The Cross, Steve Cavanagh

 

Eddie Flynn has an impossible choice.

He has damning evidence against a corrupt NYPD detective who stands accused of killing a suspect.

But if he uses this evidence in court, both he and his client – the dead man’s widow – will be in mortal danger.

Should he risk their lives to win the case? Or keep quiet and let a murderer go free.


So The Defence was one of my absolute favourite books I read during 2015 and is probably the novel I bought for and / or recommended to the most number of people too.

Eddie Flynn is BACK! And I could not have been more excited at this news – even though on this occasion he’s back for a novella. But what a novella it is!

I was initially feeling anxious at the thought of reading about Eddie Flynn in a novella format, as I’ve found that often novellas feel too brief and frequently meticulous details that are crucial in stories involving strong protagonists like Eddie are omitted. But I’m so happy to say this wasn’t the case and, in fact, The Cross didn’t really feel like a novella at all. No detail was lost and it didn’t feel at all shallower than a full length novel. I specifically enjoyed the detailed stories included throughout such as the hot plate story (although this sent chills up my spine!) and the con story involving a frog. It is these particulars that really bring Eddie Flynn to life and I’m so glad the author still managed to include them alongside the main story of The Cross despite its shorter length.

Each chapter was packed full of action and the end of every single chapter was a brilliant twist or cliff hanger. If I vowed to pop to the toilet or to get a drink, each chapter ending made this practically impossible! A very clever technique employed by the author meant that putting the book down was so, so difficult. I literally couldn’t stop reading as I had to know what happened next.

It’s safe to say I just love Eddie Flynn and as I’ve said before he has so much potential as a series protagonist. There were so many occasions during this novella that I thought to myself “there is just no way this can be resolved now AT ALL” but Eddie is so clever and so manipulative, I kept whooping with delight whenever he managed to turn things around. He is a character that the reader fully invests in which is so crucial as you end up really caring about what happens to both him and those around him.

The Cross acts as a perfect introduction to Eddie Flynn if you haven’t already discovered him, and if you have, it is a fantastic addition to getting-to-know, understand a bit more and love him (if you don’t already!).

Now I cannot wait to get my mitts on a copy of The Plea in May and I’m counting down the days!

The Defence is out now and available to purchase here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Defence-Steve-Cavanagh/dp/1409152308/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452085447&sr=8-1&keywords=the+defence

The Cross is available on eBook here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cross-Eddie-Flynn-Novella-ebook/dp/B017RKCDNM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1452085501&sr=8-2&keywords=the+cross and it’s currently FREE so I would urge you to take advantage of that NOW!

 

 

The Grownup, Gillian Flynn

A young woman is making a living, faking it as a cut-price psychic working at Spiritual Palms (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side). She makes a decent wage – mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke. Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15-year old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor, built in 1893. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home, and taking possession of the stepson. She has even found trickles of blood on the wall. The young woman doesn’t believe in exorcism or the supernatural, but she does see an opportunity to make a lot of money. However when she enters the house for the first time, and meets Miles, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time…. 


This is a short story written in true Gillian Flynn style. The main protagonist is a manipulative female, something that will be familiar to readers of Gillian Flynn’s other novels and something that Flynn is an expert at crafting.

The story can be read in under an hour but will sit with you for much longer as it is dark, cold and haunting – full of twists and turns.

I really loved the open ending that the author left for the reader to speculate over and interpret for themselves. It meant that I was left thinking about the story for a good while after I had finished it and I really enjoyed the mysterious nature of it.

As a reader, after such huge success with Gone Girl I would worry with an author such as Gillian Flynn. It always seems to be so hard to write anything else after a novel becomes hugely phenomenal – anything else always seems to get lost in the shadow of the successful work. But this is certainly not the case with Flynn. This short story is captivating, chilling and written in signature Gillian Flynn voice. I would certainly recommend this to ALL fans of Gone Girl and other psychological / dark thrillers.

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance, Kirsty Greenwood

Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she’s been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.

Things aren’t going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras.

When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.

The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It’s going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off . . .


I’ve heard and seen so much about this novel on Twitter and in the bloggersphere since its release back in April this year. And I finally managed to get around to it on my TBR pile! This is a light-hearted, easy to read and laugh-out-loud novel which I thoroughly enjoyed reading!

