Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

This is a tough read which can be likened to marmite. You will either love it and won’t be able to put it down but may find the uncomfortable fascination of reading to the end too much to stomach. As for me, after finishing it I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

I love Cath Staincliffe’s style of writing. Her characterisation and use of the first person draws you into her stories so you soon relate to the people she is writing about and the world they inhabit. ‘Letters to my Daughter’s Killer’ is no exception. You become immersed in the bleak, tortured world of grandmother Ruth Sutton as she struggles to cope with her grief after the murder of her daughter and being left to become the sole carer of her young granddaughter Florence. Be in no doubt that this book will get to your emotions as you share Ruth’s hatred and longing for vengeance. As you read, it’s impossible not to put yourself in Ruth’s shoes and consider how you’d react in her situation, which is probably why I found it such a tough read. But I’m very glad I finished it. It gave me a lot to think about.

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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.

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.

As a fan of the DCI Banks series, I was eager to try one of Peter Robinson’s stand alone novels. I found ‘Before the Poison’ a riveting read. Unlike the DCI Banks books it’s not a police procedural, more a mystery story with aspects of supernatural. It’s about a successful musician who buys a secluded and rambling manor house on the North Yorkshire moors. His wife has just died and he becomes obsessed with proving that the woman who owned the house before him should not have been hanged for murdering her husband. Metaphorical ghosts and real ones abound, the later in the form of the hanged woman’s diary.

I loved Peter Robinson’s style of writing. He uses a range of devices together with extracts from the diary of the hanged woman, to imply her story, including chapters from a contemporary true crime book and the protagonist’s dreams and conversations with his own dead wife. But he uses them with great skill and believability. For classical music and cinema lovers there are continuous references from the protagonist’s experience of writing film music which add to the enjoyment.
‘Before the Poison’ is an interesting and satisfying read. Well recommended.

513n3hd4btlMonday’s Child by Linda Finlay (ref blog review – 23/11/16)
My first pick is a historical saga. The first of the ‘Ragged School’ series, ‘Monday’s Child is set in Torquay on the Torbay coast an area I often visit. Now, thanks to Linda Finlay’s descriptions and lively characters I can image what life would have been like for those children at the Red Cliffs Ragged School and their sassy teacher Sarah. Number two of the series is out in May 2017.

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Owl Song at Dawn by Emma Claire Sweeney – (ref blog review – 25/6/16)
From a story about children to one of old age. I was sent this book to review by publisher Legend Press and was so glad they had as otherwise I might not have come across it. Short-listed for Amazon’s Rising Star Award of 2016, this lyrical, poignant and funny story about guest house landlady Maeve coming to terms with getting older and opportunities lost takes you back the 1950’s through Maeve’s memories of when she was young. With beautiful descriptions of an era that failed to understand disability or being different, this lovely book makes you realise life in the twenty first century isn’t as bad as we sometimes think.

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Off the Rails by Karen Taylor – (ref blog review – 3/2/16)
I really enjoyed this edgy young adult thriller from my publisher Endeavour Press. With beautifully drawn characters surviving in a London where affluent ‘suits’ collide with and exploit disaffected homeless young people in the subterranean world of London’s disused underground passages.

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Before the Poison – Peter Robinson (ref blog review – 21/4/16)
I’m grateful to Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group for suggesting we devote one of our meetings last year to the crime novels of Peter Robinson. Before that I’d only watched DCI Banks on the television. I particularly liked this stand alone mystery novel about a retired musician who becomes obsessed with proving the previous owner of his house was innocent of the crime she was hanged for. The rambling old home on the North Yorkshire Moors becomes a character in its own right.

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The Outcast Dead by Ellie Griffiths – (ref blog review – 28/1/16)
This was the Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group’s first book of the year and a welcome return to Dr Ruth Galloway’s adventures. We love her every day struggle with single parenting, controlling her weight, trying not to be jealous of her glamorous friends and her passion for Radio 4’s Archers. Number eight in the series is out on Kindle on the 23rd of February and if you can’t wait there is a lovely free short story ‘Ruth’s First Christmas Tree’ to get you in the mood.

'Alma' collecting money on the Esplanade, Sidmouth

‘Alma’ collecting money on the Esplanade, Sidmouth

DaughterYesterday was the first meeting of the Sidmouth Crime Fiction Reading Group after our summer break. Fresh from our holidays, sunshine, gardening and walks we eagerly dissected our book of the month: ‘Daughter’ by Jane Shemilt. At first, we weren’t sure it qualified as crime fiction as it doesn’t seem to have a crime, but it is a thrilling read. Jane Shemilt writes beautifully, especially her atmospheric descriptions. The alternating timeframe of ‘then’ and ‘now’ quickly draws the reader into the story and compels them to turn the page. Although none of the group found the lead character Jenny very likeable, we found plenty to discuss about her situation as a busy working mother and her attitude to parenting. Our discussion of the novel prompted an interesting sharing of different points of view about the novel’s main themes of grief, parenting and teenage secrets. It was just what I hope to get out of a satisfying read and a stimulating discussion.

And on the way back to the car park I enjoyed an October burst of sunshine, listening to the sea and eating an ice cream.

The Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group meets at Kennaway House at 2.30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month. Newcomers are very welcome.