#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

Blurb

In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

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My Review

I’d heard a great deal about ‘Elizabeth is Missing’, and I had been meaning to read it for a long time, as I knew it was about an elderly lady who suffered dementia. It’s a subject which interests me personally and I was intrigued about how the author approached this illness in a novel.

I was not disappointed in this poignant, yet humorous novel, which deals with memory, identity and aging.

The narrator, Maud, is 82 and she is suffering from dementia. Maud is moving in with her daughter, Helen, and her granddaughter, whom she often forgets, however her long-term memory is vivid albeit sketchy.

Maud is obsessed with finding her friend and neighbour, Elizabeth, whom she insists is missing. Her obsessive search, including trips to the police station, are some of the most humorous parts of the novel.

However, her confused mind is also still searching for a sister who disappeared when she was a teenager, in 1946. Past and present are entwined in the narration as we see events from her confused point of view.

I enjoyed the first part very much, however the second half dragged for me, as I anxiously waited for the plot to move forward, which didn’t happen until the last two chapters, where the mystery is unveiled.

I enjoyed the originality of the novel and Maud’s first person narration. Many unreliable narrators in contemporary novels are manipulative or downright wicked, but Maud’s confused voice is honest, believable, humourous and heartbreaking.

Readers can expect a slow burn mystery told from the unique perspective of an endearing and unwittingly humorous, main character who is suffering from dementia.

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Elizabeth is Missing is a very special novel. It is Emma Healey’s debut and was named best first novel at the Costa Book Awards 2015. Maud was was inspired by the author’s grandmothers. 
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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Then She Ran’ by Charlie Gallagher #Amreading #Bookreviews #Heist #Thriller

Today I’m reviewing Then She Ran by Charlie Gallagher.

THEN SHE RAN an absolutely gripping crime thriller with a massive twist by [GALLAGHER, CHARLIE]

Blurb

On a lazy Sunday morning, Jenny Harris is shaken awake by her panic-stricken boyfriend, Joseph. Their baby daughter lies asleep on her chest. ‘We’ve got to go!’ Joseph screams.

In their hotel room, Jenny hurriedly wraps her tiny baby up. All their belongings are left behind. There’s no time. Joseph’s panic is contagious.

Jenny sprints with her family from the hotel. And it’s clear that they are being chased. Their pursuers are indiscriminate and they are deadly.

Her boyfriend falls, caught up in the carnage, but he manages to give her one last message: ‘RUN!’

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My Review

I came across this novel by chance on Amazon. I looked inside because of the blurb and downloaded it after the first paragraph. In fact, it gripped me from the very first line: ‘Jenny, honey, we’ve got to go now!’

From then on Jenny, Joseph and their baby are on the run first from ruthless killers and then from the police. They are forced to split up and there follow four acion-packed days on the run for Jenny, Joseph and their four-month old baby.

Jenny has no idea who wants to kill her or why. Her several escapes and near death experiences are realistic and thrilling.

On the other hand we will be following the police investigation, which in spite of some important blunders, is meticulously and realistically carried out.

I enjoyed the insight to police procedure and to the points where it crossed personal boundaries, and the people involved in the crimes became of real personal interest to the investigators, especially PI George Elms, a complex, clever man, who makes up for his errors (he’s only human) with dedication and resourcefulness.

The characters were fully fleshed to the point that I could see them, understand how they felt and sympathise with their actions.

The plot was perfect. Two separate crimes, both seemingly unrelated and inexplicable, gradually merge and everything starts making sense.

I enjoy reading realistic, cleverly plotted crime stories, like Then She Ran, where all the threads are plausibly and cleverly tied up at the end.

It’s a bit like a happy ever after romance, although there is no romance in this novel, and yet there is a great deal of love, real, unrequited, misdirected and tragic.

I would definitely recommend Charlie Gallagher’s books to lovers of thrilling, procedural, crime fiction.

He knows what he’s writing about, because he’s been working with UK police force, and his first hand knowledge and understanding of police procedure and human nature come across in this novel.

Especially for readers who love well-plotted and exciting and realistic police procedural fiction.

 I will definitely be reading more novels by this author.

THE LANGTHORNE SERIES box set of three gripping crime thrillers by [GALLAGHER, CHARLIE]

More books in the series I look forward to reading.

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Then She Ran was published in April 2018 and it already has almost 100 reviews 4.3 average on Amazon UK and it’s currently Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon.com for Heist Thrillers. Great detective fiction. Hours of excitement and entertainment guaranteed, and you can buy it for well under the price of a coffee!

