Will Dean’s fabulous Scandinavian crime series featuring Tuva Moodyson who has now been officially confirmed as one of my new favourite characters in fiction. I was incredibly silly and delayed reading the first in the series, Dark Pines until recently but now I’ve read both, I’m delighted to count myself as an eager fan. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to Point Blank, One World Publications for sending me a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

As I mentioned yesterday in my Dark Pines review, there are some series where you feel the benefit from reading them in order and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to do this with the Moodyson Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, this book can absolutely be read as a stand-alone, no big secrets from the first novel are given away but I definitely felt the advantage of having read Dark Pines first. You get to understand not only our female protagonist much more intimately but in addition, the town and the other inhabitants so in my opinion, this proved to be fantastic preparation for entering the town of Gavrik once more in Red Snow.

Will Dean, author of Red Snow, the second novel in the Tuva Moodyson Mysteries.

Plucky journalist Tuva Moodyson is just about to leave town for a brand new job in journalism in a different town when she becomes embroiled in another story. As the synopsis suggests, it encompasses a suicide, a murder, family secrets and drama that surround the Grimberg dynasty, owners of the large liquorice factory in the town. Once more, Will Dean has used the minutiae of everyday life in a small town in Sweden, the bitter, unforgiving weather and a fascinating mystery to produce a compelling narrative which had me hooked from the very first pages. As I’ve alluded to, I was already pretty enamoured with our female lead so to be perfectly honest, I think I would have enjoyed this novel no matter how fast or slow the pacing of the story was but it was terrific to be presented with a story where the timing of events was as close to perfection as I think it’s possible to be!

There are slower, almost gentile moments where the reader gets to crack the hard, outer shell of Tuva’s character and discover she is a lot more vulnerable than she makes herself out to be. I’m always a huge fan of character development in novels and with Red Snow, it ticks all the necessary boxes in this respect. From what we know already about Tuva, she is a fighter. She doesn’t let the fact she is deaf become an obstacle in her life, she has dealt with hardship, heart-break and grief and come out stronger on the other side and in this novel, we get to see her open up and begin to let people in. Then there is the other side of her personality – the ruthless, determined search for the truth even if she puts herself at risk in the process. I just love her.

Salta katten (salty cat) cat-shaped salty liquorice pastilles. Apparently Scandinavians have loved these sweets since they first came out in 1952! The publishers were kind enough to send me a packet with the book so thank you very much once again to them.

As with all other thrillers I review here, you might know I don’t like to go into too much depth about the actual story but I can tell you a few things. It’s complex and intricate, involving a range of individuals from the Grimberg family themselves to the people who work with them and as Tuva edges closer and closer towards unravelling both the suicide and the murder, it becomes so gripping, I found it impossible to put down until I had discovered what exactly had happened. I was slightly concerned that I might have figured out the villain of the piece after I worked out the ending of Dark Pines but this time, I was over the moon to realise that this time, I was wrong!

I do hope that even though Tuva Moodyson is leaving Gavrik behind, the author will continue to write books in the series. I feel like as a character, Tuva has hidden depths and dark secrets that we haven’t even realised yet and I’d be overjoyed to see her involved in another case, doing what she does best. Will Dean has set a whole new bar for Scandinavian crime fiction that values equality, diversity and celebrating the differences between various communities/individuals and I thoroughly enjoy everything his writing stands for. In the words of Oliver Twist: “Please Sir, can I have some more?!”

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before
the age of eighteen. After studying at the LSE and working in London, he
settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy
forest clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he
compulsively reads and writes.

Find Will on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4448825.Will_Dean

or on Twitter at: @willrdean

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Point Blank, Oneworld Publications for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Red Snow was published on 10th January 2019 and will be available as a hardback 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 Red Snow on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40675503-red-snow

Link to Red Snow on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Snow-Tuva-Moodyson-Mystery/dp/1786074796/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1547295714&sr=8-1

Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #1) – Will Dean

Published January 13, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature. A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

What did I think?:

