Book Review: Drowning with Others by Linda Keir

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.

What Am I Reading? #Week 4

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.

Happy Tuesday! ❤️

Book Review: Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell

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.

4 stars on Goodreads.

Book Review: Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton

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.

So good that I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Top 10 Quarantine Songs

So, I was mooching around, looking for some inspiration, and I came across http://babybutterfliesandcoffee.com’s post, Ten Songs I Am Loving Right Now. I enjoyed reading it so much that I decided to write my own version – Top 10 Quarantine Songs.

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.

20 Feel-Good Movies

We all have our favourite go-to movies or TV programmes that we can rely on to evoke good feelings within. Whether it is a hilarious laugh-a-minute comedy or a cheesy 80’s rom-com, there is always something we choose to watch when we are feeling in need of a cheer-up.

Personally, when I’m feeling a little down, I will turn over to Comedy Central, where you are almost guaranteed to catch back-to-back Friends reruns. There is nothing quite like Chandler’s one-liners or Joey’s adorable idiocy to raise my spirits.

As for films, I also have my favourites. When I initially began writing this post, I was going to list 10 movies. But once I began jotting them down, I discovered I had more favourites than I first realised. So, I extended my post. See below for my Top 20 feel-good movies.

1. The Goonies – the tale of a group of kids who find a treasure map and embark on the hunt for pirate One-Eyed Willy’s loot, with bank robbers the Fratelli’s hot on their heels. Funny, heartwarming, and action-packed, this is fantastically entertaining and great for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

2. Harry and the Henderson’s – out on a car trip, the Henderson family accidentally knock down a Bigfoot, which they decide to take home to dispose of the body. But Harry is not dead.. I love this film. Harry becomes such a treasured member of the Henderson family, even as he causes commotion in their home town and is hunted down by opportunists.

3. Just Go With It – a womanising plastic surgeon (Adam Sandler) meets the girl of his dreams, but an elaborate story unwittingly involves his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) as his fake ex-wife. This is laugh-out-loud funny, and obviously the two protagonists fall in love along the way.

4. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – advice columnist Andie (Kate Hudson) decides to mix her column up by researching her new article, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, a little too thoroughly. Ben (Matthew McConaughey) is an executive who is so confident in his romantic prowess that he vows to make a girl fall for him – in 10 days. Hilarity and love ensues.

5. The Devil Wears Prada – dowdy Andy (Anne Hathaway) lands herself a job at prestigious Runway magazine working as assistant and general whipping girl to the infamous Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Determined to succeed and prove Miranda and everybody else wrong, Andy sets about transforming herself into the perfect assistant, even as her private life suffers. Funny and entertaining, and Miranda is amazingly diabolical. Emily Blunt is brilliant as head assistant, Emily.

6. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Kevin Costner’s attempt at playing the outlaw Robin Hood, along with his sidekick Azeem (Morgan Freeman). With a runtime of a whopping 2 hours 23 minutes, this has a star-studded cast, with the outstanding performance going to Alan Rickman as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham. In my opinion, the best RH movie there is.

7. 21 Jump Street – loosely based on the 80’s TV series of the same name, useless cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) join the secret Jump Street unit and have to go undercover as high school students. Hilariously funny, and such a refreshing change to see Tatum in this kind of comedy role.

8. Monsters Inc. – Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) work for Monsters Incorporated, the biggest scare factory in the monster world. As one of the top scarers, Sulley accesses children’s bedrooms through their closets and harvests their screams. It is dangerous work as human children are thought to be toxic, but things are about to get scarier for them all as a young girl finds her way into the factory and Sulley and Mike are dragged into a race against time to get her home before the other monsters discover her.

9. Ice Age – a woolly mammoth, a sabre toothed tiger, and a sloth are an unlikely group of heroes when they join together to look after a human child whose mother has been swept away by the river. Heartwarming, emotional, and amusing.

10. 17 Again – Mike (Matthew Perry) was a high-school basketball star with a bright future ahead of him, until he threw it all away to marry his pregnant girlfriend. Years later, his life and marriage has gone to pot, but he gets a second chance to re-write history when he wakes up in his 17 year-old body (Zac Efron). Hilarious and sweet.

