Book Review – The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

This was a book I bought purely based on the blurb…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing. You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

****

‘How well do we ever know those around us? THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR will keep you glued to the pages in search of the answer. Even then, you’ll never guess the truth…until it’s too late’ LISA GARDNER

‘I thought the read-it-in-one-sitting thing was a cliche. Not any more’ LINWOOD BARCLAY

‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

***The Sunday Times bestseller***

PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF ALMOST ANYTHING.

‘2016’s most talked-about new thriller’ Stylist

‘A twisty, utterly riveting tale that will send readers on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions. Shocking revelations kept me turning the pages like a madwoman’ TESS GERRITSEN

As you can see this book sounds amazing and has some high profile writers championing it, the blurb fascinated me, but I was dubious, generally I find very few books live up to their hype.

I am going to confess half a dozen pages in I nearly ditched the book. It was something about the style it was written in, if felt a little stilted, disjointed but I was intrigued enough to give it a little longer and I am so glad I did. The style fits the story perfectly, as the storyline unfolds you understand more why the disconnect and slight disjointedness is completely appropriate. I hate spoiling stories so I am going to be really careful here because the plot twists are a total delight, but if you just go from the blurb as I did when I decided to read it the whole idea of worrying about what could be found in your own home is something I have considered before. Okay, I amy have been joking when I have said previously that if anyone ever checks my google search history I would be in trouble but think about it, if something tragic happened what do you have on yours or what books and films do you have in your house that someone could read a different meaning into? Scary isn’t it.

I read this book in a few days, a very rare thing for me these days, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it, I whole heartedly give this book 5 out of 5 stars and say if you pick it up, and struggle in those first few pages as I did, stick at it!

Book Review – Hallowe’en Party By Agatha Christie

I have to be honest I struggled to find a copy of the cover to my edition but finally…

Let’s begin as normal with the Goodreads blurb…

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples… At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…

This book is a little darker than some of the other Agatha Christie books, it also is one of the few that breaks from her formulaic narratives and places the characters in a slightly different position to the normal you would expect. I confess Agatha Christie is a master at blindsiding you at times not always keeping the villain hidden but sometimes the motive or the people who are in collusion are the twists that come unexpectedly. This is one of those cases, you think you have a good idea about half way through about the guilty parties you are right to a point but it is the extra layers that make this a stand out for me in terms of her books. I make no secret of the fact I love Poirot but I also appreciate that for some the books are too quaint and tame, they lack the sex, gore and violence of modern books (my own included)  but they are nonetheless still wonderfully crafted tales and still worthy of reading.

So onto a score well it has to be 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

What’s going on!

Okay let’s talk honestly, the issues over the last couple of weeks have been two-fold, first, the computer failed, then secondly I failed at life, well not really it just feels that way.

The computer did an update which because of my poor internet connection failed to instal properly, the end result was I had to wipe everything, reinstall windows, then find all the various apps I use and reinstall them. Of course, this also meant trawling through emails to find the registration codes for paid upgrades and apps, mental note to self, put them all in one folder next time! It has taken two weeks so far and I am still finding annoying little things that are missing or that I need to tweak but finally I can get back to actually doing some productive work.

Now the hard bit to talk about, life! I have mentioned before that the monster has had a few issues, but I have really not talked about how hard it is to see your son hurting and not be able to fix it. We have been on a waiting list for over two and a half years for my son to be tested for Autism, everyone who spends any time with him agrees he is on the spectrum, where or whether there is a specific category he will fit into we do not yet know. It has also been suggested that if he is not actually autistic his issues may result from lasting brain damage from the meningitis that nearly took his life when he was seven and a half. As he gets older and more is expected of him he is finding it increasingly difficult to cope in the mainstream school he attends, but we have no other choices, without a diagnosis he would not be accepted at one of the schools who cater for those with more complex needs. He is also incredibly intelligent, it is not the work in school he cannot cope with it is the environment, he requires more one to one help but again without a diagnosis, the school do not get the funding for this.