Dark Pines was originally published about this time last year and just prior to publication, I remember the huge buzz about it from some of my fellow bloggers. Rave reviews began pouring out of the blogosphere and I completely bought into the hype, desperate to figure out why they were all shouting from the rooftops about it. Then I did what I so often do – purchased the book and let it sit on my shelves for months, gathering dust. Well, thank goodness for the second book in the series, Red Snow, which has just been released from Point Blank, Oneworld Publications because I was invited to be on the blog tour for it (check out my post tomorrow!) and it gave me the kick up the butt that I sorely needed to read the first in the series. I’m a bit of a stickler for reading things in order, which you might know if you’re a regular reader but I’m really glad I did with this series. I’ll talk about that a bit more in my review for Red Snow but for now, if I could choose three words to describe Dark Pines? Atmospheric, intricate and chilling – and that’s the story I’m talking about, not just our freezing, Swedish wintry setting!

Will Dean, author of the Tuva Moodyson Mystery series which begins with Dark Pines.

The author, Will Dean, is actually British by birth but now lives in rural Sweden in the midst of a huge forest within a house that he built himself. This gives him the perfect licence to become a giant within the field of Scandinavian crime fiction and he does an excellent job, fitting admirably within that tight little niche. As a Swedish resident, he has obviously put the work in when creating a cast of Swedish characters in a small town with all the tiny quirks and oddities that come with living in such a remote location. It feels like he has drawn heavily and been inspired by his own experience and expertly describes the isolating quality of such a difficult place to live in, especially when you throw in the inclement weather, dangerous animals and indeed for the world of Dark Pines…..dangerous people.

A Swedish forest in winter – perhaps similar to Utgard forest in Dark Pines?

Dark Pines boasts some absolutely terrific characterisation – authentic characters that jump off the page and stay with you long after you finish the novel. I was particularly impressed with our lead female protagonist, journalist Tuva Moodyson who has been deaf since a young age and requires hearing aids but her slight disability does not affect in any way her ability to do her job or impacts the way she interacts with other characters in the story. She encounters prejudice, misunderstanding and plain ignorance along the way but I adored the way she didn’t let it defeat her and counteracted the minority of doubters with intelligent and inoffensive remarks of her own. It was wonderful to see Will Dean bringing the outsiders like Tuva and her friend Tammy, who runs a Thai food van and giving them the starring roles and kick-ass personalities that they deserve in an otherwise homogeneously white Swedish town.

As I may have already alluded to, the setting of this novel was superb. I read it recently on a short break away in a cottage and it was the ideal time to enjoy it as the temperature was freezing outside and Mr B and I had a roaring fire to curl up by. On every page I read of Dark Pines, I could feel the snow, the ice, the wind and more specifically, the quiet, secluded tension of it all. In fact, the solitary nature of our setting combined with a dark and eerie forest, the potential that you could always get lost just added to the thrill of the narrative without even mentioning that there’s a killer out there with a shotgun that may be replicating heinous murders of the past and removing the eyeballs of the dead!

As the first novel in a series with such a fantastic and inspirational female lead, there wasn’t much not to like about Dark Pines. My only slight disappointment was that I had figured out who the murderer was fairly early on. I do like to be surprised in novels like this so I was hoping that I was wrong but unfortunately, I was right. However, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story in general, particularly with such a strong cast and setting and it did make me eagerly anticipate the next outing for Tuva Moodyson.

Visit my blog tomorrow for my review of Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #2) as part of the blog tour!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

In Servitude – Heleen Kist

Published January 4, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Grace thought her sister led a perfect life.
She was wrong. Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully considered life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory was laundering money through her café for a local crime lord. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice, now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to protect herself and those Glory left behind, Grace plots to turn the tables on Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her plans unravel when more family secrets emerge and she starts to question Glory’s past intentions.

Grace grows convinced her sister was murdered. Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the author, Heleen Kist for reaching out to me via Twitter and offering a complimentary digital copy of her debut novel, In Servitude in exchange for an honest review. As you may have realised if you’ve read my review policy recently, I’m being very selective about the books I will accept for review and am having to say “no” to the vast majority of them. I have a huge backlog of reviews, four bookshelves worth of unread books on my own TBR that I’d love to get to at some point and I just have to be a bit more strict with myself and what I choose to read. This is all a rather long-winded way of getting round to the point which is….. it’s got to be quite a special request that has me intrigued, makes me drop my rules and regulations and want to read it. As soon as I read the synopsis of In Servitude and was made aware of the number of five star reviews on Amazon/Goodreads – well, it would have to be a much stronger and less curious person than I who was able to resist!

