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ARC Book Review: ‘On My Life’ by Angela Clarke

Title: On My Life

Author: Angela Clarke

Length: 367pages

Publisher: Mullholland Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crime books are not my usual read, I have to be honest. But I think Angela Clarke might have just made me a fan.

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing. And the police think she did it… Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do: Clear her name, save her baby, find the killer. But can she do it in time?

This book was like a rollercoaster. It had ups and down, twists and turns but you don’t want to get off. If you hate rollercoasters then ignore that metaphor and just know that you’ll love the book.

We follow Jenna, who’s been accused of murdering her step-daughter and her fiancé. We read about her life before, leading up to the events of that afternoon, and her life in the present, as she endures the hardships of prison.

Both times were just as thrilling. As we read about Jenna meeting her fiancé, falling in love and dealing with her future in laws. I found myself looking for little snippets to see who committed this murder. It’s in this time that we also learn about Jenna’s background and family life.

In the ‘present’ time, we see Jenna’s life in prison. Which I have to say is absolutely fascinating. It’s so detailed, so intricate. You can tell this story has meticulously researched. It just adds to the richness of this story. While the main plot is a ‘who done it’, there are so many sub-plots in the prison story that were so entertaining, they had me on the edge of my seat. We also meet a character called Kelly, who will absolutely steal your heart, then break it.

This book didn’t end the way I thought it would. Like I said, the prison story took a turn I didn’t see coming but had me totally hooked. There was so many points in this book that I thought different people had committed the murder. I had so many suspects, but I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t believe who it was. I never would’ve guessed them. I was shocked. But it worked so well. Such a great ending.

The writing is so sharp, so suspenseful. I couldn’t put this book. Seriously, I cancelled plans so I could stay in and read. I had to know. I mean, it’s a testament to great writing when you can’t figure out the mystery and aren’t disappointed when it’s revealed.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re not sure about crime books, Angela Clarke is the best place to start. She’s certainly made me a fan of her work.

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this book from Louise Swannell At Hodder & Stoughton in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out in ebook now and comes out on paperback on the 11th July. Check it out.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘The Disappearance’ by Katherine Webb

Title: The Disappearance

Author: Katherine Webb

Length: 377 pages

Publisher: Orion Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m a huge fan of Katherine Webb’s. I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time. Will it live up to my expectations?

When Frances’s best friend, Bronwyn, disappeared over twenty years ago, her body was never found. And in that moment Frances’s life changed forever. Now it’s 1943 and bombs are raining down in Bath. In the chaos a little boy goes missing. Frances was meant to be looking out for him and she is tortured by guilt at his disappearance. Where has he gone, and is there any chance he could have survived. Bombs conceal, but they can also reveal – as quiet falls and the dust settles, a body is disturbed from its hiding place. What happened to Bronwyn all those years ago? And can Frances ever put right the wrongs of the past…?

‘What should I do? What can I do?’ Frances begged her. Pam shook her head. ‘Oh I’m afraid you can’t do a damn thing, my darling. Unbearable things don’t magically go away because we can’t beat them. Believe me, I know.’ She smiled, sadly. ‘But you’ll carry on, and you’ll survive it, because there’s no alternative.

In the first chapter of ‘The Disappearance’ we meet Frances, who becomes our main protagonist. This book is action packed from the beginning, when Frances gets stuck outside in the air raid and the story really takes off from there. During this air raid she loses the little boy, Davy, she was looking after and it soon becomes her mission to find him.

The story is set in two different times, 1942 and 1918. 1942, is when Frances is trying to find Davy and trying to uncover the truth of what happened to Wyn, whilst 1918 is the story of Frances’s childhood and the events leading up to Wyn’s disappearance. With each part being so intriguing, I found myself loving both. When Frances remembered something in 1942, the story would go back to 1918 and it just worked perfectly. Katherine blends the times together seamlessly.

