Fires – Tom Ward

There’s a fire on the horizon.

For Guy, a fireman, it means the death of his wife and daughter. For 19-year-old Nathan and Alexa it means a chance to fight back against austerity and abandonment.

While the teenagers turn to arson, Guy searches for meaning behind his family’s deaths, battling corruption and a lost underclass, intent on fiery revolution.

For all three, their actions will lead them to the precipice of disaster.

The latest novel by Tom Ward is very different from his previous two. Fires, which is due to be published and available from November 2nd is a dark, gritty and tragic read. Absolutely absorbing, heart wrenching and heroic in a twisted kind of way, from beginning the first sentence I was transported to the dank streets of smoke, grit, rain and fear, deposited within the worlds of both Guy and Nathan as they both pursued their own personal journeys to find the right to correct the wrong and peace in a harsh dying setting that has lost all hope and left to abandonment.

The story begins with Guy, in happier times, we catch a glimpse of his family life, his world outside of the long hours and roaring heat of the fires he manages each day, his agony and hardship he feels at leaving his daughter to yet again attend another lengthy night shift. Three pages in and the story hits the reader with full force as tragedy strikes and Guy finds his whole world turned upside down. Fires tells the story of a devoted father and loving husband on a mission to discover the truth no matter of what the cost.

We are introduced to Nathan very early on. Young adolescent teenager, tired of the same old, tied to a suffocating routine and dead-end living. Looking for that spark of excitement he ventures down the path of no return turning his hand to arson and the addictive glow of burning embers. Nathan wasn’t what I expected him to be, he was a lost soul looking for some affection and an escape from the mundane, regardless of the result.

Ward weaves both stories together, the reader witnessing the challenges of both characters as each run aligned close together, how they cross paths and disperse only to become entangled again. Both characters are as important as each other, both determined, strong and seeking a new outcome, answers to questions and a chance to do the right thing, even if it isn’t the conventional way forward.

My interest in Fires was captured by the journeys of Guy and Nathan, with every other character playing their part as best they could.

A captivating read with a satisfying and conclusive ending

Allow Ward to draw you in, feel the flames against your skin but be careful you don’t get too close

Read about these amazing characters and their journeys for finding the right solution. I am delighted to publish the very first review!

 

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Good Me Bad Me – Ali Land

‘NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
NEW.
ME . ‘

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

This book was certainly one of the best I have read this year being such a good story.

Although we never conversed with Annie’s mum I felt we knew her well, the constant narrative running through Annie’s head was written in such detail that as readers this helped us piece together the history of the life before Annie became Milly.

Throughout the story I always held my thoughts on Milly in reserve

I wasn’t surprised with how her relationships developed and the way things shifted within the book. I wasn’t surprised by the final outcome but felt it was written incredibly well. There was always the feeling of something is just not right but without pin pointing exactly was it was keeps the reader in a unknowing state until the end of the book.

This is one of those books I highly recommend and found really enjoyable to read.

Watching Edie – Camila Way

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…

I love the works of Camilla Way, I become entranced by the easy way she writes yet her words managing to encapsulate me pulling me into her prose with the emotion that hangs from each word.

Watching Edie was just like that, the whole story weaving its way around the reader, gently leading you along the garden path pulling you in the direction of the winding edges and shaded trees, filling in the back story, writing in the way you believe the story should unfold. If only life was ever that simple, the shocker of this story is very much that, A shocker!

The characters are very well thought out, quite different to each other and none without a million layers, reading the story from separate timelines really fuses the story together bringing to life these main characters and filling in the gaps. It is one of those stories that doesn’t really go the way you anticipate but leaves you in awe of the revelations and shocking outcome.

Way is a wonderful author, one of those I know will never disappoint, I really do love her work.

 

 

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

And how much can you really trust your friends?

I was invited by Penguin Random House to join their Vintage Crime Reviewer Club, which came at just the right time. I have been struggling with reading, continuously in a book slump and not managing to finish the last five I have attempted, which for me, is quite alarming.

With the request to form part of this exciting new venture I got to choose which book took my fancy and found myself gravitating towards The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, I felt it would be a good easy read with a gripping storyline to draw me in and keep me hooked.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Lying Game, what I loved the most was the location of the story, the history around that location, the young lives of a group of close friends and the memories of a sizzling summer that changed the lives of all concerned thereafter.

Ware carefully wraps both the timelines together expertly, the presentation of memories from time gone by and the here and now as secrets are told and reality unfolds with history close on their heels is so delicately woven together dropping breadcrumbs one by one expecting the reader to follow the trail and join the dots.

Strong characters and a twisty plotline that keeps you on your toes.

such an interesting read with an edge of raw emotion running throughout. The tales of a life before and a life in the present and how time and age defines who we are. Feeling captivated from the start this was one of those fevered reads that has you reeling just from the emotion alone.  An excellent read and one I would most certainly recommend.

 

Every Secret Thing – Rachel Crowther *BOOK TOUR*

I have a treat in store today, A question and answers session with Rachel Crowther, author of Every Secret Thing!

Summarize each character

The central characters are a close knit group who all sing together in a choir at university.

Marmion is described by one of the other characters as the group’s ‘moral compass’. She’s a Quaker, a very talented musician, fresh-faced and optimistic about life. She’s perhaps a little naïve and unwordly but she sees the good in everyone and is unstintingly kind.

Judith is the only daughter of two doctors from Bristol, strikingly beautiful and ferociously strong-minded. She describes herself as a ‘Jewish Hindu atheist’ and likes to think she doesn’t care about other people’s opinions or conventional morality.

