#30PagesIn – House of Spines by Michael J Malone

Welcome to my snapshot review of House of Spines after the first 30 pages, my initial thoughts and feelings about the book and how it has engaged me in the opening pages.

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After a flashback into Ran’s past at the very beginning of the book that feels both tragic and full of love I am immediately rooting for the main protagonist.

Flash forward and I know the very basics about how Ran came to receive the house – Newton Hall. Though before we even properly get into the story the house gives me the creeps. Its very ‘Truman Show’ with everyone giving these random cryptic clues and warnings about the house but nothing clear enough to actually stop him from moving in. It feels like everyone knows a huge secret he doesn’t.

Newton Hall – ‘a monument to a past love’ – seems like its going to be a character in itself. Michael J Malone has given it such a vivid description I felt like I was the one standing in its daunting shadow. I feel fearful of the house, although I currently have no idea why. Some of Ranald’s apprehension is rubbing off on me. The force and magnitude of the house is bearing down on both of us.

I can’t wait to read on with this story to find what it is that is causing the goosebumps this early in.

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Our House by Louise Candlish

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For the review for Our House I thought I would try something a little different. Always about keeping it fresh, for me as much as for anyone else!

I’ve always noticed how some books have at the end of the book some ‘reading group’ questions. Well I originally started my blog as a substitute for a reading group or book club so thought I would give it a try and answer the questions without giving too much away or giving you any spoilers. Then, hopefully if any of you have read it, we can chat about my answers in the comments (or I’ll end up chatting to myself in the comments) 🤣

*I’ve only answered 4 out of the 8 questions because there were a couple of questions I couldn’t have answered without giving away some great twists. (Also, I’m going to paraphrase some questions, again just to keep some mystery there )

Q1 – The story is told by the two main narrators through different mediums. Is either more trustworthy than the other? What are their differing agendas?

FI’s story is told through a public forum podcast and Bram’s story is through a private letter/memoir.

In my opinion I’m not sure either are more trustworthy. I feel like they are both telling their own truth that they actually believe (to a certain extent). I was surprised at times how the other person recalled the same event with very differing emotions and outcomes. Though to me Fi’s story was made for public consumption therefore I feel that without even realising it, it would become more diluted and bias. Everyone wants to be liked to a certain degree. By the end of the story you understand the agendas behind each narrative and believe me they weren’t what I was expecting.

Q2 – Do you have sympathy for Bram?

In a nutshell NO! 😑 I have zero sympathy for him. I found him to be an incredibly selfish person on many occasions throughout the story. Honestly I have a list but I shan’t divulge anything in fear of dropping a spoiler bomb. I feel like he means well at times but just never seems to go about things correctly!

Q3 – Is the novel a cautionary tale about investing too much power in our property – both financial and emotional?

This was almost the element I struggled to relate to the most. Maybe its a London thing, maybe its an expensive house thing but I couldn’t imagine giving a house that much authority and power in my life. Although Louise Candlish has written it extremely well – almost to the point where the house is a character in itself – a living breathing ruler of the Lawsons, in particular Fi, her house is her entire world. It was like the houses in their neighbourhood granted the residents a power above others. Alder Rise residents believed themselves to be a separate entity. Their world was in a little bubble which was completely safe, impenetrable from the outside world. Until the outside world finds a little hidden door and charges straight in! So maybe yes – it could be a cautionary tale about the fact that a house is just bricks and mortar at the end of the day and the important thing is the people inside it.

Q4 – Did you enjoy the structure of the book?

Yes, yes and yes some more. I loved the structure of the book. It was fresh, current and relevant to todays society. Apart from Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories and Hydra, (both of which I LOVED) this is the only other book I’ve read in the podcast format and I thoroughly enjoy it – I’m now actually starting to listen to podcasts because of these books. I even loved the sneaky addition of Twitter now and again, it kept things really real and sometimes the tweets were even what I was thinking if I had of been a listener.

The story is so dynamic and readable because of the multi-faceted way Louise Candlish delivers it to you. They say there are 3 sides to every story. Your side, their side and the truth. That is exactly what ‘Our House’ delivers. The truth told from many different opinions and viewpoints.

The interconnectivity between the characters and the plot points was exceptional. Everything was linked even when you didn’t know it – everything you were reading was of significance. An expertly crafted tale – I almost imagine a giant board up in Louise Candlish’s house with pins and post it notes and string scattered all over it to ensure everything is tied together correctly.

