I often wonder what I have learned from this life as I stagnate, rarely moving from the position I have chosen, but then I recall the battles I have fought and the changes I have made to ease the hurt in my heart; I remember the skills I have developed and all of the ways that I have evolved, and I realise that life does not have to move forward in great leaps and bounds but a soft, slow shuffle with contentment and gratitude in my heart is more than enough.
3.5 stars. This was my Amazon First Reads choice from September last year, but I’ve only just got round to reading it. To be fair, my TBR pile on my Kindle is horrendously proportioned, so I’m trying to work my way through it while the library is closed – let’s face it, who doesn’t prefer a real book to the electronic variety? Although being able to pick up decent reads for next to nothing is a definite bonus!
Andi and Ian Copeland were high school sweethearts, the “It” couple at exclusive prep school, Glenlake. Twenty years on, they are married and their eldest daughter, Cassidy, is a senior at Glenlake.
A car is discovered, submerged in a local lake, along with the body of Dallas Walker, a teacher from Andi and Ian’s senior year who had mysteriously disappeared. Cassidy’s journalism class is assigned the task of uncovering what happened, but ugly secrets threaten to rear their head.
Both Andi and Ian had dubious links to the former teacher and writer-in-residence, and his arrival and subsequent departure all those years ago made a huge, largely negative, impact on their lives. Both of them had reasons to want him gone, but were they involved in his disappearance? The discovery of his body poses an important question: did Dallas Walker commit suicide, or was he murdered?
I found this quite difficult to get into at first. It was a little slow off the mark, and the characters didn’t really resonate with me. But eventually, it found its footing. The story jumps from present day back to Andi and Ian’s school days, and is told from the POV of Andi, Ian, and Cassidy. I particularly enjoyed the journal entries from teenagers Andi and Ian – I think they added an extra depth to the two characters, and definitely helped me to empathise with them after such a rocky start. Dallas was a particularly vile creature, swaggering around the school as if he was something special, although I guess he was to a bunch of naive 17 year-olds. His untimely ending was not mourned.
3.5 stars on Goodreads. Although it wasn’t bad, the journal entries were definitely the redemption song for me.
You think you know me because I open up my veins and spill my heart’s blood onto the welcome impartiality of these pages, sanding my feelings down to their bare bones in an effort to express the way I felt. You think you know me but I can assure you that you don’t, for I am more than these words, I am more than this emotion, I am more than the hurt and the pain that I share with you. I am more.
Well, I was going to post one of these every week. But then, I struggled to finish two books in Week 2, before racing through 4 books over the long weekend. It is therefore a fact – I’d get a lot more reading done if I didn’t have to work during the week! It ruins all my fun.
So, what have I got in store for this week?
1. When I Was You by Minka Kent
“After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence.
But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger.
What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.”
I’m actually halfway through this one already, and I’m enjoying it. I love a good psychological thriller, and this is definitely one of those. The first half of the story certainly keeps you guessing, as Brienne’s life seems to spiral out of control. Then the twist hits you, and after that, it’s a race against time.
2. Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks
“Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it?
After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.
And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.
In Lies Lies Lies, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.”
I am a huge fan of Adele Parks and have read every single one of her books. I would describe them as women’s fiction more than anything else; the majority of them are based on relationships gone wrong and dealing with the aftermath. I’m looking forward to reading this, and the Kindle version is currently only 0.99p!
3. Drowning with Others – Linda Keir
“They have the perfect marriage. Did one of them kill to get it?
Prep school sweethearts Ian and Andi Copeland are envied by everyone they know. They have successful businesses, a beautiful house in St. Louis, and their eldest daughter, Cassidy, is following in their footsteps by attending prestigious Glenlake Academy. Then, a submerged car is dredged from the bottom of a swimming hole near the campus. So are the remains of a former writer-in-residence who vanished twenty years ago—during Ian and Andi’s senior year.
When Cassidy’s journalism class begins investigating the death, Ian and Andi’s high school secrets rise to the surface. Each has a troubled link to the man whose arrival and sudden disappearance once set the school on edge. And each had a reason to want him gone. As Cassidy unwittingly edges closer to the truth, unspoken words, locked away for decades, will force Ian and Andi to question what they really know—about themselves, about the past, and about a marriage built on a murderous lie.”
This was my Amazon First Reads for September last year, so I’m thinking it’s high time I gave it a read. It looks interesting enough – a body found in a lake, secrets from the past. Right up my street! I’ll review it once I’m done.
4. The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood
“Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.
Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.
Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.
And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…”
I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while now. The reviews on Amazon look amazing, and I always enjoy a cult-based thriller. Watch this space for my review.
If you are a fan of horror fiction yet have never read Ramsey Campbell, then you seriously need to remedy that. The power of Campbell’s writing lies in the fact that, rather than immersing his readers in out-and-out horror, he drops gems of creepiness into seemingly innocent scenes, and so weaves a thread of pure dread throughout the story. This certainly keeps the reader on their toes.
Ray and Sandra are travelling to Greece for a holiday, meeting up with their family on the small island of Vasilema. Upon arrival, they begin to notice strange occurrences which they put down to local traditions; the absence of mirrors, the habit of knocking twice before entering a room. Odd, but nothing they cannot handle. There are far more serious things to consider, such as how to break the news to their children and grand-children that Sandra is dying of cancer.
The creepy happenings seem to begin as soon as they set foot on the island, and do not diminish as the days progress, creating an underlying feeling of unrest. From strange locals seeming to take an unhealthy interest in members of their party, to vivid dreams and disturbances at night, things take a shocking turn when Ray and son-in-law Julian discover the gruesome remains of a missing tourist in a cave. Upon reporting this to the local police, Ray begins to sense that something isn’t quite right on the island and the subsequent interview leaves him with more questions than answers. What is it that the locals are hiding?
