Monday, 31 July 2017

The Girls

The Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Vintage Books
May 2017

If you’re lost, they’ll find you…Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed. It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.  If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live.

Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?

Loosely based on the killings in 1969 by Charles Manson and his group of followers, Emma Cline's novel shows just how easy it can be to fall into a cult setting such as the one Manson created.  Evie Boyd has a mother who is more interested in her new boyfriend than in Evie herself, so it is easy for her to say she is staying at best friend Connie's house when in fact she isn't.  Evie meets Suzanne in a local store and is drawn in by her beauty and state of apparent bohemia.  This girl is not like her or Connie, and Evie is immediately drawn to her.  Suzanne takes her 'home' to meet Russell, and the other people she lives with.  What occurs there is seedy and uncomfortable but Evie is strangely drawn to being there amongst them. 

The book weaves through that extraordinary summer and now in the present day, as 50-something Evie recollects whether she could have prevented the tragic events that occurred, or whether in fact she had been protected by Suzanne all along. 

I can see why the book has been so raved about.  I liked it, but I didn't love it but I think it's a personal choice.  I certainly would say to read this though as it is both dark but intoxicating at the same time, and an eye opener to the world for some of the summer of 1969.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Before You Were Mine

Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin
Published by HQ Digital
May 2017

Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…

Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.

Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.

Eli Bell gets pregnant at 14.  Refusing to name the father, she is shunned by her family and forced to give up her precious daughter, never to see her again.  However Eli has never forgotten her and dreams of one day being reconnected with the child she was made to leave behind.  One day whilst out shopping, Eli bumps into her daughter.  She instinctively knows that it is her, as only a mother could.  However this once-in-a-lifetime sighting cannot be left to remain so, and Eli finds herself returning to the same place time and time again in order to once more reconnect with her child.  She doesn't discuss this with her husband Tommy though and finds herself making excuses as to where she is spending her time during the day.  Tommy also has his own issues, and one day makes a decision that he will find Eli's daughter for her.  He too decides this must be kept secret and both begin a path that will see them separate from each other despite their common aim.

Em Muslin's book is set in rural America where bigotry still remains. Eli's mother is one such character and boy did I long to slap her, she is a vicious woman and one well written to make me feel this way.  Tommy is such a sweet character and I adored him.  At the start of the book I didn't feel that Eli's skin was white and I'm not sure why this is, I think it is because her best friend Daisy (whom I didn't much like either) is described as being so fair; it makes no difference to the story but I just felt that she was from an African American background only to realise she was not.

Before You Were Mine is a story of love and hope, of a mother's longing to see her child again, and of a man who will do anything to protect those he loves.  A great debut.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins
July 2017

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville's notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case which can't help triggering the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried for ever…

I'll just start by saying that this is so different from Karin's previous book The Kept Woman which I've just finished listening to on audiobook.  For one thing, there is hardly any swearing in it!!!!  But seriously, it's sort of like reading a completely different author so maybe if you have read her books before and decided that they are not for you, this might be the one to change your mind.  Anyway, I digress so back to the book in hand....

The book flits back and forth, from the past to the present day of our two main characters, sisters Charlotte (Charlie) and Samantha.  When we first meet them they have just moved house due to a fire at their old property which has possibly been linked to their father Rusty's career as a lawyer, he often defends the prosecuted, and in many trials, gets them off from the crimes they have been charged with committing.  On a warm summers day the two girls are at home with their mother Gamma when two men enter the property.  Things don't go according to their plan though and Gamma is killed in front of her daughters; Samantha is left for dead, and Charlie runs for her life.

Twenty eight years later and the sisters become reunited after a series of events lead to a high-school shooting and a family injury forces them to work together.  Neither of the girls have ever really talked about what happened on the night Gamma was killed and as the case against schoolgirl Kelly Wilson builds, the sisters begin to realise that they cannot continue their lives without some sort of dialogue as to what they experienced.

There is a whole host of characters in this book and each is vital to the story itself, there are no real bitty characters here but there are lots of questions to be answered.  Did meek and mild Kelly kill two people at school?  Can Rusty get her off the charges she faces?  What happened when Charlie ran on that horrific evening?  Karin Slaughter keeps the tension up throughout the book, with some real twists in the plot throughout.  I really enjoyed reading this, though it may not be for the faint hearted.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 17 July 2017

Ask No Questions

Ask no Questions by Lisa Hartley
Published by Canelo
July 2017

After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.

Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect - even close colleagues.
Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions. That isn't an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.

This is the first in a series of books featuring Detective Caelan Small - a woman so used to being undercover she no longer knows how to be herself.  We meet Caelan on holiday in Egypt when a former colleague, Richard Adamson, is sent to ask her to return to the UK to come back to the job she has just resigned from. A kidnapped child and a police officer died during her last operation and a killer is on the loose; the Met feel that the only person who can bring him down is Caelan.  

Ask No Questions has many twists and turns and Lisa Hartley weaves together a whole team of characters so well that you are never sure who is on Caelan's side, and who secretly wants her dead!  I really enjoyed this book and it certainly kept me gripped, particularly the twist at the end!  I will be checking out the following books in the series if this introduction is anything to go by.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
April 2017

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Despite that fact that we have had abolition laws passed in both the UK and the US, I think it is safe to say that there are still some states where the colour of your skin is still an issue and in Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult brings this to the forefront of her storyline. 

