Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

April 4, 2017 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
Published by Tinder Press on 6th April 2017
Genres: Contemporary, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife's hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother's mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past - a past that eventually spills over into his daughter's present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. Both a coming of age novel and a literary thriller, THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY explores what it means to be a hero, and the price we pay to protect the people we love most.

Told through alternating chapters, past and present, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley slowly uncovers the tale of Samuel Hawley’s life.

Hawley has a daughter, Loo, whom he is raising alone following the death of his wife. Hawley and Loo have constantly been on the move, never living in one place for very long. When they decide to buy a house in Olympus, Loo has to adjust to this new way of life – a new school, a new home and more possessions than she could bundle up into her suitcase.

We follow Loo through present time as she lives this new life with her father. Loo’s is a coming of age tale, getting older and wondering what a mother’s kiss feels like, starting to question who her father is and noticing the way people question the many scars on his body.

Each of Hawley’s gunshot scars tells a tale. In between our present-day chapters with Loo, we learn how Hawley acquired each scar, thus slowly revealing to us Hawley’s history, and piece-by-piece building his story.

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the way the story unfolded through this unique storytelling style – the history of Hawley’s scar forming the perfect flashback chapters.

Mixed with the innocence of Loo’s childhood we have violence. I mean, if you don’t like to read about violence, then be warned. Yet it’s not all blood and guns, there’s the story of love, loss, grief. There’s the relationship between a father and his daughter, the tale of a father’s protection and a teenage girl trying to find her way in the world.

I have to say that I really loved Hawley. It’s a weird situation – am I meant to like this guy? But I challenge you not to!

This story is brutal in places, heart-wrenching in others. It’s incredibly well written and the characters of Hawley and Loo make for the perfect balance. It’s one of those books where I’m sad to have to leave these characters behind.

four-half-stars

Blog Tour: The Cutaway

April 1, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: The CutawayThe Cutaway by Christina Kovac
Published by Serpent's Tail on 6th April 2017
Genres: Mystery, thriller
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

It begins with someone else's story. The story of a woman who leaves a busy restaurant and disappears completely into the chilly spring night. Evelyn Carney is missing - but where did she go? Who was she meeting? And why did she take a weapon with her when she went? When brilliant TV producer Virginia Knightley finds Evelyn's missing person report on her desk, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened that night. But her pursuit of the truth draws her deep into the power struggles and lies of Washington DC's elite - to face old demons and new enemies.

I’m delighted today to be the first stop on The Cutaway Blog Tour. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the novel, but be sure to check out these other blogs over the next 12 days for different articles and features.

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Recently, I’ve become pretty interested in how the media uncover stories, how they break news and how they contribute towards the solving of crimes. I suspect that it’s my true crime podcast obsession that’s piqued this interest. So when I was asked if I’d like to review The Cutaway, the debut novel by Christina Kovac who has seventeen years of experience working in the media producing crime and political stories, well obviously I couldn’t resist.

The Cutaway follows the story of TV news producer Virginia Knightly. Virginia becomes interested in the disappearance of a young lawyer, Evelyn Carney, who vanishes one night after leaving a restaurant in Georgetown, Washington DC. Knightly is determined to uncover what happened to Evelyn and as she works on the story it becomes apparent that there are powerful people involved, people who want to keep this story out of the spotlight.

I really enjoyed this thriller. For me, it was a change from the police-centred detective tales I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I found the insight into a newsroom fascinating – the contrast between teamwork and self-preservation, the protection of sources, fact-checking, politics, beating rival channels to a story and the practicalities of a building a story ready for air.

Furthermore, I found the setting of Washington DC, the politics, the powerful personalities, as well as the media interaction really interesting.

As for the disappearance of Evelyn, I had various theories along the way – none of which were accurate!

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and find myself hoping that we might be treated to more Virginia Knightly stories in the future.

four-stars

Review: Defender

November 28, 2016 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: DefenderDefender by G.X. Todd
Series: The Voices #1
Published by Headline on 12th January 2017
Genres: Dystopian
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn't know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

It’s our world, but not as we know it. It’s been seven years since the voices made themselves known and the population of the world dwindled. Now those that are left fighting to survive.

Pilgrim is a loner. He has survived, fought when he had to, done what needed to be done. However, meeting Lacey, a strong, surprising teenager, changes all that. He finds himself helping the girl to try to find her family and the two of them embark on an eventful, dramatic, action-packed road trip of sorts.

Going into this book I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if it would be my kind of read, but let me tell you – IT IS BRILLIANT!

Yes it’s dark, violent and bloody. Yes there’s gore, guns and grief. But there’s also friendship, loyalty, fantastic characters and writing that will keep you hooked from the outset.

