Dot Scribbles

19.7.16

BOOK REVIEW: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Inseparable throughout university, four friends graduate into an exhilarating world on the brink of a shiny new millennium. Eva, keen to shrug off the gruff socialist politics of her childhood, gets a job at a city investment bank, while Sylvie plans to become an artist. Physicist Benedict, meanwhile is devoting his life to chasing elusive particles. Things are less changing for Sylvie's mercurial brother Lucien, he simply intends to continue going to parties and sleeping around.
Invincible Summer follows them as they navigate two decades of furtive sex and thwarted dreams, lost jobs and broken hearts, buffeted all the while by forces of economics and history that shape our lives.



Publisher: Picador
Pages: 308


This  book is delightful and I could not put it down. I read it in just over a day and  I was so sad to say goodbye to the fantastic characters created by Alice Adams.
Eva is the main character and she meets Sylvie, Lucien and Benedict while at university. This story follows the four friends each summer after they have graduated. It is fascinating to see the different directions they all take yet they have a strong tie that inevitably brings them back together.
Invincible Summer deals with so much; growing up, getting a job, love, friendship, loyalty and so much more. Alice Adams makes you truly care for these characters; they all have their flaws but they feel extremely real and you quickly want the best for them.
Benedict was my favourite character; he is definitely the most gentle and unassuming which in turn leads him to miss out on several things. The other friends can easily overlook him at times and there were moments where I felt frustrated that they had this lovely man as their friend but they did not appreciate him.
By showing the characters year by year, it was easy to see who had changed and who had got stuck or a bit lost. I remember feeling so daunted when I left university; I had no idea what I wanted to do or how I wanted to move forward and I think that Alice Adams captures these feelings brilliantly.
For some reason the book felt very British and comforting. If a film was made of it then I think it would be in a very similar vein to Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill. Alice Adams' writing is extremely witty but she does not shy away from emotive subjects and difficult situations.
I really, really loved this book, I don't keep that many (as my husband would divorce me!) but I will be finding this one a place on the shelf so that I can enjoy it again in the future.

Many thanks to Helen Mockridge for sending me a review copy of this book, it is out now! 

7.7.16

BOOK REVIEW: My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

It's the perfect love story.
Lily meets Ed at a party, and on their second date, he proposes.
She's a lawyer, he's an up-and-coming artist. They own a beautiful flat in London and mix with all the right people.
But Lily has a secret. Something from her past, that is soon to collide with her present. And she thinks her new husband is hiding something too.
The vows they made will soon be tested to the very limits.
'Till death us do part...'


Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 520


My Husband's Wife is Jane Corry's debut thriller and it is fantastic. It is dark, gripping and twisted. I felt like there were so many layers to this story and they were all expertly dealt with.
Lily and Ed met at a party, they both have skeletons in their closet but they are inexplicably drawn to each other. Ed proposes on their second date and they set up home together. Lily is a lawyer and Ed works in advertising whilst pursuing his dream of being an artist. Both of their pasts are going to catch up with them at some point but how will it effect their future?
Lily's world is turned upside down when she is asked to represent a convicted murderer who is appealing his sentence. Lily's subsequent relationship with Jo Thomas has consequences for all those around her.
Jane Corry's writing is precise and so well crafted. I loved the way in which she built up each character gradually. She lures you into feeling like you know them really well and then she will do something that throws you entirely off course.
I enjoyed the legal aspect of the book and how the author shows that it is not always evidence alone that wins the case but instead the way in which it is presented. At the start of the book, Lily seems to have a very strong sense of right and wrong; she sees things in a very black and white manner. But her involvement with Joe Thomas leads her to look at the world differently; suddenly there are lots of grey areas and her behaviour reflects this.
My Husband's Wife is a gripping read. I felt that I wanted to be part of Lily and Ed's world but once I was in it I could see it for the nightmare that it truly is. There is so much tension in this book; tension between characters; between the past and the present and between outward appearances and reality.
Jane Corry's debut is not one to be missed and I highly recommend it.

Many thanks to Penguin for sending me a review copy of this book, it is published on 25th August! 

4.7.16

BOOK REVIEW: Early One Morning by Virginia Baily

A grey dawn in 1943: on a street in Rome, two young women, complete strangers to each other lock eyes for a single moment.
And in that moment, two lives change forever.

