Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Return of the Witch

The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston
Published by Corsair
Paperback Edition
1st December 2016

After five years in the Summerlands, Gideon has gained his freedom. Elizabeth knows he will go straight for Tegan, and that she must protect the girl she had come to regard as her own daughter. In the time since she the dramatic night in Batchcombe woods, Tegan has traveled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon's dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemesis once and for all?

In a breathless journey that takes them through history, witch pursues warlock. Three people steeped in magic weave a new story, but not all will survive until the end.

This is the sequel to The Witch's Daughter and is not a disappointment.  At the end of the first book, Gideon managed to escape from the clutches of the witches' spell and now Elizabeth knows that he will one day return to take Tegan for his own.  Since that day five years earlier, Tegan has journeyed around the globe seeking out the best mystics, shaman and witches she can find in order to become that best in her craft, but will that actually be enough to protect her from Gideon when the time comes?

Elizabeth travels back in time to the days of the Civil War and Paula Brackston's ability to conjure up the past has lost none of its charm in this her most recent book.  Her characters, as always, are so full of life and her settings ring true.  The suspense and tension of Gideon's plans for both Tegan and Elizabeth hold firm throughout the book and of course, there has to be a dramatic climax at the end of the book, but I can't possibly reveal whether Gideon gets him comeuppance or whether it is the end of the road for Tegan and Elizabeth.  If you are a fan of magic and witchcraft then I do urge you to read the Shadow Chronicles novels.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by Fourth Estate
23rd April 2015
Paperback Edition

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Set in both France and Germany during the Second World War, it tells the tale of Marie-Laure who is blind and initially a recluse in her own home.  Her father builds her a model of their neighbourhood in Paris which she has to learn to follow by heart before she can be allowed outside on her own.  For me this was the best part of the story - following her journey and progress and of how frightening it must be to become blind and of how to live your life once more.  The story also takes us to the other side of the war into Germany and of brother and sister Werner and Jutta.  Werner can make radios come to life and his talent does not go unnoticed by the Nazi party.  Soon he is drafted into a war as part of the Hitler Youth and his path will eventually cross with that of Marie-Laure's.  The main part of the story is set in Saint-Malo as the invasion by the Germans enters into France and Marie-Laure is forced into hiding.  Her father has vanished, and with him, the possible diamond that is housed in the Museum of Natural History.  There are some who would kill for that stone, and this endangers Marie-Laure further.  Who to trust and who not to trust in a war of two sides?  For Werner and Marie-Laure this becomes a matter of life and death.

I guess I should have known that I wouldn't fall in love with this book.  It's not necessarily the fault of the book but I don't think I've ever enjoyed a prize-winning novel; I sometimes find them a bit too 'above' me if that makes sense.  However, that is not to say that All the Light we Cannot See is not a good book; I just didn't think it was a great book but there are many more who would disagree with me as in some parts it is both incredibly beautiful and gripping.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

The Slaughter Man

The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons
Published by Arrow
21st April 2016
Paperback Edition

On New Year’s Day, a wealthy family is found slaughtered inside their exclusive gated community in north London, their youngest child stolen away.

The murder weapon – a gun for stunning cattle before they are butchered – leads Detective Max Wolfe to a dusty corner of Scotland Yard’s Black Museum devoted to a killer who thirty years ago was known as the Slaughter Man.

But the Slaughter Man has done his time, and is now old and dying. Can he really be back in the game?

And was the murder of a happy family a mindless killing spree, a grotesque homage by a copycat killer – or a contract hit designed to frame a dying man?

All Max knows is that he needs to find the missing child and stop the killer before he destroys another innocent family – or finds his way to his own front door …

This is the second outing for DC Max Wolfe following his introduction in The Murder Bag back in 2015.  I think that if you enjoyed the first novel then you are bound to feel the same way about the second as it's much of the same thing.  A wealthy family are found murdered in their home on New Year's Day and it is up to Wolfe to find out who did it.  The only curious thing is that the family's youngest son appears to be missing from the crime scene.  As you can probably guess, this killing is only the first in the book and soon Max Wolfe is on the hunt for a serial killer. 

Coupled with too many acronyms for my liking again, the book weaves its way through the underbelly of the crime gangs of London as well as with Wolfe's relationship with his ex-wife and daughter Scout.  I think it is this side of the story that actually endears me to the books and stops them being solely focussed on gang-crime.  It's a crime thriller that will take up a few hours of your time and what's the harm in that?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Published by Hodder & Stoughton 
March 2017


The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.
Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.
Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

This book is a combination of The Virgin Suicides and Flowers in the Attic and I loved it.  I couldn't put it down and devoured it over a weekend.  Don't be fooled though, this is no comfy feel-good read, this is a book about a twisted family with a dark secret and it doesn't always make for pleasant reading.