Cressida comes from a wealthy family, the product of a famous girls’ boarding school who’d grown up with horses and brothers in the Home Counties. She is very clever and highly ambitious and dreams of becoming an academic at Cambridge, but she’s also spiky and full of self-doubt.

Bill comes from Birmingham, where his parents run a small hotel. Ginger-haired, bluff and self-deprecating, he’s the choir’s star tenor, a natural musician who is determined to escape from the confines of his family.

Stephen is perhaps the most complicated of the group: he’s tall and gangling and a little awkward, reluctant to talk about his family – his adoptive parents and disabled brother. He’s also the most ambitious of them, destined for a glittering career in international commerce.

Fay is the group’s shadowy benefactress, an older woman who takes them under her wing and gives them treats: dinners, concerts, and then a weekend in her cottage in the Lake District.

Explain who is your strongest character, in your eyes, and why? Who do you believe to be the most influential of the group? 

Judith is probably the one the others see as most powerful, because she’s very self-assured and outspoken and rather unconventional. They’re all a bit on awe of her. But Marmion has the most inner strength, and the others recognise that too. In fact they all have a lot of respect and admiration for each other, and in different ways they are all strong characters: Bill is a natural leader, Cressida is incredibly well-read and erudite, and Stephen’s sights are set well beyond the others’ horizons.

Why is the friendship so important?

The five characters have had a very close bond during three intense years at university, when singing in the choir together has been the most important thing in all their lives. To quote Marmion: ‘the thrill of singing with this group of people would never leave her. Making

something together, she thought in a moment of startling clarity, in the same way as sex, and with the same effect of rendering you completely alive.’

Later, the drama that overtakes them that summer in the Lake District overshadows all their lives, and although they go their separate ways for twenty years, those events and the destruction of their friendship is something that never quite leaves them, and in different ways holds them all back.

 
In a sentence explain how each character has changed with age. 

I don’t want to give too many spoilers here, so I’ll be cautious…! The short answer is that although they have all been more or less successful in life, they are all essentially unfulfilled at forty-ish. None of them have children, and none of them have very successful relationships. They are all drawn back to the cottage they visited with Fay that summer in 1995 because they are looking for resolution and redemption, and hoping for something better from the future.


What does ‘Every Secret Thing’ mean to you?

The setting – both the Cambridge choir and the Lake District – are drawn from my own life, and both are really important to me, so the novel was very enjoyable (and rather nostalgic) to write. But all the characters, and what happens to them, are entirely fictional, so it was also exciting to find out what became of them all as the novel took shape, and I became very fond of them all.

I guess the question of fresh starts and new possibilities in mid life is also close to my heart: I was about the age of these characters when I started writing and began to move away from medicine, and I do believe strongly that people can take stock, rethink what they want and remake their lives at forty or fifty or even sixty.

Daisy In Chains – Sharon Bolton

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

This book, for me, was just something else. It was dark and twisted yet beautiful, emotive and addictive.

Feeling hypnotised from start to finish, Bolton held me under her spell of dark twisted addictive wanton. I just couldn’t wait for the next chapter, the next ‘incident’ or letter. The need for a new instalment.

A story full of complications, guarded emotions and deceit, even though it was written as a thriller it felt almost fanciful and delicate as segment by segment the reader is drip fed further information.

Bolton has a way of writing that captures the darker side of beauty, showing the reader how beautiful our demons can be, talented creative writing right there.

The characters were the story, bringing the words in the book to life, sharing hidden secrets, individual quirky ways which often left the reader wondering  and all those very important minute tiny details. A story capturing a complex pool of characters at their very best, working in harmony with and against each other, and that magnetic draw creating intensive relationships and highly charged emotions tumbling through the chapters.

Beautifully written, delicately put together with an electrifying undercurrent and explosive finale that, I never saw coming at all. 

Highly recommended and I will certainly be reading more of Bolton’s very well crafted work. An author I am glad I have finally found.

 

Emma In The Night – Wendy Walker

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night five years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Emma In The Night is a tormented read with harrowing realities and emotional draw, yet breathtakingly beautiful and delicately spun yarn by silken yarn

Never doubting that Walker had written another stunning read. I was not to be disappointed as I read her latest novel word to word, sentence to sentence and chapter to chapter. Walker writes with a beautiful presence, her characters fully formed in complexity displaying an exceptional strength of imagery.

This is a story of love, loss and revenge with a side of tension and a competitive streak thrown in the mix. A wholesome novel with a satisfying conclusion.

Not every writer can hold my attention, presenting script that feels flat and bland, without the delicacy of emotive scribblings and musings from within. Walker, for me, writes with everything I need from a novel, with an understanding of each character and a depth so deep they too walk from the page and for those few days become part of the daily life and routine. Maybe I just crave a more articulate verse than most? but I praise the writing style that evokes emotion and feeling grabbing my attention and most importantly holding it firmly in place.

Walkers words lift from the page in silken strands that wrap intricately around the all consumed reader.

Whilst the characters seem to all be fighting for attention within the story, Dr Winter was the character for me, she was the strength and the soul of the story becoming the saviour who helps bring this tragic tale to a close. Her side of the story slides under skin wrapping its way around the reader, tightening the binds until the anticipation is too intense, only to fall away to an amazing conclusion and outstanding finale.

I thoroughly adored her debut novel All Is Not Forgotten. I find myself living within her books, absorbed deep in the centre, too enthralled to put them down. This, is everything I need from a book.