Final Girls by Riley Sager

Published by Ebury Digital on 13th July 2017

Synopsis

FIRST THERE WERE THREE

The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.

THEN THERE WERE TWO

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or…

CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

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I received a copy of the his book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair on honest review

My thoughts

Quincy is a final girl, the sole survivor of a massacres that killed her friends, so is Samantha Boyd and Lisa Milner, only Quincy cannot remember exactly what happened that night as she has blocked it from her memory. She can only remember immediately before and after the event when she was found by a cop, running through the woods covered in blood.

When Lisa Milner turns up dead, apparently a suicide, Samantha Boyd, who disappeared years before due to the press coverage of her attack turns up on Quincy’s doorstep, determined to make Quincy remember what happened to her.

 

An exciting well written thriller, which uses great characters and dramatic twists and turns throughout, this book keeps you guessing until the final reveal, could Quincy herself have killed her friends?

Quincy is a believable character, who seems to have put the massacre behind her. A successful blogger, with her own apartment and devoted boyfriend, but this is a façade and things are not as they seem and this Façade cracks when Samantha Boyd turns up.

Sam is a complex character, a times tough and desperate, sometimes nasty in her outlook, but at other times she is so vulnerable and lost.

Lisa is a more peripheral character, the first of those to be called a Final Girl (this is the last girls standing in a horror film), she has dedicated her life to helping young girls and women with troubled histories, which is why Quincy finds it hard to believe that she killed herself.

Coop is the cop who found Quincy in the woods that night and has been a part of her life ever since, being there when she needs to talk to someone about that night and things in general, but he is more than he seems even though he tries to keep a distance, but close at the same time.

The story really rushes from point to point, scarcely giving you time to breathe as Quincy ends up on the brink of ending up in jail herself,

Well written, exciting and with a beautiful ending that brought tears to my eyes.

 

I gave this 5 out of 5 stars

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A grave calling by Wendy Roberts

This book was free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

Synopsis

There had been no attempt to bury the dead girl, naked except for the white ribbon tied to her wrist 

Twenty-five-year-old Julie Hall has a unique ability: when she takes up a dowsing rod, she finds not water but bodies. To Julie, it’s a curse, not a gift, and one she rarely uses—she prefers her quiet life in a trailer, with her grandfather and her dog for company. But when FBI agent Garrett Pierce shows up at her door seeking help with a case, she has no choice but to assist with their search.

Three girls are still missing. The killer is still out there. As bodies are discovered and more girls disappear, the case becomes almost more than Julie can bear. And when the killer turns his sights toward her, even her growing relationship with the protective Agent Garrett may not be enough to save her.

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My  thoughts

Julie Hall has a gift for dowsing.

Dowsing for dead bodies

This was a gripping thriller with a touch of the supernatural – Julie’s character is excellently written, disturbed by years of abuse dished out my her grandmother, she lives in a trailer on her grandparents land (her grandmother has died) and looks after her grandfather. She keeps herself to herself and only socialises with her boyfriend Denny and best friend Kate. Her only real company is her dog. Then Agent Garrett of the FBI asks for her help in locating the bodies of some missing girls.

Julie is a great character, although tough and independent because of the abuse she has suffered she still has a soft and compassionate side.

Although she has a boyfriend (Denny) this appears to be more for company and to serve their needs rather than a relationship built on love and he does not approve of her gift, her best friend is selfish and flighty a good time girl who beds Denny at the first opportunity.

Agent Garrett is a nicely written and finely nuanced character, who lives alone after the death of his wife and child, driven by the number of missing girls in the area he is determined and resolute to catch the killer.

Naturally a romance develops between Julie and Garratt and normally this and the ensuing sex scene would have me grimacing and skipping pages – not so in A grave calling. Roberts describes the budding romance and subsequent sex act with compassion and delicacy that I actually felt that it was brilliantly done and if only other writers could write like that all romances would be portrayed in a way that actually progresses the story instead of stopping it.

There are lots of twists and turns in this book, the plot and characters are not what they seem and the end resolution seems both obvious (it’s not) and shocking at the same time. I really hope that this is going to become a series of books as I would defiantly buy the next one and I hope that they will be published in physical form as I would love to add them to my library.

