Dot Scribbles


BOOK REVIEW: The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad

Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote community of Canaan find an '89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road. , and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.
Soon Rath's investigation brings him face-to-face with the darkest abominations of the human soul.
With the consequences of his violent and painful past plaguing him, and young women with secrets vanishing one by one, he discovers once again that even in the smallest towns on the map, evil lurks everywhere and no one is safe .
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Pages: 416

Eric Rickstad is a new author for me but after reading The Silent Girls, I can understand what all the hype is about. It is a very dark book, the case being investigated is gritty and disturbing but Rath's past which is dealt with in the book is also extremely dark.
Eric Rickstad's writing is brilliantly atmospheric and I can see why comparisons have been made with True Detective. The Silent Girls would translate perfectly on to screen as the author packs so much in. He is very descriptive; it feels like he really layers each scene, building the detail up to give a really clear image in your mind.
I liked Frank Rath, he does have certain cliches of the retired detective but there is more substance to him and he is actually very likable.
The book is reasonably long at 416 pages but Rickstad keeps up a good pace throughout, there were several surprises along the way, especially in the last chapter which I thought was excellent.
The Silent Gils is dark, gritty and gripping, the ending suggested that there may be more books involving Frank Rath; I really hope so as he is an excellent creation.

Many thanks to the Harper Impulse Team for sending me a review copy. 


Blog Tour: Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

I'm really excited to be on the last stop of the blog tour today for Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam, Harper Collins have been kind enough to provide me with an exclusive extract and I've also popped  my review below. I highly recommend this book, I thought it was very enjoyable and original, plus it will make you want a pet alligator!
We start with an extract from the book, it is written by Homer before chapter one:

Introduction to the Journey
Until my mother told me about Albert, I never knew she and my father had undertaken an adventurous and dangerous journey to carry him home. I didn’t know how they came to be married or what shaped them to become the people I knew. I also didn’t know that my mother carried in her heart an unquenchable love for a man who became a famous Hollywood actor or that my father met that man after battling a mighty hurricane, not only in the tropics but in his soul. The story of Albert taught me these and many other things, not only about my parents but the life they gave me to live, and the lives we all live, even when we don’t understand why.
The journey my parents took was in 1935, the sixth year of the Great Depression. At that time, a little more than one thousand people lived in Coalwood and, like my future parents, most of them were young marrieds who had grown up in the coalfields. Every day, as their fathers and grandfathers had done before them, the men got up and went to work in the mine where they tore at the raw coal with drills, explosives, picks, and shovels while the roof above them groaned and cracked and some-times fell. Death happened often enough that a certain melancholy existed between the young men and women of the little West Virginia town when they made their daily farewells. Yet, for the company dollar and a company house, those farewells were made and the men trudged off to join the long line of miners, lunch buckets swinging and boots plodding, all heading for the deep, dark underground.
While their men toiled in the mine, the women of Coalwood were tasked with keeping their assigned company houses clean of the never- ending dust. Chuffing coal trains rumbled down tracks placed within feet of the houses, throwing up dense clouds of choking ebony powder that filtered inside no matter how tightly doors and windows were shut against it. Coalwood’s people breathed dust with every breath and saw it rise in a gray mist when they walked the streets. It blossomed from their pillows when their tired heads were laid down and rose in a sparkling cloud when blankets were pushed aside after sleep. Each morning, the women got up and fought the dust, then got up the next day and fought it again after they’d sent their husbands to the mine to create more of it.
Raising the children was also left to the wives. This was at a time when scarlet fever, measles, influenza, typhus, and unidentified fevers routinely swept through the coalfields, killing weak and strong children alike. There were few families untouched by the loss of a child. The daily uncertainty for their husbands and children took its toll. Not too many years had to pass before the natural innocent sweetness of a young West Virginia girl was replaced by the tough, hard shell that characterized a woman of the coalfields.
This was the world as it was lived by Homer and Elsie Hickam, my parents before they were my parents. It was a world Homer accepted. It was a world Elsie hated.
But of course she did.
She had, after all, spent time in Florida.

