A Place to Read

The Suspect By Fiona Barton – A review

The Suspect, by Fiona Barton is the third of her books that revolves around reporter Kate Waters. I have already reviewed The Widow and The Child. All three books are stand alone stories, but you do get to know some characters better as the stories progress.

I use affiliate links in my posts which means if you click through I and purchase you will receive a great new read and I will receive a little payment, at no extra cost to you. So thank you in advance.

The Suspect on Audible

I’m a huge fan of Audible, I love to listen to my stories while I crochet.

The Suspect audio book edition
By: Fiona Barton
Narrated by: Clare CorbettMark MeadowsSian ThomasRia Zmitrowicz
Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 24-01-19
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Studios
Categories: Crime & Thrillers,Suspense

Paperback Edition

The Blurb

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

This time it’s personal. And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

My Review

I loved Fiona Barton’s other two books I couldn’t wait to get reading this one. I wasn’t disappointed, it was really hard to put down. It did feel different to the other two stories though. I’m not sure if that was because Kate didn’t have her usual role in the story. Or even that Bob Sparks was otherwise occupied with his wife’s cancer. When you get used to character’s behaving differently it kind of disrupts your expectations. So, I’m a little mixed on my feelings. I loved the book, but it just wasn’t the Kate and Bob I’ve come to know through the other two stories.

It was typical Fiona Barton style though. You are presented with all you need to know to solve the case in the beginning. The clues are obvious. But the story of how they got to that conclusion is still so very intriguing. Mostly because of Fiona’s amazing characterization. You really get to know the characters and feel invested in their parts of the story.

The Audible Version of The Suspect

Again, The audible version has gone for different voice actors for each character. I found this helped a lot in the last book, The Child, as the timelines were all over the place and everyone had such a different story. This book would have worked with just one narrator like The Widow. Yes, it’s good to hear each character in their own voice, but some of the voices just didn’t seem to fit. I get a bit picky over who I’m enjoying listening too and I know that’s a personal thing.

I hope Fiona Barton continues to write about Kate Waters because I’d love to read another and find out what happens to Kate and Bob next.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Please follow and like us:
A Place to Read

To Be A Cat – Matt Haig, Book review

I wanted something to read along with my Little Man so I decided to introduce him to Matt Haig and we read together, To Be a Cat.

To Be a Cat, Matt Haig
Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK 
ISBN: 9780552564342 
Number of pages: 320 
Weight: 224 g 
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 20 mm

To Be A Cat, the Blurb

Barney Willow’s life couldn’t get any worse. He’s weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him. And evil headteacher Miss Whipmire seems determined to make Barney’s existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year – and there’s no sign of him ever coming home. Barney just wants to escape. To find another life. To be a cat, for example. A quiet, lazy cat.

Things would be so much easier – wouldn’t they?

Our Review

As a fan of Matt Haig I was eager to share his style with my son. After reading one of Matt’s books you get a sense of humanity, and they are often uplifting and assuring. You can read a couple of my reviews of Matt Haig’s other books here.

So, what did we think of To Be a Cat? Well, The Little Man was not over keen at first, he didn’t like how uncomfortable Barney Willow’s life was. My Little Man has experienced bullying himself and he prefers to lock it away rather than talk about it. But I thought it was good for him to see that other people felt the same too.

The book was kind of strange, I mean, humans really can’t turn into cats can they? Poor Barney had quite an awful life, his Mum was distracted, his father missing, he was being bullied and his head teacher seemed to have it in for him big time. Luckily he did have his best friend Rissa on his side.

Then looking at life from a cat’s point of view, well, do they really have it any different? There are still falling outs and bullying and at times, even more horror to endure.

As the book progressed you wondered if Barney would ever get his life in order and my Little Man was gripped, wanting to know what would happen next.

The book also had Matt’s wonderful way of lifting up your spirits and giving you more belief that life really is worth living. It’s good to start giving younger children this affirmation as we think they have it easy, but its not really.

As we read this book together, I loved the closeness of being with my boy. We had stopped bedtime stories long ago, but he was required to read as part of his homeschooling and I think we chose the right book. I also noticed that my 14 year old was listening along to the story too, even though she was pretending not to 😉

Disclosure

I bought this book after choosing it with my son and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have included an affiliate link in my post. If you click through and purchase it will cost you no extra but may earn me a little money, so thank you x

Please follow and like us:
A Place to Read

The Child by Fiona Barton – book review

The Child by Fiona Barton

The Child is Fiona Barton’s second book featuring newspaper reporter Kate Waters. I recently read the first book, The Widow and was instantly drawn in by Fiona Barton’s fabulous story telling.