 

I gave this 5 out of 5 stars

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Marilyn Forever by Boze Hadleigh

Synopsis

This book of quotes explores the many sides of the one-and-only Marilyn Monroe. In her time, she was perceived as a victim, a vixen, a valentine, and a Venus. At once a sex symbol and enormously talented entertainer, she was praised, criticized, and adored during her lifetime. After her tragic and untimely death she became the most famous female face of the twentieth century, and her legacy continues to thrive through today.

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My thoughts

This book is filled with quotes from famous people both from Marilyn’s time and today. There are four chapters in this book – Venus, Vixen, Valentine and Victim, and there is a epilogue that contains some of Marilyn’s own quotes as well. The book is peppered with the photographs, sadly they are mostly very famous ones, but they illustrate the text beautifully.

The quotes come from people like – Elizabeth Hurley, Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Bill Blass, Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson,William Travilla, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and more.

 All the quotes are interesting, not all are flattering but this is a great little book and well worth adding to your collection.

I gave this 4 out of 5 *

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Fire Damage by Kate Medina

This book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

Synopsis

To find a killer, she must unlock a child’s terror…

The first in an exciting new crime series featuring psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn – a brilliantly complex character who struggles with a dark past of her own. Perfect for fans of Nicci French and Val McDermid.

A traumatized little boy

Four years old, terrified, disturbed – Sami is a child in need of help. Now it’s up to psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn to find the cause of his suffering and unlock his darkest memories, before it’s too late.

A psychologist with a secret

 

Meanwhile Jessie is haunted by an awful truth of her own. She works alongside former patient, Captain Ben Callan, to investigate a violent death – but the ghosts of her past refuse to leave her.

A body washed up on the beach

When a burnt corpse is found on the Sussex coast, Jessie begins to uncover a link between her two cases – and a desperate killer will do anything to keep it buried…

 

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My thoughts

I love a good psychological thriller and this is as good as I hoped it would be, a slow start soon kicks into high gear, with Army psychologist Jessie Flynn treats the disturbed child of an injured soldier who has been badly disfigured in Afghanistan, and his wife ( a woman with a secret past). Bodies turn up that seem to be unrelated and at one point I felt that I was reading 2 different books!

However, as I made my way through the book, the different strands of the plot became neatly woven together, with the characters and stories intriguing  and captivating, the characters were so well written that the author manages to have the reader empathise with a character when they are suffering, both good characters and the bad. There is  touch of romance between our main character Jessie and the Military Police Officer Captain Ben Callan, which is nicely written and helps progress the plot rather than stop it completely.

Slowly Medina reveals the secrets that the characters are hiding, what has caused the child to become so disturbed as well as explaining the dead body that appears to have no relevance to the case but in fact is the key to everything.

 

Nicely paced and well written

I gave this 4 out of 5*

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Q & A with Carol Fraser author of The Summer House Party

Where did the idea for The Summer House Party come from?

I am a great lover of English fiction of the 1930s and 40s, particularly writers like Dorothy Whipple and Winifred Holtby, and I wanted to write a novel set in that era. The run-up to the war, and its dramatic effect on everybody’s lives, struck me as a wonderful theme for a novel, and a country house party seemed the ideal setting for the opening, as it’s the perfect way to introduce characters and to depict events that are going to affect their lives for years to come.

How did you conduct your research for the historical aspects of the book?

There’s a huge wealth of material relating to the Second World War and the years that preceded it, so that part was straightforward, but researching the domestic detail of people’s everyday lives at that time was more challenging. I found the best way was to read women’s fiction of the period, which gives wonderful detail which you wouldn’t find on Google. That said, I also favour a scatter-gun approach to research, because the internet can unexpectedly throw up random and fascinating information. In fact, one of the key plotlines in the book is based on a true story that I stumbled across during my research – it took one of the characters, Paul, in a direction I’d never considered. It’s also important as a novelist to wear your research lightly – you might learn a thousand fascinating things about what life was like in the blackout, but readers don’t want a history lesson. So I might read pages of stuff just to finish up with one scrap of information that I can use to give the thing authenticity.