Frances is such a likeable character. I connected with her instantly, she’s so engaging. Katherine writes her so well, you can’t help but feel for her. You can feel the tension in her, what losing Wyn has done to her. You can feel the guilt over losing Davy. You go on such a journey with Frances, often not knowing how it’s going to end, and it’s so enjoyable. Also side note, I absolutely loved the character of Pam. I could read a book all about her.

Every book Katherine writes is so wonderful. ‘The Disappearance’ has a real element of mystery. In this case, two mysteries. What happened to Wyn, and did Davy survive? Katherine is a master at writing mystery. Both mysteries in ‘The Disappearance’ are written so intelligently, it kept me hooked until the last page. I just didn’t know how it was going to end.

Let’s talk about the ending. I was on edge of my seat. I couldn’t read quick enough, turn the pages fast enough. It was such a clever ending. I had my suspicions and I was totally wrong. There’s always a twist to Katherines books, and I never guess right. Not one time. I mean, that’s a sign of fantastic writing. Another book of Katherine’s ‘The Hiding Places’ has a shocking twist like this one. Check out that book and review here.

This book is so atmospheric. All of Katherines books are, they really take you back in time. It’s the descriptions of the village, they are vivid and detailed. It just makes so engrossed in the book. When Katherine writes about the line of people trying to get out of the village, with all their belongings, following the second night of bombings. It just broke my heart, all those people trying to get to safety, scared of what the night will bring. You can feel the effects of war in the village. Katherine somehow makes you feel for the place and time, not just characters. It’s such a testament to Katherine’s writing. ‘The Disappearance’ is so well reaserched. It’s the little details, that make this book shines. Katherine is one of the historical fiction writers out there.

‘A stream of people were walking up Holloway in silence. They carried their children on their hips, and suitcases, bundles of clothing and blankets; some were struggling to push loaded prams and handcarts up the hill. Old and young, men and women, slack faces and unbrushed hair. A strange, quiet procession of the scared and dispossessed, trudging out of the city.’

Well, as I’m sure you can tell I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s wonderful. If you love historical fiction, mystery and romance you’ll love this book. Even if you don’t love these things, still read it. It’s just that good.

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this book from Katherine herself. She did not do the this for me to review, I have decided do it myself. This was a honest, unbiased review. I’m just a huge fan. This book is out today! Check it out.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Once More Unto The Breach by Megan Holloway

Title: Once More Unto The Breach

Author: Megan Holloway

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Pilos Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I requested this from Netgalley and I was lucky enough to be allowed to read it. It combines history and art, two of my loves.

Rhys Gravenor, Great War veteran and Welsh sheep farmer, arrives in Paris in the midst of the city’s liberation with a worn letter in his pocket that may have arrived years too late. As he follows the footsteps of his missing son across an unfamiliar, war-torn country, he struggles to come to terms with the incident that drove a wedge between the two of them. Joined by Charlotte Dubois, an American ambulance driver with secrets of her own, Rhys discovers that even as liberation sweeps across France, the war is far from over. And his personal was has only begun as he is haunted by memories of previous battles and hampered at every turn by danger and betrayal. In a race against time and the war, Rhys follows his son’s trail from Paris to the perilous streets of Vichy to the starving mobs of Lyon to the treacherous Alps. But Rhys is not the only one searching for his son. In a race of his own, a relentless enemy stalks him across the country and will stop at nothing to find the young man first. The country is in tatters, no one is trustworthy, and Rhys must unravel the mystery of his own son’s actions in the desperate hope of finding him before it’s too late. Too late to mend the frayed bond between them. Too late to beg for forgiveness. Too late to bring him home alive.

‘You lashed out in the moment and said something you regret. You were human. Everyone in fallible. Everyone. Sons and fathers. But you are here. In a strange, torn county in the grip of war, searching tirelessly for him. You can tell me all of your wrongs ’til the cows come home, but that… that tells me more about you as a man, as a father, than words you spoke years ago that haunt you still.’

