The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

5 Stars from me

Oh my, the aching beauty that spills from these pages is just breath taking.

At 11% I adored the book, by 60% it made me cry and I simply didn’t ever want it to end.

I know of no other author who can create the emotive resonance that Amanda Jennings brings to life within the pages of a book: much like in her other excellent books Sworn Secret, The Judas Scar and In Her Wake.

All the characters (and there are only a handful) are utterly credible and I felt their emotions, their fragility their realness is if it were my own.

My favourite character? Probably Jago, although poor old Angie wins the sympathy vote. The rest of the characters weren’t particularly likeable but it was their flaws which made them so defined.

The setting and the era are flawlessly described. Who wouldn’t covet the lifestyle of the Davenports? The agony and deprivation of life for poor Angie is sensitively accurate – the grief, the loneliness, the worry are all spot on.

As for Tamsyn, the innocent mixed up teenage whose life has been turned inside out by grief, her portrayal is particularly raw and exposed – Jennings knack for honing in on the feelings of teenagers is uncanny.

A beautiful book – it literally is the perfect summer read – I want to dive into that pool and I want to go to one of the Davenport’s parties!

 

Synopsis: Some friendships are made to be broken.

Cornwall, summer of 1986.

The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.

If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.

If only her life was as perfect as theirs.

If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.

If only she lived at The Cliff House…

Amanda Jennings weaves a haunting tale of obsession, loss and longing, set against the brooding North Cornish coastline, destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.

‘A beautiful, stirring story of loss and obsession’ Lisa Jewell

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A Killing Fire by Faye Snowdon

4 Stars from me

A very solid 4 stars for this epic tale. A Killing Fire is a slow burn (no pun intended) but slow as in melting molasses or as in a perfectly slow cooked chilli.

This book is atmospheric and reading it I could almost taste the dry dusty air and feel the sticky plastic in the diner when little Raven and her daddy went in for dinner. Deliciously descriptive.

The story itself is good and complex, Raven Burns is a truly tortured cop who suffered years of torment at the hands of her serial killer father – so much so that she still feels him and hears him every single day, as though her thoughts and emotions aren’t really her own.

As the plot thickens and the story unravels it becomes clear that Raven is entwined deeply within the tale – but how far did the apple fall from the tree…?

No spoilers from me! A Killing Fire is the perfect book for those who enjoy getting drawn into a story rather than reading a ‘wham bam thank you mam’ thriller.

My thanks to Random Things blog tours for letting me take part.

 

Synopsis: The first time Raven Burns saw her father kill, the victim was her mother. Afterwards, Floyd “FIRE” Burns set the house on fire, making Raven watch as the flames slithered across the yard like some unknowable language. Then he took her on a multi-state killing spree. She could’ve told or killed him in his sleep. But there were his constant whispers, his wet lips close to her ear saying that little girls who told were sent to hell, and their mothers were called down from heaven to take care of them.

By the time he is executed, Raven has become a cop with the sole purpose of putting men like him away. But she can’t escape Floyd’s terrorizing voice in her head, somehow guiding her steps while reminding her of the horrors he had forced her to witness. And she can’t escape the questions that continue to haunt her: Did witnessing make her complicit? Had the same evil that lived in her father taken residence in her soul?

The town of Byrd’s Landing, Louisiana appears to have made up its mind. The community accepts that Raven had nothing to do with Floyd’s crimes. But when Raven shoots a teenager who points what turns out to be an unloaded weapon at her, stories about Floyd resurface. The whispers begin. No voice is louder than wealthy socialite Hazel Westcott. When Westcott turns up dead in the backyard of her Big Bayou Lake estate, the doubting voices reach a deafening crescendo, and the ghosts of her past rise up to greet her. To catch Westcott’s killer, Raven must come to terms once and for all with who she is. And who she is not.

Date Night by Samantha Hayes

5 Stars from me!

This is one head f*** of a book! If you like to not have a clue what is going on then this is the book for you!

