The Rose Petal Beach

by Dorothy Koomson (Quercus) ISBN798-1-78087-497-5 



The policeman at the door told her they were taking her husband away. 

Tamia Challey’s husband, Scott, is accused of something terrible. Mirabelle, his secretary, and Tamia’s best friend, accuses him of rape. Unsure what to think, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. Should it be her good-looking husband whom she absolutely adores? This looks like the answer she needs, but she begins to quickly unravel and soon doubts her own sanity and actions. 

Then a stranger arrives in town to sprinkle rose petals in the sea in memory of her lost loved one. This woman has shocking truths that changes everyone’s lives. There is a clever, clever twist that makes you feel uncomfortable because you never guessed it. Although the story is well-written, I found it slightly slow to read because of the constant shift in perspective between Tamia and the other women in the story. 

Dee Andrew
4/5

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Spilled Blood

by Brian Freeman (Quercus) ISBN 9780857383198

 

Brian Freeman’s latest psychological thriller centres around two small Minnesota towns at war with each other. Barron houses a successful chemical research company while St Croix, across the river, has suffered an abnormally high amount of cancer deaths.

 

When a young girl is murdered, sixteen-year-old St Croix resident, Olivia Hawk is accused of murder. Her father, Chris, a divorced attorney living in Minneapolis, rushes to St Croix, determined to exonerate his daughter.

 

Chris finds himself in the middle of a complex feud as he tries to piece together the events leading up to the murder. He meets with various members of both towns in his quest and discovers some dark secrets.

 

This book keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Although I felt that the characters could have been further developed and were not entirely believable, I found this a gripping read.   

 

Carrie Miller

4/5

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Thursdays in the Park

by Hilary Boyd (Quercus) ISBN 978-0-85738-517-8

 

Jeanie takes her granddaughter to the park on Thursdays and out of a casual conversation with a granddad, Ray, who takes Dylan to the park, a flame of intimacy is lit.

 

This is a very suspenseful love story. There is a loyal and loving husband, who is boring, waiting at home for Jeanie. The passion portrayed is heart breaking, the decisions to be made are nail biting. For a woman of sixty who should know better (and she says this) the feelings aroused in her for Ray amaze the reader.

 

The sympathy for the victims brings tears to your eyes. How heart breaking for the couple in love who are decent people. A tale simply told with powerful writing that drags you, the reader, into the decision making, the talking and laughing as if you are part of their lives.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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Dark Heart

by Tony Park (Quercus) ISBN 978-1-78087-418-0

 

To compare this story writer with Wilbur Smith is far from the truth. Wilbur Smith entertains and holds your interest all the way through. Had I not read about the Rwanda war I would have been totally at sea with this ghastly story.

 

In Dark Heart there is a very important secret that no-one will reveal. Somewhere in the Gorilla mists are animals behind bars for sale to the highest bidder.  Even baby gorillas are captured and kept under horrendous conditions. The torture scenes are beyond belief and the survivors survive the most amazing horrors. 

 

Embarking on a mission that takes them from South Africa to Zambia and back to Rwanda, the three characters are drawn into animal smuggling, a world far darker and more sinister than it first appears. I found the story's characters completely mixed up.

 

This book is badly written and I do not recommend it.

 

Dee Andrew

1/5

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Out of Sight

by Isabelle Grey (Quercus) ISBN 978 0 85738 318 1

 

Patrick is a homeopath who lives in England with his wife and young child. A strained visited from his parents leaves him disoriented. The events that follow change his life forever.

 

Five years later in a village in South-West France an Englishwoman, Leonie, meets a quiet reserved man named Patrice. He is a loner and refuses to drive in a car. She is attracted by his mystery and believes her love will heal all that has made him so. She searches for answers and uncovers more than she bargains for.

 

Isabelle Grey weaves the sad tale of unrequited love, tragedy and loneliness. She uses the main characters to communicate why some people repeat destructive behaviour in a relationship and looks at how one can block out tragedies that life may throw at us. The reader can relate to the feelings and thoughts running in the minds of both Leonie and Patrick.

 

This book is beautifully timed and eloquently written.

 

Liz Breet

4/5

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Legacy of Blood

by Alex Connor (Quercus) ISBN 9781849163620.

 

Alex Connor has written an unusual thriller around the conspiracy of an artwork by William Hogarth, who did actually exist, although this story is a work of fiction. He weaves a tale concerning seven passengers who were travelling on the private jet of an art dealer.

