Saturday, April 27, 2019

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell



Paperback:  424 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Arrow Books 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Those months, the months before she disappeared were the best months.
Favourite Quote: “Poppy’s hands fall on to the book. ‘Stories’, she says, ‘are the only thing in this world that are real. Everything else is just a dream.”
Review Quote: "Jewell builds a gripping novel around a maze of dark secrets, a tautly wound psychological thriller in which the suspense builds slowly. Her storytelling is immaculate, hopping between past and present, and in and out of characters. It’s a tough read at times, but Jewell always keeps everything moving. The intrigue never flags as she pushed towards a redemptive resolution. As astute and emotionally charged read, riddled with creepiness. Fully recommended" (Irish News)
Main Characters: Laurel Mack, Ellie Mack, Paul Mack, Hanna Mack, Floyd Dunn, Poppy Dunn Sara-Jade Virtue and Noelle Donnelly.
Setting: London Suburbs
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery & Thriller (2018)
My Opinion: This months choice for my Book Club group  'Then She Was Gone' is about the disappearance of a teenage girl, some ten years previously and the effect this not unsurprisingly is still having on her parents and siblings.
A great plot that makes for compelling reading, which from every viewpoint it is heart wrenching. Although some parts may be considered a little improbable, as shocking as it may sound, most of the happenings in the story line are events with a scary ring of the truth. Considering what a strange world we appear at times to live in, this could have happened! 
A quick read but emotionally not an easy one, recommended to readers that enjoy a contemporary psychological thriller.

I have only read four previous titles from Lisa Jewell's back catalogue, the most recent was
The House We Grew Up In in 2014, also for Tywyn Book Club.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?


Video Trailer for Lisa Jewell reading an extract from 'Then She Was Gone' Courtesy of YouTube



Author Profile:


Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, Then She Was Gone, I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. Her debut novel in 1998 Ralph’s Party, was an instant bestseller. In total, her novels have sold over 2 million copies across the English speaking world. Her work has also been translated into sixteen languages. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters.

For more biographical information check out her Goodreads Profile


Photograph, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page     Lisa Jewell - Official Facebook Page     Wikipedia - Lisa Jewell

Twitter Profile    Goodreads Author Profile

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Courageous Witness by Oliver Richbell






Paperback: 65 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Novella Nostalgia Series, Thriller,
Publisher:  City Fiction (28 Feb. 2019)
Source: The publishers and author, in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentences: It was a size too big for her. That was why she was wearing it. Amanda wrapped the pink-flowered cheongsam around her naked body.
Main Characters: Amanda Buckingham, Sara Tomkins, 
Setting: London, England
My Opinion: This is the seventh volume in the Novella Nostalgia Series, which links cinema classics with modern stories, it is the second in the series to be written by Oliver Richbell. His last one 'Gloriana' is a very topical read, which I enjoyed, however I found this one to be more to my liking.
The protagonist, Amanda Buckingham first appeared very briefly in 'Twelve Troubled Jurors' so I was delighted to discover her character has been developed into one of the main characters for 'The Courageous Witness'. I think we may well hear more of this character in forthcoming publications, as the back of this novella includes a potted life history of Amanda Buckingham. Is she I wonder going to feature in the author's forthcoming novel? We will just have to wait and see, I personally hope so because as much as I am happy to read and review this series I much prefer to have longer stories to immerse myself in.
In my opinion ' The Courageous Witness' is a well written and engrossing legal novella which I devoured in one evening. An office party goes terribly wrong, leaving the female protagonist Sara accusing her colleagues of rape!
For those looking for quick reads, then I certainly recommend not just this title but the entire series, Novella Nostalgia is certainly a name to look out for as more titles are added to the collection.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A rising star at The Bar, barrister, Amanda Buckingham is persuaded by the Head of Hartington Chambers to take on a case that she instinctively would have preferred not to. The defence counsel, as the Trial neared its denouement, had surely done enough to cast sufficient doubt in the minds of the jury. Amanda was hurtling towards a career defining loss. There was something though that Amanda just couldn’t reconcile – something she had forgotten in the evidence that had been put before the Court which had reopened memories of her own traumatic past. To turn an acquittal into a conviction Amanda needed to delve deep into her own personal nightmare as well as finding the key evidence before it was too late for her and Sarah.