I was trying to explain to my husband what I was reading; The Walking Dead minus the zombies was where I began, but honestly this book is so much more than that. It’s clever, multi-layered and mysterious. I feel we’ve just touched the surface of this dystopian world and I can’t wait to read on and learn more.

I mentioned the characters – they are what makes this book for me. Their interactions, banter and humour had me captivated. The progression of their relationships did likewise. I truly cared about our central characters and consequently felt I was embarking on their dangerous journey with them.

There’s so much more I want to say, I *need* to talk to someone who has read this book! The fact that this is a debut novel blows my mind! I’m reeling myself in here though as I refuse to be the source of spoilers! Let me just say though that I finished this book over a month ago and I’m STILL thinking about it.

I feel that this is a series to really be excited about.  Clearly, I’m not the only one as Goldsboro Books have DEFENDER as their December book of the month (an excellent way to get the book a month early)! They have an exclusive sprayed edges limited edition with only 700 copies available. Want to know how much I loved this book? I’ve ordered the special edition. Yup, it’s that good!

 

five-stars

Review: The Vanishing Year

September 26, 2016 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Vanishing YearThe Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
Published by Titan on 27th September 2016
Genres: thriller
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan's social elite. She is on the board of one of the city's most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.

What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe's life was in danger. Back then Zoe wasn't Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her.

As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she - whoever she is - vanishes completely.

Zoe Whittaker lives a privileged life. She shares a New York penthouse apartment with her husband Henry, who lavishes her with gifts and treats. Her life hasn’t always been like this though. Back when Zoe was someone else she was broke, alone and fearing for her life.

It’s five years on though and she’s made a new life for herself. However, when an attempt is made on her life, she starts to wonder if her past has finally caught up with her.

I found The Vanishing Year to be extremely readable. It’s a book that kept me thinking, constantly trying to unpick the mystery. While I did guess part of the story, I certainly didn’t preempt it all.

I enjoyed Moretti’s storytelling, her attention to detail, her ability to make you question each of her characters, and to throw in twists that will likely blindside you.

It’s a quick, consuming read that will keep you engrossed right up until the final page.

That’s it… I’m telling you no more! I refuse to say anything that could spoil this book for you.

Be sure to pop back tomorrow when Kate Moretti will be visiting Strupag as part of her blog tour!

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four-stars

Review: All Is Not Forgotten

July 15, 2016 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
Published by Mira on 14th July 2016
Genres: Psychological, thriller
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime. Jenny's wounds have healed. An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack. She is moving on with her life. That was the plan. Except it's not working out. Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can't stop touching. And she's getting worse. Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial. It may be that the only way to uncover what's wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack. And that could destroy as much as it heals

A teenage girl is brutally raped when she attends a house party. She is found in the woods by the house and taken to hospital. It’s here that the decision is made to give her a treatment that will result in her having no memory of the assault.

Almost a year on, the girl is struggling with life. She has no memory of the rape, but her body itself remembers. Furthermore, her attacker has never been found, a fact that her father in particular struggles with.

So the girl, Jenna, begins seeing a psychologist who offers to help her uncover the memories that the treatment has hidden from her.

Our narrator throughout is the psychologist, Alan. Not only does he treat Jenna and her parents, but also an ex Navy SEAL who is trying to uncover his own traumatic memories that were “removed” by the same treatment.

Using the psychologist as the narrator is a brilliant idea. We see his interactions with all of the characters, his feelings towards them and consequently we uncover the story.

Walker definitely sucked me in with Alan. He makes for an interesting narrator. I guess at first his status as a doctor made me trust him and his storytelling, but I slowly realised his role as an “unreliable narrator”. I started the novel liking him well enough, but soon his pompous, self-defined intellectual superiority over others emerged and grated on me. Walker cleverly takes us through a range of emotions with Alan. By the end I truly didn’t know how I felt about him.

It might seem obvious, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t highlight that this is a novel about a rape. It’s graphic and uncomfortable to read at times, and so this isn’t going to be a book for everyone.

I found myself unable to put this book down. Alan’s unreliable narrating style kept me reading. I was fascinated by his relationship with not only his patients, but the other characters in this novel.

The whole concept around a drug / treatment that removes the memories of a trauma was something I found very interesting. The associated physical and psychological impacts, as told through the story, were fascinating. I think it’s important to say too that any technical aspects in this novel were well explained – at least as far as I’m concerned. I’m no doctor!

Basically, I couldn’t stop reading this book. I was drawn in from the outside and I just needed to find out more. The nature of the subject matter lent itself to narration by a psychologist, something that I personally think worked very well. All in all, I think this is book that will stay with me for quite some time.

four-stars