Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent


Hardback:  362 pages                                                                                   

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Penguin Random House July 2023

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: 'In Sally Diamond, Nugent has given us an astounding creation with a singular voice . . . an absorbing, twisty, compulsive psychological thriller with surprising humour and pathos' Sunday Independent

First Sentences: 'Put me out with the bins,' he said regularly. 'When I die, put me out with the bins.'

My Opinion:  Creepy and Brilliant writing in this original novel  from Sally Nugent. This is the first book I have read by this author, but hopefully it will not be the last.  The storyline is creepy with people locked away for years against their will. We have all heard such real life stories I am sure! Brilliant is the author's protagonist Sally Diamond, a character that comes alive on the printed page and will stay in your mind.

A distressing story of the dark world of abuse and manipulative behaviour. Sally's story unfolds along side that of Peter. It is soon apparent that their stories will merge at some point. How they do so makes for a gripping narrative.

A remarkable and extremely disturbing story that will haunt me for a long time. Highly recommend this 5* read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don't always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally's life will be thrown into chaos once again . . .

Author Profile and Photo From Amazon: 

                                                  Liz Nugent

Liz was born in Dublin in 1967, where she now lives. She has written successfully for soap opera, radio drama, television plays, short stories and animation for children. Liz’s first novel Unravelling Oliver was published to critical and popular acclaim in March 2014. It quickly became a firm favourite with book clubs and reader’s groups. In November of that year, it went on to win the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Book Awards and was long listed for the International Dublin Literature Prize 2016. She was also the winner of the inaugural Jack Harte Bursary provided by the Irish Writers Centre and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Dec 2014. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, was published in July 2016 and went straight to number 1 where it remained for seven weeks. Liz won the Monaco Bursary from the Ireland Funds and was Writer in Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco in Sept/Oct 2016. In Nov 2016, Lying in Wait won the prestigious RTE Ryan Tubridy Listener's Choice prize at the Irish Book Awards. Aside from writing, Liz has led workshops in writing drama for broadcast, she has produced and managed literary salons and curated literary strands of Arts Festivals. She regularly does public interviews and panel discussions on all aspects of her writing.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Author Official Website  Liz Nugent - Amazon Page.   Twitter Profile  

Goodreads Profile

Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman


Paperback: 282 pages                                                                                   

Genre:  Fiction

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing 2021

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: “WONDERFUL. I read The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman in one gulp. The intrigue at this book’s heart genuinely ‘got’ me.” —Marian Keyes, Author. 

First Sentence: The baby in the cot beside her cries, shattering the silence.

My Opinion: 

Just like her previous novel 'If Only I Could Tell You' that I have read by this author she has once again written a thought provoking novel that is full of grief. Yet somehow I still found myself wanting to know more.

A dual timeline story with Nell telling us her story 'Now' and her mother Annie relating her story of 'Then' 35 years ago. The storyline pivots on Nell's father's declaration to her, causing her to probe into childhood memories that have aways haunted her.

A highly emotional storyline, which is not always an easy read. Recommend doing so though if you can cope with your emotions whilst reading. 

Previous Review:  If Only I Could Tell You

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

From bestselling author Hannah Beckerman comes a moving story about memory, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

When Nell’s father makes a deathbed declaration that hints at a long-held secret, it reignites feelings of isolation that have plagued her for years. Her suspicions about the family’s past only deepen when her mother, Annie, who is losing her memories to dementia, starts making cryptic comments of her own.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie’s life was upended by a series of traumas—one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made at the time were motivated by love, but she knew even then that nobody could ever understand—let alone forgive—what she did.

As the two women’s stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

In this beautifully observed and emotionally powerful story of identity, memory and the nature of family, Hannah Beckerman asks: To what lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?

Author Profile and Photo From Amazon: 

            Author Logo

Hannah Beckerman is a bestselling author and journalist whose novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide. She is a book critic and features writer for a range of publications including The Observer and the FT Weekend Magazine, and has appeared as a book pundit on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. She chairs literary events across the UK, interviewing authors and celebrities, and has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards. Prior to writing her first novel, Hannah was a television producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and for two years lived in Bangladesh, running a TV project for the BBC. She now lives in London where she writes full-time.

Her About Me on her Website makes an interesting read. 

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Amazon Author Profile    Official Website - Hannah Beckerman.  Twitter Profile

Instagram Profile    Facebook Profile

Monday, September 11, 2023

Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons


Hardback: 335 pages                                                                                   

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction

Publisher: Bonnier Books UK 2023

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: Lovers of Shakespeare's most adapted tragedy will not be disappointed by Solomons' subversive counter-narrative. Vivid, turbulent and compelling. ― The Independent

First Sentences: The funeral was held at dawn and little more than an hour after Madonna Emelia Capulet passed out of this world. Rosaline trailed behind their, disconsolate with loss.

