Hello, and welcome to October! September has been a fab month for reading…

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

I loved this novel! I listened to the audiobook version, and I was gripped from the start. I didn’t see the twist at the end at all! For me, this is one of Koomson’s best novels yet!

5 out of 5

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

This is the fifth book in the Plantagenet and Tudor series. I am loving this series. The books are so well written, and draw you in completely. Like her other books, I really enjoyed this novel and couldn’t put it down. This is a series well worth reading!

4 out of 5

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This is teen fiction, and an easy read, but a book I really enjoyed! I read this in pretty much one sitting. It is teen romance, and teen angst, but with a fab twist! Well worth reading!

4 out of 5

Her Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan

This is the first novel by Tracy Buchanan and it was a great thriller. I was hooked, and couldn’t work out the twist. What let the book down for me was the soft ending. All was revealed…and then life was all OK, which was a shame.

4 out of 5

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

This is one of the best books I have read this year! I could not put it down. What a fab thriller – I did not see the ending at all! This is a must read, it is so good!

5 out of 5

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This is another good thriller. When the truth was revealed I was surprised! This is an easy read, hard to put down, and a good novel!

4 out of 5

 

Share on Facebook


Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction, legal-thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes matters into his hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life…and then his own.

I have read a few novels by John Grisham and have enjoyed all of them. This is the first novel Grisham wrote, back in 1989. This is also the first book in the Jake Brigance series. The second novel is Sycamore Row, which was published in 2013.

It is hard to summarise this novel without giving too much away. The opening chapter was a tough read – two drunk white men get their hands on a ten-year-old black girl and have their way with her in the most awful way. She is left to die, but once found and cared for, she is able to identify her attackers. They are taken to court, where on their back to their transportation, they meet her father, who is armed. The rest of this novel follows Jake Brigance, who is tasked with trying to save the father from the ultimate punishment – the death sentence – in a district were racism is still rife. He also has to try and protect himself, as the Klan are keen to see the end of the white lawyer who defends a black man.

This wasn’t a quick read, and there was a lot of legal jargon I didn’t even try to follow, but this is probably one of the best books I have read this year. The first few chapters were horrendous to read – what happened to that girl was awful beyond words. I found it quite difficult to read, and it unsettled me every time we were reminded what happened to her. Once we were past the opening though, I found myself gripped. I’m not sure “enjoy” is the right word, but in want of another word, I did enjoy this book. I found myself in a moral dilemma. The father needed to pay for his crime, but he was avenging his daughter. I couldn’t decide if I wanted him sent to jail or let off completely. The jurors has the same problem, and I’m still not sure I am pleased with the outcome.

I wasn’t really bothered by the main character, Jake, but I don’t feel that this was a novel where my opinion of the characters mattered. Some of them were entertaining, some of them I disliked, but that didn’t make or break the story for me. The focus of the book was the trial, not whether I liked Jake or the decisions he made in his personal life.

This is a story that is hard for me to comprehend. Growing up and living in England, I have very limited experience for racism, especially not on the scale of the American white/black divide. It was eye-opening and shocking to see the depths that this racism extends. This novel isn’t that old, and yet the Ku Klux Klan feature heavily in the story, terrorising any white person who associates with a black person. I am just shocked that this behaviour, these attitudes exist in any form in the world today.

Like I said, this is one of the best books I have read this year. It isn’t for the faint-hearted – the opening chapters are truly awful, and really upsetting; but once past that, this is an excellent read. It is well written, there is suspense and drama. There was a load of legal stuff I didn’t understand, but that didn’t spoil the story. This is a great legal thriller, with the ultimate twist: what happens to the Dad? I am rating this book 4 out of 5, and would highly recommend it. I am looking forward to reading Sycamore Row, the second in the Jake Brigance series.

Share on Facebook

Book number 52 in 2014 was the final book in my Mount TBR Challenge! I am very pleased to have successfully completed the challenge and to have read 12 books which have been hanging around for a while…!

I really enjoy Coben’s books. I didn’t used to enjoy thrillers – I scare easily! – but over the past couple of years my reading tastes have broadened and I now really enjoy a thriller, as long as it isn’t too graphic. Harlan Coben is a new favourite for me. I always find myself drawn into his books and am gripped until the end. And of course, I never work them out! I was a bit concerned when I started reading Caught because in the opening few pages a Paedophile is caught and brought into court. I found myself worrying that it would be graphic and horrible reading, but it isn’t at all. What the guy did was barely mentioned – which was a massive relief for me. I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t want to put it down. This was a great read, and I am glad I chose it for my Mount TBR Challenge.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Thriller
Published: 2010
Rating: 3 out of 5

Share on Facebook

Book number 41 (I’m still excited that I have passed my goal!) was Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm. This is book number 2 in the Cormoran Strike series. I had reserved this book from the library, as soon as I had finished The Cuckoo’s Calling but I couldn’t wait to read this book so ended up borrowing my Mum’s Kindle to read it!

