mystery

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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.

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

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

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Blog Tour – Force Of Nature (Aaron Falk #2) – Jane Harper

Published February 9, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

What did I think?:

Well, this was a very pleasant surprise! Force Of Nature is the second book in Jane Harper’s Aaron Falk series, the first one being The Dry which I also had the privilege of being involved in the blog tour for so thank you once again to Kimberley Nyamhondera and Little Brown publishers for inviting me once more for the second book in the series. I have to admit, I approached this book with the same trepidation I always do for any follow up novel. I had enjoyed The Dry but had seen a few early reviewers saying that they had preferred it to this second offering. However, this just proves that everyone is their own person with their own individual tastes because I can say, hand on heart that I personally loved Force Of Nature even more! It’s a thrilling, white-knuckle ride of a book and one of those crime novels that you can really savour every moment whilst feeling quite bereft when it all ends.

Our main protagonist, Aaron Falk is back with a partner, Carmen and is investigating a financial crime of money laundering in a company managed solely by members of the same family. However, he becomes embroiled in quite a different sort of case when the woman assisting him (who works for the company), Alice mysteriously goes missing on a team building exercise with other work colleagues while hiking some notorious trails that have a rather murky history themselves. It is crucial for Aaron’s enquiries that Alice is found as she has some key information that will bring down the money launderers but of course, above all, Aaron is concerned for the woman’s safety. When the rescue teams struggle to find Alice, foul plays starts to be suspected. Especially when Aaron and Carmen dig a little deeper into the relationships between the work colleagues and find many dark secrets just waiting to be unearthed.

First of all, I adored the structure of this novel. In the present time, we see Aaron and Carmen struggling to discover what might have happened to their perfect informer Alice, and then in alternate chapters we go right back to the beginning of the expedition where there are five women about to set of on their adventure: Jill, Lauren, twins Beth and Breanna and of course, Alice. All women work together and from the very beginning, you can cut the tension in the air with a knife as there is already evidence of personal problems between many of the women. The reader knows at the very beginning that only four out of the five women return and two of them are injured so this is a tantalising little mystery that had me reading faster and faster to discover what exactly happened out there in the wilderness.

The characters are beyond perfect, all fleshed out completely with their own distinct personalities, agendas and perhaps strong reasons for feeling a little aggrieved? I loved all the unpicking of the many intricate relationships between the women which unfolded quite slowly as the narrative continues but with just enough bite to keep you guessing and keep you intrigued as you can almost taste the building of tensions within the group. With Force Of Nature, I am now an eager supporter of Jane Harper’s work and this is definitely a series I can see myself being invested in and reading instantly as each new novel is released.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jane Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the
2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the
2017 Indie Award Book of the Year and the 2017 Australian Book Industry
Awards Book of the Year Award. Rights have been sold in 27 territories
worldwide, and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna
Papandrea. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in
Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne. Force of Nature is Jane’s
second novel.

Find Jane on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/556546.Jane_Harper

on her website at: Janeharper.com.au

on Twitter at: @janeharperautho

Thank you once again to Kimberley Nyamhondera and Little Brown publishers  for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Force Of Nature by Jane Harper was published on the 8th 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!

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34275222-force-of-nature?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Force-Nature-author-Sunday-bestseller/dp/1408708205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517762972&sr=1-1&keywords=force+of+nature+jane+harper

Force Of Nature by Jane Harper was the twelfth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Broken River – J. Robert Lennon

Published February 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

What did I think?:

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Broken River or the author, J. Robert Lennon before so I was delighted when it was the first book from my Daunt Books Annual Subscription that my lovely boyfriend gifted me for Christmas last year. I have made it my mission to read and review each book I receive as part of my Bookish Goals/Resolutions which I posted about in January. I’m always slightly concerned about a book subscription as I have a LOT of unread books on my shelves and I always worry that a book is going to be picked for me that I already own. Well, not only did I not already own Broken River but as I mentioned, I hadn’t even picked up on it being published so I was very excited to check out what it was all about.

It’s clearly a crying shame that I didn’t know about this book as it is a wonderful novel that is written in quite a literary style (i.e. gorgeous!) but has that edge of thriller that keeps you gripped, turning the pages quicker than you might do a “normal” literary novel. In fact, when I first started reading it, I was pretty determined that it was going to be a five star read for me. Unfortunately, I had a minor issue that stopped me from giving it the big five but I still insist that this is a fantastic book that needs to be read by more people.

Broken River is initially the story of a family – Mum, Dad and a young daughter who get into a horrific situation where the parents are killed, inches away from their surviving daughter. The perps responsible for the brutal murders are never found and brought to justice. After the daughter is taken into care, the house becomes abandoned, gathering dust, rodents and other house guests, including your typical teenagers who use it as “party central” and the homeless and drug addicts where it becomes a convenient place to sleep/get high.

