Sunday, 29 January 2017

Review : Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy

Gorsky cover

Published : 09 April 2015
Chatto & Windus / Vintage (Penguin Random House)
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchase

The Blurb

London dances to the tune of Gorsky's billions.  The most enigmatic of oligarchs, Gorsky desires and get the best of everything and now he has his sights set on Natalia.  That is she married is an inconvenient detail.

Nick works in a shabby-chic bookshop.  When Gorsky approaches him with the commission of a lifetime, Nick suddenly gains access to the world of the wealthy and the beautiful.  But this privilege comes at a price and Nick finds his new life suddenly fraught with danger.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

I was purchasing another book and having a conversation with the book seller about my love of F. Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby, when they suddenly thrust a copy of Vesna Goldsworthy's Gorsky at me.  I felt compelled to buy it, to see in what way it was similar and dissimilar to my beloved classic.

Similar it is.  Goldsworthy replicates each notable character with a 21st Century version, setting them all in the high society realms of London.  But essentially the plot is exactly mirrored, from the long lost love Gorsky has pinned his whole life and hope on, the murky and mysterious rumours that surround his wealth, the building of the dream home, from which he can spy on his love interest in her current life and having a useful aid in narrator Nicholas Kimovic living within his grounds and on his payroll and opening his sheltered and safe world to a whole other - and the list continues - Tom Summerscale, Natalia's husband for example, is having an affair with a 'lower class' women, whom he is pertinently open about with Nicholas, leaving him carrying around the secrets of more than one couple.

There is no doubt this is a blatant retelling of The Great Gatsby, there are no real dissimilarities or new entities involved, but as long as this is made clear to the reader prior to them deciding whether they want to read it or not I think it is fair.  And the retelling is done well.  The writing of Goldsworthy is decadent and elegant and a joy.  She has also made a few of her characters more palatable to me than the original (namely Natalia and Gergana Pekarova) - although the opposite was true for me of her star character - Gorsky is no Gatsby.

I really struggled to get my head around this being set in the modern day too, as some aspects for me, such as the setting of the bookshop - which is very important - instantly transported me back to the time of the original Gatsby for some reason - maybe I just couldn't allow my mind to leave the original alone enough.

If you struggle with period based classics, retelling a story can be a god-send.  I devoured and enjoyed this modern twist but it will never surpass the original, which I think I could read, literally every week to be honest.  But for a younger generation, this might be a wonderful way of encouraging them.  A way of enticing them in and piquing their interest in a set of generational novels they might previously have never looked twice at.

Gorsky receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Review : Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner


Published by : The Borough Press
1 September 2016 (paperback)
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchased

The Blurb


Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.


Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.


The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

A missing person, crime fiction novel.  There may be a lot of these available, but few I have read have been as uniquely written as this one.  I say that, because this book heavily focusses on the lives of the police officers investigating the murder, rather than the loved ones of the missing and I really enjoyed that.

Although we are taken on the mystery tour that is the investigation, to try and discover what has happened to Edith Hind, who has disappeared without a trace, our main protagonist is DS Manon Bradshaw, one of the team tasked with finding Edith.  And DS Bradshaw is a complex character, with a slightly destructive streak when it comes to her personal life.  As much as we weave our way through the investigation, we also do the same through the mind set of Manon and her complicated history with her family, the effect the loss of her mother at a young age has had on her outlook on life and her surprise at finding herself falling in love with an unlikely candidate.  As I said, I enjoyed the fact that the novel looks at this as a main theme and not just a supporting storyline. 

The author also gives a lot more time to the other characters within the investigation team than I have seen done in other crime novels, for example, the ever positive and optimistic Davy - Manon's outlook polar opposite and also best friend Bryony.

This book never got too heavy and intense either, like so many crime books can, where you are reading graphic and horrifying scenes.  There is a lot of humour injected, particularly the conversations between Manon and Bryony when dissecting Manon's latest internet dating disaster, but I didn't find this took away from the excitement of the plot in any way, shape or form.

Written in third person, the chapters are broken down into individual character viewpoints and I felt this really helped keep the pace moving and narration varied.  The investigation was written from a very realistic viewpoint - making clear what a mammoth task something like a high profile misper is like for the police, and also demonstrating how easy mistakes can be made, because, after all, police are only human beings trying to do the best they can - instead of sensationalising it.