Publisher: Fleet
Pages: 389

This wonderful book begins in Rome in 1943: Chiara Ravello has already lost her mother and her fiance to the war and now lives alone with her sister Cecilia. One morning she observes that the ghetto is being cleared, she sees a family huddling together and she locks eyes with the mother. Without any words being spoken, she claims one of the young boys as her nephew and ultimately saves him from the concentration camp. It's not a well thought out decision and Chiara finds herself hurrying home, clutching the hand of Daniele Levi; she is now all he has left in the world and she must do all she can to protect him.
The book follows Chiara and Daniele Levi to the present day as the author explores the many consequences of Chiara's decision.
Rome is my favourite city and in the book it is like an extra character. I fell in love all over again with Virginia Baily's descriptions bringing it to life. The author went to visit her aunt in Rome when she was sixteen and her love and passion for this beautiful city shines through.
Chiara is a particularly interesting character. She has already been through so much when we first meet her, you would almost forgive her for turning a blind eye to Daniele Levi's mother. But she doesn't, instead she takes on this young boy even though she has an ill sister to care for. She also knows that if found out, she would surely be put to death too for hiding the Jewish boy.
It was so refreshing that Virginia Baily did not paint a romantic ideal in this book. Woman saves life of boy and they both go skipping off into the sunset. Instead Baily highlights how Chiara's decision has left both her and Daniele Levi with many demons whilst also effecting the lives of many others around them.
Early One Morning is a beautiful book, the language used by the author is rich and captivating and the story she tells is so moving, this is one of my favourite books of the year so far.

28.6.16

BOOK REVIEW: The Missing by C.L. Taylor

You love your family.
They make you feel safe.
You trust them.
But should you...?
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, is distraught, blaming herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family who doesn't feel guilty.
But the Wilkinson's are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, when an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the terrifying truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things: Billy is still alive and her family had nothing to do with his disappearance. A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Publisher: Avon
Pages:472

I was so pleased to receive The Missing by C.L. Taylor to review as I had read a lot of glowing reviews for her previous books. After reading this one, I can understand why.
Claire's son Billy went missing over six months ago and her family has been torn apart. All members of the family feel guilty but it is a new appeal that draws out the truth and Claire in particular is left questioning everything she has ever believed in and held dear.
C.L. Taylor presents every parent's worst nightmare in this book, the idea of your child going missing is completely terrifying. Through the character of Claire, the aut
hor explores the wide spectrum of emotions; fear, anger, guilt and loss. Claire struggles to know what to do; it is six months on and the police are no further on in their investigation. A new appeal unearths fresh information and Claire is determined to explore all the new leads herself.
The Missing is brilliantly plotted and realistic. It would make an excellent TV programme; there is just the right balance of gritty reality and raw emotion.
C.L. Taylor is excellent at maintaining the suspense; the book is interspersed with Whatsapp conversations but it is not revealed who the people are until the very end; all we know is that they are related to Billy's disappearance.
The Missing by C.L. Taylor shocked and surprised me, I will definitely be catching up with this author's other books now.

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

24.6.16

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING.
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. 

Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 512

This book caught my eye while in Waterstones and as I was was walking round with it, two people stopped me and told me it was brilliant (this I why I love bookshops) the bookseller at the till then told me it was excellent plus a few more people on social media told me that I was in for a treat. And how right they were, it is an excellent book and so deserving of the hype.
Melanie is collected from her cell five mornings a week by Sergeant Parks. She is made to sit in a wheelchair (even though she can walk) and has her hands and feet restrained and finally a restraint around her neck. She cannot move and can only look directly ahead of her. She is then taken to a classroom with the other children where she hopes the teacher will be Miss Justineau as she is her favourite. This is all Melanie has ever known; she has no idea why she must be restrained; why she is kept in a cell and why most of the adults around her are clearly terrified to be in her presence.
The Girl With All the Gifts is a dystopian tale; I'm not a huge fan usually but I very much enjoyed this book. The world has been taken over by Hungries (think The Walking Dead) and there are not many humans left. Melanie and the other children at the b
ase have been infected and would devour humans if given the chance yet they are also different. They are not 'zombies', they still think and feel but the humans have no idea what to do with them other than lock them up in order to observe their behaviour.
M.R. Carey has created a group of fantastic characters with so many layers to unravel. As you get into the book, there is so much to think about, some of the characters who I initially thought of as villains are seen in a different light or act in an extraordinary way. I was pleased with how many surprises there were in this book.
There is a strong thriller element to this story too. Some of the scenes were terrifying and there is plenty of gore. This all added to the tension and the desperate situation that the author is exposing you to.
I adored the relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau, it is the main driving force to show the humanity still within Melanie. Her relationship with Miss Justineau represents hope an the possibility of a future for those left in the world.
I highly recommend The Girl With All the Gifts; it was so different from what I normally read but I was completely taken with it. Since finishing the book, I have found myself thinking about it many times; the questions it raised are not easily put to bed.