Heleen Kist, author of the debut psychological thriller In Servitude.

I have to briefly mention that whilst this wasn’t a five star read for me, I really appreciated what the author was trying to achieve and there were moments of the narrative where I was completely gripped and desperate to know what was going to happen next. Rattling along at an astronomically fast pace, In Servitude begins with the tragic death of Grace’s sister Glory, continues with the surprising events that Grace discovers connected with her sister and the Glasgow criminal underworld and concludes with some eye-watering, astonishing and unexpected revelations that left me with a whole new respect for the author, her timing and story-telling abilities.

Glasgow, Scotland – the setting for In Servitude.

I was delighted to discover that the novel was set in Glasgow, a city I know quite well and was strangely comforted by the way the author describes it, as a perfect mixture of beauty, culture, grittiness and as with most other cities around the world, potential danger in the wrong parts. As Grace takes over her sister’s business venture, a vegan cafe, she becomes enveloped in the seedier element of the city and is shocked to discover that she didn’t know her sister half as well as she liked to think she did. Grace is determined, independent and brave in the face of adversity and emotional trauma and I admired the way she dealt with an impossibly crazy situation in order to try and “do the right thing,” and protect her sister’s memory.

The ending? Well quite honestly, it knocked me sideways. I believe I just stared at my Kindle for a few minutes in confusion (which was swiftly followed by excitement) until Mr B, my long-suffering other half, had to ask if I was feeling well! It was the most perfect conclusion to an interesting psychological thriller which I devoured within just two days as the rapid pace of the narrative wouldn’t allow for anything longer than that. Heleen Kist is certainly a promising new author in the genre and I look forward to seeing what she produces next.

Would I recommend it?:

Yes!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Talking About The Cactus by Sarah Haywood with Chrissi Reads

Published January 3, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BLOOM

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green—a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.

Family and colleagues find her standoffish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs.

At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward—a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.

When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project‘s Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it’s a joy to watch her bloom.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Initially, you didn’t think this book would be a book for you. Did your opinion change?

BETH: Kind of! I hadn’t heard much about this novel or author prior to seeing it on the Richard and Judy book club list and I know it’s bad and I shouldn’t do it but I totally judged it by its cover. I really should know better by now and NOT do that as occasionally it has no reflection on the story within but I can’t help myself, I still do it! Generally, I found The Cactus to be an enjoyable read with a fascinating female lead that I was intrigued to know more about and the narrative was interesting enough to make me want to carry on reading.

BETH: What did you make of the relationship between Susan and her brother Edward?

CHRISSI: Ooh, I think it was a rather broken relationship. I think there was a lot of sibling rivalry between the two. I don’t feel like it was a very loving relationship at all. I think Susan was too different. I feel like Susan felt her brother wasn’t as organised as her and she looked down on him for the way he was. Susan felt superior to her brother and couldn’t possibly understand why he would be left the house in their mother’s will.

CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite character in this book? If so, who and why?

BETH: I think Susan herself was a very well drawn character and as I mentioned above, I was curious enough about her story to become invested in the novel as a whole. She has quite a prickly disposition when you first meet her (one of the reasons for the name of the book?) and she appears to be quite a difficult individual but she does grow on you and when you understand more about her past, you can understand why she has such an impenetrable wall built around her.

BETH: How would you classify this novel? i.e. which genre does it fall into?

CHRISSI: Tricky question. I think I would probably put it in contemporary fiction, that’s if you don’t let me just call it adult fiction. Is that cheating? Oh well. Contemporary it is in my opinion! I think it’s a book that can be enjoyed by both sexes. It actually reminded me a little bit of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. That’s a book that I feel appeals to both male and female readers too.

CHRISSI: Share a favourite quote from this book. Why was it your favourite?

BETH: “But these days fairy-tale endings come in all shapes and sizes. It’s okay for the princess to end up with the prince, it’s okay for her to end up with the footman, and it’s also okay for her to end up on her own. It’s okay for her to end up with another princess, or with six cats, or to decide she wants to be a prince. None of these make her any more or less a feminist. It’s about finding out who you are and what you want, and then being true to it.”

