The Dollmaker by Nina Allan @QuercusBooks #TheDollmaker #NetGalley #review

Today I am sharing my review for The Dollmaker by Nina Allan. My thanks to Quercus Books for accepting my request to review this title via NetGally.

Let’s have a look and see what this one is all about …

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive but graceful, unique, and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped, and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England, he reads the fairy tales of Ewa Chaplin–potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice–to break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own.

The synopsis tells quite clearly what this story is about. This is a story with other stories woven into them. A story about Andrew and Bramber, and their correspondence with each other. They have a shared interest in dolls, not just any dolls either. These are sought after items, they have a history and at times a price tag. Andrew decides he wants to visit Bramber and so takes a journey, during which he reads a story book. It’s by Ewa Chaplin, she also made dolls.

This is a slower paced story that felt a little erratic at the beginning. It took me a good while before I got to grips with the characters, their stories, the alternating timelines and the style. Gradually I found myself drawn into the story and the stories. It was one of those books where I suddenly found myself somewhat caught up and hadn’t realised it had happened. I think a lot was to do with curiosity and to see where the story would take me. The short stories that Andrew reads during his journey are at times on the dark, or very dark side, they are like twisted fairy tales. There are things that mirror Andrew’s life.

I enjoyed this book and I have a feeling that it is not going to be for everyone. At times it has the feel of literary fiction, with a mix of fairy tale and fantasy. There is subtle romance aspect to it though not one that follows the usual route or expectation.

It’s one of those books that I think will divide readers, for me, there are parts I really enjoyed and others not so much. It has an unusual structure to it and it will be interesting to see what other readers think of this one.

Nina Allan is a novelist and critic. Her first novel The Race won the Grand Prix de L’imaginaire and was a Kitschies finalist. Her second novel The Rift won the British Science Fiction Award, the Kitschies Red Tentacle and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her short fiction has previously been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Shirley Jackson Award and the British Fantasy Award. Her most recent novel is The Dollmaker. Born in London, Nina Allan lives and works in the west of Scotland.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

The Confession by Jo Spain @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel #PublicationDay

51hOobwYylL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

The Confession by Jo Spain and published by Quercus Books and will be available in paperback from 9th September, you can get your copy from AMAZON UK. I was lucky to be able to read an advance copy of the eBook version earlier this year. If you have not had the chance to read it yet then you should 🙂

Synopsis:

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

‘I can’t praise The Confession enough. Brilliant writing, great story… a really cracking read’ BA Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown

An absolute cracker of a book, compulsive, deviously plotted and intense – I will be recommending this to everyone Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner

‘Has you addicted from the very first page. I found it impossible to put down’ Michelle Frances, author of The Girlfriend

‘Here is my confession: I’ve never read Jo Spain before but now I’ll be buying all of her books. The Confession is brutal and brilliant’ Fiona Cummins, author of Rattle

My Thoughts

When a stranger walks into a house, beats up the husband as the wife watches frozen, unable to do anything to help or stop the attack, you know there will or should be a pretty good reason for it.

Oh! This is a good read, a well paced psychological thriller. It is set over several years, filling in the background of the main characters. The chapters are told by different characters and from their own perspectives. They flit between times and places with quick succession. It did take me a few chapters to get to grips with this, occasionally loosing what time I was in, but its one of those books that, as you read you get to learn the style and format.

The characters themselves, I have mixed opinions on some and changes my opinion on others. This is a good thing by the way, for me it means the author has manipulated my feelings as I have read and therefore my opinion matches the character as they change, or you learn more about them. Now as for the plot, it is one of those deliciously deep and twisty ones that kept me guessing, even when things were being drawn together for the conclusion a few more sneaky twists were included in this slippery tale.

This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers who like a good psychological thriller with twists that are revealed at the end with extra twisty bits. It also has elements that show the contrasts of two different social backgrounds, one poor and one rich, the haves and the have nots. A well written and executed read that kept me turning the pages avidly.

About the Author:

91IssqxXLHL._SY200_.jpg

Jo Spain’s first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and went on to be a top-ten bestseller in Ireland. She has written two further in the series, featuring DI Tom Reynolds.
Jo has worked as a party advisor on the economy in the Irish parliament and is now writing full-time. She is currently writing a screen play for a brand new RTÉ crime drama series. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

Follow Jo on Twitter
• Jo will be speaking at Bloody Scotland alongside Elly Griffiths and Sarah Pinborough on Sunday 23rd 2018.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

#BookReview : The Confession by Jo Spain @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks @NetGalley

The Confession: The most addictive psychological thriller of 2018 by [Spain, Jo]

I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “The Confession” by Jo Spain.  It is published by Quercus Books and available in various formats, however hard and paperback are due to be published on 25th January 2018.  I received my copy of this book via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

Synopsis:

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

My Thoughts:

When a stranger walks into a house, beats up the husband as the wife watches frozen, unable to do anything to help or stop the attack, you know there will or should be a pretty good reason for it.