Since just before Christmas he has been struggling, it is so hard to see and hear about you child talking about not wanting to exist, wanting to hurt themselves and at times physically attempting to hurt themselves but be able to do nothing to change their perception of themselves. He hears every negative word and replays it but the positives go by un-noticed. Things were really bad for a while through January, then with a lot of positive reinforcement, it seemed we were getting somewhere. However last week he started a six weeks counselling course with the hope it would help with his self-esteem, instead we are right back at square one.

Yesterday was a bad day, he tried to physically hurt himself, he said a lot of things that once more broke my heart and for the first time I questioned my ability to deal with this, Don’t get me wrong I will of course, you have no choice, there is no magic wand that anyone can wave and make it all okay. But for the first time, I feel tired, weak and alone. I have been crying on and off, day and night for the last 26 hours. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me, but today, I felt it was time to be honest.

I have spent the morning making phone calls and so far have got nothing, hopefully, the paediatrician will get back to me in the morning but the agency that deals with the autism referral are still not answering the phone nor have they called me back yet, I do not expect them to, I have lost track if the number of voicemails I have left over the last 6 months, they never call back. I am however logging the times and dates I leave the messages this time as well as calling repeatedly in the hope eventually someone might pick up the phone. I feel so tired

I feel so tired, and cannot at the minute see a light at the end of the tunnel. I love my son to pieces, that goes without saying, but today I feel like a failure as a parent because I can’t fix this for him, I can’t make him feel better. We find ways to get through one day at a time, do our best to enjoy the good days and survive the bad ones. I felt the need to share this today because I can guarantee there is at least one other person out there reading this who feels like they are struggling today, not necessarily in the same way, but I just want them to know they are not alone, very few people have the perfect lives they pretend to have on social media, and sometimes it is okay to not be okay, it is okay to say I am struggling today. Today I may cry, I may scream, I may very well throw the phone handset against the wall, but I will get through it and get up tomorrow and hope for a better day, one day at a time is sometimes all that we can do.

Book Review – The Surgeon By Tess Gerritson

Confession this was a reread…

Sorry for the quality of the picture, I always try to find a picture of the cover I have on my book, so on with the Goodreads blurb…

In Boston, there’s a killer on the loose. A killer who targets lone women, who breaks into their apartments and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician – a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them.

But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli begin their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful medic with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape and attempted murder but she shot her attacker dead. Now she is being targeted by the new killer who seems to know all about her past, her work, and where she lives.

The man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her…

The fact I decided to reread this does give you a clue I enjoyed it, though to be fair my book piles are all messed up so I may reread a lot over the coming months. This is the first book in the Rizzoli & Isles series though we do not actually meet Isles at this point. I had forgotten how little we actually get to know about Rizzoli in this book and went into it with knowledge gained from the rest of the series and influenced by the TV series and I have to say it does actually change the reading. This first meeting with Rizzoli she is brash, reactive and a little bit of a stereotype, she reminds me of Cagney from the Cagney & Lacey TV series, I think this is in part because other than the victims she is the only female character and is made to look harder as a result. I really did believe when I picked this book up I would award it a five, I am sure that is what I would have probably done after the initial read but in this read through there were issues.

The book is supposed to be the first in a series centred around two characters, yet we only meet one of them, I can forgive this because I would assume when the author first wrote this she possibly did not know she would make it a series and involved the second female character, however for the first part of this book Rizzoli is almost a secondary character and almost treated like the bitchy woman scorned in some places. The interactions with Rizzoli and many of her colleagues are quite clichéd, though I appreciate it is realistic that a woman cop has to work harder to prove herself  certain aspects such as the tampax in the water bottle I would hope would be outdated with improvements to workplace equal rights laws, but to be fair I cannot comment to whether this would be factually true. Overall I still enjoyed it and I know I loved it the first time round, I cannot decide if you would enjoy this more going into it with the knowledge from the TV series or not, I think it may spoil the story but give the character more depth.

I had to stop to think about the score I would give this and decided that I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars, it will be interesting to reread more of this series.

