Book Reviews by Boo

Hello…how have you been?

It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to review any books here on my blog, of course I’ve still been reading though and I’m so pleased to be part of a some brilliant blog tours in the next few weeks! I’m a Year 6 teacher as well as an avid reader/blogger &, as such, I’m sent children’s books too. I read this absolute gem by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott recently-it is just wonderful! Libby is autistic and has co-written this book based on her own experiences when making the transition to secondary school. My friend, Natasha, who is the book editor at The Sun, kindly published this little review for me!(*whispers* Tania is my real name but everyone I know calls me Boo!)

The Promise-Katerina Diamond.

I always have a pile of books to read. I’m a primary school teacher and during term time I find it difficult to find time to read a book which isn’t for children or about teaching! At the start of the holidays I made a conscious effort to tackle the pile.

Then this came through the letterbox. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews for The Sun or my blog then you know how much I adore this author. After an initial squeal of delight, all other books were cast aside so that I could give it priority.

Let’s start with the cover. Sometimes this is overlooked but Diamond’s are always a great ‘hook’, as I would say in the classroom, a pictorial insight into what lies ahead: a tantalising teaser.

In ‘The Promise’ we are reunited with DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles. They are investigating a serial killer who befriends women online before savagely killing them.

In a desperate attempt to capture the killer, DS Grey is used as bait. As part of a carefully organised operation, she is given a fake online profile and begins to build up a ‘relationship’ leading to video calls to the killer in an attempt to capture them.

Meanwhile, a father and teenage son return to England from the U.S.A. Their relationship is fraught and the son, Connor, feeling like a fish out of water in a strange country, begins to spend time alone in the treehouse in the garden. From his vantage point high amongst the branches, he starts to notice the comings and goings of his neighbours-not everything he observes makes for comfortable viewing.

Parts of this are written with the story switching from the past to the present in order to give another perspective. In some books this doesn’t work-it becomes confusing. Here it works well because it relates clearly to the main story and gives some clarity to the plot while still maintaining an air of mystery. If that makes sense?! She’s hella clever this author!

Sometimes, when an author creates a series, by book four the plots starts to wear a bit thin, the characters hold less appeal and it can seem like they’re writing it just for the sake of it. This is absolutely not the case with ‘The Promise’ if anything, this is the best so far.

With this series, I feel invested in the characters. I’ve been on the journey through the previous books with them (you don’t need to have read the previous books to get a grasp on this one, they work as well as a stand alone text). I have felt the highs & lows that Grey & Miles have experienced. Furthermore, I’m not ashamed to admit, I care about them, this is because of the writer’s exquisite characterisations: I would say this is categorically the solid foundation of this author’s incredible work.

I’ve said it before, Diamond is an expert storyteller. She weaves her ‘slightly disturbing’ story web, sits back and waits. Bit by bit she reels you in, leading you this way and that while you experience a myriad of emotions: fear, sympathy, anger, horror, hope-at one point I was crying my heart out over one of the character’s situations-I think that takes an exceptional skill, to evoke that kind of emotion with the written word. Finally, just when you think you’ve got it worked out she pulls you in another direction.

I’ve sat here and tried to present a balanced review of ‘The Promise’. I’ve tried to think of a negative because, to be fair, this seems like a gushing review but I genuinely can’t. Read it, if you find one let me know but be prepared to have graphs, data and a full on PowerPoint to back up your claim because otherwise I just won’t believe you!

An engaging, terrifying masterpiece, perfectly paced and thrilling to read. 5⭐️

Published by Avon books, September 2018.

My Husband’s Lies-Caroline England.

Avon Books-Published 17th May 2018

A fascinating insight into a close group of friends. On the outside their lives all seem pretty average but behind closed doors they’re all struggling to keep a lid on a myriad of secrets.

Will’s wife, Penny, is secretly suffering with mental illness and this comes to a head at Nick & Lisa’s wedding where she appears to attempt suicide by jumping from a hotel bedroom window. The others are stunned & this seems to induce an outlet for the others to examine themselves more closely.

It’s here that Caroline England takes us by the hand & allows us to learn what everyone else is hiding; all their problems different but all somehow inextricably linked. How does she do that? Well quite brilliantly actually.

The way she writes makes me sympathise (and in some cases empathise) with many of the characters, even though I probably wouldn’t have in the ‘real world’ and that is because her characterisation is meticulously detailed, as is her description, so it is impossible not to feel what these characters are experiencing.

Without giving anything away-it’s bloody hard!-think this is particularly evident in the relationship with Dan & Seb. Initially, I really wanted to dislike both but the way it was written, I thought, was incredibly sensitive. I’ve never come across characters in a book before which focuses on their particular story, maybe that says a lot about the types of book I read, but I honestly thought it was so skilfully done and I felt really emotional reading it.

Often, I read a book where I can’t turn the pages quick enough, where I find myself so tense I’m holding my breath & trying to anticipate what will happen next; occasionally, I read a book where all of the above happens AND when it finishes it affects me in such a way that I need to talk about it with someone. ‘My Husband’s Lies’ is one of those books.

A captivating, emotive read. 5⭐️

Six Tudor Queens-Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen. Headline Publishing-May 2018

Hi! How are you all? I hope you’re well.

I haven’t been reading much as I’ve been so ill in hospital however, while I was away, I received a copy of this beauty. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see my quote from ‘The Sun’ included on the jacket for the second time. As a teacher, history & literacy are my passion and so it makes me so happy to see my words on the jackets of these utterly compelling stories.

Anyone who knows about Henry VIII knows how things ultimately pan out for his wives, but these books offer an accurate historical insight into these amazing women who were so much more than the King of England’s wife!

I always felt the most sorry for Jane Seymour. Whilst I believed she was the wife Henry really loved the most, who gave him his much desired son, I imagined her to be a shy, almost dull woman: I was wrong. That’s the beauty of these stories -they turn your preconceived ideas upside down & give you so much more of an insight into these strong women who came up against so much adversity.

If you are interested in history, then I recommend you read these books, starting with the first. It’s here you can really see how Alison Weir begins to explain Henry’s complex love life from the very beginning, where the seeds are sown which don’t come to fruition until later books; she truly is a gifted storyteller, weaving solid, factual historical research throughout the narrative. As I said, the detail & description, as in the previous books, is immaculate and is, I think, the key to holding the reader enraptured.

I never really cared for Anne of Cleves, I don’t know why, but I know everything I think I know about her is probably all wrong and when I get to read Alison Weir’s next book my opinion will have changed dramatically! I cannot wait!


Games with the Dead-James Nally-out now!

This is the third book in the series so far & easily the best. A young woman is kidnapped in disturbingly familiar circumstances to a previous high profile case. Tensions are high & the race is on to find her. DC Donal Lynch is in charge of dropping off the ransom money. Things don’t go quite to plan & he is blamed for the botched job & suspended. None of these events sit well with quite Donal & along with his brother Finton, he sets about finding out the truth behind the crime.

Those familiar with Donal, know that he has the ability to connect with the spirits of recently deceased murder victims who give him clues in order for him to solve the crime and this time is no different.

Nally has, once again, come up with a fantastic plot constructed using, strong characters, hilarious dialogue & smaller sub-plots which weave seamlessly together to create this thrilling masterpiece.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time we meet Donal Lynch. 5🌟

Perfect Death-Helen Fields

Avon Publishing-Released January 2018

Based in Edinburgh, D.C.I. Ava Turner is newly promoted and as such has a lot to prove. A young girl is found dead in a local beauty spot & the police are perplexed as to how she came to be there, another death occurs soon after and there are some disturbing similarities.

Turner works with D.I. Luc Callanach & the rest of her team to try to understand what makes this killer tick but time is not on their side & they face an almost Herculean task in order to prevent more possible deaths.

There are a couple of sub-plots, which are as equally thrilling but one, involving the criminal underworld in Glasgow, I had a small niggle with. As a teacher (read perfectionist) I will always focus on the one negative thing in lesson observation feedback. It doesn’t matter that there might be a million good points. So I hate criticising anyone’s writing because I know it is a labour of love & this could just be my perception of it but…I think the ‘villains’ in this section could have been portrayed as younger men. For me it was a bit stereotypical of old style gangsters with their names, traits & weapons even. I understand that they were supposed to have been around for a long time, old school etc but I felt they were too old school & didn’t fit with the age/generation of the rest of the characters in that way. Like I said, a small, personal thing & who cares what I think right? It doesn’t detract from a compelling read!

This is a macabre story made worse, because it could actually happen. There have been two previous novels in the series which I haven’t read and so it would seem that both the main characters have a history & baggage which they bring into this story. I don’t think you need to have read the previous books in order to get a firm hand on the story but I think I will do now because I enjoyed this one so much!

Fields has written a pacy, engaging thriller with a carefully & cleverly constructed plot- I am looking forward to reading the next one! 4/5🌟

The Perfect Victim-Corrie Jackson-published by Zaffre.

It’s been a while since I have been able to read a book, let alone review one, but I have just had major surgery & have 6 weeks recovery time so I am hoping to put that right! I picked this beauty up out of the mountainous pile of books which arrive each week and I was absolutely transfixed from the start!

Sophie Kent is a journalist at the London Herald when her friend & colleague, Charlie Swift, becomes the suspect in a murder. Charlie is a successful journalist, handsome with a beautiful wife, he appears to have it all, which is why Sophie refuses to understand how he can be implicated in this savage crime; she makes it a priority to clear his name. 

Sophie is not without her own demons & the death of her brother recently has hit her hard. Despite this, she is determined to help, as she begins digging around she realises that Charlie’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Without warning, everything she believes about her friend is turned upside down as she struggles to swallow the bitter pill that Charlie could have betrayed them all. 

A roller coaster of a plot where I literally had my heart in my mouth at times. As a teacher,  I encourage my class to ‘show not tell’ the reader the story: Jackson has a gift for this. My heart raced, I got goosebumps & she made me think as she grabbed me by the hand and took me along for the ride. I have been a silent bystander in newspaper offices, press conferences, pubs, dingy cellars, places of worship & the seaside town of Bournemouth, afraid to breathe, it seemed, the whole time-right up until the very last sentence. Chilling, powerful & compelling- I read it in one sitting. 5🌟 

Late Summer in the Vineyard-Jo Thomas

This is a review from last year but I really enjoyed it especially since it featured a Dogue de Bordeaux-the best breed of dog in the world ever! 😊🐶

It never gets old…

Love getting books through the post. This proof arrived today for ‘The Coffin Path’ & it is lovely to see my  quote from The Sun included in the cover. I really enjoyed Katherine Clements last book ‘The Silvered Heart’ it wouldn’t have been a book I would normally read but I am so glad I did-it does me good to get out of my reading comfort zone! I’m looking forward to this-blog review to follow.

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