Long after my parents made the journey that is told by this book, my brother Jim and I came along. Our childhoods were spent in Coalwood during the 1940s and ’50s, when the town was growing older and some com-forts such as paved roads and telephones had crept in. There was even television and, without it, I might have never heard about Albert. On the day I first heard about him, I was lying on the rug in our living room watching a rerun of the Walt Disney series about Davy Crockett. The show had made the frontiersman just about the most popular man in the United States, even more popular than President Eisenhower. In fact, there was scarcely a boy in America who didn’t want to get one of Davy’s trademark coonskin caps, and that included me, although I never got one. Mom liked wild critters too much for t

hat kind of cruel foolishness.
My mom walked in the living room when Davy and his pal Georgie Russell were riding horseback through the forest across our twenty- one- inch black- and- white screen. Georgie was singing about Davy and how he was the king of the wild frontier who’d killed hisself a b’ar when he was only three. It was a catchy tune and I, like millions of kids across the country, knew every word. After a moment of silent watching, Mom said, “I know him. He gave me Albert,” and then turned and walked back into the kitchen.
I was focused on Davy and Georgie so it took a moment before Mom’s comment sank into my boyhood brain. When a commercial came on, I got up to look for her and found her in the kitchen. “Mom? Did you say you knew somebody in the Davy Crockett show?”
“That fellow who was singing,” she said while spooning a dollop of grease into a frying pan. Based on the lumpy slurry in a nearby bowl, I suspected we were having her famous fried potato cakes for supper.

 “You mean Georgie Russell?” I asked.
“No, Buddy Ebsen.”
“Who’s Buddy Ebsen?”
“He’s the fellow who was singing on the television. He can dance bet-ter than he can sing and by a sight. I knew him in Florida when I lived with my rich Uncle Aubrey. When I married your father, Buddy sent me Albert as a wedding present.”
I had never heard of Buddy or Albert but I had often heard of rich Uncle Aubrey. Mom always added the adjective rich to his name even though she said he’d lost all his money in the stock market crash of 1929. I’d seen a photograph of rich Uncle Aubrey. Round- faced, squinting into a bright sun while leaning on a golf club, rich Uncle Aubrey was wearing a newsboy “Great Gatsby” golf cap, a fancy sweater over an open- collared shirt, plus fours knickers, and brown and white saddle shoes. Behind him was a tiny aluminum trailer which apparently served as his home. It was my suspicion that rich Uncle Aubrey didn’t need much money to be rich.
Seeking clarification, I asked, “So . . . you know Georgie Russell?”
“If Buddy Ebsen is Georgie Russell, I surely do.”
I stood there, my mouth open. Giddiness was near. I couldn’t wait to tell the other Coalwood boys that my mom knew Georgie Russell, just one step removed from knowing Davy Crockett himself. I would surely be envied!
“Albert stayed with us a couple of years,” Mom went on. “When we lived in the other house up the street in front of the substation. Before you and your brother were born.”
“Who’s Albert?” I asked.
  For a moment, my mother’s eyes softened. “I never told you about Albert?”
 “No, ma’am,” I said, just as I heard the commercial end and the sound of flintlock muskets booming away. Davy Crockett was back in action. I cocked an ear in its direction.
Seeing the pull of the television, she waved me off. “I’ll tell you about him later. It’s kind of complicated. Your father and I . . . well, we carried him home. He was an alligator.”
An alligator! I opened my mouth to ask more questions but she shook her head. “Later,” she said and got back to her potato cakes and I got back to Davy Crockett.
Over the years, Mom would do as she promised and tell me about carrying Albert home. At her prodding, Dad would even occasionally tell his side of it, too. As the tales were told, usually out of order and some-times different from the last time I’d heard them, they evolved into a lively but disconnected and surely mythical story of a young couple who, along with a special alligator (and for no apparent reason, a rooster), had the adventure of a lifetime while heading ever south beneath what I imagined was a landscape artist’s golden sun and a poet’s quicksilver moon.
After Dad went off to run heaven’s coal mines and Mom followed to tell God how to manage the rest of His affairs, a quiet but persistent voice in my head kept telling me I should write the story of their journey down. When I heeded that whispering voice and began to put all the pieces of it together, I came to understand why. Like a beautiful flower unfurling to greet the dawn, an embedded truth was revealed. The story of how my parents carried Albert home was a bit more than their fanciful tales of youthful adventure. Put all together, it was their witness and testimony to what is heaven’s greatest and perhaps only true gift, that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

— Homer Hickam (the younger)

I hope that has already caught your attention but I have included my review too: 
In 1930's America, the Great Depression made everyone's horizon's smaller, and Elsie Lavender found herself back where she began, in the coalfields of West Virginia.
She had just one momento of her halycon days- a baby alligator names Albert.
Then one day, her husband's stoical patience snapped and Elsie had to choose between Homer and Albert.
She decided that there was only one thing to do: they would carry Albert home to Florida. And so began their odyssey- a journey like no other, where Elsie, Homer and Albert encountered everything from movie stars and revolutionaries to Ernest Hemmingway and hurricanes in their struggle to find love, redemption and a place to call home. 

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 416

This is one of the quirkiest books I have read but I very much enjoyed it. When I read the synopsis I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be the type of book I would usually enjoy but Homer Hickman has written a delightful book that pushes the reader to look at things a little differently.
If you strip everything back it is essentially a love story between Elsie and Homer (and Albert). Their epic journey to take Albert Home to Florida puts them in all kinds of weird and wonderful situations but more importantly it shows them who they are and what they mean to each other. I was not a massive fan of Elsie at the start of the book; I found it very hard to connect with her but that changed as I got to know her and how she had got to that point.
I do love animals in books and Albert was completely adorable, Somehow the author made something extremely quirky and off the wall entirely believable. He brings Elsie and Homer together even though Homer felt he was part of the problem between them.
Carrying Albert Home is a very different but poignant read. I highly recommend it and I will definitely be catching up with the author's other book.

Many thanks to Harper Collins for inviting me to be part of the blog tour!


BOOK REVIEW: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

First of all, I would like to apologise for the serious lack of blog posts! Life has been a little manic lately which has left me very little time for reading, I'm getting back on track though and I have some good reviews coming up plus a blog tour at the end of the month! Here's my review of A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson which I thought was excellent:

From the author of Life After Life, one of the top selling adult books of 2014, which explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events in the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy, a would-be-poet, RAF bomber pilot; husband and father- as he navigates the perils of the 20th Century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have. A God in Ruins is a masterful companion to Life After Life, and will prove once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 460

Life After Life was one of my favourite books of 2014 so I was excited to hear that Kate Atkinson had written a companion novel, A God in Ruins. To be fair, you could read either book as a stand-alone but I highly recommend that you read both as they are simply brilliant.
Life After Life was focused on Ursula Todd but A God in Ruins is concerned with Ursula's brother Teddy who was a bomber pilot during the war. In Lifer After Life Teddy dies but A God in Ruins explores what would have happened if he had survived the war. It is such an interesting idea and so, so thought-provoking. Kate Atkinson goes back and forth between Ted's past and present, particularly focusing on his time in the war. The things that Teddy saw and took part in have changed him forever and ways in those around him are not even aware of. As Teddy tries to back to normality, we follow as he marries, brings up a daughter and then deals with the reality of getting older. I fell in love with Teddy and felt so protective of him. I felt so angry towards members of Ted's family, especially his daughter Viola. They didn't seem to have a clue as to what he had endured during the war and it made me wander if they would hav
e had a different relationship with him had they known more.
The description of Teddy's missions were exemplary. The attention to detail and the way that Atkinson brought these situations to life was staggering. Some of the descriptions were quite upsetting but I think that they were very honest and necessary.
A God in Ruins explores so many different themes, as a reader you are given so much to think about. When I wasn't reading this book then I was constantly thinking about it and when I reached the final page I felt really sad as I didn't want to walk away from the characters; only a very special author can make you feel like that.
A God in Ruins is one of the best books I have read in 2015. Kate Atkinson has written a beautiful book that I know I will revisit again and again,


BOOK REVIEW: Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.
The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One girl will die.
When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.
And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for DI Kim Stone and the squad.
Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour...
Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families' past might hold the key to saving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someones child pay the ultimate price?