This is until a new family moves into the house: Karl, Eleanor and teenage daughter Irina, all of whom have their own issues and deep, dark secrets. As we follow their story, we also learn how they all deceive each other, for one reason or another and witness the struggles of their relationships, particularly when an obsession develops with the murky history of the family that came before them and Irina’s insistence that she has found the previous daughter who saw her parents being murdered in such a terrible way. Of course, this news doesn’t stay quiet for long and the family find themselves embroiled in a now very deadly situation when some people think the secrets and crimes of the past should remain buried.

There’s so many things to love about this book, particularly the writing style and most definitely, the variety of intriguing characters that the author develops beautifully. They’re all flawed in some way, particularly the villains of the piece (of course!) and especially the father, Karl whose little ways and the mistakes he makes, potentially hurting his family forever, really got under my skin and made me cross but I literally loved to hate him. Yes I might have made a little huff of anger at him during several parts of the narrative but who hasn’t groaned at a nasty character that you can’t stand in a novel? For me, that just means that J. Robert Lennon has done his job properly and written people that I can either really connect with i.e. Eleanor, Irina or others that I just want to throw in a river.

Additionally, I thought it was fantastic that he gives some of his more villainous characters quite a human edge and you can really see their regrets about what they might have done in their past and the sticky situation that they feel they can’t run away from in the present time. Personally, there were only a tiny, minuscule part of this novel that I didn’t quite connect with and stopped me from giving it five stars. There were a few chapters interspersed between the main narrative from the point of view of The Observer. He/she watches certain events as if he is with the character at the time and gives a whole new perspective of their actions. Now I really enjoyed this at the beginning and thought it was quite frankly, a genius move by the author. However, the chapters nearer the end starting getting a bit too philosophical for my liking and sadly, it didn’t evoke the same emotions in me as it did at the beginning. Apart from this, I would urge anyone with an interest in literary fiction and crime to try this book, it might just surprise you. It definitely surprised me.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

Talking About The Child by Fiona Barton with Chrissi Reads

Published February 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘An engrossing, irresistible story about the coming to light of a long-buried secret. 

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: How do you feel this book compares to Fiona’s debut, The Widow?

BETH: I really enjoyed The Widow when we “talked about” it in 2016 and gave it four stars so I was expecting to enjoy The Child too, however I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much more! It was truly gripping, I loved the style of writing, narrative set-up, the whole mystery behind who “the child” was and of course, THAT surprise.

BETH: Emma says, “People say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….But it doesn’t. It breaks your bones, leaving everything splintered and held together with grubby bandages and yellowing sticky tape…Sometimes you wish it had killed you.” Do you agree with this? Without spoilers, how does this relate to Emma?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I’ve always wondered about that saying. It’s nice to find comfort in it and know that experiencing something and living through it does improve your character. However, sometimes simply terrible things happen to people and I’m not sure how that saying is comforting. It’s hard to discuss it in relation to Emma without spoiling the story. Let’s just say, Emma’s character is incredibly fragile. In regards to that saying, Emma’s not a strong person because of what has happened to her. She may be strong deep down to be living through it but on the outside, she’s totally broken.

CHRISSI: How does Fiona Barton present mothers and motherhood in The Child? How does each character’s experience of motherhood change them?

BETH: We hear from a number of very different mothers in The Child. We have mother’s who lost their children in very tragic and horrific circumstances and then there is Emma’s mother Jude, who is trying her best to be a good mother to Emma but I’m afraid she kind of fails miserably. As a result, Emma has a very fractured and fragile relationship with her and the two often come to arguments. As a result, Emma is a wary, anxious person whilst Jude can never seem to do or say the right thing and makes some VERY awful decisions as a mother. With Angela, the loss of her child has irrevocably changed her as a person, even though she has two other children as she craves the answers she has never had.

BETH: The Child is told through different points of view. How did this structure affect your reading experience?

CHRISSI: Different points of view don’t always work for me in a story because I often find myself enjoying one over the other. However, this wasn’t the case with The Child. I thought Fiona Barton portrayed the different voices fabulously. Using different points of view definitely kept me turning the pages as I wanted to see how the different characters were dealing with what was going on!

CHRISSI: In The Child, Harry comments: ‘What gives them the right to meddle in people’s lives like this? How is this news? This is a personal tragedy, not some story for everyone to gawp at.’ What do you think makes a story newsworthy? Are reporters like Kate right to investigate these kinds of ‘human interest’ stories?

