Cloudland by Joseph Olshan

Cloudland

“Catherine Winslow, taking a walk during an early spring thaw, discovers the body of a woman leaning against an apple tree near her house in the Upper Valley of Vermont. From the corpse’s pink parka, Winslow recognizes it as the latest victim of a serial killer, a woman reported missing weeks before during a January blizzard. Once a major reporter for a national newspaper, now a household hints columnist, Catherine is disturbed and galvanized by her discovery and with the help of her neighbor, a forensic psychiatrist, as well as a local detective, starts to research the River Valley murders.
At the same time, her younger lover from an excruciating, failed love affair resurfaces after two years, trying to manuever his way back into her affections. As she delves into the murders, she realizes that certain friends and acquaintances may actually be suspects or even worse.”

MY REVIEW

Only * * stars from me unfortunately.

I just couldn’t connect with this read. I didn’t find it really fit in it’s genre as a crime/thriller. It wasn’t gritty enough, disturbing enough, or shocking enough! I found it to be a who-dunnit which is in fact the only reason I finished the book – I did want to know who done it.

I didn’t connect with the characters and found the story flat and un-inspiring. I rarely give up on finishing a book but I contemplated it a few times with this one.

Sadly just didn’t grab my interest enough.

Decide for yourself and buy Cloudland here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Olshan is an award-winning American novelist. His first novel, Clara’s Heart, won the Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers’ Competition and went on to be made into a feature film starring Whoopi Goldberg. He is the author of eight novels, the most recent of which, The Conversion, will be published in 2008.

In addition to his novels, he has written extensively for newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The Times (London), The Guardian (London),The Independent (London), The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, the New York Observer, Harpers Bazaar, People magazine and Entertainment Weekly. During the 1990’s he was a regular contributor of book reviews to the Wall Street Journal. For six years was a professor of Creative Writing at New York University where he taught both graduate and undergraduate courses.

Joseph Olshan’s other novels include Nightswimmer and Vanitas, as well as The Waterline, A Warmer Season, The Sound of Heaven and In Clara’s Hands, a sequel to his acclaimed first novel, Clara’s Heart.

Joseph Olshan is published in the U.S. by Saint Martin’s Press and Berkley Books; and in the United Kingdom by Bloomsbury publishing and Arcadia Books. His work has been translated into sixteen languages.

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Someone Else’s Wedding by Tamar Cohen

Someone Else's Wedding

“Mr. & Mrs. Max Irving request the company of:

Mrs. Fran Friedman, mourning her empty nest, her lost baby, the galloping years, and a disastrous haircut.

Mr. Saul Friedman, runner of marathons, avoider of conflicts and increasingly distant husband.

The two Misses Friedman, Pip and Katy, one pining over the man she can’t have, the other trying to shake off the man she no longer wants.

At the marriage of their son James Irving, forbidden object of inappropriate and troubling desire.

For thirty-six hours of secrets and lies, painted-on-smiles and potential ruin. And drinks, plenty of drinks.

There’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past. As Fran negotiates her way from Saturday morning to Sunday evening she is forced to confront things she’s long thought buried, sending shockwaves through her family, and to make decisions about the future that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.”

MY REVIEW

A fat * * * * from me!

Someone Else’s Wedding is an enjoyable read that takes place over two days at a wedding.

Tamar Cohen brilliantly draws the reader in and cleverly presents us with some surprising twists as we read on. The characters are plenty and varied but written in well so we’re not overwhelmed with information.

Having read Tamar’s fantastic “War of the Wives” previously, this author is definately one I will eagerly watch out for.

An engaging, enjoyable read.

Buy Someone Else’s Wedding here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tamar Cohen

Tamar Cohen is a freelance journalist who lives in London with her partner and three teenage children.

Wolf by Mo Hayder

Wolf (Jack Caffery, #7)

“When a vagrant—the Walking Man—finds a dog wandering alone with the words “HELP US” written on its collar, he’s sure it’s a desperate plea from someone in trouble and calls on Detective Inspector Jack Caffery to investigate. Caffery is reluctant to get involved—until the Walking Man promises new information regarding the childhood abduction of Caffery’s brother in exchange for the detective’s help tracking down the dog’s owners. Caffery has no idea who or what he is searching for, but one thing he is sure of: it’s a race against time.

Meanwhile, the Anchor-Ferrers, a wealthy local family, are fighting for their lives in their remote home ten miles away. Two men have tricked their way into the house and are holding the family for ransom. Yet as the captors’ demands become increasingly bizarre and humiliating, it becomes clear that this is more than a random crime—it’s a personal vendetta.”

MY REVIEW

I rate * * * * to Mo Hayder’s Wolf.