This story is a lot darker than the first in the series, and I’m sure there were parts I didn’t quite understand but overall – great book! I couldn’t put it down. I was gripped. I didn’t guess the ending and I just really enjoyed this book. I hope we get more books in this series.

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

Share on Facebook

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Addition:
Paperback, borrowed from friend

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them. And soon they enter a terrifying heart of darkness from which they may never return.

My friend lent this book to me, telling me it was her favourite book. This book therefore had a lot to live up too! My Mum has also read this book and although enjoyed it felt it was too long and by page 500 was ready for it to finish. I went into this book with mixed feelings – my main thoughts being “I hope I enjoy this as Emily loves it” and “man, this is a big book with small print!” I have to say, I did really enjoy this book!

The story follows Richard, a young man from California who is wanting to escape his family. He arrives at Hampton College – on the opposite Coast to his parents and is quickly seduced into a life with the Greek students – Henry, Francis, Charles, Camilla and Bunny. However, all is not as it seems. They are secretive and sometimes weird, hiding a dark secret. Henry, the leader of this group, finally opens up and tells Richard what has happened: whilst trying out an ancient experiment – to completely lose oneself – they accidently kill a farmer on his land. They keep this secret hidden, except from Bunny, another in the group, who is starting to really grate on their nerves. He jokes about it, makes reference to the murder, and eventually tells Richard, thinking he doesn’t know. This is the final straw for Henry, who plots Bunny’s death. All of them are there when Henry pushes Bunny over the edge of the cliff. The story follows the remaining 5, showing how this completely messes up their lives.

I found this book slow to begin with. The first 100 or so pages follow Richard in California and then the Greek lessons at Hampton College. I found this a struggle to read – I have never studied the Greek classics and often found what I was reading going completely over my head. I honestly couldn’t tell you what it had to do with the story as I didn’t get it at all! This book is one that I would call “an intelligent read”. You have to pay attention and it doesn’t read quickly. It is also long – the addition I read was 629 pages! Once I got past page 100 or so, I was hooked but I did find the beginning a challenge.

I thought this was a fascinating read. It gives a glimpse into a crazy college world – filled with drink and drugs. It shows how people can be influenced by teachers and what they are taught – and how friends can manipulate you too. Henry leads everything – from the experience in the woods which leads to the first murder, to keeping Bunny quiet, to how to hide what they had done to Bunny. I was undecided most of the way through the book about Henry – he cold and silent, and then nursed Richard back to health when he had pneumonia. He was messed up by what he spent his time reading and also fairly grumpy! By the end I didn’t like him much.

This is an interesting read. I didn’t really like the characters and I found the beginning tough, but I was intrigued by the prologue – commenting on Bunny’s death, and I desperately wanted to know what happened. I was mildly surprised by the ending. They were never found out, although we did see how murder completely destroyed their lives. Henry ends up committing suicide, Camilla and Charles stop speaking and Charles becomes an alcoholic, Francis is consumed by fear and anxiety and Richard takes too many pills, drinks a lot and hides away. I was surprised that they weren’t caught but this was a fascinating ending.

This is an exceptionally well written book and very enjoyable. I would highly reecommend this book – even if I did find the beginning hard!

Share on Facebook

Dr Laurence B. Brown has released a book based around the Dead Sea Scrolls – a book that has been compared to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code for its excellency and get story-telling.

Synopsis:

Stirring the flames of age-old controversies, The Eighth Scroll by Laurence B. Brown draws on the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to create an unbelievably dynamic and powerful story. Set in a world that teeters between orthodoxy and heresy, this thriller is packed with intrigue and adventure. When a Roman Catholic scholar involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls Project hides one of the scrolls because of the heretical message it contains, no one is the wiser until decades later, when a prominent archeologist discovers reference to the scroll in an archeological dig. This discovery spurs the world religions into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, in which all who seek the hidden scroll are mysteriously silenced, leaving the salvation of humankind to a father and son, who must either find the hidden scroll . . . or die trying.

Dr Brown was kind enough to do an interview for us:

What gave you the idea to write The Eighth Scroll?

I, like many people, wondered what was so interesting about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Who cares about a bunch of two thousand year-old scrolls that tell us what we already know? Who cares? I’ll tell you who cares: Every secret service and every revealed religion in the world. When I learned why they care, I simply had to write The Eighth Scroll to explain.

You have a full time job so when do you find the time to write?