We first meet Rhys, in a war-torn Paris, beginning the search for his missing son. He soon meets Charlotte, who helps him on his quest. The journey the go on is epic. Truly. We first believe Owain has been helping hide Art from the Nazis, but we soon find out what he really has been doing, and it makes you want Rhys to find him even more.

One of the things I liked most about this book, is that right from the start you know it’s a quest, a journey and the character has a goal to achieve. I always enjoy that in a book. It’s sets up the possibility of a great story, and this book achieves that. I was hooked from the first chapter. I enjoyed every page of this beautiful book, eager to find out if the quest was completed.

What a journey Rhys and Charlotte go on. It is thrilling, this whole book is thrilling. So many twists and turns happen along the way. It’s what makes this book such a page-turner. I had no idea what was going to happen next and I couldn’t wait to find out. I genuinely could not put this book down.

Also, whilst Rhys and Charlotte make their way on the journey, they’re being followed by Henrì. And we as the reader, get little snippets from his perspective and it makes the book really interesting. It adds such a different dynamic to the book. We also go back into Rhys’s memories, which were so endearing. Adding yet another layer to this gorgeous story.

My favourite thing about the book is the characters. Rhys and Charlotte are so likeable. They are both complex, brave and real. Rhys is such a wonderful main protagonist that it just makes you want him to find his son even more. Also, the friendship the two form over the journey, and Rhys’s yearning for his son, are the heart of this book. It’s fantastic.

Megan creates such a atmosphere with her writing. You really get the sense of France at the end of the war. You could feel the tension in the characters, the fear. The descriptions of the recently liberated country are so vivid, you can feel the unease as the characters travel around the country. Also, there were moments in the book where I was holding my breath, it was so gripping and intense. I won’t give away any spoilers here, but that ending! It was exactly what it needed to be. The story, the characters, the action are all blended together so seamlessly. It’s a joy to read. It’s all just a testament to the great writing throughout this book from Meghan Holloway.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. It’s fantastic. The whole book is wonderful from its characters, atmosphere, descriptions and ending. This book would honestly make such an excellent adaptation for tv or film. The whole feel of this book is cinematic.

I received this book from Netgalley and Polis Books in return for an honest and unbiased review. It comes out May 14th and you can preorder now.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review… ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton

Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Author: Stuart Turton

Length: 505 pages

Publisher: Raven Books Bloomsbury Publishing

⭐️⭐️/5 Stars

This was another one of those popular books of 2018, that people couldn’t stop talking about. I have to admit I was intrigued, but did this book live up to the hype?

At a party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed- again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. The only way to break this cycle is to identify Evelyn’s killer. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath…

Now, like I said I found this book very intriguing and was looking forward to reading it. To be honest I was disappointed. This book is very hectic, there’s a lot going on, so many different characters, so many different storylines. I found this book tricky to get into.

Some books are complicated in a good way, they keep you guessing, they make you read faster because you can’t wait to find out what happened. ‘Seven Deaths’ did not do that for me. While it kept me interested enough to finish the book, I was in no hurry to do so. Although the storylines certainly came together more towards the end.

It took me a long time to finish this book. Not one of the characters are particularly likeable, I found myself not caring why Aiden Bishop is at Blackheath, or not caring if he got out. I was not emotionally involved, but maybe that’s not to expected with this particular genre. But like I said, I did want to know how it would be resolved. So, I have to give this book credit for that.

When I finally did reach the end, I was expecting some big twist, a shocking revelation, because that’s the point of mystery/thriller books. I didn’t get that. I wouldn’t say I saw the end coming, I think it just left me with a lot of questions. It felt like the end was dealt with in a rushed way, not explaining enough. I like my books to be wrapped up neatly at the end, unless the have a sequel of course. And let’s hope this book doesn’t.

I have to say, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book. But I know a lot of people loved it. Did you? Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

JTH