Saturday, 25 November 2017

Blog Tour & Review : His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of
His Guilty Secret
by author Helene Fermont blog tour. 
With thanks to Natalie at The Book Publicist


Publisher : Fridhem Publishing
27 November 2017
Copy : Paperback received from The Book Publicist for Blog Tour

The Blurb

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after the other is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband's biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent...and the not so innocent.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

I loved the settings of this book and enjoyed travelling from the UK, to Paris and Sweden.  His Guilty Secret follows the story of Patricia, wife of Jacques, handsome Air France pilot who dies suddenly in a hotel room in London leaving utter devastation behind his dual-led life.  Patricia, as much as she loves and was devoted to Jacques knows little things he did while he was alive didn't add up and as Jacques sister, Coco, shuts down on her when questioned she knows she must discover the truth.

The interesting thing about this book is the reader knows exactly what is going on right from the outset.  So if you are looking for big plot twists and suspense then this might not be the book for you.  What this novel does is look at the psychological minefield of grief, relationships both romantic and siblings and rivalry in personal and business domains.  It seems that while everyone was drifting along portraying an image of the ideal life, marriage and family, in actual fact, no one knows what is really going on behind closed doors.

There are some beautiful paragraphs in this book, mainly belonging to Patricia, as she tries to describe how she is coping with and trying to understand what is and has happened in her life.  They are wonderfully raw, honest and really paint the picture of how vulnerable and stripped the person left behind is after the death of a loved one.     

There are quite a lot of characters and couples in this book and I found it a bit of a shame that not one set was happy or monogamous.  They are all quite strong in opinions and quick to judge and sometimes I found this made everything a little hard to believe.  However, the author has tried hard to make clear the reasons and history for behaviour of most of them.

If you love a book that is a tangled web of lies and deceit that slowly unpicks through a psychological stand point then you will really enjoy His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont.

A good and steady read and receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of : 

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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Blog Tour & Review : The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket
by author Linda MacDonald blog tour. 
With thanks to Anne at Random Things Through My Letterbox.

Publisher : Matador
1 May 2017
Copy : Paperback - Received for blog tour

The Blurb

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne. 

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the lives of Sarah and Felicity, two women who lead very different lives but are linked by one huge thing - the attention of Coll (or the man in the needlecord jacket). 

Sarah, placid, sensitive librarian is the 'girlfriend' of Coll.  They have been together for over ten years, but have never moved in to one home, never committed to anything more than a set schedule of when they see each other and a holiday now and then.  Coll is very much the controller and Sarah is of the opinion that as a mid-fifties women her choices are limited and she should be grateful for what she has.

Felicity has just returned to the UK following the breakdown of her relationship with young Italian chef, Gianni, the man for whom she left her husband and children and comfortable life living at Deer Orchard for.  She is confident, a business women who owns her own restaurants and she wants her old life back.  She is of the opinion that as a mid-fifties women she deserves to get what she wants.

The three worlds collide when Coll, part-time artist, decides to try and use Felicity's new restaurant as an outlet for selling his artwork.  A game of cat and mouse begins for the pair, much to the devastation of Sarah, who quickly knows there is another OW (other women) on the scene.

The characters and their involvement with one another in this book are deep.  The relationship between Felicity and her soon to be ex-husband, Edward, have been explored in previous novels, however this didn't affect my ability to get a good understanding of the relationship and form an opinion, the author has done well to ensure this works.

I liked the characters who made up Felicity's family - Edward, her four children and respective partners and Marianne, Edwards new partner.  The same can not be said for Felicity herself.  Her determination to get what she wants in life means she ignores the thoughts and feelings of others - but why would that bother her - she has thought about others for all of her life, it is time for what she wants now!

It was a refreshing change to have the main characters, particularly the females, as mid-late fifties.  It was also good to have the two women coming from very different viewpoints of what it is to be a women in mid-life.  On the whole I liked Sarah, although I did want to shake her.  I believe these reactions to the characters are exactly what the author wanted.

There is no likeability in Coll.  There are several hints as to a traumatic childhood, particularly involving bullying at the boarding school to which he was forced to attend, and a suggestion is made as to him having a narcissistic personality disorder of some sort, and would explain his undeniable controlling behaviour towards those around him, but this is never really fully explored and I think I would have liked more on this.  It would have been nice to have been able to have more of an understanding of this character given how central he is to the story.

I enjoyed reading this book.  Although not a great deal happens as such it is an interesting insight in the minds of men and women as they approach mid-life and can explore their world with hindsight and knowledge - and just how different the approaches with these perspectives can be.  It is a good story about relationships - those with yourself and others - and as I have already said, it was a breath of fresh air for the characters to be more mature.