The ending of this book will stay with me for a long time – almost down to the gasp of the sudden realisation on the last paragraph. I couldn’t believe it. The final incidental twist of the knife. 😨

JUST. BLOODY. FANTASTIC!

(Ok so I veered of the path a little on the last question – sorry – just had to mention how much I LOVED the ending.)

Have you read ‘Our Story’? Do you agree/disagree with any of my thoughts? Are there any other questions at the back of the book you would have answered instead of the 4 I chose?

#30PagesIn – Our House by Louise Candlish

Welcome, welcome one and all to the very first ’30PagesIn’ mini review.

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Since I called my blog ‘Thirty Pages In’ I thought I had better actually utilise the name and start a new feature (haha- sounds like I’m trying to be a professional). I thought long and hard and came up with something really imaginative and clever.

’30 Pages In’

(See what I did there?!?)

I’m going to give a snapshot review of the book I’m reading after the first 30 pages, my initial thoughts and feelings about how the book has engaged me in those opening pages! 📚😁

My very first book for this new feature is….. (no suspense needed – it’s in the title)

 

Our House by Louise Candlish

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*Disclaimer – I actually read 31 pages – (it was the end of a chapter!) *

I am completely hooked.

I have been introduced to the main plotline – There is no beating around the bush, drawing it out for a chapter or 2! WHAM- smack in the face- let’s get down to it! It’s almost like we are starting at the end and people are telling us the story in reverse. I know the ‘what happened’, now I get the joy of working out the whys and whens and get to be surprised with any little twists. 😁

I am absolutely LOVING how the story is being told, through a podcast, through a letter and then first person experience with some appearances from twitter! Very clever- it keeps the story really fresh and dynamic!

I have very high hopes for this story and how exciting it is going to be! Full review to come later.

 

My Sister – Michelle Adams

My Sister – Michelle Adams

Publisher – Headline Publishing Group

One was kept. One was sent away. Who is hiding the truth?

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Blurb

My name is Irini. Our parents sent me away.
My sister is Elle. They kept her.
Families should stay together. What happened that day ripped mine apart.
A successful doctor, with a loving boyfriend, Irini Harringford is finally happy. But when Elle tracks her down everything starts to unravel.
Irini knows only too well what her sister is capable of. However, her desperate need for answers drags her back to a shocking past.
She always thought her family didn’t want her. What if the truth is even worse?

 

My Thoughts 

Well, well, well… What a rollercoaster of a ride!

Irini is on a journey to find herself, or find out who she should have been. She has been living her life as two different people – Irini with Elle and Irini without Elle. She is trying to discover who she is in her entirety. When she gets an important phone call in the middle of the night from her sister she has no other option but to meet up and confront her family and her past.

If unhinged, batshit crazy, manipulative characters are your thing then you will get it in bucketful’s in My Sister. I don’t actually think I’ve ever experienced a character as spiteful, vindictive and just generally horrendous as Elle. She has wielded a form of control over her sister for the most part of their lives and let’s just say… led her down the wrong path a couple of times! (To put it politely) I know we gain some insights into the whys’ of Elle, but I just can’t excuse the what’s on the way. She is out and out a terrible person.

The majority of the story is in the present tense with some flashbacks to provide context or information about past events. For me, it was in these flashbacks that I gained a fuller understanding of who these characters really are without any pretence and what they really are searching for. For me, this story was a slow build, which I enjoyed as it made sure I was fully invested in the characters before the final third as that is where it all kicks off!! The pace of the story almost overwhelmed me – I almost wish the final third of the story was another book by itself so I could have had more. The crux of it being I just didn’t want it to be over! I need to know more about Irini and Elle.
Irini said she craved Elle and there was something that always drew her back in and that exactly how I feel now. I am craving more of the story. I was completely drawn in by the Harrington family and all its complexities. I even found myself caring and wanting more from the ‘extras’ (not sure that’s the correct or fair term). Characters who were only in a chapter or two had me entranced by their involvement in the mystery.

This is a story of longing. All the characters are in need of something. They are either longing for answers, longing for a family, longing for belonging, longing for closure, longing for attention and ultimately longing for love. (Ok, so longing no longer seems like a word and I’m starting to believe I’ve made it up.)