Amidst family squabbles, day trips with a sinister twist, and the constant feeling of being watched, Ray attempts to investigate the strange happenings in the nearby resort of Sunset Beach, and eventually discovers a terrifying link between the mosquito bites that have plagued his family and the legend surrounding the spooky monastery on the island.
As a fan of both Ramsey Campbell and Greece, I found this to be an excellent read. The only downside was Ray and Sandra’s insufferable family members, especially Julian, who all deserved to die, but didn’t. Their cringeworthy attempts at parenting only supplemented the uncomfortable feel of the story, and, at times, I wished I could reach into my Kindle and punch Julian in the face. Nevertheless, it was still a fantastic read.
If you listen carefully on a dark and gusty night, you will hear me, speaking in tongues, weaving my stories of sin, and failure, and love gone wrong, a love that died slowly and painfully, dragged out excruciatingly, crushing bones and killing heartbeats beneath departing feet, and afterwards, the blood spatter sank into the fabric of everyday life, staining it forever, so I can never forget, and my tales bear forth relentlessly, destined to speak their truths until the stain washes away; if you listen and look carefully, you will find me, the black-hearted girl, stuck in the space between darkness and light.
This is an amazing debut novel which gripped me from start to finish.
Living on the remote, windswept Shetland Islands isn’t all it was cracked up to be for obstetrician Tora Hamilton. But husband Duncan, a native of the Scottish islands, was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, and the couple uprooted their comfortable life in southern England to move north. Shetland both-and-bred, Duncan has not returned home in 20 years, until now, and Tora struggles to fit in while he works away, leaving her to fend for herself in a strange place.
After the death of her beloved, ageing horse, Jamie, Tora decides to hire a digger and bury him herself in a peat field on her land. However, while in the process, she inadvertently unearths the body of a woman, wrapped in linen and showing signs of a brutal death, buried deep in her field.
As the police swarm over her land, Tora is shocked to discover that the body is not that of a centuries-old, peat-preserved body, which isn’t an unusual occurrence, but that of a more recent murder. The woman’s heart has been removed in what appears to be a ritualistic killing, and rune marks carved into her back. Things take an even more sinister turn when it is revealed that she gave birth just days before she was disposed of.
Tora becomes intent on investigating the crime, even as she receives a number of anonymous, menacing warnings to leave it alone. She doggedly pursues the case and is dragged into a frightening mystery involving powerful men, kidnapping and baby trafficking, and age-old Shetland folklore involving troll-like creatures that steal away human wives. That, along with the desolate Shetland landscape, makes for an extremely thrilling book.
I really enjoyed Bolton’s writing style, and found Tora to be a recklessly brave, socially awkward, and hilariously witty character, with quite an active imagination and an aptitude for attracting trouble, even when attempting to avoid it. I also loved the folklore and the descriptive detail of the Shetland Islands, where I would love to visit.
At the moment, I am working from home and listening to music as I work, mainly on Spotify and Radio X; in particular, Chris Moyles, Toby Tarrant, and Dan O’Connell. I love Radio X as it plays my kind of music, which is indie/alternative/classic rock. I am pretty clueless when it comes to current, Top 40 music, and have a tried and tested approach to music – I listen to what I love and love what I listen to.
1. Dakota – Stereophonics – this is an amazing tune, and one of the best from the band. I have been to see Stereophonics in concert four times, and this song is generally the highlight of the show.
2. You Stole the Sun from my Heart – Manic Street Preachers – there was a time when I thought the Manics were pretty depressing, but they really aren’t. They have definitely grown on me in recent years, and this is one of my favourites. I love the intro. It’s so jangly and upbeat.
3. You & Me Song – The Wannadies – I came into my own in the late 90’s and this is an anthem of the era. I remember dancing to this with my best friend in the indie club we went to, back in the day, singing to each other as we danced. Happy memories.
4. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi – I just love this song. Whenever I hear the intro, I just want to get a shaggy ‘do, grab my air guitar, and rock out! It’s ace.
5. Now That I Found You – Liam Gallagher – a current song! I really like this, and find it so uplifting and, shall I say it, anthem-y. Liam is a bit of an idiot at times, but this is great. Who needs Noel?!
6. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen – one of the best by this amazing band. Freddie’s vocals are spine-tingling, and I love to belt this out (in private), especially when I’ve had a few shandies.
7. Piano Man – Billy Joel – I don’t mind saying that I am a huge Billy Joel fan. My dad used to play his music all the time when I was a kid, and I know most of his songs off-by-heart. Piano Man is an absolute belter.
8. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse – Amy was such a huge talent and her candle was snuffed our far too soon. This song is particularly relatable for me and, although the memories no longer hurt, I still love the lyrics as, at one point, they really spoke to me.
9. Pinball Wizard – The Who – The Who are rock ‘n’ roll legends and I’d have loved to see the original line-up live, back in the day. And while I’m definitely not old enough to have been around back then, that doesn’t mean I can’t love the music.
10. High Hopes – Kodaline – I came across this band purely by accident, when I saw the advert for their first album, liked one of the songs, and decided to purchase it (yup, on CD!) This song is amazing; I love the soaring chorus, and the video is so melancholically beautiful and tells a tragic love story.
Her beauty is ephemeral and runs so deep; she is the gloriousness of a clear, dark night when the stars hang like diamonds in the black velvet of the sky; she is the deliciousness of the scent of fresh coffee, rich and spicy and often complex; she is a bright, summer’s morning, with the dew on her face and such promise in her eyes; she is the shoreline at high tide, constantly changing with the ebb and flow of the sea, yet always present; she is all around, yet nothing you have ever seen or met, so appreciate her for the force of nature that she is.