This novel is well written and nicely paced.  The characters are complex and intriguing.  For me personally, I am not sure the structure of the booked needed to be as complicated as it is - split between voices is fine and works well, but it was also in sections with titles and subtitles - I couldn't see the benefit and felt it interrupted what was a very good flow a little too much.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of : 

About the Author

Linda MacDonald is the author of three independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind and The Alone Alternative. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.
Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham, Kent. 
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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Blog Tour & Review : White Out by Ragnar Jonasson

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of
White Out
by author Ragnar Jonasson blog tour. 
With thanks to Karen at Orenda Books and Anne at Random Things Through My Letterbox.

Publisher : Orenda Books
November 2017
Copy : Paperback - Provided by Publisher for blog tour

The Blurb

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop?

With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim's mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

White Out is another powerful triumph from Nordic Noir master Ragnar Jonasson and translator Quentin Bates.  With it's trademark policeman, Ari Thor and Tomas, the reader is taken to the dark depths of Iceland to try and get to the bottom of the death of young women, Asta.  

Once again Jonasson uses imagery and the enigmatic beauty of Iceland in winter to really create an almost physical atmosphere - I certainly wrapped the blanket around myself a little tighter every time I sat down to read.  This novel in particular is set in the few days lead up to Christmas, where this year Ari Thor is keen to enjoy it with his beloved and heavily pregnant lady, Kristin.  But even Christmas can't get in the way when an investigation gets under his skin and Tomas's eagerness to make an arrest on this case makes him feel uneasy about too much extra digging around.  

After the second death in the space of a few days however, both men know something sinister is at hand and can not be ignored.  Jonasson creates characters so well, and with the group involved, Thora, Oskar, Reynir and Arnor we soon learn they all have secrets they wish to keep hidden.  But it seems that at least one person is aware of each others secret and it is impossible to tell who can be trusted or what lengths they may go to in order to keep those secrets just that.

Jonasson never produces just a plain old 'who done it'.  It is always multi-layered with a touch of history, personal and paranormal aspects explored.  This always makes it impossible to try and guess the ending.  However, whereas some authors do this and then spoil the result by giving a completely implausible and outlandish ending, in these books it never happens.  The truth is completely believable and realistic and most importantly satisfying.

The final pages of White Out leave the reader as hooked as the first few, with an enticing and tantalising teaser and I for one can not wait for the next instalment of the Dark Iceland series.

White Out receives a must read : 

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

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Friday, 20 October 2017

Review : Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds


Published by : Wildfire (Headline Publishing Group)
27 July 2017
Copy : Paperback - Won in competition run by author

The Blurb

She can't remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia-she's lost a whole year of memories. A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can't remember what she did-or what happened the night she fell. But she's beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The premise of this book is domestic noir at its darkest and it feels very claustrophobic.  Jo Harding remembers little of the last 12 months of her life, prior to her fall down the stairs.  But she does remember sending her son off to university, knowing her daughter had gained full time employment following her graduation.  Those are good things.  Things were good - weren't they?  Those are the things she remembers but her instinct, her gut feelings are pushing her to come to other conclusions - but how can she when the ones with the answers to her questions, seem reluctant to share them with her.  Jo finds herself doubting her husband, her children but most of all herself.

Of course truths can't stay buried and we follow Jo on her journey of discovering what twelve mysterious months really are hiding.  Jo is determined in her quest and by some direct digging and inadvertent clues she slowly starts to piece together the mixed up jigsaw of her life.  Unsurprisingly as reality starts to transpire Jo is left wondering if she actually wants to learn truth and she realises that the year was a long one.

This is a deeply complex family story.  Personally I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable, their actions and reactions are all questionable.  To a degree that did make it a little hard to really bond to the story because I wanted to be rooting for Jo but couldn't.  I also felt that the story could have moved along a little quicker, some of the chapters I felt didn't really move the plot along, but summarised what you already knew.

That said I still enjoyed this book.  I really did want to know what 12 months and the family members, including Jo herself were hiding and I kept reading with gusto.

Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds receives a Very Pink Notebook rating :

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Review : Into the Water by Paula Hawkins


Published by : Transworld Publishers (Penguin Random House)
2 May 2017
Copy : Hardback - Reviewer purchase

The Blurb

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

The Very Pink Notebook Review

One of the things that stands out in this book is the sheer amount of characters and not merely secondary ones, they all have their own voice by way of their own chapter.  I have to admit, if I had a break in reading this book sometimes I would have to go through and remind myself of who was who - but each characters is needed, none are superfluous to the plot and it is quite a feat on behalf of the author to have been able to create so many unique voices in one book, ranging from a young teenage girl, to a grieving mother, to a senior gentleman.