If you want a crime fiction novel with a difference then you will certainly enjoy this book and I am looking forward to reading more from the DS Manon Bradshaw series.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Review : The Magpies by Mark Edwards

The Magpies

Published by  : Createspace
21 March 2013
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchased

The Blurb

When Jamie and Kirsty move into their first home together they are full of optimism. The future, in which they plan to get married and start a family, is bright. The other residents of their building seem friendly too: the horror writer and the middle-aged herbalist who live upstairs, and the Newtons, a married couple who welcome them to the building with open arms.

At first, the two couples get on well. But then strange things start to happen. Dead rats are left on their doorstep. They hear disturbing noises, and much worse, in the night. After Jamie's best friend is injured in a horrific accident, Jamie and Kirsty find themselves targeted by a campaign of terror.

As Jamie and Kirsty are driven to the edge of despair, Jamie vows to fight back – but he has no idea what he is really up against…

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Magpies...They attack the nests of others... This is the premise of the book and Mark Edwards has constructed a brilliantly written, tense and enthralling psychological thriller.

We start, of course, with blue skies.  A happy couple, Kirsty and Jamie.  Young and in love they move into their dream flat.  Then it starts.  The torment.  Starting small with annoying, little things that build slowly but surely to much more sinister goings on.  The perpetrators are clever, cold.  Evil.

I found the telling of this thriller unusual (I won't say why because it will spoil too much) but despite, or because of this actually, I could not guess what was going to happen next, or who the perpetrator was going to transpire to be.  This made for a fantastic and nail biting read which I completed in two sittings.  Assisted by the wonderfully uncomplicated writing and brilliant dialogue which moved along at a punchy pace I thought Edwards produced a group of sound, well developed characters, who drew me in and kept me guessing.  All with different quirks the author used them to their utmost to make you wonder - are they just innocent quirks or is there something more sinister in their meaning.

I could really feel the emotional drainage of Kirsty and Jamie, as their happiness fall from their grasp and desperation leads to a raw and aggressive need for revenge. 

It wasn't until I sat down to write this review that the prologue jumped into my mind and I suddenly had to re-read it.  Then the Oh.My.God. moment happened.  I wonder if it is just me or if a delayed recognition of the significance of it has been common in general for readers and if that was the intention all along by the author.

This is the first book I have read by Mark Edwards and I am certain it will not be the last.

The Magpies by Mark Edwards receives a Very Pink Notebook top rating of :

Monday, 16 January 2017

Review : Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb

Deep Down Dead

Published by : Orenda Books
15 January 2017
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher

The Blurb

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

At first glance this book may seem like it is just going to be an action packed, chase thriller but once you start reading you quickly realise it is going to go so much deeper than that.  It is a book that has so many levels it is difficult to know where to begin the review.

So, I will start with the glaringly obvious, the action.  Quite simple it is written so perfectly, the instant I started reading I had a movie playing out in my head.  I am not always one for reading 'action' but this novel had me engaged from the very first line and kept me so for several reasons.

The first reason : the protagonist.  I think Lori Anderson has become one of my most favourite protagonists.  She is stunningly brilliant.  Tough with a capital 'T' - a female bounty hunter and a single mother - she has to be.   Even changing her name to leave behind the women she once was, to be the women she has become.  Of course, you can never fully leave behind who you are and Steph Broadribb has woven her history and her fragile side in so carefully and seamlessly you are left with a beautifully developed, complex and truly likable character who you can't help but fall in love with and deeply root for.

Broadribb has continued her brilliance in character development with the rest of the cast, particularly those who mean something to Lori, her daughter Dakota and her old mentor / ex lover JT.  The author presents the relationships between the three with such realism and sensitivity you find yourself wanting to know more about the 'normal' mother / daughter life Lori is desperately trying to make for them and likewise you yearn to be given as much information as possible about the, very deep and complicated, history between Lori and JT.

Along with all the action and the softer relationship side of the story you then get the mystery.  Our protagonist goes to do a simple 'pick up' job and winds up in a web of horror.  Just as it seems she makes a huge discovery and you think she might have untangled herself from the spiders web, you realise she has actually only taken herself further in. 

Although the book is over three hundred pages long it is only the tip of the iceberg of this women's story and I can not wait for Deep Blue Trouble, book number two in the Lori Anderson series, to be realised so I can absorbed myself back into the troubled, but exciting world of Ms Anderson.  

Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb gets a definite :

About the Author

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire.  Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA.  As her alter ego - Crime Thriller Girl - she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California.  She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cow and chickens.  Deep Down Dead is her debut novel. 

Twitter : @CrimeThrillGirl
Facebook : /CrimeThrillerGirl
Website :

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Guest Post by Justine John - Author of Gilding The Lily

Yesterday The Very Pink Notebook hosted the Gilding The Lily blog tour by author Justine John.  Today I am very excited to share a guest post from the author about her inspiration behind the book.

My Inspiration Behind The Book
By Justine John

Much of the story is based on some things that happened to me during my father’s death which was very sudden.  That process of his illness and death, seemed to put me in a set of circumstances that challenged me greatly.  Organising a funeral in a foreign country is challenging, but because I wasn’t expecting it, I felt as though I was in a dream and the things that happened around me were almost fictional.  It was a coping mechanism I suppose. I came out of that process with a story.

I tried to begin the book too soon – I knew I had to get something out, and I wrote Chapter 1, but couldn’t go any further.  I just didn’t know what to put next.

It wasn’t until I came through the grieving completely, about three years later, that I began to write again.  In 2013, a health issue took over, and a major operation loomed.  I was advised that I would not be able to work for a minimum of eight weeks – probably more like sixteen.  I had begun to resent some of my work projects (life was too short), and I was feeling almost shackled; only a sense of duty, not ‘earning’ a living stopped me from giving up.  But now I was being forced to stop for a while – so stop I did.  In my tracks.  Here it was – my chance to get that story in my head on paper.  So the day I was home from hospital, I began Chapter 2.  And I never looked back.

Amelia, the main character, and I have much in common.  We both come from a divorced parentage, and experienced difficulty and abnormality in our upbringing.  And we both have a massive internal need to please our fathers.  As all good writers do, I took some personal experience and whipped it up with a lot of fiction and made it into what is hopefully a good story.

Now I’ve started I very much want to continue.  I will begin my second Novel in early 2017 and hopefully continue with the same characters but in a different way, using a similar formula.  Hopefully this time it won’t take me so long!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Blog Tour and Review : Gilding the Lily by Justine John

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Justine John's, Gilding The Lilyblog tour this week.  With much thanks to Justine John and Authoright for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.


Image :
Published by : I_AM Self-Publishing
25 November 2016
Copy : Paperback received from author

The Blurb

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York, sees London-based Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her utmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

The Very Pink Notebook Review

I loved the synopsis for this book and thought it sounded full of promising twists and turns.  I wasn't to be disappointed.  Although in a way the plot is a slow burn, it is still written with a pacey and intriguing edge.  Justine John has written a high society, suspense novel with characters who are well placed.  Set in both England and New York I enjoyed racing between the two with protagonist Amelia and husband Jack.  A couple, who are content and happy with their lot in life they also love Amelia's father who resides in New York, despite his taste in women being somewhat questionable.

After making a surprise visit for her fathers 75th birthday, events start to leave a sour taste in the mouth of Amelia and Jack and we are taken on a journey of discovery, for all the characters, as a race against time to discover the truth about his father's partner begins.  Written in both first person (for Amelia) and third for others we are kept in both current and past times, which weaves a tangled web.

John has developed a good set of characters, none are all good or bad, there is a perfect balance of personality traits to make you like them and then be left wondering if perhaps that 'comment' or 'thought' was maybe a little sinister?

For me, the star of the show is the ending however, and it is quite rare that I find that.  I thought I had it worked out and although in part I did I just did not see the final twist coming and was left nodding my head in appreciation to the author.

Gilding the Lily receives a Very Pink Notebook :

About the Author - Justine John

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat
race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two Dalmatians.

Website  -

Purchase from Amazon UK -

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Review - Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson

Everything You Told Me

Published by : Corvus
5 January2017
Copy - ARC received from publisher

The Blurb

You went to bed at home, just like every other night.

You woke up in the back of a taxi, 300 miles away.

You have no memory of the last ten hours.

You have a suicide note in your coat pocket, in your own writing.

You know you weren’t planning to kill yourself.

Your family and friends think you are lying.

Someone knows exactly what happened to you.