Lazy Sunday #39

Okay so Sunday is almost over as I write this but to be fair my daughter has been here most of the day and I cooked Sunday dinner so it did not turn out to be totally lazy. The world was a darker place for a little while this week and things like writing and blogging seemed foolish and frivolous, as I titled the vlog this week ‘No Words’ sums up my feelings still but I will talk about that later in the week in a separate post. So on with a few posts to little the mood a little I hope and spread some love and light in the only way we can, by carrying on with life as normal.

  1. I love this post, admittedly I do spend half my time thinking in terms of medieval technology but what we consider an antique was once cutting edge  https://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/devon-county-show-technology-vs-crafts/
  2.  There are some blogs I follow because they provide a quick fix of joy and this is one of them, I love this photo they have shared and would love to dive into that glorious blue water https://wanderlusttina.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/split-view-waterfall-jamaica/
  3.  One of the other things I love about reading blogs is you get to see places that you would never get to in real life, let’s face it the world is a big place, so much to see and do and for most of us we lack the time, resources and freedom from commitments to get to a fraction of them, so seeing others journeys is almost as good https://exxtracts.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/jew-town-kochi/
  4.  I had a wonderful interaction on another bloggers post regarding colours that compliment my hair now it is purple, she has followed this up with a really cool post about the fashion of going a little crazy with your hair and how to manage your wardrobe to match https://valentinaexpressions.com/2017/05/28/balayage-and-ombre-hair-valentina-cirasola-designer/
  5. Some times we just need a little light relief, something that we click on and it just makes us smile https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/05/19/eleven-wishes-for-you/

The one thing these posts all have in common is they span the globe, they remind us of the fact we have more in common with 99.9% of people than we have differences with that 0.01% who seek to destroy the way of life we love, they will not win unless we let them poison our heart, take care of each other and remember a smile to a stranger can create ripples that might be what is needed to heal our world.

March/April Resolutions 2017

Okay you might notice the title is for two months together, and you will also see the lack of form compared to how I normally do these posts, the fact is the last couple of months life has got in the way. That doesn’t mean I have done nothing just that what I have been doing does not necessarily relate to things that can be shared at this point. I have a grandchild on the way, have helped my daughter move, have been researching swag, exploring new possibilities to take advantage of moving forward (really excited about that bit but not something you will hear about until the back end of the year).

My priorities for the next couple of months is the Queen of Ages trilogy, losing the extra pounds I have regained and getting ready for #Darker2017. It is so easy to buckle under pressure, I have a couple of times in fact I have come close recently to throwing my arms up in the air and claiming I cannot do this any more. May will see my resolutions posts take their normal structure once more but part of my resolutions for this year was to not let everything get on top of me and stress over things I cannot change so in that aspect I succeeded at least, I recognised that I lost my way, rather than spending time and energy backtracking I have simply focused on moving forward.

It is also worth noting I failed the A – Z Challenge but I am going to do a separate post on that. Not much more I want to say here really I have book reviews to write Glossybox reviews random posts and a trilogy to complete.

L is for llama – #AtoZChallenge

llama

[lah-muh]
noun
1.

a woolly-haired South American ruminant of the genus Lama, believed to be a domesticated variety of the guanaco: often used as a beast of burden.
2.