Protagonist, Jules, is forced to return to her childhood home following the death - suspected suicide - of her sister Nel.  Nel leaves behind one daughter, a trail of destruction and a lot of loose ends.  Jules find herself needing to tie up those loose ends with explosive consequences.

As I mentioned the book is structured in the hugely popular chapter by character voice and this moves the highly complex plot along at a good pace.  You quickly learn Jules home town is a place full of secrets.  A small town whereby everyone thinks they know everyone else, that there couldn't be anywhere to really hide anything - turns out there are plenty and all the inhabitants have hidden things at some point, either out of fear, stupidity, self protection or trying to protect others.  But a small town can only hold so many secrets before it starts straining at the seams and once the dams burst there is no stopping what happens next.

That is this book.  It sort of unravels slowly starting with the newest information and slowly unpicking the rest.  Recent events start to link to past ones like a connect the dots.  Many authors may have struggled to pull it all together because as well as having an awful lot of characters this novel also has an awful lot of plot.

Hawkins uses 'excerpts' from Nel's contentious research about the history of the towns 'drowning pool' to give the reader the necessary history, it also gives nice little breaks from the narrative of the present day situation.  The Drowning Pool is the central location in the novel and it is nice that it is almost given it's own voice.

With so many threads to pull together it could have easily have been difficult to produce an ending to tie them all up in a satisfactory manner, but this is achieved, the plethora of unanswered questions all get a conclusion.

It was a pleasure to read such a hyped book and not be disappointed.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Review : The Children by Ann Leary

Published by : St Martins Press
06 July 2017 (paperback)
Copy : Received from publisher

The Blurb

Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother's home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, and the generations of Whitmans before him. While Charlotte and her sister, Sally, grew up at "Lakeside," their stepbrothers, Spin and Perry, were welcomed as weekend guests. Now the grown boys own the estate, which Joan occupies by their grace--and a provision in the family trust.

When Spin, the youngest and favourite of all the children, brings his fiancé home for the summer, the entire family is intrigued. The beautiful and accomplished Laurel Atwood breathes new life into this often comically rarefied world. But as the wedding draws near, and flaws surface in the family's polite veneer, an array of simmering resentments and unfortunate truths is exposed.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The Children by Ann Leary is a family tale of history, resentment, love and all the myriad of emotion that comes when two families are formed together as one.  The question is - no matter how much you think you know one another, do you ever really?

Charlotte and Sally Maynard grew up with their mother and step-father at the family estate, The Lakehouse.  When Whit dies suddenly the will states his wishes are for the girls to be able to continue to reside in the family home.  One son, Perry is free and clear about his resentment towards his father's 'second' family.  But Spin, who was only a baby when his parents separated has never known any different and is used to being doted on by everyone who knows him.  How lucky is he?

The protagonist in this novel is Charlotte.  Almost hermit like Charlotte has been coasting along in life, undisturbed.  That is until golden boy Spin, arrives home with a new women in tow, Laurel.  Her outlook on life comes to affect everyone in the family, forcing them to stop burying their heads in the sand and face up to the issues they have long been trying to dismiss.

This is one of those books, a dark, domestic thriller that leaves reading with one dubious eye.  It has a good, solid story, plenty of intrigue and will leave you wondering if you do really know those you think you do best...

The Children by Ann Leary receives an enjoyable read :

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Review - They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen


Published by : Transworld
13 July 2017
Copy : Paperback received from publisher

The Blurb

She knows there’s a killer on the loose.But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

They All Fall Down has the most intriguing of opening pages - the type I can envisage being used as 'great example of opening chapters' in writing classes.  It is both shocking and sad and leaves so many unanswered questions you cannot wait to turn the page.

Written in chapters by character voices it moves along at great pace and with an abundance of strong and unique viewpoints.  Protagonist, Hannah, is residing in a high suicide risk psych ward.  You don't know what has brought her to this point and do not learn it for sometime.  So along with the 'Is there a killer on the loose?' question you are also exploring the history of Hannah, and just - what did she do?

During this investigation you learn about her husband, mother, sister and their turbulent past and through Hannah's eyes you are taken on a dark and worrying journey into how vulnerable those in hospital can be.  With a host of unreliable narrators, the author nicely drip feeds the plot with red herrings a plenty to keep you guessing.  At one point near the end I thought I was about to suffer the most disappointing of endings, but then comes the final, killer twist and there was certainly not a whiff of disappointment in sight.

A clever and intricate plot, backed up with complex characters and smooth writing makes They All Fall Down a great read.