Throughout the story there were quite a few gasp out loud moments and I’m pretty sure I held my breath for the last 10 chapters. I was having to re-read paragraphs for fear I had read them wrong because it just couldn’t be…

An absolutely fantastic debut book by Michelle Adams. This story explores the very fine line between love, hate and between wanting and needing and between belonging to someone and belonging to yourself!

 

I’ve also just discovered that Adams is bringing out her next novel ‘Between the Lies’ in July 2018 which means I only have another couple of months to wait!! *EXCITED FACE*

 

The Old You by Louise Voss

Someone’s mind is playing tricks… but whose? 

Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to Anne Carter for the copy of the book and for inviting me onto this book tour. I hadn’t read any of Louise Voss’s books before but the synopsis was so intriguing I had to read it. Knowing it was published by Orenda Books meant I knew I was in for a winner straight away.

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The Blurb

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together.

Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

 

My Thoughts 
Lynn has been happily married to Ed for 10 years when they notice Ed has started to miss out words, forget arrangements and generally behave in a manner very unlike himself. They soon discover Ed has Picks disease, a form of dementia. Things begin to unravel in Lynn’s life pretty rapidly after that. The past and the present crash into each other with force, resulting in strange and sinister events. There is very little more I can tell you in the way of the plot of this book without giving away any spoilers. You’ll need to go and read it for yourself. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

After hearing Louise speak at Newcastle Noir I was astounded to hear that she doesn’t plot or plan out her books in advance, as this story is so intricately woven. It’s one of those books that I know when I go back to read it a second time I will find little clues I have surely missed the first time.

 

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An absolutely amazing Team Orenda panel at Newcastle Noir

Throughout this book, I was constantly feeling a quiet trepidation, knowing that at any moment something else could be revealed. I felt a sense of unease about every situation and every character. I spent the entire time I was reading it trying to work out who I could trust and who I should be wary of. At one point or another in the story I had forebodings about every character due to the wickedly crafted plotting of Voss. Little crumbs were left to lead me up one path, only to be trampled on in the next chapter sending me in a completely different direction. On many occasions while reading in public I was left open mouthed in complete shock. (Not a good look while surrounded by people)

 

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Not sure reading in Starbucks is a wise idea with a book that will prompt such extreme facial expressions!

Every page was dripping with tension and the more I found out, the more questions I had. I couldn’t believe some of the twists and turns Voss threw into the story and at times I was starting to doubt myself. At Newcastle Noir, Louise Voss mentioned that it took her three years to write ‘The Old You’ but I can guarantee you it is well worth the wait. I devoured this book as fast as I could, savouring every word and detail.

 

 

Follow the rest of the blogtour here…..

 

FINAL Old You blog poster 2018 copy

The Fear – C.L. Taylor @callytaylor @avonbooksuk #blogtour #bookreview

Firstly, a massive thanks to Sabah Khan from Avon HQ for my copy of ‘The Fear’ and for allowing me to take part in this blogtour.

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

The Fear Book cover

The Blurb
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

 

My Thoughts

As much as I was filled with intrigue when I first read the synopsis of this book, I was also worried that a story about grooming and child abuse was going to be very heavy and hard to read. However, although the book does deal with these serious issues, C.L Taylor has written the story in such a powerful way that you don’t spend time dwelling on the horror of it, instead you are rooting for and witnessing a woman try to take back the power and control in her life.

Throughout the story we get to live the past and the present with Lou. In the past, Lou spent her early teenage years believing she was head over heels in love with Mike, a man of the community, her teacher, until it all goes very wrong. This is another reason this book is so terrifying. It’s not a story of the monster hiding under the bed but of the monsters walking among us, hiding in plain sight. Someone who should be trusted and safe is suddenly a threat and could bring your world crumbling down.

In the present we are with Lou while she is still trying to pick up the pieces and regain control of her emotions and relationships even though it is at least 10 years later. Whilst trying to gain some closure she discovers that Mike is now grooming another young girl, 13 year old Chloe. Chloe has been charmed and stunned by the attention that she has been given by Mike. We also hear from a third voice throughout the story, Wendy. Wendy is a very interesting character and shows the widespread devastation this type of abuse can cause. All of the characters draw you into their world and can sometimes overwhelm you with their emotions because parts of it felt so much like a true life story

This is a story of revenge, of victims taking back the power in their life to become victors and not living with the labels put upon them because of this predator. The Fear is an empowering read.  It is not a book filled with a massive amounts of twists because frankly it doesn’t need them. C.L. Taylor writes in such a way that she keeps you hanging onto every word, completely engulfed in tension, compelled to read on, no matter how disturbing it may be.