Thank you to Alison Barrow and Transworld Books for sending me a copy.

It was good to read a thriller and Mo Hayder certainly knows how to keep her readers on the edge of their seats!  A true thriller, in every sense of the word.

Really enjoyed Wolf, which is the seventh Hayder novel featuring DI Jack Caffery. But if you’ve never read any previous, it doesn’t matter as you can still enjoy Wolf as a newbie Hayder fan!

Kept me wanting more, I enjoyed the characters and found my heartbeat quickening with fear as if I were in the room with the family… another brilliantly written Mo Hayder novel.

The way your unease grows with each page turned is as any great thriller should be – an intense, shocking and gritty read. Fantastic.

Buy WOLF here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mo Hayder left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, film-maker, hostess in a Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She has an MA in film from The American University in Washington DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University UK.

Mo lives in Bath with her daughter Lotte-Genevieve.

Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop Phane

Zenith Hotel

“Narrator Nanou, a street prostitute, gives a detailed account of her day, from the moment she wakes up with a foul taste in her mouth, in her sordid rented room, until the minute she crawls back into her bed at night to sleep. Interwoven with her story are portraits of her clients. Oscar Coop-Phane invents an astonishing cast of original and deeply human characters – losers, defeated by the world around them – who seek solace in Nanou’s arms. Original and moving, this short book deftly paints a world of solitude and sadness, illuminated by precious moments of tenderness and acts of kindness.”

MY REVIEW:

Thank you to Arcadia Books for sending me a copy of the lovely little Zenith Hotel in hardback to read & review.

A short yet powerful read where we follow the daily life on the streets of Paris with a prostitute called Nanou who keeps a diary of her thoughts and feelings as well as stories of her daily clients.

This is a very raw and grim reality which is written wonderfully by a promising young author! Oscar’s talent is evident as he has managed to pack a lot into few pages and bring each character to life.

We are left feeling for poor lonely Nanou and glad we’d read such a wonderfully written, insightful book.

Buy The Zenith Hotel here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oscar Coop Phane was born in 1988. He left home at 16 with dreams of becoming a painter and at 20 moved to Berlin where he spent a year writing and reading classics. There he wrote Zenith Hotel and then Tomorrow, Berlin (Arcadia 2015). He now lives in Brussels, where he is working on his next novel.

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else's Skin

“Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won’t share with anyone.

But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women’s shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women’s husbands, who shouldn’t have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.

Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed…”

MY REVIEW:

Thank you to Sam Eades and Headline for sending me a copy of Some One Else’s Skin to read and review.

I give * * * stars to Somone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary.

Overall, I found this crime thriller a little slow and I never connected with the main character, Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. The idea of the story of domestic violence and based in a woman’s refuge is a good one, but I felt it was a little disjointed and difficult to keep up with the ever changing situations and many characters.

Past and present are woven together as we progress and D.I. Rome deals with her own harrowing personal events of years ago which I did find interesting whilst in the present we read of two current cases weaving together and needing a resolution.  I liked Rome’s colleague, Noah, as he had his own issues and had to deal with a fairly harrowing incident whilst trying to resolve the crimes that had happened at the refuge.

A good read but sadly for me, not a great one and certainly not the Crime Debut of 2014. In my opinion, it just wasn’t thrilling enough but opinions certainly differ. I would certainly still purchase another Sarah Hilary read.

Buy Someone Else’s Skin here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Hilary lives in Bath, where she writes quirky copy for a well-loved travel publisher. She’s also worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. An award-winning short story writer, Sarah won the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2012. She is currently working on her third Marnie Rome novel. Her first novel, SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, was published in 2014. Her second, NO OTHER DARKNESS, will be published in early 2015.

You can find Sarah on twitter @sarah_hilary

Spare Brides by Adele Parks

Spare Brides

“Damaged and beautiful, they were the generation who lost so much and became ‘spare brides’. The richly compelling and emotional new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks is the powerful story of four extraordinary women left to pick up the pieces of their lives, in the scarred, glamorous and endlessly fascinating post-First World War era.

New Year’s Eve, 1920. The Great War is over and it’s a new decade of glamorous promise. But a generation of men and women who survived the extreme trauma and tragedy will never be the same.

With countless men lost, it seems that only wealth and beauty will secure a husband from the few who returned, but lonely Beatrice has neither attribute. Ava has both, although she sees marriage as a restrictive cage after the freedom war allowed. Sarah paid the war’s ultimate price: her husband’s life. Lydia should be grateful that her own husband’s desk job kept him safe, but she sees only his cowardice.

A chance encounter for one of these women with a striking yet haunted officer changes everything. In a world altered beyond recognition, where not all scars are visible, this damaged and beautiful group must grasp any happiness they can find – whatever the cost.”