BETH: I’m afraid to say in my opinion Harry is right. Although I really loved Kate as a character, her job as a journalist, especially with this very emotive case, sometimes made my stomach churn as she chased down the perfect story. I understand that she was just doing her job and she was very good at it and obviously sympathetic to the women she talked to but I can also understand from the women’s point of view where it is not just a “story,” it is their life. Sorry, got a bit deep there!

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel? Give reasons for your choice.

CHRISSI: I liked quite a few characters in this novel. I think if I had to pick, I would probably say Angela. I deeply felt for her and her family after what they went through. I desperately wanted Angela to find closure. Her story touched my heart!

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in anyway?

BETH: I have to admit, I thought it was going to be. I’m not sure how you felt but I was completely wrong and did not expect what is revealed to us as the reader very slowly and methodically. It’s one of those books where I was glad I wasn’t reading the end in public because I kind of gasped out loud. If a book can make me do that, I’m going to sing its praises to the heavens.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I definitely would. I really enjoy Fiona Barton’s writing style. Whilst I did prefer The Widow, I thought this was a fabulous book and anything that she writes in the future I would gladly pick up! 🙂

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

The Child by Fiona Barton was the tenth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

 

Blog Tour – Hydra (Six Stories #2) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

What did I think?:

How can I even start writing about a book that knocked me for six? I’m not even sure if any of these ramblings (ok, gushings) about the second book in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series will make any sense but I’ll try my very best to be somewhat coherent and make you all want to read the book if you haven’t done so already. Hydra is the second book in the author’s series and if you haven’t read my Six Stories review yet, it’s structured like a true crime podcast where the host, Scott King, takes a troubling criminal case from the past and interviews six people involved with the victim/perpetrator to get a better idea of what happened. To be perfectly honest, I began Hydra doubting the author could pull off another novel that lived up to the dizzying heights of the first but he completely proved me wrong. This story was even more thrilling, delightfully eerie and as beautifully accomplished as Six Stories. I now consider myself a confirmed fan for sure.

In this new case, Scott is investigating the strange case of the “Macleod Massacre” and at the start of the novel, we are fully aware of our perpetrator, Arla Macleod who beat her younger sister, mother and stepfather to death with a hammer. She was convicted of murder under diminished responsibility due to a fragile mental state and is ensconced in a maximum security institution for other criminals with mental health issues. Scott is the only person who manages to get an interview with her to explain her side of the story and he also talks to other people close to Arla, either friends she went to school with or people that became close to her and could shed some light on the daily mental torments she began to suffer.

As the reader, we already know what happened in this case, unlike Six Stories but the fascinating thing about Hydra is that the author meticulously unpicks the reasons why the murders may have been committed. I’m not going to give any clues or spoilers myself except to say that there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye and a multitude of surprises lurking beneath the surface. It really gives a wonderful insight into the delicate nature of the human mind, how impressionable teenagers can be, the importance of a solid family life and good friendships and the potential dangers of the Internet. Like Six Stories, this book also has an otherworldly, slightly paranormal feel based on urban legends and supernatural games that really reminded me of when I was a teenager myself at boarding school in Scotland. My friends and I used to terrify each other with the Bloody Mary game in our bathroom and more frighteningly, the ouija board and sometimes, I think it’s sort of a rite of passage children have to go through i.e. pushing the boundaries of what frightens them.

The scariest part for me about this novel was the inclusion of some very disturbing “black-eyed children,” that are written so hauntingly, you really want to look over your shoulder just to make sure they aren’t standing behind you or, more aptly, knocking on your door, begging to be let in. I totally believe after reading these uneasy and occasionally startling passages, if Scott Wesolowski wants to forge a career in the horror genre, he’s more than qualified. The best bit about this blog tour has to have been the amazing reviews that I’ve seen from my fellow bloggers. Their feelings and interpretations of Hydra were nothing short of stellar and only served to make me more excited before I read this extraordinary book. So yes, Scott Wesolowski, you have a new super fan and I will be reading everything you write!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK.
He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative
writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing
North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror
fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight
Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers
anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a
horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in. Matt was
a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime
Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon
bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Hydra by Matt Wesolowski was published on the 15th January 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now.The blog tour is running from 2nd January until the 7th February so don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski is the ninth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Six Stories (Six Stories #1) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

What did I think?:

I have a confession to make. This book has been sitting on my shelves for quite a long time after I read rave reviews about it from my fellow bloggers and bought it in a charity shop near to where I work last year. Then it sat on my shelves looking quite lonely until the lovely Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books invited me to be part of the blog tour for Matt’s second book in the Six Stories series, Hydra (coming your way on Tuesday!) I knew that I simply had to read this novel as soon as possible. Well, oh my goodness why on earth did I wait so long? When I first heard about this book, structured like a true crime podcast, I have to admit I was slightly cynical, I didn’t quite understand how it was all going to work. Well, it was quite simple really. We have the rambling thoughts of our interviewee combined with interjections from the podcast host to confirm certain points that are said, explaining things further or giving us extra, juicy tid-bits of information about the case in question.