My Opinion:  Natasha Solomons is not an author whose novels I know much about, having only prior to 'Fair Rosaline' read one other and that was in 2011, 'Mr Rosenblum's List'. I selected this novel to read as I was fascinated by the following comment in the book blurb. 'A subversive, powerful untelling of Shakespeares's best-known tale, narrated by a fierce, forgotten voice: this is Rosaline's story.' The author goes on to explain in the novels notes that although we know of Rosaline's existence in Romeo and Juliet, she never appears in the play and we only hear about her existence as 'Capulet's fair niece' and that it is in order to seek her there that Romeo attends the masquerade.

I suppose I always thought of Romeo and Juliet as describing ill fated romantic love. However in this shrewd retelling Rosaline is the one person who is prepared to fight back against Romeo and expose his penchant for vulnerable young girls. This novel places Rosaline as the protagonist and also gives us a chance to see the controlling side of Romeo's character. It is a devastating tale that feels so credible and I will never see the play in quite the same way again.

Highly recommended. This clever uptake on a famous Shakespearian tale makes for a very compelling read.

Previous Review:  Mr Rosenblum's List

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Was the greatest ever love story a lie?

The first time Romeo Montague sees young Rosaline Capulet he falls instantly in love.

Rosaline, headstrong and independent, is unsure of Romeo's attentions but with her father determined that she join a convent, this handsome and charming stranger offers her the chance of a different life.

Soon though, Rosaline begins to doubt all that Romeo has told her. She breaks off the match, only for Romeo's gaze to turn towards her cousin, thirteen-year-old Juliet. Gradually Rosaline realises that it is not only Juliet's reputation at stake, but her life.

With only hours remaining before she will be banished behind the nunnery walls, will Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way?

A subversive, powerful untelling of Shakespeare's best-known tale, narrated by a fierce, forgotten voice: this is Rosaline's story.

Author Profile From Amazon: 

                                       Author Logo

Thank so much for visiting my amazon page! Here are a few things about me. I've always worked as a writer more or less. After University I completed an MPhil in Eighteenth century literature at the University of Glasgow and then began a doctorate researching Women’s Romantic Poetry and the Domestic Muse.

Unfortunately, I became un-stuck on a chapter on Verse Letters and so began writing my first novel as way of avoiding correcting the footnotes. My entire career to date has been an extremely elaborate form of avoiding that tricky chapter…

I still love research and writing immersive fiction and hate footnotes. I live in Dorset, in a thatched cottage with my husband -- the award winning children's writer David Solomons – and our children and Labrador, Mr Bingley. Sometimes David and I write screenplays together. Then we argue about them.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Goodreads Author Profile    Twitter - Natasha Solomons.  Amazon Author Profile

Instagram - Natasha Solomon's

Thursday, September 7, 2023

It Ends at Midnight by Harriet Tyce


Hardback328 pages                                                                                       

Genre: Psychological Fiction

Publisher: Wildfire, Headline 2022

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: Full of twists and turns. An unpredictable, unforgettable read. ― Woman's Weekly

First Sentences: The fox hates fireworks. While they're going off, she'd rather keep herself hidden, curled up in a bush somewhere quiet.

My Opinion:  I have read and enjoyed both of Harriet Tyce's previous novels, so was keen to read 'It Ends At Midnight'. The level of suspense was such that I could not put it down and finished within a day!

The main protagonist is Sylvie an ambitious young Barrister with her sights set on becoming a judge. The mystery revolves around a secret that Sylvie shares with her close friend Tess. Circumstances cause the secret and lies they have told for years to start to unravel. At times it does get rather dark and complex, but this is surely, in this case, what keeps the reader turning the pages.

Recommended to anyone that appreciates a well written psychological thriller.

Previous Review:  Blood Orange   The Lies You told

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

It's New Year's Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh's best postcodes. It's a moment for old friends to set the past to rights - and move on. 

The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.

Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.

Midnight approaches and the countdown begins - but it seems one of the guests doesn't want a resolution.

They want revenge.

Author Profile:

                                                   Harriet Tyce

Harriet Tyce was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She graduated from Oxford in 1994 with a degree in English Literature before gaining legal qualifications. She worked as a criminal barrister for ten years, leaving after having children. She completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at UEA where she wrote Blood Orange, the Sunday Times bestselling novel. It was followed by The Lies You Told, another Sunday Times bestseller. It Ends At Midnight has just been published to critical acclaim. She lives in north London with her family and two dogs.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Amazon Author Page     Goodreads - Author Profile  Harriet Tyce - Author Offical Website

Twitter Account - Harriet Tyce.
 Instagram - Harriet Tyce