The Hidden Legacy by G J Minett: Book Review

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Once you know, you can’t forget

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

First word: Wow. Last word: WOOOOW.

I can’t quite praise this book enough. What an amazing debut by G J Minett; it will definitely be a hard one to follow (I type this as I eagerly await the publication of his second novel Lie In Wait. March 9th guys. Note it.)

So I finished The Hidden Legacy Saturday night after being on my ‘to read’ list for quite some time. To be completely honesty I was utterly lost for words when I closed the book on the last page. I couldn’t form a sentence to express how I was feeling (in a 100% good way!) The novel is a definite page turner, that much I can tell you.

Minett has a gift. He is no doubt a writer who can do what some may think  impossible. He can split the plot in different directions yet somehow cross stitch all the pieces back together, ensuring that all the loose ends have been tied. The final twist of the novel itself had me holding my breath and it was only when I got to part four, did I actually breathe again.

The book opens with the narration of a lone young boy. It becomes increasingly obvious as the pacing of the writing quickens that this young boy is about to do something unforgettable. This is the immediate draw. For in 1966. this young boy, John Michael Adams walks into his school grounds and sets fire to two young girls. One dies, the other is scarred for life. My mouth was hanging open at the end of the prologue. I remember my eyes popping.

Flash forward to 2008 when Ellen Sutherland, a recently divorced mother of two, receives a letter from a solicitor urging her to make contact regarding the last will and testimony of one Eudora Nash. At first, Ellen believes they have the wrong person, for the name Eduora Nash means absolutely nothing to her.

Not knowing what possesses her and after a strange phone call with the Solicitor, Ellen decides to trust fate and makes a six-hour trip to the Cotswolds. And low and behold, nestled a few miles from Cheltenham, Ellen comes face to face with a picturesque cottage that, once all necessary paperwork have been signed, will belong solely to her.

Naturally, Ellen is shocked, in disbelief and most importantly, confused as to why this cottage has been left to her by someone she has never heard of. And thus, the long road to discovering answers, begins. Going back and forth between her mother whose memory has deteriorated rapidly and her boss whose like a father, the list of questions gets longer and responses are far too evasive.

The deeper Ellen digs, the more confused she becomes. The spider web continues to tangle with more questions emerging at every turn, until a faithful Reverend of the village hands her two very important letters. Letters that hold all the answers she’s been searching for. It’s just whether she is receptive to learn.

A powerful debut, Minett uses the novel to portray a number of different characters and we have the pleasure of seeing the development in the timeline through one character in particular, who manages to lace together the entirety of the plot. There are so many emotional responses to the characters and what they endure in order to hide and search and uncover the secrets from the past, that it is really hard not to sympathise with all of them.

What really grasped my heartstrings though was the concluding connection between Eudora and Ellen – something that I did not see coming and something Minett handles with easy grace. In my mind, The Hidden Legacy is not what I’d class the usual psychological thriller, but it is no doubt, undeniably one of the best of the genre from an incredible writer. It is well worth the read.

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So I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Graham and it was clear from the go, his passion for writing and for his audience is outstanding. I’m eagerly anticipating his next book, Lie In Wait. I am still so gutted I didn’t have his book on me when meeting him. It would have been an honour to have it signed!

Getting back into Old Habits

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.

Many years ago when I had nothing to fear, with my life still a flutter away, I was thoroughly addicted to buying books. I was addicted to reading, I was addicted to the mere sight of a bookstore. I would be unable to control this desperate urge to avoid the warm smell of Waterstones; the books called to me and I would spend hours memorised by the sheer volume of books that I had yet to experience. Even if I left with a number of new books, there would still be this lingering longing for wanting to buy more.

I was also one of those skillful people who could read two books at one time; I would be able to constantly flick between pages and still recall exactly where I left off in the other one. My sister was envious as I was also quite the speed reader. I wasn’t a speed reader in the sense of training myself to be one, I just simply enjoyed reading so much that I was captivated and would cease to end a chapter unless it was the last page of the book. There is truth in the wise words of Stephen King when he expresses that books are a uniquely portable magic.

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The Whitby Witches: Re-living the past

As a small child, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had some sort of fascination with the seaside town, Whitby. Way up north, it’s part of Yorkshire, England. I have never been to this quiet historical seaside resort because lol Worcester is too far north for me. Regardless, as stated at the beginning of this blog post, I’ve always had some desire to go to Whitby.