But they’re not telling…

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Lucy Dawson has a very distinctive writing style and her new novel, Everything You Told Me, sticks to this successful formula.  Earlier this year I read, The Letter You Sent, and spent my reading time with my heart beating that little bit faster, my eyes scanning the words and paragraphs and pages quickly as I tried to get to the bottom of the complete and utter muddle the protagonist found herself in - and I did exactly the same with this novel.

The protagonist is this novel is Sally.  An exhausted mother of two to Chloe and Theo and wife to Matthew.  Sally is happy with her life but with a pre-schooler and a six month old who refuses to sleep, combined with a stressed-out-with-work husband, sometimes she finds it testing.  However, Sally refuses to believe she tried to kill herself which is where the novel starts.

We are taken on the journey directly through the eyes of Sally via a first person narrative.  Whether she is a reliable narrator or not, is for the reader to decide themselves, but I decided she was, because although everything could been seen as very clear and straight-forward I did believe her version of events and her justifications for certain things.  Again, like the previous novel of Dawson's, events happen over a fairly short timescale and so are quite intense and although there is not a lot of action as such - Sally is just trying to make and keep everything 'normal' for the sake of the children - our protagonist is forced to try and investigate matters herself when no one seems to want to listen to a word she says.

Sally is surrounded by 'helpful' family members, all saying they want the best for her.  Who does really want this is anybody's guess as they all seem to have their own agenda.  Sally finds herself in a complete muddle, as does the reader, and ends up questioning everyone, including herself.  Sometimes I wished more information would come to light sooner, I found a few chapters a little repetitive but, having said that, they were quite helpful in reiterating / clarifying what had happened so far.

I did work out part of the ending fairly early on, but by all means not the entirety and depth of it.  I liked the character of Sally and Matthew, particularly given their stressful and quite common lifestyle, some of the other characters I found a little unrealistic but not so much to the point that it spoiled the book for me. 

If you like a muddling, nail-biter then you will enjoy this latest offering from Lucy Dawson.

The Very Pink Notebook gives Everything You Told Me :

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Review : The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time

Published by : Pan Macmillan
25 August 2016
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchase

The Blurb

Noah is a little boy who knows things he shouldn't and remembers things he should have forgotten.  Because as well as being a four-year-old called Noah, he remembers being a nine-year-old called Tommy.

He remembers his house.
His family.
His mother.

And now he wants to go home.

Two boys.  Two mothers.
One unforgettable story...

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Wow, a few days ago I debated which book I should start reading to kick start my year, I went for The Forgetting Time and I don't think I could have made a better decision.  This book is so absolutely absorbing and enthralling I devoured it in three sittings. 

The opening chapter is probably the slowest of them all, but once I got into the story it made sense as to why it was there.  There after I am not sure I could even tell you where chapters began or ended, I was reading with such urgency and pace because I just had to know what was going on and what was going to happen.

We follow the lives of four-year-old Noah and his mother Janie, and also of Dr Anderson.  Narration is given via different viewpoints in third person.  The three are brought together out of desperation - on both parts of the adults.  Janie is looking for anyway to make her son, Noah - a unique but disturbed little boy - better, because Noah has knowledge of things a four year old wouldn't usually have and can't be explained without going into realms of horror his mother will not accept.  Dr Anderson believes in reincarnation and has given up a highly decorated scientific career to dedicate his life to building a solid and fact-filled case for it in his book - a way to leave a lasting legacy.  For Dr Anderson proving this case would be the perfect end for him.  Janie is not sure she can cope with the idea of reincarnation, but Janie does not want to let the word 'schizophrenia' come into her vocabulary either.

We are taken on a journey of discovery with the trio, not only in their quest to help Noah, but for Janie and Anderson personally.  This is one of those books that really makes you yourself question everything and wonder if what you thought you were so sure about in the universe is right after all.  I loved different 'case-studies' punctuated through out the novel - they literally left the hairs on my arms standing.

Once the novel moved into the realms of finding the family Noah believes he is connected to I could not stop reading until I got the end of the book.  All of the characters in this novel are so real and complex and developed I could vividly and distinctively picture them immediately.  I thought the ending was fitting, life moves on no matter what happens within it, and you just have to go with it and try and make the best of it, whatever you believe or don't believe and the author makes this clear in the case of all the characters. 

With such a strong plot and flawless writing it is little wonder this book has received rave reviews from such well known authors and names.  I can do nothing but same.

The Forgetting Time receives a Very Pink Notebook Review of :