MY REVIEW:

 Firstly, thank you to Georgina and Headline Publishing for sending me a beautiful ARC of Adele Park’s novel to read & review.

I give * * * stars to Spare Brides.

I had no expectations on reading this as it is my first Adele Parks experience and I’d also heard that it was a far cry from her usual chick lit novels.

Set in 1920’s post Great War we follow four ladies, each affected by the war in some way and now trying to move on and live again. I found the class divide explained wonderfully in this book, with the hardship and suffering of the normal people, to the wealth and glitz from the upper classes – each then being drawn together by a chance meeting that change the ladies lives forever.

The descriptive prose is effortless and gave me a clear image of the surroundings and the 1920’s tragedies that befell the elegant men and women of this era. I had no problems taking myself to that time and enjoying the elegance they lived in with them!

As we follow our ladies, we are captured by the realities of war and how deeply the men suffered and were forever damaged – both physically & mentally. Each woman also had her own history and sadness and each deals very differently with moving on.

I enjoyed Spare Brides but was not hooked, nor particularly sad when I’d finished it. I did however find it an enjoyable, historic, well written read, hence my 3 stars.

Buy Spare Brides here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, NE England. She studied English Language and Literature, at Leicester University. She published her first novel, Playing Away, in 2000; that year the Evening Standard identified Adele as one of London’s ‘Twenty Faces to Watch.’ Indeed Playing Away was the debut bestseller of 2000.

Prolific, Adele has published nine novels in nine years, including Game Over, Tell Me Something and Love Lies, all nine of her novels have been bestsellers. She’s sold over a million copies of her work in the UK but also sells throughout the world. Two of her novels (Husbands and Still Thinking of You) are currently being developed as movie scripts. Young Wives’ Tales was short listed for the Romantic Novelist Association Award 2008. She has written numerous articles and short stories for many magazines and newspapers and often appears on radio and TV talking about her work.

Since 2006 Adele has been an official spokeswoman for World Book Day and wrote a Quick Read, Happy Families as part of the celebrations of World Book Day, 2008.

Adele has spent her adult life in Italy, Botswana and London, up until two years ago when she moved to Guildford, where she now lives with her husband and son.

Adele’s Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAdele and Twitter: @adeleparks

The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

The Dead Wife's Handbook

“Today is my death anniversary.  A year ago today I was still alive.’

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life – until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.

Hannah Beckerman gives an unforgettable exploration of love and loss in her first novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook.”

MY REVIEW:

My apologies for the delay in getting this review written, this is mainly because this book is AMAZING and has received my first EVER * * * * * star rating!

Thank you so much to Hannah Beckerman and Penguin for sending me a signed copy of this book to read & review. I will treasure it always and lend it to none!  😉

I’ll start by saying that if this is Hannah’s first novel then she must have been born to write as it is quite simply superb. With such an emotive, achingly sad topic to write about – death – it must be very difficult to get right, but Hannah has nailed it perfectly.

The book revolves around Rachel who has died unexpectedly and the story is then told in a unique way – through the deceased Rachel’s intermittent glimpses of the family she has left behind, her husband Max and her young daughter, Ellie. She watches as they try to move on with their lives whilst there is nothing she can do and no one she can hug. It is such a clever, imaginative point of view and has the reader immediately transfixed.

This is one of those books that puts the reader through a myriad of emotions – happy, sad, anxious, annoyed, mad and even indifferent! I found myself contemplating Rachel’s situation even when I wasn’t reading and I discussed it with my husband, my mother, my friends… the emotional affect on me was so deep and thought provoking. Just what a perfect read should accomplish with it’s reader.

I was instantly gripped, loved all the characters and wanted to devour every page quickly yet at the same time didn’t want to finish reading! About halfway through I started getting anxious about certain choices that Rachel’s husband Max made and I was groaning aloud with sheer frustration!

A great film will capture your mind and emotions and stay with you. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is on my top 5 list of best books and I can easily imagine what a fantastic film it would make!

A truly wonderful, incredible & memorable read – thank you so very much Hannah! When IS the next one due?!

Buy this wonder of a book here!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Beckerman lives in London with her husband and their incredibly lively toddler. She is a former TV and film producer who spent fifteen years producing and commissioning documentaries about the Arts, History and Science before turning her hand to writing.

Other than reading and sleeping (both rare but much-cherished pleasures) she’s a big fan of great TV drama, films, long country walks and travel. She currently spends far too much time on social media but would, of course, deny the fact if anyone pointed it out.

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is Hannah’s first novel. She sincerely hopes it won’t be her last.

You can find Hannah regularly on Twitter – @hannahbeckerman or visit her website http://www.hannahbeckerman.com