Archive for the ‘Holiday Reads’ Category

The Bonbon Girl is another captivating romantic historical saga from West Country author Linda Finlay. An evocative romp through Cornish coast and countryside in the Victorian era that captures the world of mine workers, bustling county towns and travelling fair people. We follow the love story between Colenso and Kitto – two teenagers deeply in love and about to face the hardship of life in the outside world.

From the dramatic opening with Colenso tied to a rock with waves crashing around her, through her journey of survival to escape a life she doesn’t want, to a surprising resolution. From the first page The Bonbon Girl is a compelling page turner as you read on to find out if true love will conquer all or if Colenso’s perilous circumstances will prevail.
With its well drawn characters and finely tuned research The Bonbon Girl is a satisfying story of friendship, betrayal, tragedy and love which is highly recommended.

A great read if you are planning a Cornish holiday or just want to go back in time.

Advertisements

Phoebe Morgan is senior commissioning editor at Avon Books so it’s not surprising that her debut novel, ‘The Doll House’, is one of the most gripping suspense stories of 2018 and was the perfect Christmas read to take my mind off decorations, preparations and last minute shopping.

Corinne and Ashley are sisters trying to overcome their grief after their father’s death and get on with family life. But everyone in the family seems vulnerable in one way or another: Corinne and her partner Dominic are struggling to coping with the trials of IVF while Ashley feels she is failing as a parent and is losing control of her teenage daughter and suspects her husband of having an affair. So when parts of her childhood doll house start turning up in Corinne’s flat and Ashley’s getting anonymous phone calls, you start to share the sister’s growing anxiety. But it’s hard to disentangle what is sinister from the fallout from their everyday domestic tribulations.

The characters are so well drawn that they become your friends which just heightens the sense of tension as their family life starts to implode. This beautifully plotted story is complex with twists that you won’t see coming.

‘The Doll House’ is a very satisfying read and highly recommended. Now I’m looking forward to reading Phoebe Morgan’s second thriller ‘The Girl Next Door’ when it’s released in February.

Camilla Lackberg is a Swedish author of contemporary psychological thrillers. She has written ten books featuring crime writer Erica Falck and her police officer husband Patrick Hedstrom set in Camilla’s home town, the fishing community of Fjallbacka. The books can be read as stand-alone thrillers, but for extra enjoyment read them in order. That way you can follow the development of Erica and Patrick’s relationship from courting couple to parents as well as the members of Patrick’s police team as they experience love affairs, births and deaths.

The books make great Christmas reading as they are usually set in a snowy winter. In novel number one, ‘The Ice Princess’, Erica returns to her home town after the death of her parents and finds the body of her best friend frozen in a bath. Although contemporary, many of the Erica Falck series have plots which are rooted in the past, especially the Second World War. In my favourite story ‘The Hidden Child’ Erica finds an old Nazi medal amongst her dead mother’s possessions and uncovers some disturbing family history linked to present day murders.

I’ve just finished reading ‘Buried Angels’, No 8 in the series which also has its roots in WW2. A young woman returns to the island where her father ran a boarding school and where all her family except baby Ebba went missing and becomes the target of an arson attack. But like most of Camilla Lackberg’s novels the motive for present dangers are hidden in the past.
Erica Falck is both a joyous and frustrating character who struggles to balance her writing career with being a parent.

All the books in the series are well plotted and make a very satisfying read.

Another satisfying read by my author friend Linda Finlay with a local setting in Torquay.
Linda Finlay’s extensive research of life in the periods of history she writes about ensure a compelling novel that takes you back in time, this time to 1901 the time of Ragged Schools and the rise of the suffragette movement. ‘Orphans and Angels’ is the author’s second book about the Red Cliffs Ragged School. In it we meet the owner Sarah Sullivan who is still struggling to keep the children safe and the school open, helped in her endeavours by dishy school master Harry Higgins. The inimitable Mrs Daws is still in the kitchen making sure that whatever else befalls them the children have a good meal inside them, and the school has a new teacher in the form of the lyrical Sheena O’Reilly whose delightful presence and skills at story telling sets the scene for conflict and catastrophe.

As in all of Linda Finlay’s writing the characters come to life on the page. I especially enjoyed reading how the children are developing, from new arrival the grieving and surly Soloman to independent Edith, as well as sharing in Sarah’s struggles to stick to her feminist beliefs and retain her friends and overcome her lack of money.

‘Orphans and Angels’ is a wonderfully satisfying read that will keep you engaged until the last page.

Here’s some information about the novels I enjoyed on my recent holiday in Spain:

‘Under my Skin’ by Sabine Durrantc1yr-square-orig.jpg

This debut psychological thriller has been likened to ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Girl on a Train’. It is certainly domestic noir and takes the reader straight inside the world of TV presenter Gaby Mortimer as she goes through the horrors of finding a dead woman’s body and then becoming the police’s first in line suspect. I didn’t warm to Gaby as a character but was fascinated to read more about her TV life-style. She was strong enough to carry the plot and I didn’t guess the ending until close to the end. Some of the other characters, especially the police ones like D I Perivale were less convincing. The book takes a while to get going but when it does with the introduction of journalist Jack it rips along. ‘Under my Skin’ was an excellent holiday novel. It was easy to read and interesting with its continuous twists and turns which gave the reader lots to think about under their parasol.

‘Murder at the Lighthouse’ by Frances Evesham – to curl up in comfort with a G & T.murder-at-the-lighthouse

This is the first of the Exham on Sea Cosy Crime Mysteries. It was a very enjoyable light hearted read in the Agatha Christie tradition, bursting with village life idiosyncrasies and implausibility and a litany of very amusing characters. Just right for basking in a temperature of 41 degrees. Libby Forest, the lead character and amateur detective is an endearing and insightful recent divorcee who has moved to Exham on Sea for a fresh start in life. As an incomer she has a refreshing take on the hypocrisy of her fellow residents and the stupidity of the local constabulary. Of course she immediately finds a body by the lighthouse and from then on in refuses to be side tracked until the identity of the victim and then the murderer are discovered. Frances Evesham has invented an array of lively village personalities to get in Libby’s way from her Goth teenage lodger to the pompous chair of the women’s group or the rude but kindly garage proprietor. Fortunately there are two further books in the Exham on Sea Mysteries (based on Burnham on Sea) waiting on my Kindle for my next sunshine break.

‘Cross and Burn’ by Val McDermid9780751551273
Having caught up with all the books in the delicious Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series I am reading them through again enjoying my extra closeness to the main characters and Val McDermid’s masterly plotting. I have reviewed this before but it is worth a second look.

‘Cross and Burn’ is the eighth book in the series of nine. It can be read as a standalone as the plot arc starts with the two lead characters in dark places because of what happened in book seven, something that is deftly revealed without holding up the pace as the book progresses, and ends with a resolution of sorts and a new direction for the future. While Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are sorting out their downfalls a parallel plot with a serial murder unfolds with flashes of scary insights into the mind of the murderer as Paula aided by the few who remain from Carol’s old team try to save the lives of his victims. Like all Val McDermids books the victims are portrayed as real people whose lives you care about, making the whole thing much more suspenseful.