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Book Review: Debut! Dr Vanilla’s Sunflowers

DR VANILLA’S SUNFLOWERS
by
Bethany Cadman

A perfect balance between romantic fantasy and psychological thriller, Bethany Cadman has written a surreal literary novel in Dr Vanilla’s Sunflowers. The author is a recent creative writing graduate from Brighton and Dr Vanilla’s Sunflowers is her excited, highly imaginative debut.

The novel features Deborah Green, a 33-year-old woman whose abusive husband has left her. With her only son dead, she feels like there is nothing left to live for. She tries to take her own life. Barely surviving the attempt, Deborah is then left in desperate need of help before the crippling depression takes its final toll. Surprisingly for her, an unusual therapist takes an interest in the case and summons her to his office.

Dr Vanilla appears to be an unconventional therapist with an entirely different agenda then simply helping Deborah overcome her depression. Little does Deborah know, since that fateful day in the bath, when she tried to join her son on the other side, her soul was ripped from her body. It is now helplessly wandering the astral plane, trying to find its way back.

Dr Vanilla is well and truly aware of Deborah’s condition and he is willing to do just about anything to try and capture her essence and cage her soul with all the other lifeless humanities he has trapped in a strange, eerie looking painting of sunflowers – all longing for the freedom they were robbed. But after a run in with another soulless patient of Dr Vanilla’s, Luke becomes Deborah’s ally. It is only when the two put their heads – and hearts, together that they realise their conditions are more similar than they could have ever imagined.

Fighting against the sinister methods the doctor has planned, they set out in a frantic attempt to find their souls in their dream worlds. Their relationship begins to develop; their hearts begin to heal, but the doctor is closing in…

With a battle against time and a psycho-soul-sucking therapist hot on her heels, can Deborah reunite with her grace or does an even more terrifying fate await her?

High praise for such a debut. I thoroughly enjoyed the story line, crossing the borderland of fantasy and reality with snippets from the past. Bethany Cadman has a wild imagination and although the concepts of lost souls in literature has been explored, it seems Bethany has created an extraordinary story with beautifully developed characters and a sinister psycho-therapist which all ends in one big plot twist.

The collision between the dream realms and the real world works well and the characteristics of the souls is perfectly well executed. I like that Bethany has played on the theme of ‘soulmates’ and on this idea that one soul can help heal another.

The embedded sub-plot featured within the novel focuses on loss, grief and false pretenses and it is extremely real. The raw emotions are perfectly written and the psychological issues surroudning Deborah are at the core.

Fiction and Reality blur in such a heart-wrenching plot within this novel and it definitely held my attention. It is a must read. Don’t miss your chance to experience such a powerful debut…

Dr Vanilla’s Sunflowers has been published by Mereo Books, a fictional imprint of Memoirs Publishing. It is currently only available on eBook devices priced at £3.99 on Amazon: http://ow.ly/ZczPt
The paperback edition will be available in June 2016

Book Review: Poppet

by
Mo Hayder

The patients at Beechway High Secure Unit are all terrified of what they refer to as ‘The Maude’.  Soon, there are unexplained power cuts and self-harming patients which lead to a series of horrifying incidents. The fear has spread from the inmates to the staff.

Whilst all of this is ongoing within the Unit, a patient with a terrifying past has been released without proper consent. DI Jack Caffery is then called to investigate, whilst working the most impossible case of his life. Will he be able to stare pure evil in the eye and survive?

I read this book way back in the Summer. It was so hard to put down and as I’ve recently started up my Goodreads account, I’ve been ticking off all the books I’ve read. When I got to Poppet, I realised I NEEDED to review it.

Of course, I fell in love with Mo Hayder from her first book in the Jack Caffery series. Birdman still remains high on my favourites list and with Poppet, Mo Hayder has worked her way up as one of my top authors.

Now if I’ve learned anything upon studying for my Masters, one thing that sells well in Publishing is a book’s cover design. Hand in hand with the title, you have yourself an excellent selling device. The cover for Poppet sold me on this Mo Hayder thriller (aside from the fact that she’s just brilliant.) The cover is mysterious and creepy and so is the idea of what a ‘Poppet’ symbolises!

This novel incorporates my passion for a thriller and human behaviours. The setting was intense and the characters were perfectly executed. Monster Mother was one of my absolute favourite characters within the mental institute. Her ‘ability’ was clever and grotesque, yet she has such an adoring, kind nature. Her relationship with AJ was particularly sweet. AJ was an interesting stand out character – he has such strong characteristics with an intense passion to help people. Of course this novel is part of the Jack Caffery series, but if it were to be a stand alone, it would seem right to have AJ as the main character.

