Reading Round Up – February 2020

I’d read some excellent books in February. Here are my reviews.

Would You Die For Her by Linda Prather.
Dakota has been through a terrible ordeal that has left her broken, both physically and mentally. In an effort to forget what happened to her she’d built walls to protect herself, but when other young women begin being treated like she was, she vows to track her tormentor down.

This book was perfectly paced. There was always something happening, something new discovered about what Dakota had been through. As the walls she built begin to crumble she wonders if she can trust herself. I really liked the four main protagonists, and also thought that the contradictions in Christian’s personality were really well done.

As I got further and further into the book and found out Dakota’s plans, I kept thinking (and hoping,) that surely that won’t happen. But it did. This was a great read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast paced, action packed and dark, crime thriller.

In The Woods by M. K. Farrar
Throughout most of this story the main character, Cass, is alone after being abducted and chained/handcuffed to a tree. Although alone, Cass has support from an unexpected source.

This book, at times, did remind me of Gerald’s Game (by Stephen King,) due to how, Like King, Farrar manages to keep you interested in just one character for so long. Both books focus on a lone female being left in a dangerous situation but manage to maintain the tension.

I like the supernatural edge to the story and how it enabled Cass to give a voice on behalf of other women. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I’m interested to see what else she has written.

The Escape by C. L. Taylor
Parents Jo and Max both say that they only want what is best for their 2 year old daughter, Elise, but they disagree on what that ‘best’ should be.

Jo is threatened by a woman who seems to know too much about her her and then things go down hill fast as Jo battles to keep Elise with her.

This story moves along at a good pace and there’s plenty of times that things were revealed that I didn’t see coming. The chapters from the POV of someone following Jo work well to increase the tension.

This was a really good thriller in which I didn’t know what I thought of Jo and Max until near the end – I kept changing my mind. The ending gathered all the threads of the story together nicely.

 Into The Darkness by Sibel Hodge
I was pleased to discover that both Mya and Mitchell feature in this story after meeting them in Untouchable. It was nice to see how they both were, but this novel can still be read as a stand alone.

Mitchell is called to track down Toni, his best mate’s teenage daughter. He soon realises that she is in danger. At the same time the police are looking into the murder of an elderly couple. How are the cases linked?

I liked Mitchell’s personality in Untouchable and still do. We’re on the same page with how we see many things. The chapters from Toni’s point of view give glimpses of what she’s about to endure and how she deals with it. These chapters are very tense.

I don’t think there’s any chance of me having a look into the darkness. Hodge has done a great job highlighting the dark web and all the dangers of getting lost in it. Highly recommended.

You by Caroline Kepnes
I’d watched the Netflix series based on this book and then wanted to see how the book compared.

Joe falls in love with Beck at first sight and then makes it his life’s mission to keep an eye on her and remove toxic things from her life. The book is written from Joe’s POV, so every thought and conversation he has makes it into the story.

I liked how the book examines Joe’s motivations, morals and thoughts about relationships. There were times that I found myself agreeing with him even though he is portrayed as the antagonist.

I didn’t like Beck in the TV series, and my opinion wasn’t changed by the book! She’s selfish and just out for what she get, and I kept wondering what the hell Joe saw in her.

Some of the language is coarse and seemed to be used a little too much, but overall this is a well written and thought out psychological thriller.

 

What have you been reading recently? What would you recommend?

Thank you for the continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

The Abattoir of Dreams: Still Being Discovered Three Years On

On 28th February 2017, The Abattoir of Dreams was published. With the help of some supportive and enthusiastic book bloggers, the book began to gather some fantastic praise and reviews. Although the story does include the subject of institutional child abuse, readers have also said that the friendship, love and trust between the two main protagonists, Michael and Liam, are what has kept the book in their minds a long time after reading it. Here are just a few of the reviewers thoughts on the book:

‘I have to mention briefly Michael’s relationship with his childhood pet Oxo as well as Liam who he befriends in the boys home. These relationships moved me to tears and are ones that will stay with me for a long time to come.’
5* from Sarah Hardy @ By The Letter Book Reviews.