Front cover of The Child by Fiona Barton.
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd 
ISBN: 9780552172455 
Number of pages: 448 
Weight: 314 g 
Dimensions: 198 x 127 x 28 mm
Waterstones paperback £8.99

Before I begin my review I need to tell you that I will be using affiliate links throughout my post. This means that if you click through and make a purchase from them I may earn a little money. This will be at no extra cost to yourself, so thank you in advance for your support.

The Blurb

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance.

But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her. For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

My Review on The Child.

I really enjoyed The Widow, I love the way Fiona Barton weaves you into her characters world. Even if you work out the answers, you still want to go on reading to see how it all unravels.

The child was slightly different I was kept guessing for much longer, but when the penny dropped it made me feel very emotional.

I listen to my books on Audible when possible. I love to be able to plug in and block out the world. It also means I can continue with my crochet, or even do the washing up or go to the toilet without having to stop listening. I’m a member of Audible so I can get a book a month for my £7.99 subscription. I already have Fiona Barton’s third book in this season in my basket waiting for my next credit. You can get the book on Audible here.

The audible book has a different voice actor for each of the characters which helps you keep track of what is happening. I did find the jumping of timelines a little more difficult in the previous book with the same actor reading all the parts. Some stories work better when there is more than one voice, it does make it more like listening to a drama than reading a book though.

As for the story, I found it really gripping. I found it hard to stop listening. I connected with the characters for who they were. It’s hard not to like Kate even knowing she’s a journalist and poking around in other’s lives, she is good at coming up with answers that even the police don’t see. She has no shame about the way she worms herself into lives, but she never causes harm.

The main character in this story appears to be Emma, who is the only one who has her part in first in first person. This is her story, what happened to her. The other characters seem to be the main focus, but we know it’s all about Emma really and that it’s only Kate who can bring the truth to light.

I have to admit it brought a lump to my throat a couple of times.

There are some touchy subjects involved including child abuse and baby death, so it won’t be a good read for some. But for those who love a good page turning ‘who dunnit’ type book, then you’ll love this.

I’m adding my review to The Monthly Book Blogger Linky over on Lovely Audio Books here.

If you like reviewing books then please feel free to join in my monthly linky which starts on the first of the month and runs to the end and you can link up as much as you like so long as it’s book related. You can find the linky by clicking here or the image below.

bookworms monthly
Please follow and like us:
A Place to Read

The Widow – Fiona Barton

My review of The Widow by Fiona Barton. The links are affiliate links and may earn me a little money but cost you nothing more if you click through and purchase.

The Blurb

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

My Review of The Widow

I listened to The Widow on Audible after reading a review by Mum of Three World who has read all three books in the series. I’m currently on the second book, The Child. The latest book is The Suspect and I will be reading (or listening) to that next.

Fiona Barton is a great writer that grips you from the first page and refuses to let you go. So be prepared to read her books very quickly because you won’t be able to put them down. As I listen to the books I generally find books that start with dates and characters get a bit confusing because it’s not so easy to flip back and check on what happened previously.

With The Widow the book switches timelines quite frequently from the present date, to what happened before the death of her husband and even further back to the missing child. It’s kind of obvious what has happened, but despite that the unravelling of the story is riveting.

On Audible The Widow has just one narrator which I enjoyed. I always listen to a snippet of the book before purchasing as you will be listening to that voice for hours.

Please follow and like us:
A Place to Read

The Testaments – A Review

I bought The Testaments with my audible credit. Audible is free for 30 days and then £7.99 a month afterwards, for which you get one credit which can be used against any book of your choice, no matter what the cost. This post will contain affiliate links to both Audible and Waterstones which is my bookshop of choice.

The Testaments

Author: Margaret Atwood Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781784742324
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 667 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 39 mm

The Blurb

Launched to widespread acclaim at our flagship Piccadilly shop, Margaret Atwood’s Booker-winning sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is undoubtedly the story for our times.

Picking up ten years after its predecessor’s tantalisingly open-ended conclusion, The Testaments provides a new window into Atwood’s dystopian world, as seen through the eyes of three women of Gilead: a girl brought up within its confines, another on the run beyond its walls, and a woman at the very heart of the regime’s dark designs with secrets of her own. Each has a unique perspective on the world of Gilead and each will be crucial in deciding its fate.

Effortlessly combining a piercing critique of gender, oppression and authoritarianism with the whip-smart pace of the purest literary thriller, The Testaments is devastating in its immediacy whilst remaining a timeless piece of faultless storytelling.