I guess you must be disciplined and well organized. When everyone else in my family is watching TV, I’m writing. I prefer to make my own movies than to watch somebody else’s. “Uh, wait a minute,” you might say, “The Eighth Scroll is not a movie, it’s a book.” Well, yes, that’s true. But many readers remark that my writing is extremely visual — the book reads like a movie in the mind. That is my style, and that is what I think readers want these days.

You have an interesting twist with Karl and Tim and without giving away what that is, how do you as a storyteller craft your twists?

Sometimes I plan these twists, other times not. My work is as much character- driven as it is plot-driven. The characters are well defined in my mind, and they take on lives of their own that shape the story as it progresses. This probably sounds a little surreal, but many times the characters do things I wouldn’t have expected them to do. I might arrive at a point in the story where a facet of one of their personalities forces them to do something I simply had not foreseen. This is thrilling for me, as the author, and it demands a certain amount of discipline to allow the characters to act according to how I have defined them, even when this takes the story in an unanticipated direction. This leads to a lot of interesting twists and turns, some planned and others spontaneous.

Where can we get a copy of your book?

You can find The Eighth Scroll for sale on Amazon by clicking HERE.

My review of The Eighth Scroll will follow soon.

Share on Facebook

Addition: Paperback

Genre: Mystery and suspense

Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis:

Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six-year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened. Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.’ to ‘Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six-year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened. Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.

This is a story about Paul Copeland, a county prosecutor whose wife has died and whose sister disappeared twenty years ago. On that fateful night, four teens had gone into the woods at summer camp, two were found murdered and two were never seen again. Paul’s sister Cassie was one of those whose body wasn’t found. His father spent every weekend for years digging in the woods but Cassie’s body was never recovered. Although heart-breaking, Paul had learnt to deal with this. Until someone using a fake name turns up dead and the link goes back to Paul. Realising this is the other person who disappeared from the woods, Paul sets out to find out what really happened; and if Cassie is still alive too. But he is not the only one exploring his past. As prosecutor he is trying to get two frat boys jailed for raping an underage exotic dancer. In an effort to protect his son, one of the fathers is doing all he can to frame and blackmail Paul, so the case will be dismissed. Through this, Paul learns some truths about his family: his father’s past when he lived in Russia, why his mother disappeared and didn’t take him and what happened in the woods.

This book is a thrilling and exhilarating read. Mystery and suspense is not what I usually choose to read, but I’ve read another Harlan Coben novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so decided to give those one a go. I am so glad I did. This book easily gets 5/5 from me, for pace, a great storyline, twists and turns and the characters.

I thought the storyline was fantastic. This book is so well written, with clues along the way but I still didn’t fully expect the outcome. I was shocked by Paul’s father’s past and what happened to his mother – not what I was expecting. I liked his Uncle – the guy with a shady KGB background. He was protective and hard all at the same time. He seemed to finally be feeling emotions – especially as he had had a tough time in Russia, with his brother and sister starving to death. He was protective of Paul yet still had “connections” – I thought that was cool!

I liked how the story played out – first with the police showing up having found this body who turned out to be Gil, one of the four that went into the woods, then Paul starting to do his own investigation; and then how he was threatened and had to find out about his heritage he wasn’t expecting – and ultimately how they all came together in a spectacular ending. This was a book I couldn’t put down; I just had to know what was going to happen. There were some elements I found a touch unrealistic – such as Paul and Lucy, his girlfriend at the summer camp, reuniting and how both Paul and the judge were blackmailed but the father was never caught and this wasn’t brought to anyone’s attention. I struggle to believe you would get away with that in an American court.

I thought Paul was a fantastic character. He seemed genuinely nice – a good father, a good prosecutor and focused and determined. I found it easy to connect with him; and I was on his side the whole time. I think Coben wrote the other characters well – Lucy, who you felt sorry for as this incident had destroyed her father and her life; his sister-in-law Greta, who tried to help Paul, and then would stand by her husband even when he did wrong; Gil’s family, who had tried to protect their son after the incident, for him to then be murdered and many others.

This is probably the best book I have read in ages. I really enjoyed it – it was exciting and mysterious. Some things in the story I could predict, but a lot I couldn’t. The plot unfolded in a great way. I was hooked and could not put this book down. I highly recommend Harlan Coben and this novel.