‘The characters in the book grabbed my heart – Michael – seriously my heart was torn out reading his journeys – the wasted opportunities for him to be saved; the adults who let him down and horrors he faced, I wanted to reach into the pages and rescue him! Liam – I loved – he was not willing to stand back and let the bad guys win and I cheered for him throughout, what a strong and determined character!’
5* from Sharon Bairden @ Chapter In My Life.

‘Liam Truman is someone we meet along the way and my heart went out to this kid. Tough on the outside, his loyalty, friendship and desire to protect those he cared about …no matter what the cost….really pulled at my heartstrings!’
5* from Noelle Holten @ Crime Book Junkie

Here’s an extract from the book that shows the friendship and humour that can be shared, even in difficult situations. Michael and Liam have run away from Woodside, a children’s home. They’ve found a way into a run down and empty pub:

‘We’re in luck,’ Liam said.
I could think of better words to describe the place. Shithole, sprang to mind. ‘What?’
He pointed at a small plastic square set in the bottom of the door. ‘It’s got a cat-flap.’
I was about to remind him we weren’t cats, when he unhooked his rucksack, dropped onto his knees, and tugged at the flap. Within a few seconds, it came free. He held up a hand triumphantly, and then pushed his way inside. I wouldn’t say it was a tight squeeze, but it had probably been easier for his mother to give birth to him. He pushed and grunted, shoes scrabbling on the ground for a foothold. Eventually, he
popped through the hole.
A few seconds later, he poked his head back through the hole.
‘Come on, Mikey. Pass your bag and my rucksack through. Then,come in.’
He looked so happy, as if, for the first time in his life, he’d played a game and won. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting through there. I was slightly bulkier than him, and a damn sight less enthusiastic. But, it was better than nothing, and nothing was all we had right now. I passed the rucksack and my small canvas bag through.
‘Careful. You’ll squish the cakes,’ he said, grinning like a clown.
I suppose it was inevitable. I got stuck halfway through. To tell the truth and shame the devil, as my Aunt Jean used to say before she got her loyalties all muddled up, my arse got stuck.
And then one of my shoes fell off.
It’s hard to explain the panic that sets in when you can’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I felt dizzy. Liam grew two grinning heads. He tried to pull me through the flap, but the harder he pulled, the more I flapped (no pun intended). To make matters worse, I caught my knackers on the metal rim of the blasted thing. Searing pain ripped up into my belly.
‘Can’t you push with your feet at the same time as I pull?’
‘I’m trying.’
‘Well try harder.’
‘You pull harder.’
He did. And virtually castrated me. ‘YOW! My nuts. My fucking nuts.’
He stopped pulling. ‘How am I supposed to help you if you keep squealing like a girl about your bollocks?’
‘Girls haven’t got bollocks,’ I shouted.
‘I doubt they’d make as much fuss as you if they did.’
‘Seriously, Liam. They feel as if they’re in my guts.’
He laughed. ‘Watch you don’t get yourself pregnant.’
‘Ha, ha, very—’
Without warning, he yanked again. Harder. Short sharp jerks, like Oxo on his lead when he saw a cat. And then I was through. Lying on a filthy kitchen floor, with my chin resting on a large coconut mat.
‘What a girl.’
I was off that mat and up in an instant. I think Liam thought I was going to hit him. I never told him the real reason for my sudden burst of energy: a spider. More related to a money-spider than a tarantula, but a spider all the same.

Later on the book both Liam (Truman) and Michael (Tate) have been ‘charged’ with criminal offences in a kangaroo court in the boiler room underneath Woodside. DI Carver, and teachers Kraft and Malloy, play judge and jury as Liam maintains his strength and courage:

