Friday, 28 August 2015

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

"A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh.

Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating..."

I was expecting big things from I Let You Go and whilst Part 1 was interesting, it meandered along for me but then, boy does it start to deliver.

I cannot tell you what aspects the book covers as I don't want to risk giving anything away which might spoil the fabulous journey that Mackintosh takes you on. However, I will say that those areas that are covered are done so with exceptional style. There are aspects which are brutally told but they ring true as opposed to great big alarm bells ringing to tell you this is entirely made up fiction. 

I recently read a book written by a criminal barrister and felt that was a highlight; someone who had written about what they know. The same can be said here as Mackintosh used to be a police officer and moved into CID herself. At the back of the book, there is a piece written about where the ingredients that created the cocktail, I Let You Go, were sourced from, which I really liked. There is only one point of the book, towards the very end, after everything comes to light, that I felt simply wasn't true to life and was there purely to allow there to be one last bit of drama. I can't say which bit as it will destroy the story for you. It didn't put me off, and certainly didn't take any enjoyment of the book away, but I do feel it was there more for gratification purposes more than anything else. 

The thing I liked most about the first part of this book was the descriptions of Penfach and the beaches that begin to change Jenna's life. Oh, and perhaps Patrick the vet and Beau!

As Part 1 of the book draws to a close, the first twist hits you in the face. It's definitely a 'Gone Girl' style twist that will probably make you gasp. What follows is a gripping piece of fiction that will keep you guessing. I had all sorts of ridiculous theories flying around my head and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and concentrate on the words on the page in front of me. My eyes couldn't devour the words quick enough and my brain tried desperately to process the information and deal with the constant shocks thrown at it. Ultimately, everything begins to make sense as all the pieces that had been drip fed to you throughout clamber together as though someone has held a magnet to the page. 

The only thing I didn't really like was the epilogue. It kind of worked but didn't quite fit with the brilliance of the rest of the novel. 

I have seen reviews complain that the only reason the twists and shocks are possible are because key information, known to the characters in advance (as opposed to something which just happens to them along the way), is held back from the reader and that the reader is therefore 'played'. I didn't feel that at all. Yes, it's true that the reader is not aware of certain information but that is what makes the book (surely?!). There are plenty of books around that work like this; threads run parallel to each other and it's not until they overlap that the reader can necessarily connect the two or more and put together the bigger picture. Without the 'withholding of information' there wouldn't be a book to speak of. And more to the point, the reader is fully aware that there is more to the story than meets the eye so I personally don't see the problem. 

I Let You Go is compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train on the back cover and I can certainly see why. Fans of these two books would definitely enjoy this and for me it was certainly up there with the best. For me, more gripping than The Girl on the Train.

An absolutely outstanding debut novel. It's not often I struggle to move on and pick up another book to start but I Let You Go leaves me wondering what I could possibly read that could comes close to comparing.

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of I Let You Go in exchange for an honest review.

I Let You Go is available now and I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy as soon as possible. The paperback is currently cheaper than the Kindle version on Amazon...


Sunday, 23 August 2015

The SW19 Club by Nicola May

"What would you do if you were told you could never have children

Faced with this news, Gracie Davies is at an all-time low. But with the support of some new Wimbledon friends, an unorthodox therapist, her hippy-chick sister Naomi and Czech call-girl Maya, she sets up The SW19 Club and begins her rocky journey to inner peace and happiness. 

Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, a fairytale encounter with a Hollywood filmstar and the persistence of her adulterous ex, life is anything but predictable…"

I first discovered Nicola May back in the day when she was a self-published author.  At the time, I commented that her writing was publishing house quality and that I was amazed she had not been picked up by one of the big publishers.  Well, finally, someone has had some sense - well done to both Accent Press and Nicola!

The SW19 Club might look, from its cover, like a walk in the park but it really is a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  It is packed full of heartbreak but is also an exceptionally uplifting read.  Although the subject matter is heartbreaking, focusing on miscarriage and the struggles to have children, it certainly is not a dark book that will leave you wallowing in misery.  

Whilst the prologue leads you into the powerful sadness of the book, it is short and then you instantly jump six months forward.  The underlying theme remains and becomes slightly more prominent, in the guise of the SW19 Club later in the book, but Nicola May has a fabulous style of writing and there are plenty of characters and other parts to the story that ultimately makes it quite a light read; as Gracie battles with her reality, she also meets new friends and fancies along the way.  I don't think I would mind being swept off my feet by a Hollywood filmstar ;)

The SW19 Club is clearly a book that is written from the heart.  The short and punchy chapters will keep you turning the pages and I did not find it predictable at all and was left waiting until the final moments to discover who, if anyone, Gracie would choose for her future and when it comes, it is perfect and left me with tears streaming down my face.

Thank you to Nicola for sending me a copy of The SW19 Club.  Congratulations again for your Accent Press contract.  

The SW19 Club is out NOW and it is a bargain on Kindle, at the date of this blog post, for only £2.99.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

"Seth and his little brother Henry haven’t had the most stable of upbringings. Their father has been in and out of jail; their mother took off years ago and hasn't been seen since. Life is constantly uncertain - but a twist of fate could be just what they need.

August stopped drinking the day his son died. While on a journey that’s very close to his heart, a breakdown leaves him stranded in a small town and at the mercy of the local mechanic - Seth and Henry’s father.

But then August is presented with an offer he doesn't expect: take the two boys with him for the summer, and pay no charge for the repairs. 

As the unlikely trio set out on their road trip, the most unlikely, unforgettable friendship begins to take shape.

Take Me With You is a moving, thought-provoking story that fans of Jodi Picoult, Susan Lewis or Diane Chamberlain will love, or the perfect read for those looking for something special to curl up with."

Catherine Ryan Hyde is not an author I had come across before until this book dropped through my letterbox recently; thank you to Transworld/Black Swan for sending me the copy because without you I may never have stumbled across what turned out to be such a beautiful book.

In fact, the book was so beautiful that at the outset I found myself constantly wanting to cry and I knew early on that I would regret reading it in public on the train to work. Take Me With You is the sort of book that you need to set hours at a time aside to read because you will not want to put it down.

Quite simply, it is tender, endearing and the most touching, heartfelt book I have read in some time.

I liked the first part of the book the best when Seth and Henry are young and I wished we never had to leave this part of their lives. Then, just as you think it cannot get any more does. The final parts of the book bring everything together in a rewarding way and although I never wanted it to end, the ending is ultimately uplifting.

The places they visit and the sights they see are breathtaking but actually what outshines all of that is the relationships between August, Seth and Henry. Those relationships are just beautiful and my absolute favourite relationships were August and Henry (as a young boy) and the relationships with Woody!

Take Me With You is not just a story of August, Seth and Henry's literal journey across America but it is an emotional journey that will change each of their lives forever and it is a book that will stay with me long after I turned the last page.

Thank you to Transworld/Black Swan for sending me a copy of Take Me With You which is out NOW.