The Testaments on Audible

Narrated by: Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mae Whitman, Derek Jacobi, Tantoo Cardinal, Margaret Atwood

Length: 13 hrs and 18 : Fiction, Literary

I enjoyed the recording as each main characters story had a different narrator which I think always makes a listening more enticing. You get to know more of the person in the story rather than reading it all in one voice. Each character is brought to life.

My Verdict on The Testaments

I will confess that the first time I read The prequel to The Testaments, The Handmaid’s Tale was only last year. So I didn’t have so long a wait as many for the sequel. I have not seen the television series although from those who I have spoken too have said it was good.

After listening to The Testaments I was left with a few questions which were kindly answered by friends, but more about that later.

I did actually enjoy The Testaments in it’s own right although it was very different to the Handmaid’s Tale. The story was less of the fear of what may become of the the future and more of an adventure tale. The feel of the whole story was very different.

Margaret Atwood claimed she set out to answer questions she’d been asked about The Handmaid’s Tale but although it does give some insight into how Gilead came about, it doesn’t really answer much. I think it could even be read on it’s own, without having read the Handmaid’s Tale. Although, you’d probably be confused as to what the actual role of a handmaid was.

The Daughter’s Tales

The story revolves around the daughter’s of Offred, the main character in the Handmaid’s Tale and this is where my questions began. In the book we see Offred being carted off in a van by ‘Mayday’ with her future unknown and only the notion that she was pregnant. We already know that she had an older daughter but she had no idea what had happened to her.

Apparently in the television series it takes the story a little further and her baby is born before she escapes.

I became confused as to why they made such a big fuss about Offred’s baby when in the book she had not even been sure of her pregnancy or the parentage of the baby.

In the Testaments this baby is now a teen being brought up by adoptive parents and is sent back into Gilead on a mission to bring the regime down.

Offred’s older child is in Gilead being raised by adoptive parents, and when her mother dies her step mother wants her to be married off. She decides that she wants to become an aunt instead. The aunts are Gilead’s version of nuns.

The two children meet, not knowing they have the same birth mother but end up helping each other.

I think a lot of my confusion in the plot came from The Testaments relying on it’s readers having watched the television series which I felt was disappointing. Friends who had watched the television series where able to answer some questions for me.

Final Thoughts

I did really enjoy listening to The Testaments on Audible. I feel that if I’d had a physical copy I’d have a spent a lot more time trying to tie things in with the two books. I’m still not sure if that would have been wasted time. So, although I enjoyed the story I felt it had a very different feel to the first book and it left a lot more questions than answers.

You can buy a hard copy of the book from Waterstones for £17.99 Paperback version will be released soon.

Or you can listen on Audible for 1 credit or £31.99

Audible is free for the first 30 days and then £7.99 per month afterwards which gives you one credit.

Have you read The Testaments?

bookworms monthly
Please follow and like us:
A Place to Read

The Binding – Bridget Collins, book review

The Binding, book cover
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The Borough Press (10 Jan. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008272115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008272111
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.9 x 22.7 cm

You can buy this gorgeous hardback copy of the Binding on Amazon for just £8.53 Also available in paperback, kindle edition and Audible My links are affiliate links which will cost you no more to click through and purchase but may earn me some pennies.

I listened to The Binding on Audible narrated by Karl Prekopp.

The Blurb for The Binding

Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Forever.

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

THE BINDING is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event.

My Verdict on The Binding

As I already stated, I listened to this book on Audible, but I’m a little envious of the beautiful cover and I may even be tempted to buy a hardback version. It’s quite a long book a whole fifteen and a half hours on Audible. But, I couldn’t stop listening. The narrator was gentle and lent himself perfectly to the story, but I have to admit, he did also send me to sleep a couple of times and I had to rewind.

The story itself is like nothing I’ve read before, it’s a world that is so like this one but more historical, but it’s a world were books are more like drugs than reading material. There are novels which are made up stories, but most books are peoples memories, stored away in pages. Some sell their memories for others to read. Others pay to have their memories removed. But once those memories are bound into books they no longer belong to the original owner.

The book is written in three parts. The first is a little strange and it’s hard to figure out if you are reading a normal story or some sci-fi novel. Nothing is made perfectly clear, but it’s understandable because the main character has already been to a book binder and had his memories erased. This, in turn, showed that he had the talent to bind himself and was taken on as an apprentice.

The Second part fills in all the missing pieces as the main character finds his book and remembers everything. But as soon as this part of the story is told we are taken back to the place where his book was found and the story is taken over by someone else. Then the two characters work together to find out the truth.