Ruth Jefferson is a maternity nurse in a Conneticut hospital and has a pretty much unblemished record, that is until she delivers and cares for baby Bauer.  Both parents are white supremacist and tell Ruth that they don't want her handling their baby boy.  Ruth is removed from his care, and later, whilst she is in the same room as him, the baby dies - is Ruth somehow responsible for his death?  His father, Turk, seriously seems to think so.

Picoult then takes us through the impending court case as we see Ruth try to defend her career and race, whilst Turk sets out to ruin her in every way he possibly can.  The white supremacist movement still has many members and it is a shocking thought that the issues Picoult raises here are so truly valid today.  As with all of her books, there is a twist coming at the end, but can you guess what it wil be?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Little Sister

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown
Published by Trapeze
July 2017

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily's comfortable island home. Life couldn't be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess's care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

Little Sister is one of those books whereby you are glad that your family isn't like that portrayed on the pages before you.  Jessica and Emily are sisters, and on the surface you would think them one happy family, with Jessica caring for Emily's baby daughter Daisy during the day, but it's only when Daisy disappears that the cracks start to appear and you realise that appearances can be deceptive.

Emily and Jess didn't speak for years, but when Emily meets widower James and his stepdaughter Chloe, they become a happy family unit.  The arrival of baby Daisy leads Emily to look for someone to care for her, and she turns to Jessica to do so.  Jess instantly loves both girls so Emily feels that they are in safe hands; however on a rare night out, the parents arrive home to find Jessica seemingly passed out drunk, and Daisy no longer in the house. 

As you can well imagine, this is where things begin to crumble.  Emily goes to pieces, and it becomes Jessica's role to hold the family together.  But is she doing so for the sake of her sister, or does she have her own ulterior motive? 

Read this in one sitting!  It would make great big screen entertainment too.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Here and Gone

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
Published by Vintage
June 2017

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining. . .

Here and Gone is currently out in Kindle format, but will be published in the hardback edition in August.  Audra Kinney has decided to leave her controlling, abusive husband and his interfering mother at long last, and is driving with her two children from New York across the state to California where she hopes a friend will put them up until she gets herself sorted out.  Audra is understandably nervous, she is worried about her husband and the repercussions of her actions to remove both herself and her children from his life.  When she pulls into a gas station in Arizona for drinks for her two children and sees a police car waiting there, she begins to worry that he has been sent to find her.  However all is fine and Audra continues on her journey.  However it isn't long before she sees the police car behind her and this time his lights are flashing at her for her to pull off the road.  Officer Whiteside tells Audra that the rear end of her car is weighed down too much and that he believes it is not safe for her to continue driving in this manner.  He helpfully agrees to take some of the luggage out of her car, transfer it into his vehicle and follow her to a place to stop for the evening.  Audra agrees, for what else can she do, and when Officer Whiteside opens her boot, he pulls out a bag of drugs, too large for personal use.  He has no choice but to take Audra down to the station for questioning.    The sheriff radios for his partner Deputy Collins to come and fetch the children so he can take Audra into custody.  When Audra arrives at the station for her interview, she asks Whiteside where her children are - he replies "what children?"

As a parent that bit put chills down my spine.  Whiteside is adamant that when he arrested Audra her car was empty.  The question he has for her, is what has she done with her children?  Now it is Audra's word against the law and once her husband gets involved, everyone starts to doubt her story. As a former junkie and alcoholic, her previous history isn't doing her any favours amongst the media.  For Audra there is only one person who she can turn to now and that is a stranger known to many as Danny the Knife Boy.  His daughter also disappeared in similar circumstances and his wife ended up taking her own life as a result.  For Danny, the tale Audra tells sends alarm bells ringing in his head, and he realises he needs to reach out to a woman he has never met before to try to gain her trust.  For Audra, Danny could be her only hope.

This is a real page-turner of a book and I was gripped by the twists and turns it took, wondering and waiting to see if Audra would ever find her children again.  Haylen Beck is an author I will read more books by in the future.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 3 July 2017


Together by Julie Cohen
Published by Orion Books
July 2017

Is this a great love story? Or a story about great love? You decide. On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually would. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie's actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret - one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

This is an interesting story and has an ending that I have no doubt will divide readers. I was sent a copy by the publisher to review and the last two chapters had been removed.  We were asked to tweet our thoughts at this point in the book - mine was WHAT?!!!!!!

Robbie and Emily are in their eighties, happy in their own little world, children grown and flown the nest.  But Robbie has Alzheimer's disease and whilst some days are good, others are confused and muddled and he isn't sure that this is a life he wants to live.  One fine morning he leaves Emily and note and goes to the shore near to where they live.  He knows he only has a certain amount of time remaining to carry out his plan before Emily wakes and rises for the day, now is not the moment for confusion and delay.

The story starts at the end and ends at the beginning of their relationship. We learn about their family and children, of the early days of their relationship and of when they first meet each other when Emily is studying at Cambridge University.  We learn fairly early on that something happens in 1962 that the pair swear they will never share with anyone else.  Neither has family that they see anymore.  It is only the death of Emily's mother that leads her to fly across the Atlantic to see the family that she ran out on all those decades ago and it would seem that even her younger sister Polly has no idea of the secret Emily has been holding on to for all of these years.

I didn't expect the twist that Julie Cohen throws into the mix but it does work sort of... It comes out of the blue and answers some of the questions that the reader may have about Emily's family and why her and Robbie never see them anymore.  I do think it will divide readers as some may be satisfied with this and others I feel may think that it is a little like a curve ball thrown unexpectedly into the mix, there is no real build up - just BOOM!

This is a story of family and love and of two people that fate brought together and who are destined to remain together no matter who or what tries to pull them apart.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x