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘White Lies’ by Lucy Dawson #Amreading #Bookreviews #PsychologicalThriller

Today I’m reviewing White Lies by Lucy Dawson.

Blurb

Alexandra Inglis is a respected family doctor, trusted by her patients to keep their most intimate secrets. And if sometimes the boundaries between duty and desire blur… well, she’s only human.

But when Alex oversteps a line with Jonathan, one of her patients, she knows she’s gone too far. Jonathan is obsessive, and to get what he wants he will tear Alex’s world apart – threatening not only her career but her marriage and family too.

Soon Alex finds she’s capable of doing almost anything to keep hold of her perfect life, as it begins to spin dangerously out of her control…

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My Review

I picked up this novel for the reasons I always do, the blurb intrigued me and then the first few ‘look inside’ pages gripped me immediately.

 A ‘girls’ weekend in Ibiza and a one-night stand threaten to ruin Alex’s career as a doctor, her happy marriage and her two daughters’ stability.

But was it a one-night stand? Did she have a happy marriage? Who is telling the truth? Who is lying and why?

The story is narrated from several first-person viewpoints, which I love, although it’s not an easy feat for an author, but Lucy Dawson does it brilliantly.

The reader is able to piece the story together from the various first person narrations by the main players; the wife, the husband, the wife’s colleague, the young lover and the lover’s girlfriend. The problem is, some of them lie, or simply jump to the wrong conclusions, or only tell partial truths…

The role of social media and media coverage as instigators of gossip, exaggeration, half-truths and lies, in order to sell more, become famous, or simple get more views on their profiles is frighteningly realistic.

The plot is well constructed and gradually unravelled to the shocking and unexpected ending in which everything in Alex’s professional and domestic life seems to return to normal, but can anything ever be the same again?

There were many twists along the way, but the most surprising were the two last twists on the final pages. Terrifying, but brilliantly contrived!

White Lies is Especially for lovers of domestic thrillers with twisted and shocking endings.

I will definitely be looking out for more psychological thrillers by Lucy Dawson. I’ve just downloaded The Daughter, published in January.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Last Girl’ by Nick Twist #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing The Last Girl by Nick Twist.

The Last Girl: A gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist by [Twist, Nick]

Blurb

After surviving a plane crash, June West surrenders to a shallow existence of a life without memories–without purpose. She is stuck in a hospital where she is taken care of and told what to do with the rest of her life. But how come she has no relatives? No family, children or friends? Hell, she isn’t even sure her name is June West.

Slowly, her grasp on the world starts slipping. She hears baby cries every night. She eavesdrops the nurses talk about the last girl. Then she receives a note from under the door: you have twenty four hours to save your daughter or they will kill her.

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My Review

I picked up this novel because of the blurb, and although I’ve included it here, believe me, nothing is what it seems in this novel. The blurb is intriguing enough to attract the reader, but if you think it’s about a woman who has been in a plane crash and is trying to save her daughter from ruthless kidnappers, you are wrong, or maybe not…

The Last Girl is a completely different type of psychological thriller, mainly because it really is a psychological thriller in which the author plays with the readers and the characters’ minds at every twist and turn.

I felt enticed, manipulated, lied to, confused and enthralled, all at the same time!

The Last Girl is, at times, like a rollercoaster, which seems to have derailed, yet continues on its imaginary rails without a destination, but nothing appears by chance, every single scene and character leads to the final culmination, when it all makes sense. What a ride of a novel!

The Last Girl is an innovative, daring and creative novel. It’s like no other psychological thriller I have read. It’s exciting, surprising, ingenious, cleverly plotted, and well written. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I read it over two days, because I have other things to do, such as a job and a family!

However, like the main character, The Last Girl isn’t perfect, neither is it an easy read. It is confusing, infuriating and distressing at times, but It’s good points by far outweigh these aspects.

It pushes the boundaries of fact, fiction and fantasy in literature and raises interesting theories as some of the characters discuss  the role of literature in our lives and our need to write, rewrite and share our stories.

Especially for readers who love psychological thrillers and don’t mind being confused, surprised, shocked, and mesmerised.

I will definitely be looking out for more thrillers by Nick Twist because he has a unique and compelling way of telling stories.

I can’t wait for his next novel to be published.