Can you explain your writing process? Do you sit and write as it comes to you or do you plan every part out?

I suppose my writing process is quite organic, by which I mean that when I start a novel I have a rough idea of its theme and plot, but I don’t necessarily have fixed ideas about where it’s going. I like to be true to my characters and allow them to shape things. There will be times in a story when I’m about to have a character do or say something, and I’ll think – hold on, she wouldn’t do or say that, she’d do or say this instead. Characters really take a hold of you in that way. They become like real people, and you can’t let them act in a way that’s literally out of character. I tend to go with the flow, though there is always a point in a book, about two-thirds of the way through, where you have to start weaving plot-lines together to bring it all to a satisfactory conclusion. With The Summer House Party, which has a lot of characters and covers a timeline from 1936 to 1945, I finished up drawing up an enormous chart to work out who did what, where and when, to keep things consistent.

 

If you could meet any author from history who would it be and why?

I think it would be fascinating to meet Charles Dickens. He’s one of my favourite authors, and I would love to talk to him about the way he plots, and how he feels about his characters. Most of my novels, like his, are set in London. Dickens spent days and nights walking through just about every part of London, getting to know and

understand its inhabitants, and it would be wonderful to hear from him what the city was like almost two hundred years ago. I could also tell him how it’s changed since his day. When he was writing, the Monument to the Great Fire of London, near Cannon Street, was the tallest structure in the City – I think he might be interested to know how the area looks these days!

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When writing what are the two most important things to have with you?

Although like most writers I write on a computer using a keyboard and screen, I need pen and paper next to me to jot down scraps of research and random ideas. Not very original, I’m afraid!

Once you have a complete first draft, approximately how many times do you revise and edit it?

I’ll usually go through the first draft a few times tightening things up, taking out unnecessary bits, making sure there’s a consistency about everything. When I first started writing I worked on a typewriter, and as you can imagine, working like that doesn’t give you the scope and freedom to revise that a screen does. I think I only retyped my first novel, The Pupil, only once before submitting it.

I know your father was a writer, what did he think of you following in his footsteps?

He was delighted, and not in the least surprised. Like him, I was writing from an early age, though we were both in our forties when we published our first novels.

He was the author of the Flashman series, and was a natural storyteller. I think I am, too.

When I was a child he encouraged me to read anything and everything, which is the best start any aspiring writer can have, and when I was about eight or nine he gave me my first typewriter, an old Remington, on which I bashed out poems and short stories.

What subject would you most like to write about in the future?

Not a clue! I find that when I open The Times in the morning, three or four plot ideas jump out at me before I reach page 6. You never know what will strike you as a good subject for a novel. Next year, after I’ve finished the sequel to The Summer House Party, I intend to get started on the eighth novel in the Caper Court series of legal novels, but I haven’t quite worked out what my star character, Leo Davies, the brilliant but amoral QC, will be getting up to.

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to any aspiring writer?

I’d tell them not to feel inhibited, to write what inspires them. I’d also advise them to develop a discipline, to try and write a certain amount every day, because everyone can start a novel – finishing it is the hard bit.

Quick fire:

Tea or Coffee

Coffee – black, please, no sugar

Beer or Champagne

Champagne, definitely!

Coronation Street or Eastenders

Corrie, because it has humour as well as drama, and it’s taught me a lot about plotting

Fact or fiction

Fiction

Walk or drive

Walk

Christmas or Easter

Christmas with my family

Cornwall or California

Cornwall – give me a UK holiday every time, despite the unpredictable weather

 

The Summer House party by Carol Fraser is out now published by Head of Zeus

 

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Blog Tour Review – The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson

This book was sent to me free of charge by the publisher Head of Zeus

Synopsis

A haunted house, a broken family and a body that has never been found. Stella and Jack must reawaken the secrets of the past in order to solve the mysteries of the present.

January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage. Only her dog returns.

Twenty-nine years later, her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago.