Carver referred to his notebook. ‘Truman is charged with theft, criminal damage, unauthorised absence, wilful neglect, assault, arson, carrying a weapon with intent to endanger life, resisting arrest, abusing a man of the cloth, blasphemy, and dereliction of duty.’
Kraft nodded, as each of the trumped-up charges was read out. He shouted across the room to Liam. ‘Do you understand the charges, Mr. Truman?’
Liam hung from the railing, like an animal in a butcher’s shop window. ‘Fuck you.’
Kraft shook his head. ‘I see the prisoner has lost none of his appetite for insolence. Have you anything to say in your defence, Mr. Truman?’
Liam didn’t answer. He made a hacking noise in the back of his throat and spat on the floor.
Kraft turned to Malloy. ‘Can defence offer any mitigation for the prisoner?’
Malloy shook his head. ‘Unfortunately not, your honour. Truman has always been an awkward character. He has consistently shown a flagrant disregard for authority. On reflection, he might have benefited from a stricter approach regarding discipline, but,
as I’m sure you’re aware, your honour, hindsight is a wonderful thing.’
‘Indeed. But, it is not the duty of this court to rake over the ashes of a prisoner’s past. What’s done is done. I understand the prisoner’s father committed suicide?’
Malloy preened himself like a strutting peacock. ‘That is the case, your honour.’
Kraft looked at Liam. ‘The apple never falls far from the tree, does it, young man?’
Liam held his head as high as he could and looked Kraft in the eye. ‘No. And sometimes people end up swinging from that same tree.’
Kraft banged his mallet down hard enough to split the wood.
‘I see that tongue of yours makes a very effective noose. I would like to remind you that you’re in a court of law. Everything you say can and will be used as evidence against you.’
Liam turned away, his face crushed by pain.
Kraft addressed Carver again. ‘You say the prisoner resisted arrest?’
‘Yes, your honour. We pleaded with both defendants to see sense, but Truman seemed to take some sort of perverse pleasure in taunting us. He said he’d poured petrol down the cellar steps, and he would set fire to it if anyone came through the door. We didn’t have a key, your honour. The best we could do was try to appeal to their better nature.’
Kraft adjusted his wig and dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief. ‘It might be fair to surmise characters such as these don’t possess a better nature.’
‘I fear you’re right, your honour,’ Carver said. ‘That has already been made apparent by the prisoners’ behaviour in the church.’
‘As I can unfortunately bear witness to. His language was both foul and abhorrent.’ He turned to me. ‘Why did you go to the church, Tate?’
To rob the place. ‘I don’t know.’
‘If I might offer a suggestion, your honour,’ Carver intervened. ‘They went there to steal.’
‘Steal what, Mr. Carver?’
‘Perhaps the gold candlesticks?’
Kraft wrote something down on a jotter. ‘Is that true, Tate?’
‘No.’
Kraft turned to Carver. ‘I’d be interested to know why they went to the church, Detective Inspector. The vicar is a personal friend of mine. I’m sure he would appreciate an answer. It might be prudent to see if you can elicit one from Truman.’
‘Certainly, your honour.’ He walked over to Liam and stood a few feet in front of him. ‘You heard the judge. He wants to know the real reason why you went to the church.’
Liam tried to straighten his head and look Carver in the eye. His breath rattled in the back of his throat. His glasses were perched precariously on the end of his nose. ‘We… went…there… to… pray…’
‘Pray for what, boy?’ Kraft said. ‘Salvation?’
‘To… pray… you… lot… die… a… slow… and… painful…death…’

If you’d like to see how Michael and Liam became friends and what happens next, then you can find the book using this link. I hope that you enjoy the rest of it.

As always, thank you for your continued support, and special thanks to all those who continue to praise and recommend The Abattoir of Dreams.

Best wishes,

Mark.

Reading Round Up – January 2020

2020 got off to a great start reading wise. I’ve read four fantastic books this month, here are my reviews:

Black Summer by M. W. Craven
Poe and Tilly are back in the follow up to The Puppet Show. Still socially awkward but determined to help Poe, Tilly sets about finding how something supposedly forensically impossible, has been made possible.

The case being investigated is complex but Craven, through Poe, takes you through it step by step. Poe’s friendship with Tilly really works, although you’d think it shouldn’t based on their different personalities and outlooks on life. They always have each other’s back though, and sometimes in funny ways.

Keaton is a great antagonist. Self absorbed and a narcissist, he thinks he’s covered all bases to protect himself, but he never banked on Tilly’s research and investigative talents.

Although not as emotive as The Puppet Shoe, I enjoyed this case just as much and look forward to number three.

 

The Whisper Man by Alex North
I like crime thrillers and I’m partial to a touch of the supernatural, and this book combines the two perfectly. There has been a lot of praise for this book so I began reading it hoping it would live up to the hype. It did.