I actually resonated with this quote so much that I shared it to my personal Facebook page! I love that it refers to fairy-tales, I love that the author is saying that it’s okay to be who you are and do what you do as an individual, as a feminist and as a woman. She hits the nail on the head and I just adore it.

BETH: Susan has a unique way of interacting with other people. Did you sympathise with her at all?

CHRISSI: I did! I can see that Susan would irritate a lot of people and put people’s backs up with her ways of interacting. To me, Susan was a character that would be diagnosed with autism. Her way of dealing with the world reminded me of a few children that I teach that are on the autistic spectrum. As you get to know Susan, I feel like you begin to understand why she is the way she is. The past can define us and I think it does define Susan.

CHRISSI: Can you compare this book to another or is it quite unique?

BETH: I have to admit, when I first started this book I thought it was going to be quite similar to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fineby Gail Honeyman. In a way, it kind of is – with a tricky, somewhat isolated main female lead but in other ways The Cactus is very different. This was such as a relief as even though Eleanor Oliphant was one of my favourite books of 2018, I didn’t want another book so similar to it. Luckily this novel stands on its own perfectly.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would definitely give it a go! 🙂 I thought it was a decent read.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

CHRISSI’S Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

An Act Of Silence – Colette McBeth

Published January 1, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

MOTHER. WIFE. POLITICIAN. LIAR.

THEN: How far did she go to conceal the truth?

Politician Linda Moscow sacrificed everything to protect her son: her beliefs, her career, her marriage. All she wanted was to keep him safe.

NOW: What will she risk to expose the lies?

When the voices she silenced come back to haunt her, Linda is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line . . .

An Act of Silence is about the abuse of power, the devastating effects of keeping the truth buried, and the lengths a mother will go to save her child.

What did I think?:

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve had this book, my first read by Colette McBeth on my Netgalley TBR list for a long time now and all these naughty other books kept getting in the way, preventing me from starting it. After finally getting round to experiencing the author’s style, I’m delighted to report that she writes precisely the sort of books I want to be reading. I was instantly pulled into the world of our lead female character, her son and her past and the story moved at such a steady pace (with some very clever reveals) that even when I wasn’t reading it, I was THINKING about reading it, a sure sign that I’m invested.

Colette McBeth, author of An Act Of Silence.

An Act Of Silence is McBeth’s third novel, following Precious Thing and A Life I Left Behind and although I can’t make any comparisons as yet with her previous work, it reads like an established and very confident thriller writer with oceans of expertise under their belt. We follow our female protagonist, Linda Moscow in an utterly compelling opening where she is tasked with the ultimate quandary – her only son is accused of murder and she must decide first of all, whether she believes his protestations at his innocence. Secondly, as a can of worms from the past is well and truly opened up, she must protect herself and her family in the safest way possible whilst ensuring any villains have the potential to be finally unmasked.

The Houses Of Parliament in London, UK where our character Linda Moscow spent most of her political career as Home Secretary.

I have to admit when I read initial reviews of this novel and I saw it marketed as a “political thriller,” I was slightly wary. I’m not the biggest fan of politics, in or out of literature and novels that I’ve read in the past that tend to follow this particular narrative have more often than not, sadly fallen flat for me. However, I had no need to worry. The politics does play an important part in the narrative, specifically concerning Linda’s past and a horrific scandal that she found herself embroiled in but, interestingly enough, the novel focuses much more on characters, the relationships between them and how events from the past have influenced their individual actions and reactions in the present.

From the very first early moments of this story, I was captivated by the relationship between Linda and her son Gabriel. If I had to describe it in three words I would say: complicated, fractured and uneasy. As a reader, I became desperate to know what precipitating events had led to the point where every word and movement they make around each other becomes so tentative and weary. There’s so much more bubbling under the surface of An Act Of Silence than that which is initially suggested and the joy of reading this is discovering all those surprises for yourself. The author visits some very murky places and incredibly dark subject matters but this only results in an even more fascinating plot which unravels slowly, deliberately and quite brilliantly as all begins to be revealed.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Thank you so much to Headline books for providing a complimentary digital copy of An Act Of Silence via Netgalley.