It’s a really interesting concept and shows what lengths people will go to to erase their memoires. It also shows how other people can be manipulated by having their memories erased. It also touches on social differences where the rich pay for memory erasal and for books of other’s memories, and where the poor sell their memories for cash.

It certainly has a philosopical edge as to how much of real life is put into books and how much people crave to read about a different life. It made me think of Jostien Gaarder’s ‘Sophie’s World.’

The main theme of this story though, is not the philosophical stanse, but a coming of age love story. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, it’s very unsual and the love story is not even conventional. Personally though, I enjoyed it thoroughly and would definitely like that hardbound copy for my ‘pretty’ book collection.

bookworms monthly badge
Please follow and like us:
A Place to Read

What I’ve been reading in August, Matt Haig.

With the kids around I’ve not been able to read so much. That and the fact that I’ve been a teensy bit distracted by Netflix. I did manage some reading on holiday but not as much as I’d hoped. I thought I’d be spending time sitting on the beach reading, but sadly it wasn’t as hot and sunny as I’d have liked, so we spent more time visiting places than sitting around. Having time to read isn’t good but I have managed to indulge a little in a couple of books by Matt Haig.

Matt Haig

How to stop time, kiss. How to travel in time, read. How to escape time, music. How to feel time, write. How to release time, breathe. Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive.

In May, I read my first my Matt Haig book, The Humans.

I really enjoyed it, it certainly gave you a different perspective on human qualities good and bad. Since reading it I was determined to read more of Matt Haig, I loved his gentle story telling.

The Next Matt Haig book was a little different. I decided to read The Radleys.

The Blurb

Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can’t sleep, can’t eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can’t go outside unless they’re smothered in Factor 50.

With a visit from their lethally louche uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopthorpe is about to change. Drastically.

My Review

I’m a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, which is probably why Matt Haig appeals to me. I’m also a fan of psychology and Matt Haig likes to take his characters apart and look at how they work. This family is a little unusual as they are Vampires. I know that’s a spoiler but you find out pretty soon in the book so it’s not a secret or twist in the plot.

Not only are they vampires, they are vampires trying to fit in with human society and are abstaining from drinking blood. I love that you get little snippets from the abstainers handbook, it took me right back to my Terry Pratchett’s Reformed Vampyre’s Diary from 2003. (I have all of Terry Pratchett’s Diary’s, even the one published after his demise, which is the only one I just couldn’t bring myself to write in.)

Matt Haig is a lovely story teller, he has such a gentle way of getting things across, even horrific things. His depth of character is what draws you in and you learn about the things that make humans human.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

The next book I chose was Reasons to Stay Alive

The Blurb

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

“I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.”

My Review

First Confession, I’ve not finished reading this yet.

Second Confession, I really don’t normally go for memoirs.

I was keen to know a little more about Matt Haig though and what makes him write the way he does. I am listening to this book on Audible and it’s narrated by Matt himself. Already, I feel I know so much more about him.

Depression is such an awful illness, it’s so much more than just feeling sad. And mixed with anxiety it can be really debilitating and ruin your life. Overcoming depression is a huge achievement and I’m so glad that Matt is sharing his story.

Set in relatively short chapters, some are even just lists, the book is easy to digest…but the words will stay with you much longer.

I know that it’s only my family that keep me here. I know that I’m passive suicidal, personally I don’t care if I live or die. I’ve prepared for my death and I know it’s inevitable. It sounds morbid I know, and I know I battle depression. I wouldn’t commit suicide because of the damage it would cause my family. Sticking around is what I really need to do for them. Seeing them grow up is my greatest wish. I have my reasons to stay alive, but I need to have MY reasons to stay alive too.

This is not a self-help book, it’s a memoir and sometimes it’s pretty dark. But, if you read about someone getting through such an awful illness, you may be able to see your own ‘light at the end of the tunnel. ‘

EDIT: I have finished the book now and I know it’s one I will want to keep to hand. My first impression was that it wasn’t a self help book, but as it progresses it does give you lots of self-help strategies and, obviously, reasons for staying alive.

Final Words

I’m becoming a true fan of Matt Haig, and I may even stalk him a little on Social Media. I’m so glad that I have a few more of his books to digest. I may even go on to his children’s books and share them with my Little Man.

Click the link to see more of Matt Haig Books on Amazon.

 
 Amazon.co.uk Widgets

This post contains affiliate links which will not cost you anything more, but if you do click through and purchase something you will earn me a little money. Thank you x

Please follow and like us: