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The Wilderness Retreat by Jennifer Moore – a review

The Wilderness Retreat was one of my latest Netgalley reads. The main character of Bella waves her son off to university before she heads of to Sweden on a wellness retreat, a gift from her sister. She arrives in the luxurious surroundings in the hope of making headway with her latest musical composition. However some mysterious notes under her door are just the start of a downward spiral that will leave Bella and the reader not knowing who to trust.

The Wilderness Retreat was a good read that I really enjoyed. There was a big cast of characters that all played their part in creating an intriguing background for the main character of Bella. She was one of those where you find yourself on the one hand shouting at them for making stupid decisions and on the other you have absolute sympathy for them having ended up in such a terrifying situation.

This was an atmospheric story that was full of twists which I didn’t see coming. The fact that all the story takes place in one remote cottage gives the whole thing a real locked room feeling. You know that the guilty party must be one of the guests but just like Bella you are left not knowing who you can trust and who not.

The setting in the middle of a deserted forest adds to the disconcerting feeling of the book. We see everything through the eyes of Bella so the claustrophobic feel is intense with no other viewpoints to give any kind of clarity on her thoughts. It’s not a fast action high body count story, but the tense atmosphere throughout will keep you turning the pages.

I thought this was a really good read that a fascinating group of characters, throws in a sense of unease and impending doom and mixes it up with crime and cover ups. Definitely worth a read.

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The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell – a review

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of The Other Half by the publisher Faber who promised it was an incredible debut and they weren’t mistaken!

The Other Half starts with Rupert’s birthday. It’s his 30th and he is hosting a black tie event complete with champagne and cocaine, the venue is McDonalds on Kentish Road. The morning after the party Rupert’s girlfriend Clemmie is found dead on Hampsted Heath. Detective Cauis Beauchamp is called in to investigate. He soon finds out that when it comes to crimes of the wealthy secrets are well hidden.

The Other Half is the debut novel by Charlotte Vassell and I can safely say it is one of the best books I have read in a long time (and I have read a lot of superb books) It is a really fun read with a great mix of comedy threaded through the crime story. Some of the one liners in the book are absolutely whip smart, the type that suddenly hit you a second after you have read it.

There is a great range of characters in this story although very few were actually likeable. To say they were flawed would be rather an understatement. Rupert was a typical narcissist who believed that his wealth meant he was not only above the law but above basic morals. He completely lacked self-awareness, and almost seemed to believe that every thing he did he did for love.

I did however like the character of Cauis, having recently been dumped he is on a a mission of self-improvement. His attempts at healthy eating and conquering a hill make a nice break from the champagne swilling, cocaine sniffing party set.

The writing style was sharp and punchy. The short fast sentences along with the tightly woven chapters and the quickly changing points of view made it a really fast paced read that was an absolute page turner.

I would highly recommend The Other Half and look forward to reading more from Charlotte Vassell.

Buy your own copy here https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-other-half/charlotte-vassell/9780571374939

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Suicide Thursday by Will Carver – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of Will Carver and so was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest novel Suicide Thursday. 

In Suicide Thursday Eli has a job he wants to resign from, has a girlfriend he wants to break up with and has a novel he wants to write but can’t get past the first chapter. He also has a big problem in separating fact from fiction in his life. When his best friend kills himself, it motivates Eli to try and finally finish something himself, with the help of his therapist.

Suicide Thursday was another terrific read from an author that never ceases to amaze me. It’s difficult to describe the book as there is so much in it. There often feels to be a lot of elements that just don’t fit but that is part of the writing style that I really enjoy wondering where all the threads will end up, trying and failing to guess where everything is heading.

I love Will Carver’s novels but will admit that they are not always easy reads. It’s not only the fact they deal with big issues, but also the way of writing. The stories are character led and everything is told from the point of view of the characters meaning that every word is important. There are no long descriptions of places and cities, just the thoughts and feelings of the characters which gives a really unique feel to it.

Most of the story is told from the point of view of Eli. He has an inability to finish anything, hence his first chapter library where he stores over 700 first chapters of novels he has written, none of which he’s even written the words Chapter 2 on. Eli was an interesting if unlikeable character. He seems to spend a lot of his life blaming everyone else for his failure to finish anything. Yet there was still part of him that I felt sympathy for, as his life seems to spiral.

There are also interludes from other characters in the story, including girlfriend Jackie who was also friends with Eli’s best friend Mike, we meet the two Ted’s and also Eli’s work colleagues. The change of viewpoint is done rapidly backwards and forwards between Eli and the others which adds to the unnerving and disorientating atmosphere of the book.

Whilst the story is dark, there is an element of comedy running throughout that will in turn make you laugh out loud, and gasp in shock. I absolutely cannot recommend Suicide Thursday highly enough!

Find out what others thought of the book by visiting the other stops on the blog tour.

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Listen To Me by Tess Gerritsen – a review BLOG TOUR

Rizzoli and Isles are back and thanks to Transworld Books I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy.

Listen To Me is the 13th outing for the duo. Detective Jane Rizzoli is investigating the murder of a nurse with the help of Dr Maura Isles. She is also trying to help a young woman who thinks she is being stalked, as well as try and avoid her mother

This was another great instalment of the fantastic series that I throughly enjoyed. As daft as it sounds reading a Rizzoli and Isles always feels like returning to meet some long lost friends. I love the way the two characters interact with each other, as unlikely as they are to be friends it just works. Jane Rizzoli is the fast talking, action hero who runs into danger, wheras Maura Isles is the reserved academic who solves crime via her medical knowledge.

I really enjoyed the bigger part that the character of Jane’s Mother, Angela, played in this novel. Angela has got new neighbours and is convinced that they are up to something bad. However neither her daughter or the local police are interested and she is just dismissed as a busy body. However like mother like daughter so Angela isn’t going to be told to keep her nose out for long. I really like this character and felt she gave a great extra dimension to the police procedural elements of the story.

The writing is as always flawless, and the short chapters made it zip along. My only slight criticism was the lack of any real acknowledgement that Rizzoli is now a mother and her baby was rarely seen. Although saying that, I also like the fact that the story continued to focus on the crime and not purely on the characters personal lives. Yet there is enough of the back stories that you feel invested. Although this is the 13th book in the series I would definitely say it can be read as a standalone.

I absolutely love a Rizzoli and Isles book and Listen to Me was no exception. It was a fast paced read that will keep you entertained throughout.

Find out what others on the blog tour thought:

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