Notes on The Story of  'The Accused' : From the Book 'The Courageous Witness'
This 1988 American drama was one of the first Hollyworld films to include a rape incident of unimaginable graphic realism.

The storyline of  The Accused was loosely based on the 1983 gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the resulting trial.
This film is set in Washington State but was filmed in Vancouver, Canada. Sarah Tobais (played by Jodie Foster is gang raped in a bar.
Assistant DA, Kathryn Murphy (played by Kellie McGillis), agrees a plea bargain with the legal representatives of the three men accused. They plead guilty to a charge of 'reckless endangerment' which carries a lesser prison sentence and the chance of parole. Sarah is incensed, not least because she was denied the opportunity to testify in court.

Kathryn opts to prosecute three witnesses identified by a friend of sarah. They are charged with criminal solicitation. The evidence in court is partly overlaid with a visual reproduction of the whole of the rape scene. Another bystander gives evidence and the three men are convicted. One consequence is that the perpetrators, now in prison, will serve longer sentences and not be eligible for parole.

The final scene is a display, by Sarah and Kathryn, of mutual respect as they go their separate ways.





Author Profile:

Oliver was born in 1977 and qualified as a Solicitor in 2007. He worked in London for a litigation and sports law practice before a brief stint in two regional firms. In 2010 he married in his sweetheart and in 2014 he became a father. in 2015 Oliver took a leap of faith and formed his own dispute resolution consultancy. Oliver loves to write and has now achieved one of his many ambitions in life in becoming a published author. His first work, Gloriana, was published in September 2018 and inspired by the movie Valkyrie, Gloriana tells a story of a band of conspirators intent on assassinating The Prime Minister in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum. My review may be read here Oliver's first novel will be published later this year.


Photographs, Biographical Information and film details courtesy of the following sites.

IMDb - The Accused - Plot Summary   Wikipedia - The Accused 

Amazon Author Page - Oliver Richbell     Goodreads - Oliver Richbell


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Casanova and the Faceless Woman by Olivier Barde-Cabucon







Paperback: 380 pages.                                                                                                 
Genre: Historical Thriller
Publisher: Pushkin Press March 2019 ( First published as 'Casanova et la femme sans visage' in 2012
Source: The publishers in return for an unbiased and honest review.
First Sentence: Night swarmed through the streets of Paris, casting its black veil over the carriage standing motionless in the middle of the deserted thoroughfare.
Favourite Quote: 'Truly, there is entertainment in everything!'
Review Quote: 'A splendid mystery with an appealingly enigmatic protagonist, plenty of melodrama and intrigue, and a vivid, pungent evocation of a turbulent time' -- Guardian
Main Characters: Volnay, (The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths) and Giacomo Casanova.
Setting: Paris, France.
Literary Awards: Prix Sang d'Encre for Crime Fiction in 2012
My Opinion: Not a novel I would have chosen to read had I not been given the opportunity to read and review by Pushkin Press. However I have very eclectic tastes and like to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, in this case I found it worthwhile. Set in and around Paris in 1759, there is lots of excitement to keep the reader interested with conspiracy and spies around every corner as Volnay does his utmost to solve this case in his position as The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths. A position that is not popular with the Paris police chief as he reports directly to the King, despite once being a rebel himself.  A quality read, the author and translator have produced a very descriptive period thriller.
This is the first in a series to be translated from the French by Louise Lalaurie Rogers for Olivier Barde-Cabouchon. I believe more of his novels will be translated if his writing proves to be popular with English readers of this genre.
Certainly to be recommended for fans of historical thrillers looking for new authors to read.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A chilling mystery set amidst the glamour and squalor of pre-Revolutionary Paris

THE OLD WORLD IS CRUMBLING
1759: Outside the gates of the magnificent Versailles palace, the city of Paris sits mired in squalor and crime. One night a young woman's body is found with ghastly mutilations that shock onlookers to the core.