But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold…

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My thoughts

This is one of those books where anyone and everyone could have been the killer, every character in the Street here Helen Honeysett went missing, has an alibi, but those alibis do not stand up under close scrutiny, and everyone has means, motive and opportunity. It is a rare book that can keep you guessing until the end but Lesley Thomson achieves this in the next installment her series he Detective’s Daughter, I really had no idea who the killer was and with every twist and turn, every new revelation I suspected someone else.

This is a really well written mystery, with great characters, many of whom are really unlikable and seem to have their secrets. The plot is nicely paced and the clues are laid neatly out for the reader without giving anything away. The main characters of Stella and Jack are brilliantly written, Jack being sensitive to the supernatural and feelings, and Stella being more of the clinical thinking detective and they compliment each other really well.

The supporting characters are equally well written, with their own histories and feelings.

At no time did the plot feel trite or boring and I read this quickly as I could not wait to see who the killer was and why Helen was murdered and what had happened to her body.

A great read.

 

4 out of 5*

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Blog Tour – The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson

Coming on Tuesday 25th April a review of the new installment of the Detective’s Daughter series.

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The Summer House Party by Varol Fraser Blog Tour

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Blog Tour Review – The Married Girls by Diney Costelo

This book was sent to me free of charge by Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review

Publish Date Hardcover 4th May 2017

Synopsis

The war is over, but trouble is brewing…

Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.

For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry’s return disrupts the village quiet and it’s not long before gossip spreads.

The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

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My thoughts

In this follow up to The Girl with no Name, we continue to follow the life of Charlotte a German refugee, through the highs and lows of life in a small Post War Somerset town, beautifully written the character of Charlotte suffers another great tragedy only to find security and happiness again.

I have heard that this is not a stand-alone book and that you need to read The Girl with No Name in order to understand the direction of the story, this is not true, as I have not read the first book, but found that Costeloe has revealed all the back story  required for you to understand the characters and their lives.

All the characters are beautifully written and believable some are characters that you would love to meet and have a chat and a cuppa or a beer with, even the gangsters have their redeeming qualities, and there are others that you just want to shake, and while that character is portrayed as cold and selfish we are given the reasons for this and this gives a great understanding to that character.

The side story featuring Harry Black and his underworld friends is brilliantly done and shows the underside of London, without resorting to graphic violence.

Costeloe easily evokes a time long past, yet still within living memory and I know my Mother will definitely enjoy this book especially the parts set in Bristol as this is where she grew up, she explores the differences in living in the city post war and that of the countryside. One character, visiting the village from London is amazed at the abundance of eggs, and the description of her first ever task of chicken is poignant and yet in this modern time when we have so much seemingly unbelievable.

This book has a bit of everything, love, loss, death, birth, forbidden love and above all else for Charlotte a happy ending which brought tears to my eyes.

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The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Synopsis

In the highlands of Malaya, a woman sets out to build a memorial to her sister, killed at the hands of the Japanese during the brutal Occupation of their country. Yun Ling’s quest leads her to The Garden of Evening Mists, and to Aritomo, a man of extraordinary skill and reputation, once the gardener of the Emperor of Japan. When she accepts his offer to become his apprentice, she begins a journey into her past, inextricably linked with the secrets of her troubled country’s history.

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My thoughts

 

This book was both beautiful and harrowing at the same time as Yun Ling tells us the story of what happened during the war and afterwards, when she was apprenticed to the former gardener of the emperor of Japan and their complicated relationship.

The text is beautifully written and extremely descriptive and although I desperately wanted to know the entire story as quickly as possible I felt that rushing through this book would be a disservice to the author’s gorgeous style.

It is no wonder that this was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker and won the Man Asian prize, I will admit that this is the first Man Booker nominee that I have read as I have always been intimidated by the books on the list, but this was so well written and the characters so real that I will be reading more Man Booker nominees in future and I hope to pick up Tan Twan Eng’s first book, The Gift of Rain sometime soon.

This book will make you think about world history and a part of World War 2 that we don’t often hear about, the suffering of the people in this book seems to be neglected while the holocaust is regularly (and quite rightly) written about.

 

4/5

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