11. Mrs Doubtfire – the late, great Robin Williams stars as Daniel, a loser dad whose marriage to Miranda (Sally Field) has failed. Desperate to still see his kids despite the ongoing custody battle, he dresses as an older British woman and answers Miranda’s ad for a nanny. Hilarity ensues. A classic.

12. Ghostbusters – I’m talking about the original, of course. Who hasn’t seen this comedy classic? If you haven’t, you really need to. Three disgraced scientists-turned-ghost-hunters (Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis) wage a war against the paranormal activity in New York City. With guests stars Zuul, Slimer, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

13. The Hangover – amazingly hilarious stag party escapade as Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zak Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms) and the elusive Doug (Justin Bartha) head to Las Vegas to celebrate Doug’s upcoming nuptials.

14. Dirty Dancing – coming-of-age story set in the 1960’s when Daddy’s girl Baby (Jennifer Grey) and her family vacation at Kellerman’s, an upmarket holiday resort in the Catskills, and Baby meets the sexy and talented dancer, Johnny (Patrick Swayze). If you haven’t seen this, why? Fantastic film with a fantastic soundtrack. Makes you want to take up dancing lessons!

15. Bridget Jones’ Diary – based on the novel by the same name by Helen Fielding, this is a hilarious look into Bridget’s (Renée Zellweger) life as an adorably imperfect, sadly single 32 year-old. After an embarrassing incident at a family Christmas party, she decides to cut out on the fags, lose weight, and find her Mr. Right. Hilarity ensues, with a beautifully happy ending for Bridget.

16. Labyrinth – fantasy adventure starring the late, great David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King. 15 year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is tired of her normal, teenage life and dreams of faraway lands. When she is forced to babysit for her brother Toby, she unwittingly conjures up Jareth, who whisks Toby away to the Goblin City, which lies at the centre of a huge, otherworldly maze. Sarah vows to find her way through the labyrinth to rescue her brother, with the help of numerous puppet friends, created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. A must-see for all the family.

17. Finding Nemo – this is the animated story of clown fish Marlin, overprotective single parent to his physically impaired son, Nemo, after his mate was eaten by a shark. One day, disobeying his father’s strict orders, Nemo swims out onto the reef and is taken by humans. Marlin embarks on an epic journey across the Coral Sea, accompanied by new friend, Dory, an Angel fish with a six-second memory, to rescue his son from a dentist’s aquarium in Sydney, Australia. This is a heartwarming story of a father’s love for his son and the lengths he will go to to protect him, and even if you think you’re too old for cartoon films, you won’t be when it comes to this.

18. Shrek – if you haven’t seen Shrek, why?! Hilarious tale of the ogre, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), who is forced to leave his happy home in the swamp to rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon-guarded tower for the repulsive Lord Farquaad, who is desperate to marry into royalty and become king. In return, Lord Farquaad promises Shrek the eviction of all fairytale creatures from his once-quiet swamp. Along the way, Shrek is befriended by a talking donkey called Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and falls in the love with the beautiful and feisty Princess Fiona, who has a very special secret. Can Shrek and Fiona find their Happy Ever After?

19. The Fifth Element – Bruce Willis stars as Korben Dallas, a taxi driver in the 23rd century who is dragged into a battle to save the planet when a humanoid woman called Leelou (Mila Jovovich) falls into his cab. Leelou has been created from alien DNA and is the perfect being, and she enlists Korben’s help to find the four elemental stones that, along with the mystical Fifth Element, are the only things that can save Earth. This was former supermodel Mila’s first acting role, and she smashed it!

20. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – there was no way I could finish my blog post without including this film. Comedy act, Monty Python, put their spin on the legend of King Arthur and the Knight’s of the Round Table in this hilarious depiction of the quest for the Holy Grail. This version involves rude French soldiers, a holy hand grenade (3, not 5!), a killer rabbit, the persistent Black Knight, Sir Robin’s extremely honest minstrels, a group of knights whose weapon of choice is the word “Ni!”, and a lot of running away. Absolutely bonkers and hysterically funny.

Book Review: Cujo by Stephen King

During my young teen years, when my reading taste was moving on from my staple animal stories to literature of a more adult persuasion, I devoured the majority of the horror books in my local library, most notably Stephen King, James Herbert, and Peter Straub. I loved those old books, and treasured my battered, second-hand copies of Christine, IT, The Rats, etc.

