Book review: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK
Format: Paperback, ARC
Blurb: There’s trouble in paradise…

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

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Book Review: Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Format: Paperback, ARC
Links: Amazon UK | Goodreads
Blurb: In her guise as ‘Dear Amy’, agony aunt for a local newspaper, Margot Lewis has dealt with all sorts of letters – but never one like this…

Dear Amy,
I’ve been kidnapped by a strange man.
I don’t know where I am.
Please help me,
Bethan Avery

This must be a cruel hoax. Because Bethan Avery has been missing for nearly two decades.

But as the present-day search intensifies for another missing schoolgirl, Margot is unnerved enough to take the letter to the police, hoping they will dismiss it as a sick joke.

Instead, they let Margot in on a little secret. One that confirms her darkest fears and tangles her up in the search for the sender, which could save one young girl’s life and cost Margot her own…


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Book Review: Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Pretty Is by Maggie MitchellTitle: Pretty Is
Author: Maggie Mitchell
Format: Paperback, ARC – in exchange for an honest review
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US


Blurb: Everyone thought we were dead. What else could they think?

One summer, nearly twenty years ago, two twelve year olds were abducted and kept captive in the forest.

There they formed a bond that could never be broken.

What really happened in the woods that summer? Continue reading

Book Review: The Lie of You by Jane Lythell & author interview

untitled (3)What it’s about:

To the outside world, Kathy is the very picture of a happy and fulfilled modern woman. She has a beautiful baby boy, a clever, handsome husband and a glamorous, high-powered job.

But not everybody is fooled. Her employee, Heja, knows the truth: the cracks in Kathy’s marriage, her self-doubt, her fear of failure at work. Heja is perfectly placed to destroy Kathy’s life. And if she succeeds, she can claim the one thing she wants most…

This is a chilling psychological thriller about obsession, jealousy, and lying to those you love.

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Review:

Firstly, I’d like to thank Becci Sharpe from Head of Zeus for sending me a lovely and unexpected copy of this book. It’s set to be published in paperback on 16th January 2014 but is already out in Kindle format under the title ‘I Will Have What Is Mine’. This book is based around the lives of two very different women – Kathy and Heja. To the outside world, Kathy looks like she has the perfect life. She is the editor of a very successful architectural magazine, has a beautiful baby boy and a handsome husband but colleague, Heja, can see through the cracks in Kathy’s otherwise perfect façade and begins to sneakily medal in Kathy’s life. Lies begin to surface and Heja’s very private past starts to catch up with them because Kathy has the one thing that Heja wants the most and she will do everything in her power to get it. This gripping, psychological thriller that covers jealousy and obsession, rivalry and deceit and how women pit themselves against one another.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that the chapters are very short and I’m not a huge fan of long chapters so that sat very well with me. I tend to get through books a lot quicker if their chapters are short and sweet. This book is written is 1st person with 2 points of view – Kathy and Heja and you can tell the difference between the two women in the narrative. I very much enjoy books which are from multiple view points but I do find all the points of view are written very similarly – even though they are from entirely different characters however this wasn’t the case at all with this book. From the very first chapter I didn’t get a very good vibe from Heja, just from the way she is putting herself across to the readers. It is a massive contrast to Kathy’s chapters and on the authors behalf, I think that is a very talented thing to be able to do. I felt this book was well paced. About halfway through it did start to slow slightly but then all of a sudden, without any warning, the secret that the story revolves around (which I won’t disclose) comes to surface in Kathy’s life and the pace is instantly picked up again. From that page on, events from the past kept unravelling and you begin to get a more clearer image of what actually went on.

This book was very well written and in touches on some subjects I feel a large majority of women will be able to relate to. Being 21, some aspects of the book were quite mature for me and I also found that there were no younger characters I could really relate to. The other characters are all very well developed and the story delves into their past experiences which is essential considering the nature of the book but they were all extremely mature and knowledgeable and they find pleasure in things such as architecture, art and gourmet food which I know absolutely squat about so that element of the story did go over the top of my head a bit! However, that doesn’t take away the fact that this was an exceptionally gripping, chilling and page-turning read which I think will appeal to a very wide audience.

A well-deserved 4 cupcakes

4 cupcakes

CharlooDividerInterview:

1. Hi Jane – thank you for answering some questions today. Firstly, can you tell us what The Lie of You is about?

THE LIE OF YOU examines the question: can you have sympathy for a woman who is trying to destroy another woman?  I wanted to see how far I could push it in creating a character who does horrible things and yet somehow you end up having sympathy for her.

2. The Lie of You was a pretty ambitious debut novel and delves into some quite dark territory. How did you come up with the idea and were any characters/events based on real life?

I once had a horrible experience at work where a woman colleague was trying to undermine me. It made me realise how miserable this can make you feel and that maybe this would make a good subject for a novel. And I extended the idea to include Kathy’s personal life too.

3. What was your journey to getting traditionally published like? Was it easier or harder than you thought it would be?

When I finally had the time to focus full time on writing it was a quicker and easier process than I expected. But I think I’ve been very lucky.  I found a literary agent who loved the early draft of THE LIE OF YOU.  This is the key – you need to find an agent who loves your work and who will fight for it. My brilliant agent, from Sheil Land,  approached a number of publishers and Head of Zeus were quick to say they wanted to publish it. They are a terrific publisher for a debut writer like me.  So supportive.

4. Have you always wanted to be an author/writer?

Yes! I wrote my first story when I was eight.  My heroine was called Sally Dumpling.  She was a plump fairy who lived in a yellow rose and her best friend was a robin. But to write you need empty time. I had a daughter and a hefty mortgage and  I worked full time until May 2011. I was then in a position to write full time for the first time. It was wonderful.

