The Escape by C. L. Taylor

theescapeSynopsis

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”
 
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.
 
The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.
 
What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.
 
No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

Review

I’ve read all of C. L. Taylor’s books and have adored them all so naturally I was excited to read this one. I was met with an exciting and puzzling read, that surprisingly even had sort of a sense of cosiness at times. This moved at a fast pace at the start, but at the middle it settled to a nice steady rhythm, which is not a bad thing, it relaxed me and was the calm before the storm, before the naturally emotional and highly charged conclusion to the story.
 
As I have come to expect, the writing is easy to read and once started you have the conflicting feelings of never wanting the book to end, but also the desperation to know what exactly is going on. The first half of the book is set in Bristol where Jo meets Paula for the first time and the chain of events starts. While I understand why Jo was scared, there was something in the back of my mind if she was just being paranoid and mis-understood or mis-construed what Paula was saying. I wanted to trust her, and the other strange goings on certainly pointed towards her being truthful, but at the same time, there were other signs that even before the Paula meeting that she was a bit over protective of her daughter. As soon as I did doubt her though, there was a chapter from Paula’s point of view that put a damper on my doubts, only for them to be re-ignited again on the next Jo chapter.
 
Overall though I did like Jo, She clearly adored Elise and it was her motherly love that did keep me on her side. After she escapes with Elise, we are treated to the calmer portion of the book. The setting in a small village in Ireland seems peaceful and idillic. It lulled you into a sense of security, that you know isn’t going to last. Mary, the Irish B&B owner is such a lovely character, hurting from a past tragedy, but along with Ben** is the source of warmth and cosiness you get from the book. This is stark contrast to Bristol where Jo lied with her husband, who was nice, but a bit too nice at times, almost patronising.
 
This book is another great read from the author. There was a great contrast in settings and atmosphere which of course added to the sense of foreboding that you knew was bound to come in the end.
 
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Published by: Avon
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton

womanatnumber24Synopsis 

When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.
 
A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?
 
The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom‘s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential.
 
The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.

Review

Having read Juliet Ashton’s previous novel I was looking forward to her next book as I adored ‘These Days of Ours’, especially when I received and read the sampler.
 
It sounded quite a light read but it was much more emotional and mysterious than I expected. This only added an extra layer of depth, to what was already a pretty fantastic book. It is so easy to read and find yourself consumed by this book, so much so I stayed up till the early hours of the morning, unable to put it down. While most of the book takes place in the house and it’s gaden, because it’s converted to flats you get a nice variety of characters and story all intertwined.
 
The main character is Sarah and it’s from her viewpoint we read the book. At times I really liked Sarah, she was naturally kind and willing to give people a chance, like Mavis from the basement flat. However this also extended to her ex husband, Leo. She wasn’t over him, and therefore was quite naive I think, especially in the hope that helping her paint the flat proved he still loved her. She accepted that his careless, hapless nature was the way he was, and made excuses for him.  At the worst times he came off really creepy, and at best he was inconsiderate as to how Sarah may feel. I was begging Sarah to have more strength in her, and at times she did, seeing Leo squirm when she told him how ridiculous the situation was, was great, but then she went back to defending him to everyone else. It was easy to dislike Leo initially, but by the end I think Sarah somehow hypnotised me. I didn’t like him as such but thought that maybe he had changed, and could see growth in a character, that for the first part of the book, I saw no hope for.
 
Despite her grumpy exterior, I loved Mavis. Yes she was cantankerous, but at times her light shone through and you could see she wanted to change and make amends, and become and better neighbour and more importantly, a friend to everyone.
 
Jane was certainly a larger then life character, she was instantly someone trustworthy and you wanted to become best friends with.
 
This book delivered so much more than I expected. Emotion, laughs and mystery, I simply adored every minute of reading it.
 
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Published by: Simon & Schuster
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Last Sunday I found out that the author of this book had an event at my local Waterstone’s branch on Tuesday evening, I had it on Kindle, so set myself the challenge of reading and reviewing it before the event. Sadly, I was much busier with work than planned, so I managed to read the book prior to attending the event but had no time to write my review. Anyway, I now have a shiny signed copy in my bookcase, and have finished the review 🙂

sometimesilieSynopsis 

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
 
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Review

The synopsis for this book is short, to the point and incredibly mysterious. It begs you to read it and when I did, I could barely put the book down, and when I had to for work or sleep, I did so grudgingly.
 