Nick Twist

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The Last Girl was published in March and is already an Amazon.com Bestseller and you can buy it for well under the price of coffee.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Last Necromancer’ by C. J. Archer #Audible #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing The Last Necromancer by C. J. Archer, which is Book 1 of the The Ministry Of Curiosities.

It’s a historical novel set in Victorian London, but it’s more than that, as you’ll find out in my review.

Don’t you love the covers?

I love writing and reading historical fiction.

I’m always on the lookout for novels set in Victorian times. Recently I discovered a ten book series with the following blurb:

 A waif, her abductors and a twist you won’t see coming.

For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her. 

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust? 

Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.

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I have recently read many intense family dramas and contemporary thrillers, most psychological, such as The Woman at the Window, Us, The Husband, Our House, The Good Girl, My Husband the Stranger, The Cellar, I Am Watching You, Silent Child, and A Stranger in the House, among others, so I felt I needed a break from the intensity. I was looking for a lighter read, and I found one, quite by chance!

The blurb of The Last Necromancer sounded interesting, but I must admit that the ten-book series put me off.

Do I have time to read a series of ten books?

Do I have the patience to read ten books by the same author?

I really didn’t think so, but I took a chance and downloaded book one to my kindle because it was free. I think this is a great idea to entice readers to try a new author, especially in such a long series. I then bought the audiobook for the reduced price of about $4 and listened to it in the space of two evenings (it was about eight hours long), and loved it! I’ll probably even read the following books in the series!

Read on for my review.

My Review

The Last Necromancer is a wonderful escapist read.

There’s a bit of everything I enjoy. It’s historical, set in the  Victorian era, there’s action, mystery, suspense and a hint of romance.

The lead character is Charlie, an 18-year-old girl who has been living on the streets of London disguised as a boy for the last 5 years. She also has special powers (she can summon and speak to the dead) so she is being sought by unscrupulous villains. Charlie is a wonderful character. She’s clever, tough, resourceful, street-wise, caring, and sensitive.

The male lead, Lincoln Fitzroy is enigmatic and apparently heartless, and the rest of the ‘real’ villains, his enemies, are cruel and ruthless.

There are many references to other Victorian authors such as Mary Shelly and Conan Doyle. The novel includes secret societies, plots against the Queen, some supernatural, gothic elements, such as Charlie’s paranormal abilities, and some fantasy elements, such as Frankenstein-like monsters and other characters with special powers and knowledge.   

The Last Necromancer is a well written and entertaining read, with plot twists, action, mystery, suspense and a slow burn, romance, which promises to bloom in future installments. 

It is especially for lovers of the Victorian era, fantasy, paranormal, and entertaining fiction.

There are plenty of reasons why I’m looking forward to reading the following books in the series, as an antidote to the draining intensity of contemporary psychological and literary fiction, and the occasionally tedious reality of daily life.

In fact I’ve just downloaded the box set which includes the first three books in the series on Audible.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Us’ and ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls #BookReview #Amreviewing @Audible

Today on I’m reviewing One Day and US, contemporary literary fiction, written by David Nicholls.

I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls about eight years ago, when it first came out. It was before I started reviewing the books I read.

One Day by [Nicholls, David]

I loved everything about One Day, especially the way the plot was structured, taking one day every year for twenty years, starting on the day Dex and Em meet in their final year at Edinburgh University.

Those who haven’t seen read the book have probably seen the film, so although there may be few spoilers to disclose, I’ll just say that it’s not until the final devastating scene that we discover the importance of the day.

I cried at the end, at the injustice and absurdity of the ending, and the pain and loss of the characters I had come to know so well. Although they were both infuriating at times!

I know some readers thought it was slow and repetitive, and I agree that Dex and Em seemed to be going round in circles and taking one step forward in their lives and two steps backwards, for years, but unfortunately, such was the story of their lives.

I recently discovered that the author, David Nicholls had written another novel, which is humorous and poignant, so I decided to give it a go, and although I guessed it would be emotional, I wasn’t prepared for an even more devastating ending than One Day.      

Us: A Novel by [Nicholls, David]

When I finished listening to ‘Us’ on Audible, I was sitting in my garden, watching my grandson playing with his father, my son. They looked up in surprised as I rushed into the house, grabbed a tissue and ran upstairs.

’I’m OK,’ I managed to mumble on my way out. ‘I’ve just finished a novel’, and they carried on with their game, while I cried for a few minutes in the privacy of my bedroom, because it’s all right to cry at the end of a film, but it’s too personal to let people watch you cry when you finish reading a book.