The kidnap and murder of two young boys 20 years apart are leaving the police of Featherbank frustrated. They are struggling to do their job and have run out of leads. Tom and his son Jake move to Featherbank after the death of Jake’s mum, Rebecca. There is much about the village they don’t know about until a gruesome discovery is made.

Jake was my favourite character and the father-son relationship was well done. The little misunderstandings between them are realistic, as are both their uncertainties about their new life. Jake’s relationship with his imaginary friend gradually develops through the story until the significance of his ‘friend’ is revealed. This revelation is emotive as is the very end of the book.

An excellent thriller that has lived up to the hype and then some!

Continue reading

Tilbury Talks To… Amy May Smith

Welcome to my first post of 2020. Today I’m talking with Ami May Smith. Welcome Ami, please introduce yourself.

Hi, I am Ami from Reading Through The Pain. I am a chronic illnesses warrior and reading has helped me through my mental illness and chronic pain since I was a teenager, although I started reading much earlier. My reading buddy is my cat Shyla.


You can visit Ami’s blog by clicking on the above image.

What went through your head when you first decided to start your book blog?
To be honest I can’t remember. I have loved reading since I was a young girl, it’s always been my therapy. Before and After being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and M.E\CFS, I could no longer do the hobbies I used to do I.e sewing, knitting, card-making etc. I used to have a sewing blog. I got back into reading and I saw that you could become a book blogger\book reviewer. So I thought Why not?

What are the best and worst things about being a book blogger?
Best: Meeting authors, meeting new authors, friendships, early access to books etc.
Worst: I don’t think there is a worse only those I put on myself. Getting overwhelmed,  losing my reading mojo.

How soon after finishing reading a book do you write a review?
Virtually straight away or a couple days after once its settled and I’ve thought about it.

Have you met any fellow book bloggers in ‘real-life’ and what were they like?
Nope unfortunately but I don’t and cant travel very far from my little town due to my illnesses I.e bpd, anxiety, fibro etc. I would love to one day.

If you’ve not met any other book bloggers in ‘real-life’ yet, who would you like to meet and why?
Oh golly gosh there are so many I couldn’t name one or 100. But there are some amazing people I’ve met online. So I would say meet them all and because many of them of my people who also do blogging\reading due to chronic illness.

Have you met any of your favourite authors? Did the experience meet your expectations?
I’ve met Elly Griffiths, Sarah Ward, Stephen Booth and William Shaw. And yes definitely and more!

Think of the worst antagonist you’ve ‘met’ in a book. If you could dish out your own justice on behalf of their victims, who would it be and what would you do?
Ha-ha being a crime, true crime, serial killer fanatic I’m afraid what I would dish out would not be appropriate here or anywhere on the internet. But I think most of us have the same ideas some mild and some extreme.

In your opinion which book should everyone read at least once, and why?
I’m not into classics but a book that has stuck in my mind the most this year is The Puppet Show By M.W.Craven. Its frankly bloody EPIC!

Who are your 3 favourite authors and what makes them stand out?
You of course Mark, amazing books but a genuinely amazing person who has so much love and support for bloggers/Readers.
Ooo two more this is sooooo hard. But I would say Mel Comley and Emmy Ellis. Again as well as incredible authors they are the nicest women.
But honestly I have so many favourite authors which are exceptional so it’s so very hard to pinpoint them and think of reasons.

 

Thank you Ami for taking the time to answer my questions. I agree with you about The Puppet Show, it’s an excellent book.
You can find Ami across social media. Here on her Facebook page, and via her Twitter handle @RTTPBookBlog 

Thank you for continued support into the new year.

Best wishes,

Mark.

My Top 10 Reads of 2019

I’ve read some great books this year. Some, by authors I’ve already read books by and enjoyed, others were new to me. Here’s my top 10 book picks of 2019.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver.

The Dead Won’t Sleep by Anna Smith.

 Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite

 Winterscroft by Anita Waller

 A Patient Man by S Lynn Scott.

 The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

 Legion by Shani Struthers

 Monkspike by Sarah England

 Broken by Betsy Reavley

and my top read of the year was Untouchable by Sibel Hodge.

You’ll find some crime fiction, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, supernatural thrillers and horror in my list, so why not go and find out more about these books over on Amazon?

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2020!

Best wishes,

Mark.