This is number two in my Mystery and Suspense challenge

Share on Facebook

Addition: Borrowed, paperback

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

No witnesses, no evidence, no body: Star psychologist Viktor Larenz’s twelve-year-old daughter, Josy, who had suffered from an inexplicable illness, has vanished under mysterious circumstances during a visit to her doctor, and the investigation into her disappearance has brought no results. Four years later, Viktor remains a man shattered by this tragedy. He has retreated to a remote vacation cottage on a North Sea island, where a beautiful stranger named Anna Glass pays him a visit. She claims to be a novelist who suffers from an unusual form of schizophrenia: all the characters she creates for her books become real. While writing her most recent novel, Anna has been tortured by visions of a little girl with an unknown illness who has vanished without a trace, and she asks Dr. Larenz to treat her. Viktor reluctantly begins therapy sessions with the stranger, but very soon these sessions take a dramatic turn as the past is dragged back into the light. What really happened to Josy? Do Anna’s delusions describe Josy’s last days? And is Larenz a danger to himself and others?

Therapy is an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, an intelligent, fast and furious read that will stay with you for a long time after you have followed Viktor into the depths of his own psyche, and have figured out who Anna Glass really is.

I received this book as part of a bookring, and I loved it! This is not the sort of book I generally read and was therefore apprehensive about whether or not I would like this book. As it happened, I thought it was incredible.

Dr Viktor Larenz is a renowned psychologist, but when we meet him he is strapped down in a mental hospital because of the mysterious events that happened to his daughter and the effect they had on him. Josy, his daughter had been suffering from a disease the doctors couldn’t diagnose when she goes missing. One minute she is in the waiting room, the next she has vanished. The search for her has revealed nothing, and distraught Viktor goes to stay a cottage on a remote island. It is there he meets Anna Glass. She is a patient wanting his help, because what she writes about in her novels then comes true. And she has created a story about a girl who goes missing. Is this girl Josy? Can Anna help Viktor find Josy?

The plot and pace of this book were exceptional. I had no idea what the twist was going to be. Every time I thought I had it sussed, something happened which meant my theory fell through. Fitzek keeps you guessing right up to the end, and the suspense and drama make for a great read. Strange things happen, and the atmosphere is built dramatically and well while Viktor is on the island – especially as Anna keeps appearing from nowhere, then disappearing, then being armed and so on.I found the descriptions of the island easy to grasp, and as I sit here writing this review I can still picture the cottage and the events that went with it.

I was convinced by the characters and draw into the story. I felt so sorry for Viktor and everything that ails him in this story. It seemed like at every turn he was defeated but he seemed to keep going. I found Anna fascinating. She was odd, her stories raised questions and led me down the wrong road and kept me gripped the whole way through.

I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. I didn’t guess the twist, but it was very good and satisfying. I lent this to my Mum and she read it in a day and loved it too. Although this is completely different to my usual genre choices, I really enjoyed this book and was glad I picked it up. It is fast paced, it is exciting and it is a great story. I will be looking out for more books by Fitzek – I really hope more get translated. This is a must-read book.

Share on Facebook

This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading.

Here is what we do:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

Page 115, Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek

“Viktor was forced to concede that Anna’s story was becoming increasingly fanciful, which wasn’t entirely surprising in view of her mental health. He only hoped that her imaginings bore some relation, no matter how tenuous, to the truth.”

What is your teaser?

Share on Facebook

Synopsis:

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this, but in truth: I loved it. John Connolly has played with the idea of fairy tales and children’s nightmares – he has taken them and made them into an adventure. The story centres around David, a boy whose life changes when his mother dies. His father re-marries and they move to the country. There David finds himself spending most of his time in the attic surrounded by old books. World War 2 is taking place, and one night, having thought he had heard his mother calling him David goes into the garden, just as a German bomber crash lands. David finds himself transported into another world. Here he faces wolves that have started to morph into men, monsters and Crooked Man.

I loved what Connolly did with this. The wolves, or Loups, came out of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the monster which followed David came from his nightmares and the enchantress in the tower came from Rapunzel. Connolly has taken these childhood fairy tales and made them into violent, adult stories, and battles which David has to face. The worst for me was the Crooked Man, who steals children to expand his life. The descriptions of his actions and his torture chambers were horrific and not for the faint hearted.

I wouldn’t call this book scary but it is intense and some of the things David and his friends fight are quite chilling. This is quite violent and graphic, but so readable. I didn’t want to put this down, I was engrossed. I wanted to know what David would have to battle, what happened to the king and how the story would end. This book was exciting and full of adventure. There was not a dull moment in this book.

I loved the characters Connolly created and how they evolved. At first I felt empathy for David, then I was anxious for his welfare, and by the end I was confident in him and happily cheering him on. He matured and became fearless, and I liked how things worked out for him. The men who helped David were courageous and fun to read. I loved the dwarfs the most. They are not like they are in Snow White – and neither is she in this book. All I could do was laugh at the situation and their attitudes – they were very funny!

There was nothing to dislike about this book. I can easily give it 5/5. I loved it 🙂

Share on Facebook