SPIES ARE ALL AROUND
The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths begins investigating this macabre outrage, but the clues he uncovers draw him into a deadly web of intrigue, and bring him face-to-face with notorious adventurer and seducer, Giacomo Casanova.

A SECRET STRUGGLE RAGES
As a second butchered corpse is discovered, the Inspector finds his life in grave danger and his revolutionary past exposed. Can he navigate between the factions secretly warring for power and find a way to the truth?



Author Profile: 



Olivier Barde-Cabuçon is a French author and the creator of The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths, who has featured in seven bestselling historical mysteries so far. Casanova and the Faceless Woman won the Prix Sang d'Encre for crime fiction in 2012 and is the first of the series to be translated into English.



Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Page     Translator - Louise Lalaurie Rogers   Amazon Author Page

Olivier Barde-Cabucon - Facebook Page

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sail Away by Celia Imrie



Hardback: 364 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Humorous Contemporary Fiction.
Publisher:  February 2018, Bloomsbury
Source: My own signed copy purchased from Waterstones.
First Sentences: Suzy Marshall's phone rang. It was her agent, Max. 'Interview, darling!'
Review Quote: Anything written by Celia Imrie is guaranteed to put a smile on our faces and her latest book is no exception (Good Housekeeping)
Main Characters: Suzy Marshall and Amanda Herbert.
Setting: Mainly onboard a cruise ship travelling from Southampton to New York.
My Opinion: Celia Imrie's third novel is mainly set on an ocean liner where the two heroines by chance come to be on the same ship. They do not know each other and only come to together as the story gains pace for the ending. The cruise is a traumatic experience for both protagonists and as first timers not at all what they expected.
The chaos that ensues makes for an enjoyable humourous read, though if I am honest I still prefer Celia Imrie's work as an actress. This will not stop me reading her future writing though as she writes with such warmth and humour and although firstly an actress, it is obvious that Celia also enjoys writing. Fitting this in between acting work, she admits that she always has a character in mind for herself if her dreams of her novels ever becoming films became reality. Recommended to not only fans of Contemporary Fiction but also to fans of Celia Imrie the actress.


My Previous Reviews For Celia Imrie:    Not Quite Nice    The Happy Hoofer

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The deliciously witty, irresistibly indulgent new novel from the top ten Sunday Times bestselling author of Not Quite Nice follows the exploits of two retired women on an Atlantic cruise ship

The phone hasn't rung for months. Suzy Marshall is discovering that work can be sluggish for an actress over sixty – even for the former star of a 1980s TV series. So when her agent offers her the plum role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, it seems like a godsend. Until, that is, the play is abruptly cancelled in suspicious circumstances, and Suzy is forced to take a job on a cruise ship to get home.

Meanwhile Amanda Herbert finds herself homeless in rainy Clapham. Her flat purchase has fallen through, and her children are absorbed in their own dramas. Then she spots an advertisement for an Atlantic cruise, and realises three weeks on-board would tide her over – and save her money – until the crisis is solved.

As the two women set sail on a new adventure, neither can possibly predict the strange characters and dodgy dealings they will encounter – nor the unexpected rewards they will reap.

Vividly evoking the old-world glamour of a cruise ship – and the complex politics of its staff quarters – Sail Away is at once a hilarious romp and a thrilling tale of intrigue, from the acclaimed pen of Celia Imrie.


Video Trailer for ' Sail Away' Courtesy of YouTube


Do take a few minutes to watch this interview with Celia Imrie as she talks about her writing and acting.


Author Profile:

Born in Guildford, Surrey, England, UK on July 15th 1952, Celia is mainly known for her works as an actress. Her parents were mother Diana Elizabeth Blois and father David Andrew Imrie who was a radiologist and was from Scotland. She completed her high school from Guildford High School. Then she went to Guildford School of Acting. She has never married, but has a son Angus whose father is the late actor, Benjamin Whitrow.

For a comprehensive Biography please visit the Imdb Link


Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Celia Imrie - Goodreads Page     YouTube Interview    Imdb - Biography   Twitter Profile

Wikipedia - Celia Imrie   Amazon Author Page