the fine, soft fleece of the llama, combined with the wool for coating.
Let’s turn the timer on…
last year on my way to dancing we were driving past a field on the way to Marsden when I got all excited and started shouting ‘Llama!’ Of course, technically as you know if you follow my Instagram, they weren’t llamas they were alpacas, same family different wool. But they look very similar but are less inclined to spit. That is the first thing I remember ever learning about llamas, they spit!
The first time I ever saw one I was a kid, I was with my grandparents and we had gone to Bridlington. We had been on the ‘front’ for a while and been for lunch at a restaurant on the front, I used to think I was so grown up, obviously back then there were very few actual restaurants that did a children’s menu, so I would order a ploughman’s lunch, and then after they would bring round the dessert trolley with cakes and desserts on it, I would usually pick Black Forest gateau if there was not a plain chocolate cake option, which as this was late 70’s there frequently was not. After eating we would catch the land train up the hill to Sewerby Hall this was where I first saw a llama, my granddad warned me it would spit so we gave it a wide birth even though I was fascinated by its seemingly huge eyes, I had never seen a camel at this point either so had know way of knowing those lashes were nothing compared to other family members. I think I thought of them as a little like horses, but deformed, more comical then graceful and sleek, but the one thing there was no denying was they were kind of cute and had personality, especially as it spit at a small boy who was annoying it.
I guess animal families in some ways are a little bit like our own, don’t get me wrong we are all human and not separated by species and sub-species but if you follow my meaning we have those that look pretty, think vicunas, then those that are productive like alpacas, then you start getting the strange cousins that can be a bit grumpy at times, like the llamas, then you have the really camels who just walk and talk different and have those huge humps. You have to wonder when a llama looks at a camel do they recognise they are the same family or just look and think freak?
That’s it timer has gone and so must I

J is for jester – #AtoZChallenge

jester

[jes-ter]
noun

1.

a person who is given to witticisms, jokes, and pranks.

2.

a professional fool or clown, especially at a medieval court.
Let’s start the timer…
My initial thought when I think of the jester is to think of Harley Quinn and the Joker, probably because I only just re-watched Suicide Squad a few days ago but when I consider the actual definition I am reminded of a book I once read though I cannot remember the title. When you first think of the medieval court jester I think it is easy to dismiss them as fools, weaklings, people of no consequence but when you actually think about it logically they really were in an incredibly dangerous and potentially powerful position.
Think about it they had more access to the monarch than probably anyone else, they could hang around without raising suspicion after all their job was to be there at their masters beck and call, to amuse him whenever he saw fit, and because they would often be of small stature, possibly with impediments or deformities, either physical or mental, that would have held them back in life. In the book I read the jester was a dwarf if I remember correctly but incredibly intelligent and used his position to manipulate the King’s opinion on his courtiers, of course it had to be done carefully mock the wrong person who had too much power and there may be repercussions but do it in such a way as to make the person look bad if they react to the jester and subtle undermining of a person’s character can be achieved.
Got distracted and the timer has gone off but going to leave it short as I am behind on these posts.

Lazy Sunday #38

It is lunchtime I have been productive, well sort of, I have washing out on the line and I have planted a load of veg seeds, not guaranteed anything will grow but we can but try. Am just about to go take the second lot of washing out of the washer and go put that out but I still feel lazy. Yes, it is that one day of the year that I feel guilty having a lie in, it is marathon day! I have never been one for running long distances in fact I hated stamina days when I did athletics as a teen but after make back surgery I realised that my chances of ever running one were more or less gone, it is on my bucket list so I have not given up on the idea completely but the one thing I love is not only watching the excitement of the elite races but watching all those running for charities, joining in the atmosphere on the course, they may not get records but they will have achieved something truly incredible. So between housework and writing today I shall be watching the unicorns, firemen, nurses and a hundred other fancy dress outfits cross the finish line.

  1. the first blog post I am sharing is one that made me jealous, would love the chance to attend events like this, it just seems that time wise it never quite works out for me https://isleofbooks.com/2017/04/10/an-evening-with-neil-gaiman-in-review/
  2. As mentioned above it has been school holidays here and sometimes you just need a good laugh https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/04/10/when-saying-oops-is-not-enough/
  3. If you are scared of spiders you might need to skip this one but other wise it is an inspiring post about how you can look death in the face and say not today thank you https://accidentalspacegirl.com/2017/04/17/the-tarantula-who-saved-my-life/
  4. My final two blog for today are both A -Z posts, I am doing so badly and will take a few extra posts to catch up and make the finish date, I haven’t quite given up but we shall see, I picked this first one because it hit a nerve with me as we all have that point where we have to decide at what point we class ourselves as writer, authors or still make excuses for doing the thing we love, https://lindaghill.com/2017/04/20/qualification-atozchallenge/
  5. The final one is just because it’s Doctor Who themed and well why not https://nerdygirlconfession.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/s-is-for-im-so-so-sorry/