Oh! This is a good read, a well paced psychological thriller.  It is set over several years, filling in the background of the main characters.  The chapters are told by different characters and from their own perspectives.  They flit between times and places with quick succession.  It did take me a few chapters to get to grips with this, occasionally loosing what time I was in, but its one of those books that, as you read you get to learn the style and format.

The characters themselves, I have mixed opinions on some and changes my opinion on others.  This is a good thing by the way, for me it means the author has manipulated my feelings as I have read and therefore my opinion matches the character as they change, or you learn more about them. Now as for the plot, it is one of those deliciously deep and twisty ones that kept me guessing, even when things were being drawn together for the conclusion a few more sneaky twists were included in this slippery tale.

This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers who like a good psychological thriller with twists that are revealed at the end with extra twisty bits.  It also has elements that show the contrasts of two different social backgrounds, one poor and one rich, the haves and the have nots.  A well written and executed read that kept me turning the pages avidly.

About the Author:

Jo Spain Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession is her first standalone thriller.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.

Follow Jo on Twitter 

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it then please give a share.  Better still, go and get a copy of this book xx

#BookReview Three Days a Life by Pierre Lemaitre (author) Frank Wynne (translator) @maclehosepress @QuercusBooks

“Three Days a Life” by Pierre Lemaitre is available in various formats, though release dates for these are different.  Published by  Maclehose Press and Quercus Books

Synopsis:

In 1999, in the small provincial town of Beauval, France, twelve-year-old Antoine Courtin accidentally kills a young neighbor boy in the woods near his home. Panicked, he conceals the body and to his relief–and ongoing shame–he is never suspected of any connection to the child’s disappearance.
But the boy’s death continues to haunt him, shaping his life in unseen ways. More than a decade later, Antoine is living in Paris, now a young doctor with a fiancée and a promising future. On a rare trip home to the town he hates and fears, Antoine thoughtlessly sleeps with a beautiful young woman from his past. She shows up pregnant at his doorstep in Paris a few months later, insisting that they marry, but Antoine refuses.

Meanwhile, the newly discovered body of Antoine’s childhood victim means that the case has been reopened, and all of his old fears rush back. Then the young woman’s father threatens Antoine with a paternity test–which would almost certainly match the DNA found on the dead child’s body. Will Antoine finally be forced to confront his crime? And what is he prepared to do to keep his secrets buried in the past?

My Thoughts:

When I normally write-up a review, I like to start with my version of a synopsis, but only for the beginning of the story.  But after reading this book and then re-reading the summery prior to writing the review, I realised how much detail it already included, but it doesn’t take away from the story.  It is a story about the mental journey from 1999 to 2015.

This book is a noir fiction. it focuses on Antoine Coutin from the small French town of Beauval, and the way he deals with the accidental killing of a younger boy.  It is a very well laid out story from the outset.  The reader is introduced to the setting and the characters.  It discusses their relationships and dynamics within their various groups.  The first half of the book deals with 1999, the lead up to the death, the death itself and the thoughts of Antoine as he deals with what he has done.  His state of mind, what his first responses are, the way he thinks through the consequences and how thinks people look at him now. From then a leap forward to the year 2011, now older, Antoine’s state of mind as he has moved on, but how he still deals with occasional troubled thoughts and dreams.  Then another jump to 2015 to tell of where Antoine is and how he is still dealing with the event.  The setting has been very well described, the author has managed to build a very convincing visual image of the town, it’s surroundings and also the time of year. As each of these time jumps occur, the author has included a brief explanation of events as the story then continues.

I found this very different to a previous book by Lemaitre and was very surprised by the contrast in styles.  This is well laid out as it explains the way the main protagonist thinks.  It comes across as quite a subtle story, it is one that just gradually consumed me, the way that Lemaitre has very cleverly explored the way a 12-year-old may see the world, his thoughts, actions and consequences was very addictive reading.  I read this in one sitting, almost a novella sized book.  The story leads the reader and by the end was absorbed, but when the end arrives there is a sudden twist, that completely blindsided me.  Finishing this on a high.

I would recommend this to readers of noir fiction, of psychological fiction, as well as readers of general fiction, murder and mystery genres.

About the Author:

Pierre Lemaitre Pierre Lemaitre was born in Paris in 1951. He worked for many years as a teacher of literature before becoming a novelist.

He has won the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger three times, once alongside Fred Vargas, for “Alex”, and twice as sole winner for “Camille” and “The Great Swindle”. In 2013 “The Great Swindle” (published in French as “Au revoir là-haut”) won the Prix Goncourt, France’s leading literary award, and it will be released as a film in 2017.

In addition to his “Brigade Criminelle” novels starring Commandant Camille Verhoeven, Lemaitre writes standalone thrillers including “Blood Wedding” and the forthcoming “Three Days in a Life” and “Inhuman Resources”. “The Great Swindle” will be developed into a trilogy in the coming years.

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (13 July 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085705662X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857056627
  • Amazon UK     Amazon US

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you like it, give it a share. 

Better still go and buy the book.