The Carer by Deborah Moggach


James, a once eminent professor, needs full time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his distracted middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, a veritable treasure who seems happy to relieve them of their responsibilities. 

‘Our marriage was one long conversation that was only interrupted by her death’.

The Carer connected with me on a very personal level. A story I initially thought to be predictable, turned out to be a very powerful and surprising book, with numerous unexpected twists. 

I continually nodded my head throughout reading, raising my eyebrows on numerous occasions and thinking gosh, I totally get this. 

This is a cracking read, and it’s reinforced the fact that as you get older, life just gets more and more complicated. Fortunately, we do become wiser, so dealing with complex matters of the heart can be taken with a pinch or ten of salt. 

I think readers of a certain age would take a lot from this, particularly if they have/had elderly parents and middle aged siblings. 

I haven’t read anything before by Deborah Moggach, and unbeknown to me, she wrote The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and have added the book to my shelf. Her writing style is simple, yet magical. She designs her stories in a way that hooks gently. 

A solid 5 star read. It was faultless. 

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Witch Light by Susan Fletcher

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars5star

‘There is no devil. Only the devilish ways in a man’.

Back in February 2016, my partner took me to Scotland. Later that year in August and early September, Susan Fletcher took me back again.

Witch Light, or Corrag, as its alternatively known, tells the story of a wild young girl living in the Scottish Highlands in 1692.

Learning everything from her Mother, Corrag heals with plants and herbs, and leads a beautiful, simple life amongst nature and the elements.

But this simplicity gets Corrag labelled as a Witch and she’s thrown into a dark, dank cell to await her fate.

Charles Leslie, an Irish man of the cloth, hears of her incarceration and begins visiting her in her last days. He learns that she witnessed the brutal Massacre of Glencoe, and so, to him, she tells her story. One that could not only change her destiny, but perhaps everyone else’s too.

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If you’re after a story which is action-packed and fast-paced, this isn’t it. Witch Light is a beautiful, serene story full of incredible description. I found myself walking through the Highlands, feeling the snow tickle my face and freeze my ears. I saw the grand hinds, I heard the owl and smelt the peat-smoked aromas of the mountain villages.

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I’m not usually one for books with loads and loads of description. But the author was so brilliant at it, it made this book absolutely breathtaking.

When I go back to Scotland, which I undoubtedly will, this book will be carried with me in my thoughts as I look at the scenery with a new pair of eyes and far more appreciation of this beautiful world we live in.

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The Puppet Show (Washington Poe #1) by M W Craven

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5star

Call me a psychic! A five star psychic! I predicted that The Puppet Show was going to be brilliant, and I was bloody right! I knew it! I just knew it!

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It gave me those vibes, you know what I mean? You pick up or hear about a book, feeling all attracted to the cover. Come on, we ALL love a bit of sinister looking cover art don’t we? The synopsis gives you that ‘oooh, this could be juicy’ feeling. And it gets put right to the top of that enormous TBR, winking at you, beckoning you to pick it up. This one went straight to the top of mine and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Much to my delight there’s murder and fire and stone circles and a copper who’s got the DRIEST sense of humour ever. And there’s a REALLY COOL CHICK too, who wears band tees and happens to be a mathematical genius. I’d also like to mention that there’s a Spaniel called Edgar.

That gives you a basic rambling idea of the two main characters, but I’m going to cast my mind back to my last read for a moment, Murder at the Mill (I’ll call it MATM for short) by M B Shaw. And for those of you who haven’t read my review yet, you may do so HERE if you so desire. Why am I mentioning my previous read I hear you cry?! Particularly in another book review as well! Shocking! Let me explain.

Similies. Descriptions. Creative writing in general. It has to be good. Clever. Funny. Emotional. Flowy. I could go on. I’m a tough reader to please. MATM is a perfect example of how NOT to do it. In contrast, The Puppet Show is a perfect example of how it SHOULD be done. It’s creative, witty, well planned and brilliantly researched. Craven’s similes are CLASS. After my last read I was so relieved that this author can write. He can write gooooood.

‘The chief constable walked like a man badly in need of a stool softener.’

‘He had a drinker’s nose and his upturned chin resembled a jester’s boot.’

If there’s one thing I enjoy when I’m reading, it has to be when characters’ personalities shine through and they become so real.

‘Poe pointed at the BPhil after Francis Sharples’s name and asked, ‘You know what that means, Tilly? ‘Bachelor of Philosophy, Poe.’ Poe shook his head. ‘It means he’s a cock.’

Dry, British humour always gets a thumbs up from me, particularly if there’s some cracking insults in the mix.

The Puppet Show is one hell of a ride, I read it in just under two weeks but I wanted to read it in one sitting. Life got right in the way, and I found myself drifting off thinking about it when I should of been concentrating on work. I really wanted to cancel a family occasion as well because I just wanted to read. I love how a great book can make me feel so unsociable and selfish.

I’ve always been a fan of crime fiction, especially when it’s about a serial killer, my first being Silence of the Lambs twenty-odd years ago. I have also recently discovered Robert Bryndza and J D Barker for new reading in this genre. M W Craven is now up there for me as a go-to author as I just love the Britishness he injects into his story.