Lane is a loner.  No family and not many friends, and there is good reason for this.  Lane prefers not to discuss her relatives, the Roanokes who live in a huge crumbling house in Kansas.  She left once, when she was in her teens, swearing to herself that she would never return there.  What she didn't expect was a phone call from her grandfather asking her to return because her cousin Allegra has vanished.  Would Lane return home to try to find her?

The story swings from past to present-day, with Lane's arrival at the house when she was a teenager and of her first meeting with her beautiful self-obsessed cousin Allegra.  The two girls could practically be twins, they both have the familial good looks that their mothers both possessed.  Unfortunately this beautiful group of girls have all met with tragic consequences over the years, and Lane and Allegra are the last two Roanoke girls.  Their grandmother Lillian is distant, but their grandfather, Yates is caring and attentive.  Both girls are allowed to do as they please, within reason, and life at the house seems idyllic.  Then Allegra disappears, and Lane is forced to return home, to the life she once tried to escape.

Nothing has changed, the same friends still hang out in the town and Lane reignites her friendship with mechanic Tommy, the local bad boy who she ran out on eleven years earlier.  With his help, can they find out what happened to Allegra, but can Lane keep the secrets she has buried so deep hidden, before Tommy once again gets too close?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Baltimore Boys

The Baltimore Boys by Joel Dicker
Published by MacLehose Press
May 2017

NOVEMBER 24, 2004

The day of the tragedy. The end of a brotherhood.

The Baltimore Boys. The Goldman Gang. That was what they called Marcus Goldman and his cousins Woody and Hillel. Three brilliant young men with dazzling futures ahead of them, before their kingdom crumbled beneath the weight of lies, jealousy and betrayal. For years, Marcus has struggled with the burdens of his past, but now he must attempt to banish his demons and tell the true and astonishing story of the Baltimore Boys.

This is the follow-up to the fantastic debut The Truth about the Harry Qubert Affair which I absolutely loved.  I guess that it is sometimes true that an amazing debut is usually followed up by a not-so-great second novel and whilst I wish it wasn't, I do feel that this is the case with The Baltimore Boys.

Marcus Goldman features in here as the main character but there are no links to the first novel so if you haven't already read it, don't feel that you need to in order to enjoy this book.  Marcus and his two cousins Woody and Hillel are inseparable whilst growing up, but a tragedy tears them apart.  We are left wondering if it has anything to do with singer Alexandra, a former love of Marcus' and friend to the three boys whilst growing up, who makes an unexpected reappearance in Marcus' life when her dog is found wandering on his property. 

The story weaves back and forth between the boys' youth and the present day as Marcus tries to come to find sense in his childhood, of his relationship with Alexandra and why his family, the poor relations, were treated so badly by the richer side of his father's family.  As you may expect, there are twists and turns as the story unfolds and it's certainly a worth-while read.  I'll certainly look out for the next book by Joel Dicker, of which I am sure there will be many more.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Shadow Year

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell
Published by Orion
June 2013

1980. On a hot summer's day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise...

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage's previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can't she shake the feeling that someone is watching her?

Okay I admit it, this book has sat on my bookshelf for nearly four years without being read and I cannot think of a single reason why that is.  Hannah Richell's second novel tells of five uni friends who are so despondent at being separated after living together that when they discover what appears to be an unowned run-down house hidden in the middle of a wood, they decide to stay there and become self-sufficient for at least a year.  Simon, who makes himself the unelected leader of the group, think this will be a utopian moment, a step into Henry Thoreau's Walden.  Couple Ben and Carla throw themselves into the mix as best as they can, and Kat, well she will do anything that Simon suggests.  Mac is the outsider of the group, the hanger-on that gets invited along for the ride.

The year passes and it's not without it's ups and downs. The winter is harsh and soon the group discover that this journey isn't going to be as easy as they first imagined.  Simon is reluctant for them to tell anyone where they are and they are totally reliant on the land for survival.  After writing a letter to her younger sister, Kat soon finds Freya on their doorstep begging to be allowed to stay with them.  Her arrival will throw the group into a turmoil that they cannot escape from.

Present day sees couple Tom and Lila struggling to reconnect after the loss of their baby daughter as a result of Lila falling down the stairs at their London house.  She cannot remember the accident and she remains depressed.  A letter from an unknown source arrives out of the blue, informing her that she is now the owner of a cottage (the cottage above) and in order to find herself again, Lila journeys north to see what she has been bequeathed. It is love at fist sight for her and she throws herself in to renovating the cottage, but this too comes at a price, as Tom feels more and more alienated by her behaviour.

Clearly our two stories are entwined within each other but the reader has to go a long way into the book to find out how and why these stories overlap.  Hannah Richell keeps the suspense going until the very last page.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters