Dot Scribbles

21.2.17

BOOK REVIEW: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

1985
Lydia Quinn is found bludgeoned to death in the cellar of her family home. The local community is rocked by the brutality of the seemingly senseless attack.
Twenty years ago
Jack escaped from his hometown, leaving behind memories of a childhood cut short by his mother's murder.
Now he must return
Sarah joins her husband at his beloved aunt's hospital bed, her first chance to meet the mysterious Quinlans. It is clear that this is a family bound by secrets and someone is prepared to go to extreme lengths to ensure that the truth of what happened to Lydia stays buried.

Publisher: HQ
Pages: 343

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf is a tense, fast-paced thriller. Jack is called back to his small hometown of Penny Gate when he learns that his aunt is gravely ill in hospital. His wife Sarah goes with him; she's not met his family before, all she knows is that Jack's parents died in a car accident and he and his sister were raised by their aunt and uncle. So Sarah is extremely upset and unsettled to discover on her arrival that Jack's mother was not in an accident but instead was brutally murdered in the cellar of Jack's family home. Jack's own father was the main suspect but he too went missing that day and has not been seen since. Questions are now being raised about Jack's aunt's injuries, did she really fall or was she pushed?
Sarah feels like she has woken up in the middle of a nightmare. Why did her husband lie to her? Who did kill Jack's mother and are they still out there?
The author chooses the perfect setting for this book; the small town of Penny Gate is integral to the story. Everybody knows everyone's business and Sarah can quickly see why Jack wanted to get out of there. I really enjoyed the different local characters she presents; especially Margaret who works in the Sheriff's office. She puts her job on the line in order to help Sarah find more information,
Heather Gudenkauf infuses her book with an extremely unsettling atmosphere. Everything about Jack's hometown seems off. Sarah suddenly has nobody to trust, including her own husband and several characters are clearly holding information back. This all helps to build the tension which becomes more and more intense.
I very much enjoyed Missing Pieces, the plot was clever and the pace perfect, I would highly recommend this author.

Many thanks to HQ for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

16.2.17

BOOK REVIEW: Paris for One and other stories by Jojo Moyes

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away-to-anywhere-before. Travelling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up, she has the chance to prove to everyone-including herself that she can be independent and intrepid. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed. In the ten other stories, Jojo Moyes introduces us to a cast of strong, relate-able women in the midst of their everyday lives.

Publisher: Penguin

 I am not usually a big fan of short-story collections but when I saw this one by Jojo Moyes, I couldn't resist. Jojo Moyes is one of my favourite authors and this collection of stories was a real delight to read.
Obviously you can read them in whatever order you like , I started with the title story, Paris for One and it was simply lovely. Nell was supposes to be having a romantic weekend in Paris with her boyfriend but he stood her up at the Eurostar so she is now in Paris alone and totally out of her depth. We follow her as she navigates the city of love; there are plenty of surprises along the way and Jojo Moyes made me fall in love with Paris all over again.
My other favourite story was Crocodile Shoes which was very empowering and witty, plus it also made me rethink my shoe choices!
Due to the nature of the book, we do not get to spend long with the character but they are likeable and believable and the stories are well thought out. I would highly recommend this collection of stories, Moyes strikes the perfect balance between humour and poignancy, it is a lovely book.

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

3.2.17

BOOK REVIEW: Severed by Simon Kernick

You wake up in a strange room on a bed covered in blood.
You have no idea how you got there.
Beside you is a dead girl. Your girlfriend.
The phone rings, and a voice tells you to press play on the room's DVD machine.
The film shows you killing your girlfriend. Then you're told to go to an address in East London where you're to deliver a briefcase and await further instructions.
There's no way out.
If you're to survive the next 24 hours, you must find out who killed your girlfriend, and why. Before they come for you. 

Publisher: Corgi
Pages: 475 

I have only recently discovered Simon Kernick, I very much enjoyed his latest book, The Bone Field and I wanted to read more. The lovely Victoria Loves Books recommended Severed and this lady is always spot on with her recommendations so I promptly ordered and and read it in two days!
I don't think that I have ever read a book that has made me hold my breath so much. It's just non-stop from the very first chapter.
Tyler wakes up in a strange room, covered in blood, lying next to his girlfriend who has her head missing. He has no recollection of how he got there and what has happened. There is a TV and DVD player in the corner with his name and the instructions to press play on it. The film shows a man who looks like Tyler but is wearing a mask, viciously murdering his girlfriend. However, Tyler knows it's not him but who's going to believe him? He's then given an address to go to and warned that if he doesn't then the video plus murder weapon with his prints on will be handed over to the police. And so begins the worst day of Tyler's life.
Simon Kernick is so good at writing fast-paced, edge of your seat fiction. He sets the story up and then flies with it; each chapter offering twists and turns that you don't see coming.
I was impressed with how he tied it all together, he delves into Tyler's past in order to show the consequences on his present day situation.
Severed was exciting, action packed and entirely believable, I highly recommend this author.


25.1.17

BOOK REVIEW: The Muse by Jessie Burton

A picture hides a thousand words...
On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city scene since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn't know she had, she remains a mystery- no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.
The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise comes artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences...

Publisher: Picador
Pages: 441

Jessie Burton received high acclaim for her first book, The Miniaturist which sadly I have not had chance to read yet. I loved the sound of The Muse though and I'm so glad I had it as a Christmas present as I loved it.
Odelle Bastien begins working at The Skelton gallery in London; she is very excited as this is the best job she has found since arriving in London from Trinidad. Her boss is Marjorie Quick, a slightly mysterious and enigmatic character. Marjorie takes Odelle under her wing; Odelle is flattered and slightly in awe of this woman; she has no idea that Quick will alter the path of her future and ultimately who she becomes. Odelle meets a man, Lawrie at a party and he says he was left a painting from his mother which he'd like to know more about. He brings it to the Skelton and Pandora's Box is thrown wide open. Lawrie's painting takes the story back to 1936 and rural Spain where the Schloss family are living. Olive is the daughter of a very famous art dealer but he has no idea that Olive paints and is actually hugely talented. Isaac and Teresa Robles come into their lives and very quickly turn their world upside down. Jessie Burton flits between these two time periods, weaving her story; answering some questions but raising others.
The Muse is beautifully written, Burton creates an air of mystery and suspense from the first page; I was immediately captivated by the characters and the worlds she created.
It was interesting that the majority of lead characters were female, all excelling in their own ways in times when that was rarely heard of. The relationship between Odelle and Majorie Quick was intense and I knew that something special would come of it. Olive Schloss is quite a tragic character; hiding her talent from her own family as she knows that her father would not approve. The relationships she has with those around her are either strained or false.
The book is very concerned with deception and the different areas of life it can infiltrate. Every character in this book is hiding something, some things I worked out along the way but Jessie Burton saves a few surprises for the very end.
I cannot recommend this book enough, it felt like a real treat with beautiful writing, complex characters and a plot full of suspense and intrigue.

16.1.17

BOOK REVIEW: The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

There's no safety in numbers...
Eve Singer needs death.With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, she'll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience.
The killer needs death too. He even advertises his macabre public performances where he hopes to show the whole world the beauty of dying.
When he contacts Eve, she welcomes the chance to be the first with the news from every gory scene until she realises that the killer has two obsessions.
One is public murder.
And the other is her...

Publisher: Bantam Press

Belinda Bauer brings something extra to the crime genre and her latest book The Beautiful Dead shows off her talent in all its glory.
Eve Singer is our female protagonist; she is a hard hitting crime reporter but with new talent snapping at her heels, she knows her job hangs in the balance. When a murderer contacts her and gives her the details of his next crime so she can be there live, she jumps at the chance as it is the exclusive she needs. However, knowing that the killer may not have carried out such an act if she had not gone along makes Eve feel incredibly guilty; she has almost become part of the crime. But it is too late now, she has made that fateful connection and it soon becomes clear that the killer is not going to lose interest in Eve anytime soon.
The Beautiful Dead is a very clever and well-thought out book, it was a bit more action packed than her previous books yet it still gives you a lot to think about. Bauer delves quit
e deep into her character's emotions; especially Eve and the murderer which makes for interesting and often uncomfortable reading. It is this aspect of the book that sets Belinda Bauer apart from other writers in this genre. It feels like she really lays her characters bare which in turn almost makes them seem quite vulnerable.
Eve is an excellent creation, she has so much going on in her life before she makes contact with the killer, you begin to wonder just how much more she can take as she becomes tangled up in his web.
I would highly recommend this book and Belinda Bauer's others too. She avoids the cliches that often come with books in this field and instead provides you with an original and thought-provoking story.

Many thanks to Dead Good Books for sending me a copy! 

13.1.17

BOOK REVIEW: The Bone Field by Simon Kernick

I have to apologise for missing my stop on the blog tour on Monday, I have no idea how I forgot so the publisher's have kindly said that I can post it today! I really enjoyed this book, here's my review:

When the bones of a 21-year-old Kitty Sinn are discovered after her disappearance in Thailand in 1990, an enduring mystery takes on a whole new twist. Her boyfriend at the time, and the man who reported her missing, comes forward with his lawyer to confess to DI Ray Mason, of the Met's Homicide Command, that he knows what happened to Kitty, and who killed her.
So begins a hunt for the truth that will focus on a ruthless crime gang, a rich dysfunctional family with a terrible past, and a highly ambitious man so cruel and ruthless that he must be brought down at any cost. 

Publisher: Century

The Bone Field by Simon Kernick is fantastic. I have never read anything by this author but I am now working my way through his back catalogue and eagerly awaiting the next book in this new series. 
DI Ray Mason is investigating the case of Kitty Sinn, she disappeared, aged 21 in Thailand in 1996, but her remains have just been dug up in the grounds of a private English boarding school. DI Mason starts investigating the only lead her has but this soon ends in terror and bloodshed. Mason quickly realises that Kitty Sinn's murder is part of a much bigger and completely terrifying picture. Mason and his colleagues link Kitty's murder to a notorious and seemingly untouchable crime gang. As soon as Mason makes the link, he knows he is in danger but how do you stop a gang of people who have links in high places and no intention of stopping their evil campaign?
Simon Kernick's writing style is brilliant and so enjoyable. I instantly liked Ray Mason and it will be good to learn more about him as the series progresses. He is driven entirely by his principles and the desire to help people who are in trouble. Once he has made a promise, he keeps it, despite they problems that may cause him. 
The pace of the book is thrilling, I loved trying to piece it all together but the author was one step ahead the whole way. 
The Bone Field by Simon Kernick is dark, thrilling and totally addictive, do not miss it. 

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book! 

2.1.17

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret by Katerina Diamond

Bridget Reid has a secret, one that could get her killed if she can escape the man who is keeping her locked in a basement bedroom.
D.S. Imogen Grey is good at keeping secrets, truths she'd never reveal to her colleagues at Exeter Police. She worked hard to get to where she is, she nearly died for it. Now her past is catching up with her.
As D.S. Grey and her partner D.S. Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a terrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder. And they realise that some secrets are better left buried.

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 416

This is the second book in the D.S. Imogen Grey series I haven't actually read the first book, The Teacher so don't worry if you haven't either.
The book packs a punch right from the start. Bridget Reid is on the run, she is hurt and scared but manages to make it to the secret meeting place she had agreed on with her boyfriend. However, when she wakes up she is locked in a basement bedroom by a man who is convinced she belongs to him.
D.S. Imogen Grey is now in Exeter and working alongside a new partner, D.S. Adrian Miles. They are called to a murder scene with three victims and it is clear from the bodies that they are dealing with a deranged killer who is more than happy for his victims to suffer. They begin their investigation and Imogen is shocked and unsettled to discover that this new case has links to her past. A past her colleagues know nothing about and one she did not want to share.
Katerina Diamond's writing is brilliant, I felt like I was holding my breath at certain points and she does not shy away from any gritty details. Her descriptions create very
powerful, vivid images in the reader's mind.
The chapter's told from the killer's perspective are the most chilling but also intriguing. You get a real sense of how he went from a young boy, to a twisted, dangerous murderer. It raises the question of whether people are born with evil inside them or does it develop due to the experiences they have?
The Secret is an excellent thriller, it's full of brilliantly crafted plot twists and complex but believable characters; I highly recommend this one.

Many thanks to Avon for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

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