The main protagonist, Jess, is quite something – she’s down to earth, fun, sassy and completely hilarious. Jess’ behaviour and mannerisms were quite a shock initially as she is so “in your face” from pretty much as soon as you open the book. But as the reader, I did really warm to her as the story progressed and this mattered as I really cared about what was happening to her. The character of Summer is probably the most frustratingly horrible person ever! The author has done such a fantastic job of creating her characters and exposing such strong emotions about each of them from her reader.

I also really enjoyed the integration of both Matilda’s clippings from her 1950s guides at the start of each chapter as well as the sections of Rose’s diary at relevant parts throughout the novel. This added to the depth of the story and I thought these were quite thought provoking and extremely fitting.

I haven’t read a chick-lit book in quite a while and this really was a breath of fresh air. While parts of the story were fairly predictable and at times a bit cheesy (but who doesn’t love a bit of cheese?!), I would strongly recommend this novel to anyone who likes classic chick-lit style fiction. I’m super pleased to have discovered a new author who is able to make me laugh – a real feel good novel!

The A to Z of You And Me, James Hannah

Ivo has all kinds of everyday joy in his life – he’s young, he’s in love, he has friends who promise to stand by him if life ever goes wrong.Then one day, life does go wrong. He makes a mistake, and it’s big and unforgiveable. Now time is
running out and his life is falling apart. But he’s going to put it
together again. His own way.


I really loved the author’s choice of structure using the alphabet to tell Ivo’s story. This was a very unique narrative method and I really enjoyed how original it was.

However, this also means that the story is quite fragmented into short sharp sections, which could mean that some readers struggle to piece the story together as it might seem to have a lack of flow. For me, this wasn’t the case and I actually liked the disjointed way the story pulls together… It seemed appropriate to the plot and its chief protagonist, Ivo.

This novel is also full of sadness. From page one, there is this subtle yet consistent hint of sadness and, while it is hard to pinpoint what causes this, it is definitely there. Having said that, I definitely don’t mean to say that the novel was at all depressing. It felt realistic and is beautifully written while simultaneously dealing with some hugely topical, thought provoking and commonplace issues.

I managed to read this novel in one day. I really raced through it – something which short chapters really enables. It’s a very easy to read novel and it really is captivating.

This is a story that will appeal to everybody as it is a tale of life, death, love and loss – very moving and powerful.

After You, Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark has lots of questions.

Like how it is she’s ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.

Or why the flat she’s owned for a year still doesn’t feel like home.

Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.

And will she ever get over the love of her life.

What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.

Then, one night, it does.

But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for – or just more questions?

Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.

Open it and she risks everything.

But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she’s going to keep it, she has to invite them in . . .


I could not explain my excitement and anticipation of this novel prior to reading (see: https://sarakettleborough.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/the-24th-september-finally-arrived/ )! This is the long awaited sequel to Me Before You, one of my absolute favourite books. It was always going to be difficult for the author to produce this novel after the hugely successful and phenomenonal first novel in the series. But I have to say After You definitely did not disappoint.

While I struggled to adapt to Louisa’s world without Will, I thought the characters were still fantastic and mostly extremely likeable. They were very familiar and I found it very comforting to be reunited with them all and I also really enjoyed meeting the new characters too.

Louisa’s grief was raw and authentic and, as a huge fan of Me Before You, I really shared her loss and experiences.

There are parts of the novel that are extremely sad and, quite contrastingly, there are some hilarious parts so you really go on an emotional rollercoaster – in a similar manner to Me Before You. To fully appreciate this novel, I definitely don’t think it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel from its counterpart as I’ve seen some other reviewers suggest. I personally think that you need to read the first instalment in order to fully understand and value the relationship between Will and Lou.

I found After You to be an absolute pleasure and joy to read and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Jojo Moyes decided to take on the rather difficult task of creating a sequel – a great success!

Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine. 


So I read Because You’ll Never Meet Me without reading the blurb beforehand. It caught my eye on NetGalley because of the interesting title and brightly coloured cover.

Ollie and Moritz are the main protagonists of the novel and both characters suffer from two very interesting and unfamiliar conditions which means their lives are very different from “normal” boys of their age and very different from one another.

The fact that they both live very unusual lives because of their conditions is something that they in fact have in common, which in itself is something very heartwarming and comforting to read as their friendship blossoms and progresses.

But, simultaneously, their lifestyles are rather difficult to interpret / understand for the reader because of the unique illnesses each has to deal with. This is an obstacle that the reader has to get their head round before any enjoyment of the novel can begin.

The novel is written in letter format – so the letters the boys write to each other – and the youth and innocence of the boys’ voices in their letters is extremely realistic and really brings the story to life. The letter format also means the reader becomes a party to the boys’ entire friendship, which is important to the reader’s sentiments for each boy separately and together as a pair of friends.