Date Night is so clever, the story reveals itself in layers and with each new layer you realise that the the version of events you’ve just read about may not have exactly have been wrong but it might not have contained ALL of the truth.

I was genuinely delighted the first time I realised it and then again and again as the little layers of new information started coming through.

Bloody genius.

 

Synopsis: Returning early from a disastrous date night with my husband, I know something is wrong the moment the wheels crunch the gravel drive of our home. Inside, the TV is on and a half-eaten meal waits on the table. My heart stops when I find our little girl is alone in the house and our babysitter, Sasha, is missing…

Days later, when I’m arrested for Sasha’s murder and torn away from my perfect little family, I’ll wish I had told someone about the threatening note I received that morning.

I’ll hate myself for not finding out who the gift hidden inside my husband’s wardrobe was for.

I’ll scream from the rooftops that I’m innocent – but no one will listen.

I will realise I was completely wrong about everything that happened that night…

But will you believe me? 

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

4 Stars from me!

Another belter from one of my all time favourite authors, Linwood Barclay!

Elevator Pitch is clever and incredibly fast paced – you will race through this book whether you plan to or not as you will be swept up and along in the mayhem as the story unfolds.

As ever with Barclay’s books, the characterisation is sublime – whether someone features for half a chapter or whether they are in it for the whole book – you literally feel as though you know the person, you can see them, smell them, imagine their apartment or their features and practically hear their voice. Linwood Barclay is a genius in this respect.

I love all the clever little touches – like the #poorGlover hashtag and all the fake Mayor twitter accounts, I love all the petty squabbles between couples and the minute details about a persons day.

My overall favourite Linwood Barclay book remains Never Saw It Coming but I highly recommend this author and any of his work – if you want a consistently clever, entertaining and intelligent read you won’t go far wrong.

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of A Noise Downstairs and No Time for Goodbye returns with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that does for elevators what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the beach—a heart-pounding tale in which a series of disasters paralyzes New York City with fear.

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets. Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? Why are they doing it? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers before the city’s newest, and tallest, residential tower has its Friday night ribbon-cutting.

With each diabolical twist, Linwood Barclay ratchets up the suspense, building to a shattering finale. Pulsating with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible . . . and will chill readers to the bone.

“This novel moves as fast as a falling elevator and hits with just as much force. Linwood Barclay is a stone cold pro and Elevator Pitch is a shameless good time.”
—Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Strange Weather

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

4 Stars from me!

This is a really good, enjoyable, if a little uncomfortable at times, read! You will need to stop yourself overthinking stuff and just go with the flow of the story, otherwise I think you would ruin your own enjoyment.

I read it as part of a book group and had a message from another member saying ‘Let me know when you’ve finished, I have a question for you!’

As soon as I read the book I knew what her question would be and we enjoyed a ‘what would you do’ conversation. There are certainly a few things I would have done differently to Mel along the way.

The relationships within the books are very well crafted and central character Mel has a enviable life with her husband, children and circle of friends. That is until Abi comes back into her world and messes with pretty much everything.

Great book, perfect holiday read!

 

Synopsis: A gripping story of friendship and betrayal from international best-selling author Adele Parks

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

5 Stars from me!

Wow. Just wow. This is one of those books which sticks with you after you’ve finished it – and not necessarily in a comfortable way!

There is an awful lot going on within these pages, the depth of the story and the message is huge even though it is dealt with in a sensitive manner. There are so many issues, all given the lightest touch, and all jostling for their time to be considered.

Just the single thread regarding Jodie is a whole massive story on its own – how anyone copes as a teenager these days let alone with a neglectful, alcoholic mother, let alone with facial disfigurement.

Our former barrister, Zara, who now works to support victims of sex crimes, is also worthy of a story of her own as she turns her back on a glittering careers, tries to fight against decades of history and family ‘rules’ in order to tread her own path, all while battling her own demons as she risks everything to support Jodie.