Moving on to Isaac’s character – he is Hayder’s ultimate creation, he is compelling in so many ways. He was written tremendously well with Hayder incorporating a back story into his life and making you feel so emotionally connected… it’s unthinkable. Following on within the series, it seems Jack and Flea’s relationship is beginning to show signs of recollection and everything else in this book screams: ‘Can’t Put Down’.

My usual reaction to a Mo Hayder novel.

The chapters in Poppet are extremely short so it’s easy to get yourself lost. The suspense builds and builds and then the plot twist comes… Mo Hayder is so good at gripping you on the edge of your seat and for once, I really didn’t expect the ending at all, it was a complete surprise. I have such praise for all of Mo Hayder’s characters within her novels and not forgetting the research she undertakes in order to write such thought-provoking, spin chilling tales.

As The Times wrote about Hayder, ‘you never know where you are going until you get there’.

Poppet is well up there on my favourites. The novel can act as a stand alone against the series, but it does help to understand Jack and the back story behind his relationship with Flea. Nevertheless, five stars for this one.

P.s I apologise for the creepy featured image, although I don’t. I hope it draws you in as much as it did me!

Book Review: King of the Woods

Following my successful published book review in David Young’s debut novel (yup, still on a high from that see here, soz, not soz) here is the latest active book review for the Romaunce Book blog:

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Valerie Anand draws readers into the mysterious tale of a lesser-known religious cult, all the while masterfully capturing the chaos and passion of a turbulent time within Kings of Woods.

Stepping through time back to A.D 1100, the novel opens with the death of King William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror before the audience are taken back and introduced to the young Norman, Ralph des Aix, a fine huntsmen and horsemen who is eager to win his knight’s fee from the new English King.

King William Rufus embraces Ralph and is immediately taken by him but Ralph soon discovers that being the King’s favourite is complex and not always pleasant – although it is clear that the King cares deeply for Ralph, it is not without consequences.

For his endured service, King Rufus rewards Ralph with what he has been holding out for; Ralph is offered the land of Chenna’s Tun. Many feel that the King has rundown holdings of Chenna’s Tun and deep in the New Forest, Ralph and his wife, Sybil of Fallowdene, are drawn deeper into the growing conflicts between the Norman court and the world of the Saxon forest.

Soon enough, Ralph becomes involved with the Saxon cult where he becomes a lord in his own right, yet a net of danger is cast over all. In order to be a lord of his own manor, Ralph learns that he must bear the ancient title; King of the Woods, with all its cryptic and barbaric responsibilities…

Valerie Anand is a fantastic novelist whose talent for bringing the past back to the present shines through in King of the Woods. An imaginative style of writing is observed throughout. It is full of mystery, danger and scandal: suspense that keeps the pages turning.

The characters are slow moving but the descriptive nature pulls the reader into every scene. Exceptional praise is given to how Anand handles the relationship between King Rufus and Ralph, thus exploring the nature of homosexual liaisons in the eleventh century and the consequences of the King’s open and honest actions.

Although at first, the novel appears full of unrelated subplots and characters who are just padding through the story, Anand skilfully pulls them all together, tying the loose ends, leading the reader towards that fateful day when the King was shot dead by one fruitful arrow.

Anand’s speculation of who shot the King is perfectly executed with validated purpose – interesting and exciting. King of the Woods is a brilliant must-read historical novel and is once again available for readers everywhere to enjoy, thanks to Romaunce Books.

You can purchase a copy through Amazon, available in both a paperback and ebook format.

Published Writer – Of sorts (!)

My apologises dear bloggers and fellow readers for lacking in posting. It’s been a busy busy few days. I’m looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow, catching up on emails and just overall lounging around – bliss.

Today something excited happened to me. I’d say I’m pretty damn proud actually. A few months back when I first got back into writing on this blog, I posted a book review I wrote for Literature Works on David Young’s debut thriller novel Stasi Child (you can read that over here).

Today I was catching up with my dearest BFF, wandering around Waterstones: it’s publication day for David Young and Stasi Child so I got a little excited seeing the paperback edition all brand new and ready to captivate an audience; I tweeted to David, congratulating him on his debut. He tweets back with a message about my review being featured in the front matter.

So there we have it guys. My review has been semi published in an active publication.

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Also, go and buy a copy at your local bookstore or over at Amazon. It’s a really great read!