The novel is very dense early on and there are lots of minute, and sometimes seemingly useless, details packed in. The story is quite slow for the first 50% and there were times when I considered giving up!

But the boys are so likeable and their friendship is so unique to witness I’m really pleased I didn’t! I must admit at times it was hard to read about some of the ordeals the boys go through and I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed with the ending of the novel but I would probably still recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about the lives of extraordinary and captivating characters.

A Parcel for Anna Browne, Miranda Dickinson

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn’t exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . .

When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift – one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her – and her life starts to change.

But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?


Being a HUGE lover of receiving post myself, as soon as I saw this blurb on NetGalley I just knew I HAD to read it! And I must say I really adored this novel!!

Firstly, I really loved the title character, Anna Browne. She was quiet, delicate and quite unassuming which makes her an extremely likeable protagonist. She seems to be just an ordinary girl like any other! This meant that, not only did I like her, care about her and was able to relate to her, but, as the reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and subsequent transformations that occur to Anna and her life experiences.

Not only do I find post, specifically unexpected items, exciting but I also have a real passion for beautiful and unusual gift wrap so I loved reading about the different parcels Anna received and all the intricate details of Anna’s anticipation about each gift she received as well as the fine details the author included every time regarding how each item was wrapped!

This is a really beautifully crafted, feel good novel and is perfect for snuggling down for the afternoon to read. I was left guessing until the last few pages who was sending the gifts to Anna and I was just completely immersed in Anna’s world for a whole day which is a fantastic experience for a reader. I would definitely recommend this novel to all who enjoy a light and easy-to-read feel good fairy tale!

Huge thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for approving and sending me copy of this novel.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers, Louise Candlish

Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.

When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their ‘for ever’ home, they believe their dreams have come true.

Yet the boxes aren’t even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.

What happened to her? And why are Joe and Christy’s attempts at friendship with neighbours met with an unnerving silence?

As Christy unravels the shocking truth about the Frasers and the place she now calls home, she discovers that behind the closed doors of even the most desirable postcodes, terrible secrets lurk.


This was a book group novel chosen by my mum for our previous read but I have only just got around to reading it since my to-be-read pile is quickly starting to look very similar to Mount Everest!

I am told Louise Candlish has written 11 novels but The Sudden Departure of the Frasers was my first encouter of her work and from the moment the novel began to unfold I needed to know what had happened.

The novel flows smoothly, very freely and it is easy to read. The two threads of the story are cleverly intertwined and they are also clearly distinguishable from each other so the separation of the story into these two perspectives doesn’t hinder the flow of the plot at all or the reading experience.

Simultaneously, the novel is very intriguing and rather mysterious as you find yourself trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together but, in my case, without success! I tried to talk about the novel to all the ladies at book group who had finished it in time to see if they would give any clues away but, unfortunately, they all remained tight lipped and so I was left feeling frustrated and needed to read on even more so than before!

I just loved the world that the author created. It felt authentic and, while several of the characters weren’t particularly likeable, the neighbourhood felt very realistic and I became fondly familiar with the characters and the world in which they live.

There were a couple of occasions I just wanted the plot to speed along a little so I could find out what happened. When this happened, the inclusion of a few minute details were lost on me (showing my complete lack of patience!) as the anticipation was too much – all I wanted to know was what had happened!

Before I give too much away, I’m going to stop!! So, I would definitely recommend this compelling and mysterious novel to all. This street could easily be one of many around the UK – so watch out!

Little Girl Gone – Alexandra Burt

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?

When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.

Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible…


So I’d seen a fair bit about this novel on Twitter from my fellow bloggers in the lead up to its release last Thursday and I thought the cover looked fantastic and the blurb sounded just like my perfect kind of book so I was rather excited to read a novel from an author who was new to me and see what it was all about.

Unfortunately, Little Girl Gone was not for me. While I really loved the subtle design choices such as the inclusion of newspaper clippings which authenticated the novel’s plot and the literary quotes too – mainly because I’m a bookworm and love things like this, this novel just didn’t captivate me. I found the plot slow to pick up momentum and by the time it did, I had lost interest in the plot and its characters as I didn’t find any of them particularly likeable or easy to relate to. It was too easy to put down and leave and I didn’t think about the novel or anything to do with it while I wasn’t reading it.

I must admit I have read several novels this year that address a similar concept of a missing baby or toddler and, unfortunately, the majority of the others that I have read did it better.