It has 3 different time periods so to speak. “Before” from Amber’s childhood, “Then” which is the days leading up to Amber’s accident and “Now” where you are with Amber’s mind as she lays in a coma, able to hear and see things, but unable to speak or move.
 
What is clear throughout the book, regardless of time, was that Amber is as unreliable as she promises when she tells us that Sometimes she lies. Within 2 pages you can find yourself not trusting, and being wary of her, but on the next page you can like and empathise with her.
Slowly though my barrier broke down and I found myself trusting her more and more, it was other people I was doubting. Claire, her sister and Paul, her husband are acting strange throughout the whole book, so there is definite doubt in pretty much every character. It seemed that Amber wasn’t the only one that lied, or at least acting very suspiciously.
 
The childhood diaries were a part I wasn’t expecting, it was great to see Amber’s childhood, and it explained a lot. Her parents were very distant at the best of times, and while she wasn’t the best behaved child in the world, even before a paticularly bad incident, she seemed very lonely and her parents could have done so much more.
 
This is ending up much shorter than most of my reviews, but I don’t want to say too much. Anything more that I want to say could be classed as a spoiler. The only thing you really need to take away from the review is that you should read this book. It’s deliciously dark, I didn’t see the end coming at all. 
 
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Published by: HQ
 
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Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

paperheartsandsummerkissesSynopsis 

Christie Chapman is a single working mother who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It can be tough just getting through the day but Christie has always found comfort in her love of crafting and any spare time she has is spent in her parents’ summerhouse working on her beautiful creations.
 
From intricately designed birthday cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking. All of a sudden Christie sees a different future for her and Finn – one full of hope and possibility, and if the handsome Max Alexander is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking.
 
And then, all of sudden, Christie’s world is turned upside down.
 
Christie knows that something has to give, but what will she choose? Will she give up her dreams and the chance of real love? What price will she pay for doing the right thing? Can Christie find her happy ending

Review

I’ve read quite a few of Carole Matthew’s books, and absolutely adored them. Each one getting better, you know that Carole’s books are comfort reading at it’s finest. Unfortunately this book didn’t quite live to the high hopes that I held for it. I didn’t hate the book. The story was good and the writing was the same cosy style that I didn’t want to put down. What disappointed me with this book was Christie, the main character, who drove me crazy – and I promise it wasn’t just because she drunk red wine out of the fridge!
 
Christie is 42 and a single mum to 15 year old Finn. She works in London as a PA for a legal firm, commuting an hour each way. Her real passion lies in crafting. I found it really hard to connect and relate to Christie. Is it because she was older so I didn’t understand her? Was it her over reliance on her parents? I don’t know. She just really annoyed me. She was 42, but seemed so much older. She was also so down on herself, apologising for herself. I get she has low self esteem, but it got a bit tiring.
I also get she was busy commuting so had little time in the evenings to cook, so her parents were great to cook for her and Finn all week (plus they do her laundry and ironing), but there is a period where she has a few weeks off, and while I understand she was heavily stressed, I don’t understand why her parents needed to cook for her then too. Sure her parents wanted to help, and as I said she was under a lot of stress, but it would have taken her mind off it, just like crafting did. She was so dependent, I was begging for her to become more independent, to demand more from Liam (Finn’s dad) money wise. To attempt to look for a job closer to her house. She took small steps with her crafting, but even that wasn’t her doing, she was pushed by her parents and Finn. I just wanted her to do something. I get she’s a mother and Finn comes first, but she just frustrated me easily, it was like she was a mother first and a human second. I’m not a parent so maybe that’s the reason I don’t get this, but while it’s understandable maybe in the latter half of the book, I don’t get it for the first half. Especially when she sends an email fairly late into the book ARGH!
 
Finn on the other hand was great, constantly pushing his mum to step outside her comfort zone, which was much needed. Another person I really liked was Robyn, her boss, they had a really fun relationship. There is also a hilarious date involving Alpacas and it was the funniest scene in the book, hands down.
 
There was also a plot I felt under developed, It was mentioned Robyn (a lawyer) drafted an official letter to someone about a legal issue, and none of this was ever mentioned again. This would have added some great drama.
 
Overall this book wasn’t bad, I enjoyed the story but it was just disappointing to not get on board with the main character, who usually I really like in Carole’s books.
 
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Published by: Sphere
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
Out now in Hardback and ebook
Out April 6th in Paperback
 
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