15.6.16

BOOK REVIEW: Play Dead by Angela Marsons

The dead don't tell secrets...
Unless you listen.
The girls smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.
Westerley Research Facility is not for the faint-hearted, A 'body farm' investigating human decomposition, it's inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It's clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work- but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer's secrets but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim?

Publisher: Bookouture

This is one of my favourite series of books, Angela Marsons is fantastic. I say it each time I review this author's books so I apologise but I think this latest book is her best yet. Play Dead showcases this author's talents, the story is gripping; the characters are well-crafted and believable and she packs so much emotion into this instalment.
Kim Stone does not want to pay a visit to Westerley Research Facility as she thinks it will be a waste of her time. But the body of a woman is discovered while she is there; her face beaten and her mouth filled with soil. The killer now has Kim's full attention. Why such a brutal murder and why leave the body at Westerley?
I really was hooked from the beginni
ng; I felt as though Angela Marsons does not waste your time in any way. I constantly wanted more as she expertly built up the suspense and tension.
We see a lot more of Kim's human side in this story, especially towards Tracy Frost. Kim detests the reporter but when she goes missing, Kim does everything she can to bring her to safety whilst discovering that she may have misjudged this woman.
If you have not read any of Angela Marson's books yet then you are missing out. I look forward to each new book in the series and I can't recommend then enough.

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

6.6.16

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows by Marnie Riches

Apologies for this late review, I took part in the blog tour for this book and in my head I thought that I had included my review in that post but I hadn't, so here it is! Better late than never! 

The third edge-of-your-seat thriller in the Georgina MacKenzie series. Fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo won’t be able to put it down!Europe is in the grip of an extreme Arctic blast and at the mercy of a killer, who leaves no trace. His weapons of choice are razor-sharp icicles. This is Jack Frost.Now a fully qualified criminologist, Georgina McKenzie is called upon by the Dutch police to profile this cunning and brutal murderer. Are they looking for a hit man or a frenzied serial-killer? Could there be a link to a cold missing persons’ case that George had worked with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen – two abducted toddlers he could never quite give up on?The hunt for Jack Frost sparks a dangerous, heart-rending journey through the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Roma gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society. Walking into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring, can George outrun death to shed light on two terrible mysteries?

Publisher: Maze
Pages: 378

Marnie Riches is back with another fantastic book in the Georgina MacKenzie series. The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows is much darker than the previous two and I think that it may be my favourite so far. Europe is experiencing Arctic weather conditions and someone is using it to their advantage. Bodies are being found with wounds consistent with an icicle being used as a weapon. It's perfect, the icicle melts and no evidence is left behind. 
Georgina MacKenzie is a fully qualified criminologist now, still working on her research and struggling to make ends meet. She more than welcomes the pay cheque when Dutch police ask her to profile the murderer they have nicknamed Jack Frost. George, along with van den Bergen quickly realise that Jack Frost is linked to a case they worked on together before; two missing children who have never been found. What they didn't know at the time was that they had stumbled on a child trafficking ring with connections across Europe and with people in extremely high positions of power pulling all the strings. Will they be able to find Jack Frost and discover the fate of the missing children?
As I said, this book is much darker; I found some of the ideas in it just terrifying. We are aware of child-trafficking rings and Marnie Riches sheds some light on the horrors involved. The people in control seem to be devoid of humanity as they move children about to suffer terrible abuse and pain.
The dynamic between George and Paul van den Bergen is fraught in this book. They love each other but Paul is fighting against his emotions as he feels he is too old etc. George is not having any of that and she sets out to do everything she can to change her mind. 
The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows is an excellent book. I marvelled at the way the author weaved an intricate and gripping plot, kept the pace going and gave the reader a huge selection of believable and realistic characters. 
I can't recommend this series of books enough, Marnie Riches is a huge talent.

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