 

The lives of these passengers become entangled through the owner of the plane mentioning this artwork. This piece is surrounded by an old secret which could cause a dangerous scandal affecting important people. Each individual in the story has their own reason for wanting to own the painting.

 

The story uncovers their characters and how they get their lives ruined unintentionally. The power of the painting is actually the focus and we are swept along with it.

The characterisation is good as they are diverse people. One is drawn into the strange occurrences and led to make the connections.

 

It is a good, entertaining read giving some insight into the world of art and its dealers.

 

Dawn Blankfield

3.5/5

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Poison Heart

by S.B. Hayes (Quercus) ISBN 978-0-85738-570-3

 

Poison Heart is well-written with a plot that can only be described as engrossing. This Young Adult novel is easy to read and I became involved with Katy’s story of horror when she finds a girl, so like herself, setting out to destroy her life. Wherever Katy turns, Genevieve is there - at school, with her friends, her mother, and her boyfriend, Merlin.

 

Katy’s mother, a tragic figure who rarely leaves the house, is so well portrayed you can feel her nervousness. There is a secret that involves all three of them. Luke, the boy next door to Katy, is her sounding board in spite of Katy’s relationship with Merlin.

 

This novel is packed with suspense and atmosphere and the tension is almost unbearable. There is a scene in the book that stands out - the writing brings out all the beauty of a black night with frozen stars in a night sky and a demented girl skating on thin ice. I cannot give more of the plot away. It is twisted and frightening and well worth reading.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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Dead Rules

by R.S. Russell (Quercus) ISBN 978 0 85738 675 5

 

Do you believe in life after death?

 

Randy Russell believes you go to Dead School when you die. And that’s where our main character, Jana Webster, finds herself after a freak bowling accident leaves her dead. 

 

Even in death, Jana pines for her boyfriend, Michael, and obsesses about a way for them to be together again. She finally decides that she’ll have to kill Michael herself if he’s ever going to join her in Dead School and enlists the help of Mars Turncote. 

 

This book is a fun read, with a unique and outlandish take on death.

 

The characters are vivid and memorable. They all have unusual stories as to how they came to be in Dead School. The writing is easy to read. Dead Rules is definitely a book for young adults with a taste for the macabre.

 

Ashleigh Seton-Rogers

3/5

 

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A Common Loss

by Kirsten Tranter (Quercus) ISBN 978-0-85738-275-7

Five friends, Dylan, Elliot, Brian, Tallis and Cameron, meet in college. After graduation they continue to have their annual reunion in Las Vegas. This year is different though, as one of the five, Dylan, has been killed in a motorcar accident. This "common loss" reveals secrets about the remaining friends that change their friendship forever.

 

Dylan was adopted and has a younger brother, Colin, who lives in Las Vegas. Colin now wants his late brother's friends to help his brother keep his promises of helping him to elevate his social status.

 

The story analyses the feelings of Elliot who grapples with his loss and what his friendships and relationships mean to him - those lost, those on-going and potential new ones.

 

If you want to know what Las Vegas is like, this book describes it well - from the kitsch replicas of famous sights around the world to the gambling, sex, drinking and drug-taking.

 

An interesting concept, but written in a style that is not easy to read, with too many descriptions about unimportant scenery and flashbacks that are too detailed.

 

Amanda Blankfield

2/5

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The Promise of Rain

by Donna Milner (Quercus) ISBN: 978 1849 162326

 

There is something endearing about Donna Milner’s story telling. Perhaps it’s because she mainly uses the first person narrative, or seeks out bittersweet stories, but she always managed to create an emotional bond with the reader. She has a deft ear for dialogue, a gift for creating suspense and much compassion for her characters.

 

In her second novel, she tells the story of Ethie Coulter and her family in Canada. The shock of her mother’s death is almost too much for her to bear. Her father, never a warm-hearted Daddy figure, retreats into alcohol, leaving Ethie and her brother to fend for themselves.

 

But Ethie is brave and she wants to help her father come to terms with his past and heal her family. In flashbacks, we learn of her father’s horrific experiences in WW2, surviving an attack in Hong Kong and becoming a prisoner of war.  He is haunted by this memories and this has changed the way he relates to his family.

 

The Promise of Rain is a poignant tale of pain, loss and hope that delivers a surprising but believable twist in the tale as Ethie’s father’s secret comes to light. It’s book for those who want to understand history and families a bit better.

 

Faith Parker

3/5

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