I might have to review that Top 3 now.

Weirdly enough, however, I never read Cujo. I saw the film; I think everyone from my era saw and were slightly traumatised by the film. But I never read the book, a fact I only alighted on last week when I read a post on Facebook about favourite Stephen King novels (at the time, The Shining, Misery, and The Green Mile).

Upon realising that I hadn’t read Cujo, I logged straight onto Amazon and ordered a used copy. It arrived last week, and I started reading it on Tuesday.

Wow.

Cujo is a huge St. Bernard dog, weighing in at nearly two hundred pounds, but the softest and sweetest dog ever. He is adored by his owner, ten year-old Brett Camber, son of mechanic, Joe Camber, and Cujo, in turn, adores his BOY.

One day, while out chasing rabbits, Cujo unearths a hole in the ground which is, unfortunately, home to a colony of rabid bats. Sadly, he gets bitten, and from then on, his story takes a downward turn.

As the huge dog, formerly such a good boy, slowly deteriorates, life goes on in the town of Castle Rock. Vic and Donna’s marriage hits a rough patch when her infidelity is brought to his attention in a brutally honest letter, and, struggling to cope, he leaves town on a business trip. Left at home with their five-year-old son, Tad, Donna is racked with guilt, but attempts to soldier on. She is having trouble with her car and decides to, along with Tad, drive up to Camber’s farm to get it fixed.

Unbeknownst to her, the Camber’s dog, Cujo, has gone on a murderous rampage, killing anyone in his path, and Donna and Tad are next on his hit list. Trapped for three days in Donna’s broken-down car with a rabid dog standing guard outside, waiting to rip them apart, Donna and Tad have to fight for survival, and many lives are about to be changed.

Sounds terrifying? This book really is, but it is not all blood and gore. King weaves a story of horror combined with family issues, work problems, and revenge. He knows how to delve deep and really create his characters, giving the reader a huge insight into their persona, their feelings, and their life. As a result, you truly begin to know them.

I have to admit, although Cujo becomes a vicious killer, I actually felt pity for him throughout the book. He was an innocent bystander, caught up in something he had no control over, and the way King describes the dog’s thought processes as the story progresses is nothing short of genius. He creates a killer, but also explains in no uncertain terms that Cujo is a well-loved, soft-natured, good boy who is as much a victim as his victims.

As an animal lover, I thought I would find this book difficult to read, but Cujo’s plight is dealt with sensitively, and by the end of the book, you want him to be killed, just to put him out of his obvious misery. The story also highlights rabies, which is a real threat in some countries and should be brought to peoples attention.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads. Highly recommended.

Quarantine Day #5

I realise that I hadn’t posted on here in yonks, so I decided that, seeing as we are in the midst of a global grounding, I might as well pick my blog up again. Because I miss posting here, y’know.

Yep, so it’s only day #5 for me because I live in the UK and we took longer than everywhere else in the world to take this pandemic seriously. And that’s not even a joke!

Last Monday, I was back in work as normal, although some of my team were already working from home as the schools had closed. (That took an age for the government to decide on too!) Monday evening brought a speech from the Prime Minister. At last, he advised people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. He didn’t mention lockdown, but we all knew that was what he meant. I’m unsure as to why he was so reluctant to come out and actually say it. He’s probably regretting it now, as he has tested positive for the virus.

Anyhoo, my team took to the group WhatsApp straight after the speech, and it became obvious that the management were reluctant for us to all work from home. Unfortunately, though, they now had little choice – the government had spoken. And, to be honest, after a few weeks of trying to act nonchalant, I was starting to worry, especially about my parents. And, secretly, working from home has been my ambition for a long time.

So, on Tuesday, I took my laptop into work for the IT guy to prepare for WFH (as all the cool kids are calling it). I managed to wangle an additional monitor and, once they let us leave (which they clearly did not want to do), I raced home excitedly and set everything up in my spare room-cum-office.

Wednesday was my first day working from home. I love it! I have seen numerous people on Twitter complaining about it, but what’s not to like?! I can work flexi hours, turn up late, wear my scruffs and no makeup everyday, and nobody can tell me off for it. Because they can’t see me! And I can still get all of my work done without co-workers pissing me off.

