Friday, 30 September 2016

The Secret - Kathryn Hughes

Mary has been nursing a secret.

Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.
Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

What I thought: 

I had heard so much about the author's previous novel, The Letter, but I never actually got around to reading it. Then, when I saw the cover of The Secret, I found it just too enticing and I knew that I had to make it my next read.

The story begins in 1975 when after marrying her childhood sweetheart three years ago, Mary Roberts is delighted to be told she's pregnant at last. March 2016 and we meet Michael and Beth and their very poorly son, Jake, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Mary was Beth's mum and has recently died. While sorting through her personal belongings, Beth comes across a newspaper cutting. Then we travel back to July 1976, and Selwyn Price, landlord of the Taverners pub, arranges a bus trip to Blackpool for a group of family and friends.

Now I was a teenager in the late 1970s and I have to say that the author captured the very essence of that era. I was thrilled to be reminded of things that I'd long since forgotten. Rise 'N' Shine, from what I can remember, it was synthetic orange crystals, that when mixed with water, supposedly made 'fresh' orange juice. I actually loved it! Fine Fare and Rumbelows, names of shops that I haven't heard of for years but were so popular at the time.

Back to the book, and after what I thought was a rather slow, patchy start, the pages just melted away as all the threads knitted together to make a truly delightful read. I fell in love with so many of the wonderful characters who play a part in this touching story. It would be such a shame to reveal the storyline because it truly is full of hidden secrets and tragic events.

It's a book that just got better and better. Funny yet sad. Tragic but uplifting. It's a highly recommended read from me and I'll definitely be reading everything else by this author!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Silent Scream - Angela Marsons

Even the darkest secrets can't stay buried forever...

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood...

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children's home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she's on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it's too late?

What I thought:

I was beginning to think that I was the only person on the planet who hadn't read this book. Everyone has raved about it, so I had to find out what all the fuss was about.

The story follows DI Kim Stone and her team as they investigate a murder that's swiftly followed by another. Then the remains of a body are found buried nearby where permission had finally been given for an archeological dig. There is certainly no shortage of action in this gripping crime debut.

I loved the personalities the author gave to the characters, particularly that of Kim Stone. She is brusque and abrasive, though touchingly caring at times, but also quick-witted, adding a dash of dry humour to this fast-paced thriller. Her difficult childhood leaves her guarded but chinks in her armour occasionally appear allowing us to see her hidden vulnerability.

For me, what really sets this apart from so many other crime novels is that everything was just so believable. The characters felt like they could step outside the book and come to life. Suspense was expertly drip fed throughout, though I did, very cleverly, think that I'd got it all figured out. I was wrong!

I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed every page (although some really were pretty gruesome,) and I'm thrilled to have discovered Angela Marsons. How exciting to think I've got all her other books still to read. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Little Pieces of You and Me - Vanessa Greene

 When life as you know it changes, will it define you, destroy you or make you stronger?
Best friends Isla and Sophie made each other a promise a long time ago: to never let life pass them by. Years later, Isla is in love, living abroad and fulfilling her dreams. But for Sophie, things haven't turned out the way she was expecting and she hasn't achieved any of the things she and Isla talked about.
And then, in one sudden moment, life irrevocably changes for both women.
Isla and Sophie have hard decisions to make but above all else, they must face up to the uncertainty that lies ahead. It's only when they realise that this is easier together, two friends standing side by side, that each woman can embrace whatever the future holds for them.
Emotional, poignant and uplifting, The Little Pieces of You and Me is a story about old friends, new beginnings and what happens when being strong is your only choice. It will take your breath away.

What I thought:

I have read and enjoyed Vanessa Greene's previous books, so I was delighted to be able to dive into her latest novel at last.

The Little Pieces of You and Me tells of two friends and how their lives suddenly change. Together at Uni., they each made a list of life goals. Sophie's list had long been discarded, but Islas was still stuck to her fridge door and still very much on her agenda. Sophie gave up on her dream of becoming a doctor to get married. That was ten years ago and apart from teenage problems from stepdaughter, Rebecca, all seems well in her world. Living in Amsterdam, Isla is waiting for her big acting break. When she meets and falls in love with Rafael, it looks like everything is working out for her at last. It seems as if their lives are all mapped out ahead of them, but then one day something happens to rock their world.

Inspirational  and thought-provoking, this book explores the strengths and weaknesses of the different relationships we have with friends and partners.

I found this a very emotional read. It left me with that "Live for today" feeling, but also with a comforting thought that it's all these things that happen to us, good and bad, that make us the person that we are today. So inspirational, I felt like I'd read a little piece of loveliness, emotional as it was, I loved it.