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 425

Lost Girls is the third book in the DI Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons; I'm sure I said this last time but this really is the best so far! I felt like everything was heightened in this book, the tension, the danger, the drama, the emotions; I was on the edge of my seat throughout.
DI Kim Stone takes on the case of two nine-year-old girls who have been kidnapped. There has been a similar case just over a year ago but only one girl came back the the body of the other has never been found. This time Kim is determined to get both girls back safely.
Kim and her team are up against time but they are also up against the girls' parents. How long will it be before one of them offers the kidnappers a ransom , saving their child whilst sealing the deadly fate of the other?
The book goes back and forth between  Kim and her team working with the parents and the girls who have been taken and who are being held prisoners. The chapters that dealt with the girls' ordeal were terrifying; Angela Marsons conveyed the terror and anguish they go through, some of these scenes sent chills through me. The people involved in the actual kidnapping are completely abhorrent and you are left in no doubt that once they have got what they want, the girls mean nothing to them.
Kim Stone is a fantastic creation, I felt that this book showed a little more of her caring side without losing any of the determination and stubbornness that I have come to love. Again, I really enjoyed the dynamics of Kim and her team; the way in which they worked felt very realistic and it was interesting to see how they picked the case apart.
If you have read Angela Marsons others books then get hold of Lost Girls as soon as you can. If you've not read any of Angela's books then what are you waiting for!

Many thanks to Bookouture for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley.  


BOOK REVIEW: My Life in France by Julia Child

When Julia Child arrived in Paris in 1948, a six-foot-two inch, thirty-six year old, rather loud and unserious Californian, she spoke barely a few words of French and didn't know the first thing about cooking. 'What's a shallot?' she asked her husband Paul, as they waited for their sole meuniere during their very first lunch in France, which she was to describe later as 'the most exciting meal of my life.'
As she fell in love with French culture, buying food at local markets, sampling the local bistros and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life began to change forever. She became the English speaking world's authority on French food. 

Publisher: Duckworth Overlook 
Pages: 352

I simply adored this book! My lovely thoughtful friend Kim bought it me from Paris and it was the perfect gift. I knew of Julia Child from the film Julie and Julia where she is played by Meryl Streep and I had always wanted to read the book that had been the inspiration. I will never let go of my copy as I know it will be re-read many times.
Julia is a fascinating character, as is her husband Paul. They were based in Paris as Paul worked for the US government.
Julia decided to take classes at the Cordon Bleu school of cookery after falling in love with French cuisine. And there her passion began; she went on to write two definitive French cookery books with her friend Simca and she was actually one of the first TV celebrity chefs. Her name is now synonymous with French food and her legacy is huge.
If you are not too interested in food and cooking then this may not be the book for you. However it is also about so much more; love, friendship, loyalty, travel, bureaucracy, politics and passion. Julia Child wanted to bring French cooking to the masses which is no easy feat. I greatly admired the dedication, time and sheer hard work she put into all she did, all whilst having a great deal of fun along the way.
This is not the best book to read if you are hungry or on a diet (I read it whilst on a cruise so was literally surrounded by food) there are beautiful descriptions of French cuisine on every page. I really love cooking and this book has inspired me to challenge myself a little more in the kitchen!
My Life in France is the best autobiography I have ever read, it is a charmingly beautiful book.


BLOG TOUR: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

I'm the last stop on the blog tour for Diane Chamberlain's latest book, Pretending to Dance! I thoroughly recommend this book, the story is fantastic! 

Molly Arnette and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her. Because Molly is very good at keeping secrets...
As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well.
She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: her mother, the woman who raised her and who, despite Molly claiming is dead, is very much alive, her birth-mother whose mysterious presence raised so many issues, and the father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.
Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 384

I've not read a Diane Chamberlain book for ages but I loved the sound of this one when the publisher got in touch. Pretending to Dance is an excellent book; the story is intriguing and the characters are very realistic and well managed.
Molly and her husband Aiden are living in San Diego and they are in the process of applying to adopt a baby. That in itself is stressful but Molly has the added worry of the secrets from her past being revealed. As far as Aiden is concerned, Molly's parents are dead, how will he react when he discovers that Molly was actually adopted herself and in fact only her father is dead? Molly
left all of that behind her in North Carolina; she ran after her father's death and has never been back,. Now faced with the prospect of taking on an open adoption herself, Molly has got to confront the secrets she has kept if she has any chance of having the future she wants.
Pretending to Dance flits between the present day situation with Molly and Aiden and then back to the summer that Molly's father died. She was only fourteen and the events of that holiday would change her forever.
Molly was incredibly close to her father. A child 'pretend therapist', he was confined to a wheelchair due to having MS. Whilst Molly could take on board her father's limitations, she still believed he would always be there so his death is devastating to her and when she discovers the circumstances surrounding it she runs away.
Diane Chamberlain handled Molly
's fourteen year old character so well. I think she really showed the mix of emotions you experience on a daily basis at that age. Molly fiercely wants to be more independent, especially when it comes to boys and she fights against her parents to get more freedom. That comes at a price though and Molly realises that perhaps she is not as grown up as she thought and I can remember several instances where that happened to me as a teenager.
Pretending to Dance looks in particular at love within a family unit; the lengths we will go to in order to protect each other. Molly, even as an adult, has not come to terms with the decisions family members made on her behalf. When the prospect of becoming a mother herself becomes imminent, Molly is able to look at things a little differently; what would she do if in a similar situation with her own child?
I think that Diane Chamberlain dealt with a lot of complex and emotional issues in this book and she did it very well. I loved the back and forth nature of the story and it was interesting to see just how much Molly's past had effected her present day life.
Pretending to Dance is an engrossing, well-written book about family and love. Chamberlain's writing is emotive and well-thought out; this is a book that particularly resonated with me and reminded me what a fantastic author she is.

Many thanks to Macmillan for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, Pretending to Dance is available now! 


BOOK REVIEW: After You by Jojo Moyes

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can't help but feel she's right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding- the paramedic whose business is life and death and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will's past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future...
For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply and where both changes and surprises await.

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 416

After You is a fantastic sequel to Me Before You! Jojo Moyes will not disappoint her readers with this next instalment, I read the whole thing in one day. I laughed, I cried and I generally marvelled at what a brilliant author she is.
Louisa Clark is really struggling without Will Traynor. She is still dealing with her grief but also the huge pressure to do him proud. And that is not proving easy. How does she move on? Where is the right place for her and what exactly should she be doing? An accident brings Louisa back home; a home that holds so many memories and connections to Will. The accident also introduces her to paramedic Sam Fielding. But how do you let someone new in when you haven't completely let another go?
I'm not going to lie, I did miss Will but Sam was an excellent male lead. The interaction between him and Louisa was just lovely and natural and so many of their conversations made me smile.
Jojo Moyes tackled the loss of Will so well, she showed the devastating effect of Will's death, especially the myriad of emotions that accompany grief.
I love, love, love the way in which Jojo Moyes creates characters that you want to invest your emotions in, even those that are not particularly nice. Louisa, for me had not lost any of her sparkle; she is one of life's good people and I was rooting for her from the very beginning.
If you loved Me Before You then you have to read After You, bravo Jojo Moyes, this is a fantastic book!

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for allowing me to read this book via Netgalley.  


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