Nobody dies at the end, although I thought they might. In fact it’s an optimistic, albeit not happy ending, in the traditional sense, but it’s very emotional.

US is a perceptive, sensitive and humorous account of the birth, life and death of a 25 -year- old relationship, told in the first person by Douglas, the husband. Douglas, Connie, his wife, and Albie, their son, are the main players in the story.

I found neither Connie nor Albie likeable. Mother and son were both selfish and I thought Connie also lacked integrity, but I’d have to include spoilers to explain why.

The family dynamics were unhealthy. Douglas’s relationship with his rebellious and artistic son was strained, and part of this strain was due to the mother and son tandem, which purposefully excluded Douglas. Consequently, it is when father and son are eventually alone that they are able to reach an understanding and mutual respect.

One of my favourite parts was the description of the family holiday around Europe, to France, Germany, Italy and Spain, especially the museums they visited and the people they met on the way. I’ve been to many of the places mentioned, and their descriptions and adventures brought back memories of my own trips.

US is a very perceptive, honest and realistic representation of contemporary family life. Many controversial issues, such as parenting, sex, drugs, the social and professional pressures of modern life, marriage, etc. are brought up.

I’m still trying to figure out why I was so upset at the end, because it is a hopeful ending of second chances and new beginnings, unfortunately, a new beginning, means there has to be an ending, too.

Overall, it’s much more optimistic, dynamic, and feel good than One Day, especially due to Douglas’s sense of humour and attitude.

US is also one of the best novels I’ve read so far  this year.

By the way, the narrator on Audible, David Haig, was fabulous. I really felt I was listening to Douglas tell me his story.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Cellar’ by Minette Walters #BookReviews #AmReading #Audible

I became a fan of Minette Walters in the nineties, after reading her first novel, The Ice House (1992), I also r

ead The Sculptress, The Scold’s Bridal and many more.

I didn’t write reviews at that time, but I loved her carefully crafted crime thrillers, the way the characters came to life, the unexpected twists, and how there was also a hint of romance. If you haven’t read them yet, and enjoy detective fiction, check them out.

I hadn’t read any of her novels in over a decade, and when I came across The Cellar, published in 2015, I decided to read what she was writing almost 23 years after her first novel.

Blurb

The terrifying Hammer novella by Minette Walters, bestselling author of The Sculptress and The Scold’s Bridle

Muna’s bedroom is a dark windowless cellar and her activities are confined to cooking and cleaning. She’s grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave.

She’s never been outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English.

At least that’s what the Songolis believe.

But Muna is far cleverer – and her plans more terrifying – than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine …     

My review

The Cellar is not a long novel, at about 250 pages, but I wouldn’t call it a novella. I didn’t feel I was reading a short story or brief account. It’s a fully fleshed novel from start to finish.

Although crimes are committed in this novel, and the perpetrator is unknown until the final part, I did find it very different to her original crime novels, whose main interest was solving a crime. The Cellar is not concerned with how the detectives discover the culprit or how this person is brought to justice and equilibrium is restored. The Cellar points a finger at all of us, because it is concerned with why and how events occurred and no one even cares enough to take notice.

The Cellar is an extremely dark, psychological thriller, bordering on horror. At the same time, it’s a  contemporary account of cultural misunderstandings and the challenges of immigration on both immigrants and the receiving country. It also deals with sensitive topics such as sexual and emotional abuse, domestic abuse, parenting, corruption in our legal system and psychological illness.

Ultimately, it raises more questions than it answers, about our welfare state, our consciences, and how we protect the children living in our modern western countries, independently of their country of origin.

It’s not an easy read due to the subject matter and because there’s no one to root for in the long-term; main and secondary characters were all unlikable, uncaring, inefficient, unstable or downright evil.

And yet, it’s a terrific novel. I was totally immersed in Muna’s dreadful world. I’m glad Minette Walters disturbed me enough to make me think and rethink about the complex and controversial issues the novel brings up.

I listened to the audio version, which was brilliantly read, right to the chilling ending.

Buy Links Minette Walters novels US

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Minette Walters has recently published a historical novel set in the 14th century, The Last Hours, which I’ve just Downloaded onto my kindle, and is currently bestseller on Amazon UK.

Buy link The Dark Hours 

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Have you read any of Minette Walters’ novels?