Throughout the process of reading Six Stories, I felt like I was reading the transcript of a real-life and very thrilling crime podcast. The name of the novel comes from the fact that our host, Scott King hears the stories of six different people connected with the crime he is discussing. Our case follows the mysterious death of a young boy, Tom Jeffries at Scarclaw Fell, an area of natural beauty, a decade earlier in 1997. Tom was with a group of teenage friends at the time yet died all on his own in the early hours of the morning with his friends allegedly not seeing or hearing a thing. In fact, his body was not even discovered until much later by a separate group of friends out in the woods one night as they are brought gruesome discoveries by way of their dogs’ mouths.

Scott King makes no bones about the fact that he is not a police officer, he is merely an anonymous interloper attempting to have a discussion about a mystery that has more than a few holes in it. By speaking to the people involved with Tom Jeffries, including the teenagers who were with him on that fateful night, he hopes to get some answers behind his death. Well, he certainly does. Six Stories took me a while to get used to the narrative style but by about forty pages in I was fully invested and completely enamoured with the author’s voice. I didn’t mind at all that we were led quite slowly and methodically towards the perpetrator and by the fifth chapter, you could kind of guess who it was, but the beauty of this story is that there are so many more surprises and pieces of the puzzle to put into place than I ever would have expected and I was completely taken aback by what was revealed.

I also adored the eerie nature of the urban legends, for example the Beast of Belkeld and Nanna Wrack added an extra, delicious frisson to the proceedings and definitely made me re-analyse every little creak and bang within my own house whilst I was reading. This is such a unique and fascinating novel that I’m absolutely delighted I’ve finally read, I just want to urge everyone else to give it a try. Weighing in at just over 200 pages, it’s a short novel that packs an almighty punch and the author’s talent and style is simply undeniable and one of a kind.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 

 

 

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is the eighth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

The Unseen World – Liz Moore

Published January 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World’s heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.

What did I think?:

The Unseen World has been one of my most anticipated reads in a long time. I have been so excited at the thought of reading it after seeing some amazing reviews out there and finally got round to it at the end of last year. You know when you just have a feeling that you’re going to love a particular book and it goes beyond even what you expected of it? This was the case with this mesmerising novel. Let me just tell you the synopsis does not do it justice. I got about thirty pages in and realised this story was something very special indeed. It’s about so much more than what “it says on the tin,” and I adored every single moment I spent reading it. It’s one of those books that’s automatically earned a place on my favourites shelf, I definitely plan on re-reading it in the future and I’ve already pushed it into the hands of a good friend and will continue to recommend it to others.

Our main female protagonist is Ada Sibelius who is twelve years old when the story first begins. Ada has a bit of an unusual family situation, although for her it is perfectly normal and all she has ever known. She has been raised by her father David, never known her mother and is home schooled often assisting her genius father in his laboratory where they are working on ELIXIR, the first Artificial Intelligence program. Like David, Ada is highly intelligent and proficient in coding, physics, technology and literature and counts her family as David’s lab colleagues who she can converse with like an adult about numerous subjects.

However, Ada is beginning to notice differences between herself and the average twelve year old girl in America and these differences become far more apparent when her father starts to lose his mental faculties and she is forced to live a whole other way. Before things get too awful, David left Ada a floppy disk that contains a code. If she deciphers what the code means she will finally discover secrets she could have never imagined about her father. As she struggles to unravel the puzzle she learns not only about her father’s mysterious past but who he really is as a person with clues for her own identity and this discovery is set to change her life forever.

I really hope I’ve made at least one person suitably intrigued about what this novel is about because it’s one of those books that just deserves to be read by anyone who loves literary fiction. I’m not into coding or computer based narratives at all but there’s something about The Unseen World that makes it so much more that just a geeky science narrative. Ada is a wonderful, memorable protagonist and her relationship with her father stole my heart from the very beginning. I loved that we also got to see much more of her life than you might do with any other novel i.e. we first meet her in the 1980’s as a twelve year old and throughout the novel the narrative shifts between this time period and the present time of the 2010’s when she is in her forties. It made me feel like I knew her much better as a character, watching her grow up and develop from a tentative teenager into a confident woman.

It’s a slow build up and a fantastic little mystery regarding David and who he really is and by the end of the novel I really felt like I had been on the most exhilarating journey that I just wanted to take all over again. I really cannot gush enough about how brilliant this book is and I’m actually running out of adjectives to describe how beautiful it is. If you love literary fiction and methodical character studies I’m pleading with you to trust me and please read this book!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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