I cannot fault The Puppet Show in any way, I highly recommend it. It is pretty graphic in places and there’s a bit of sweary dialogue, but it all fits a treat. For a debut novel, this is exciting and gripping from start to finish. And I’m pleased to say that the author has just finished #2 and is writing #3. YESSSSSS! GET IN THERE! I will undoubtedly read the next instalment of Poe and Bradshaw solving gruesome murders in their quirky and entertaining way.

Many thanks to Netgalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and M.W. Craven for an advanced copy of this awesome book in exchange for an honest review. The pleasure was all mine.

 

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…’we were girls with curious histories – girls with pasts like boxes with ill-fitting lids.’

My lid has never seemed to fit properly!

This is a ‘I can’t possibly review this’ review.

Sarah Waters can do no wrong in my eyes. She could publish her shopping list and I’d give it five stars.

Every book I’ve read by this author (all of them) pleases me like nothing else. I’m sure her pen, laptop or notebook is really some kind of magic paintbrush that comes pre-installed with genius edition software for which she alone knows the password.

Tipping the Velvet is perfection. Sarah has an incredible ability at sucking me in, chewing me up, and spitting me out. I feel satisfied, yet longing for more. I need more, Sarah, write more, write fifty more.

I’m invested in all her characters one hundred percent, I feel for them, I want to be their friend, I want to tell them it’ll be alright and pass them a smoke and appreciate their taste in attire, without judgement.

I am suffering from the biggest book hangover ever. Send help.

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Please note: This is a representation of my feelings, and not, I REPEAT NOT, a representation of my taste in clothes. I don’t do beige. YET.

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The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

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The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time wavers and retreats at Bridlemere, coughing and shambling. Here is history mutely putrefying and elegance politely withering.

Two weeks it took me to read The Hoarder by Jess Kidd. Two weeks of beautiful, poetic writing, which ambled along at a pace slower than I normally would like. That said, the speed at which this story unfolds was exactly how it should be. I devoured every sentence, re-read many paragraphs, I wasn’t itching for a conclusion or big reveal, I was deep in the moment, sucked in by incredible writing.

I loved everything about the story, the writing style, the characters, the humour, the sadness and poignancy. Whilst reading, I felt as though I was transported to Bridlemere, the aromas of a once grand mansion seeped into my senses, the quirky characters had my undivided attention, and the paranormal elements added an unusual and often amusing twist.

Sometimes the wind dropped down and hid behind the dunes, sometimes it sent playful handfuls of sand skipping. Sometimes it raised colossal storms to scour your arse all along the strand.

I’m not entirely sure whether I’ve read anything with Irish protagonists before, if I have, it’s gone unnoticed or forgotten. The sometimes slightly crass dialogue brought smirks and smiles, just breaking up the flow enough to give it an edge, perfectly placed, no profanity for the sake of it.

The Hoarder is faultless, I am finding it difficult to review in all its perfection. I didn’t read too much about it prior to starting it, and went in blind. I just had a funny feeling it would blow me away. And it did just that.

Huge thanks to the author, Jess Kidd, the publisher, Canongate Books Ltd and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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The End of Lies by Andrew Barrett

The End of Lies by Andrew Barrett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The End of Lies, the end of excitement, the end of gasping and cringing, and the end of my first FIVE STAR 2018 book!

What a book to start the year off with. First of all, I’d like to thank Bloodhound Books for sending me a copy via Instafreebie to read in exchange for an honest review.

The End of Lies is a gripping psychological thriller with so many twists and turns that it left me in bookish turmoil! Here’s the synopsis:

“My name is Becky. I arrived home to find my husband, Chris, stabbed to death and a gang of men ransacking our house.

Turns out that Chris has something that belongs to them. And if I want to stay alive, I have to find it and return it. They have given me seven days. And a beating.

There is nowhere to hide and no time left to look. So I will stand my ground as the deadline approaches. All I have is a head full of lies and a very bad plan.

This is my story.”

Andrew Barrett took me on a fast-paced, roller coaster ride from the moment I started. This is not a simmering thriller that slowly builds tension as you go, this is full steam ahead leading to total overdrive as the conclusion looms.

The plot was tight and organised, the characters I loved to hate and hated to love. The main protagonist, Becky, was an absolute joy, she was ballsy and dry-witted. The antagonist, Savage, was wonderfully awful, he truly was that perfect ‘baddie’.

The writing was stylish and quirky, with short, sharp, shock chapters. The setting was in Yorkshire, UK, so the scenes and dialogue were relatable for me, I do love a bit of British grit! Initially, the chapters alternated between before and after Chris was stabbed, but as the plot unravelled, the present was the main timescale. Heading towards the finale brought more past events into the story to tie the conclusion into a neat little package.

This was an action packed, gripping and rather violent story. There’s a fair amount of swearing with some very brutal and bloody moments that enhanced the fear factor and gave it an edge.

I was thinking of giving this 4 stars, because surely my first 2018 read wasn’t going to be 5 star literary perfection. But I had no gripes, no niggles, the characters were fantastically drawn, the plot was thrilling and the ending was so satisfying. Did I see any of those twists coming? Nope! It was outstanding. My next read has a very hard act to follow.

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My Five Star Top Ten of 2017

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It’s been a bumper year for fantastic reads, I’ve been to wonderful places, and experienced all the feels with this bunch of lovelies! It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to pick just ten, but here are my unforgettable books of the year, in no particular order:

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I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the authors of these books, all of which I was lucky enough to receive in exchange for review. Perhaps next year I might actually buy a book, but, you know, perks of being a book blogger/reviewer and all that! 😉

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