For an introvert, it is the ideal situation. It’s just a shame that people have died to allow this to happen.

Admittedly, it is an extremely scary situation, and I hope you are all doing what you can to stop the spread of this terrible virus. I may be happy to stay at home, but I am very aware that I am, on this occasion, doing it for a good reason rather than just being antisocial. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for unwittingly passing the virus on to someone else because I couldn’t follow simple instructions.

If you don’t need to leave the house, then don’t, and hopefully we can get this under some control very soon. Stay safe.

Book Review: Gentleman Sinner by Jodi Ellen Malpas

I haven’t read this genre for such a long time, but decided I fancied a change from psychological thrillers when I spotted the book on sale in ASDA.

Izzy White finds herself in danger one evening when, while walking home from work, she is confronted by an assailant after she goes to the aid of an injured prostitute. The notorious and wildly attractive Theo Kane swoops to her rescue, and the flame of attraction between them is instant.

The story begins so promisingly, although a little far-fetched, with the swoon-worthy Theo basically stalking Izzy both at home and in Las Vegas, when she jets off on a girls holiday with her friend and roommate Jess. He appears to be utterly obsessed with Izzy, and the feeling is mutual.

But Theo has issues. He cannot handle being touched after a traumatic childhood filled with abuse at the hands of his father. Izzy, in her turn, is recovering from a rape ten years earlier. Although they both want to be together, neither is willing to confront their demons and give their relationship a real chance.

From here, things get increasingly messy, and Theo becomes a bit of a liability, in all honesty. First of all, Izzy loses her job and the respect of her manager, after Theo loses his temper catastrophically at the hospital. Then, he (unwittingly, I might add) invites her rapist to his club to incite a reaction from her. When this plan fails drastically, he punches her in the face when she unexpectedly touches him.

This in itself is bad enough. But it gets worse. Instead of apologising, he goes on to kill her rapist after beating him to a pulp.

It doesn’t stop there. When Izzy needs him the most, he takes the self-pitying route and does a runner!

Of course, there is a happy ending, but the ridiculousness of the plot lead to the 3-star review. Other than that, it is well-written and will probably appeal to fans of the genre.

Personally, I was also hoping for better sex scenes. While being restrained is hot, a lack of foreplay isn’t! But that’s just me. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Happy Father’s Day – BELATED

I was supposed to post this yesterday, but forgot to finish it off. So I’ll post it now..

It’s Father’s Day – time to celebrate the man who provided the seed to our existence, or the man who took us on even though we weren’t his, or even the parent who has been both mother and father to us. You are all awesome.

I’m going to talk about my dad.

I love my dad, and although he hasn’t been around physically for much of my life, I still know he is there for me to provide parenthood in the best way he can.

My parents divorced when I was 4 and my dad returned to live with his parents in a self-contained flat above the family business. A baker by trade, he worked hard to follow in my grandfathers footsteps and, once cut adrift from married life, he played hard too. That wasn’t to say he was a bad father. He just didn’t really know what was expected of him, and largely relied on his parents, my grandparents, to look after us when we came to stay.

I can’t say this was a bad thing. Some of my best memories are of Christmas at my Nana and Grandads, or school holidays spent at their chalet in North Wales. My brother and I benefitted greatly from these opportunities, and I will never forget them.

The thing I remember the most about these times was the fun we had, and the sense of humour shared by my grandad (now sadly deceased), my dad, and his two brothers – a sense of humour I have inherited. I love this – they are some of the funniest people I know, and I’m proud to have inherited such a fantastic trait.

My dad eventually remarried and grew up, although he will never really change. He is always the life and soul of any party, like my grandad before him, quick with a corny joke and a twinkle in his eye. You can’t really hate my dad – he is constantly upbeat, although he is uncomfortable around any show of emotion. A typical bloke of his era, I would say.

And he’s a real grafter. Since leaving the family business, he has struggled to find an alternative career as a taxi driver, a postman, a porter at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Cornwall. And although he has dedicated himself to each chosen job, and worked hard in each different role, you can never take the baker out of him and I think that, deep down, he will always see himself as this, working alongside my grandad all those years ago.

I love my dad.