The accused – their story is another one worthy to stand on its own. The complexities of friendships, the weight of responsibility upon their young shoulders.

Then there is the alleged assault. The main crux of the book, it demonstrates beautifully and painfully how incredibly difficult it is to ever prove a rape/sexual assault. I deeply admire those brave souls who endeavour to do so when they are up against the men who lie, the women who lie, the jurors who have their own preconceptions and judicial system which isn’t always stacked fairly.

I am so glad I read this book.

 

Synopsis: Take It Back is a gripping courtroom drama, perfect for fans of Apple Tree YardHe Said/She Said and Anatomy of a Scandal.

The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses four boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Someone is lying.

Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price? 

Someone Else’s Baby by Ruby Speechley

5 Stars from me!

I was sucked into this story immediately and raced through the pages, Someone Else’s Baby is an immersive dive into the world of surrogacy and fast paced psychology thriller to boot!

Charlotte and Steve seem to have a genuinely lovely relationship – they live in tiny flat with hardly any money but that old adage ‘money can’t buy happiness’ has never been more true for them seem very together and very in love.

As such it is both weird and yet totally believable that they decide to go ahead with surrogacy. I found it really quite beautiful how supportive he was of her – I know his motivations were more financial but still I would imagine a lot of men wouldn’t find it easy to support their partner as lovingly as he did.

The complex relationship between Charlotte and her mum – along with her reason for wanting to become a surrogate – was well handled and the emotional play between the two women was a nice touch.

I won’t spoil the storyline, there’s lots I could say about Malcolm and Brenda but I will resist! Yes there was something that I assumed all the way along and I was right but it didn’t ruin anything for me. Even having said that, this book is packed full of surprising moments and exciting revelations as the story unfolds.

I’ve not read anything by Ruby Speechley before but it is a name I will look out for in the future as Someone Else’s Baby was a gripping read with the added benefit of being about an unusual subject matter – really quite interesting as well as being a fast paced thriller!

Synopsis: She gave away her children. Now she wants them back.

Charlotte Morgan knows how it feels to desperately want a baby. As a child, seeing her mum devastated by losing her longed-for babies, Charlotte wished another woman could give her mother what she so craved.

Now Charlotte’s a mum herself, and knowing how much love her daughter, Alice, brings into her life, she vows to help others achieve their dreams of becoming a parent.

When she meets Malcolm and Brenda on a surrogacy website, it seems that she has found the perfect couple. In their late forties, they’ve spent their life building a successful business and travelling the world, but there’s just one thing missing – a child of their own.

When Charlotte falls pregnant with twins, the pair are overjoyed. And while Charlotte’s heart breaks as she hands them over, her reward is knowing how much happiness the two tiny babies are going to bring into their life.

But are Malcolm and Brenda all they seem? As secrets become unravelled, Charlotte is forced to face that she has handed her babies over to virtual strangers. And when Malcolm and Brenda disappear without a trace, Charlotte is plunged into a frantic search for the babies she carried – before it’s too late…

A gripping psychological thriller with a heart stopping ending – readers of The Wife Between Us, Rachel Abbott and C.L Taylor will not want to put this down… 

Author Bio:
Ruby Speechley, graduated from Sheffield Hallam university in 2009, with an MA in Creative Writing. She is a Faber Academy alumna and prolific writer whose work has been longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction prize, the Exeter Novel Prize, the Caledonian Novel Award, the Bath Novel Award and has won the Retreat West First Chapter Competition.
Ruby is a mum of three, lives in Bedfordshire and was born in Lisbon, Portugal at the time of the first earthquake there in 200 years! Her debut novel, Someone Else’s Baby is published by Hera Books on 25 July 2019.
Twitter: @rubyspeechley
Facebook: Ruby Speechley Author
Instagram: rubyjtspeechley