5. Do you think you will always stick with psychological thrillers or venture off and experiment with other genres?

I am very interested in what makes people tick. I love to explore the psychology of my characters.  But I like other genres too and think I will try them out while retaining the focus on psychological disturbance.

6. As I mentioned in my review, the characters are quite keyed up on topics such as architecture and art. Are these subjects you personally know a lot about or was there research involved?

There was research involved. I’m interested in architecture but a complete amateur.  I had to research the World Heritage Sites.  I also researched the favourite dishes in Finland and Portugal as you will have noticed the emphasis on food in the novel!

7. Parts of the book are also set in different countries – have you travelled to any of these places? For research purposes or pleasure?

I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for seven years, until 2006. My job entailed a lot of travel and I became interested in the cultural differences between North and South Europeans.

8. Which 4 famous people would you invite to your dream dinner party? (Dead or alive)

Two writers I love: J. R. R. Tolkien and Stephen King because I’d love to hear their discussion on Lord of the Rings versus The Stand. Also Bruce Springsteen because I think he’s a great singer and sexy and Bette Davis because she’s quite a dame. Who can ever forget her performances in All About Eve and Jezebel.

9. Which piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers out there?

Focus on your characters. We love to read and learn about other people.  Let the plot come out of the characters’ personalities – how they would react in a particular situation,  rather than letting the plot dominate as something that happens to them externally.

10. Lastly, what can we expect from you in the future? Are you working on anything new that you’re able to tell us anything about?

Head of Zeus gave me a two book deal and I’m well into my second novel.  It’s different from THE LIE OF YOU in that it’s more of an adventure thriller but it still has a strong psychological angle. I’ll be sending Head of Zeus the completed manuscript in early 2014.

CharlooDivideruntitled (4)About Jane Lythell

Jane Lythell worked as a television producer and commissioning editor before becoming Deputy Director of the BFI and Chief Executive of BAFTA. She now writes full time.

You can find Jane on Twitter

Follow Jane’s fiction blog

Or purchase The Lie if You in eBook format (I Will Have What Is Mine) on Amazon

Book Review: Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

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What it’s about:

It’s been eight years since Geniver Loxley lost her daughter, Beth. Since that day, Gen has been floundering. While her husband Art builds his business reputation and their fortune, she can’t let go of Beth. And then one day, everything changes. A strange woman shows up on Gen’s doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that Beth is alive. That she is out there somewhere, waiting for Gen to find her…

It’s insane. Unthinkable. But why would someone make up such a story? Ignoring the warnings of her husband and friends, Gen begins to hope – hope that quickly turns into fear and paranoia. With questions swirling around her head, Gen is determined to uncover the truth. But who can she trust? Why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? Is Beth even really out there? And, if so, who is responsible for taking her?

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Review:

This is the second book from the Richard and Judy summer reading challenge I decided to tackle and I’ve been quite excited about writing up my review about it. Unlike everything else I seem to have read lately, I actually have something other than just excellent points about the book to say. This story is about a woman called Geniver who tragically had a stillbirth 8 years ago. Then one day a woman knocks on her door and claims to know that her baby, whom she named, ‘Beth’, is actually still alive and out there. Somewhere. This information turns Geniver’s life upside down and after confiding in an unlikely source to help her uncover the truth she unravels a series of events that leave her unable to trust anyone. Even her own husband. This story covers the unlikely bond between strangers, learning that you may not be able to trust someone you thought you could and the effect family has on us all.

I was a bit apprehensive about reading this at first because according to the blurb at the back of the book if you are fans of Sophie Hannah novels then you should like this one. I’m sorry to say, but I’m really not a fan of Sophie Hannah’s novels so that instantly put me off. However, I feel I was proven wrong as eventually, it was a very gripping, tense and enjoyable novel. At first, I thought this book was very slow-paced. I felt it took a good few chapters for anything ‘significant’ to happen and it did take a while for me to ‘get into it’ so to speak. About 1/3rd of the way through was when I really got hooked and the ending of most chapters was left on a cliff-hanging, forcing me to read on. It was a fairly addictive read and I have to give the author credit for an original storyline however all-in-all I do feel it was all a bit far-fetched and predictive. There are a few specific scenes in the book which were quite intense, e.g. sex or fight scenes and I felt they were all a bit rushed. For example, the whole chapter would be leading up to the event and then the whole scene would happen in a matter of lines. This book is written from the point of view of the main character, Geniver, so I would have liked to hear more of what she’s feeling in that moment of fear or passion rather than simply, what’s happening in front of her. Once the initial story is over, it all comes to a very abrupt end and then all of a sudden, we’re a few years into the future and Geniver is summing up what happened to her and the characters. While it was good how you find out how they all end up in the end, I personally found it as a bit of a clean ending for Geniver. Call me a pessimist but I think in the end, everything worked out a bit too well, considering the complications of the story.

I know I’ve made some quite specific points here about what I didn’t like about this novel but in all honesty I really did enjoy it. McKenzie gives you a good sense of the characters through Geniver’s eyes, her life and the way she feels towards her husband and friends. I also really liked how nothing is given away. You’re in exactly the same boat as Geniver and you know just as much about her missing child as she does. There’s small snippets throughout the book from a child’s point of view but to me, they gave nothing away. If anything, they made me more confused! The fact that you’re both on the same page in terms of finding out the truth made me feel like I was more with the character, rather than just reading about her and her story and it definitely left me on the edge of my seat, hoping that in the end, she really will find out the truth.