Follow the rest of the Blogtour….

 

The Fear - Blog Tour Banner - Part 3

Newcastle Noir Book buying! #NewcastleNoir2018

While I am trying to digest and put into words how utterly incredible Newcastle Noir was, I thought I would share with you some of the books I bought over the weekend. Honestly, this post could have included about 25 books but due to the fact that I don’t want to be the lady who lives in a house made of books (although this does hold some appeal) I had to restrict myself… to 5 books only.  Even this was more than I bargained for since I already had quite a few of the authors books.

House of Spines

Michael J Malone 

Orenda Books

I’ve read Michael’s book ‘A Suitable Lie’ and it was INCREDIBLE! If you haven’t read it – go and do it now – right now! This one sounds a little different, he was on the ‘Otherworldly’ panel so this book has a supernatural theme to it. However, knowing how much I enjoyed ‘A Suitable Lie’ I am sure I will love this book also as I loved how he described it.

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Blurb

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman… A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

 

Shit Happens

Eileen Wharton 

Bloodhound Books

I discovered Eileen during the ‘Femme Fatales’ panel which was just bloody hilarious (more on that in a later blog post) but Eileen was just so down to earth, so real and so god damn funny I just had to have her book and come on…. A book called ‘Shit Happens’ who doesn’t want to read that?!? Brownie points from me because Eileen is from Newcastle and her book is set in Newcastle – home advantage!

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Blurb

Rose Starling, abused wife, is living on benefits with her three children on an estate in a small town near Newcastle. Trying to keep one step ahead of the tallyman she dances in the shadows of various illegal dealings and works in a topless bar to make ends meet.
To add to her problems, bits of her ex-husband keep turning up in different places and DI Savage seems bent on linking the evidence to her. Desperate to extricate herself she finds her dead husbands diary and events spiral out of control.
Set against a backdrop of Northern council estate life, this fast-paced, humorous novel exemplifies the problems caused by poverty, piles and unruly children.

 

The Last Cut

Danielle Ramsay

Mulholland Books 

Again, I discovered Danielle through the ‘Femme Fatales’ panel (clearly a wonderful panel) but I am telling you now, if you ever get the chance to go to a book festival, a book launch, a book reading or anything at all where Danielle is speaking -GO! She has passion in abundance, it was infectious. The reason between her main characters name was enough to persuade me to go and buy ‘The Last Cut’. She also started talking about the novel she is currently working on and OH.MY.GOD. I NEED IT. She hasn’t finished writing it yet but I need it! If you ever go and see her, believe me, you will be walking out with at least one of her books, if not the entire back catalogue!

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Blurb 

Harri Jacobs knows she’s being stalked. But it might be her only chance to get revenge…

He’s taking women. He’s stripping them of their identity.
It’s all for her…

DS Harri Jacobs transferred to Newcastle from the Met in the hope of leaving her past behind: the moment where her stalker turned violent. He left her alive, saying that one day he would be back. And she ran.
But a year later, she realises he has followed her from home. He’ll prove his devotion. With blood…

 

Fault Lines

Doug Johnstone

Orenda Books 

One of the trio on possibly my favourite panel of the weekend – ‘Hot off the Press’. Doug, with his Scottish humour, won me over immediately. He was witty and great to listen to. Plus anyone I spoke to couldn’t stop raving about either this book or his previous Crash Land. Coming from Team Orenda, I know I’m going to love this as well.

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Blurb 

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery of his corpse secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she ll be exposed, Surtsey s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she s done…

 

Keeper 

Johana Gustawsson

Orenda Books

Johana is just incredible. She is smart, she is funny and is so unbelievably lovely (massively fangirling right now). I had seen her books ALL OVER my timeline recently and just wasn’t sure if they were my ‘thing’ or not (hanging my head in shame) but she sold them to me in seconds. The research that goes into all of her novels just astounded me but the backstory behind them – UNBELIEVABLE! I am rushing out tomorrow to buy Block 46 so I can get started with the Roy and Castells series immediately!!

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Blurb

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper s reign of terror.

London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

 

My TBR pile just doubled over the weekend!

If you have read any of these books already let me know what you thought? Any suggestions on which I should read first?