Minty by Christina Banach #BookReview

About this book…

Fourteen-year-old twins Minty and Jess are inseparable. Maybe they bicker now and then, even crave a bit of space once in a while. But they have a connection. Unbreakable. Steadfast. Nothing can tear them apart. Until a family trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life. Will Minty survive? If she doesn’t, how will Jess cope without her? Only the stormy sea has the answer. Minty is a story of love, loss and coming to terms with consequences. It’s a spiritual tale that will linger in your mind long after you’ve read the final word.

My review…

As everyone knows I just love books about twins, it doesn’t seem to matter which genre either as the twin relationship just fascinates me both in real life and in fictional settings as well. This is the first young adult book I’ve read with twins but it’s probably a book that can be read by adults as well as stories about grief knows no age boundaries. Here in her debut novel Christina Banach gives us a story of love, loss and forgiveness affecting a family with twin 14 year old girls. And they have dogs!!!!

I think the scene at the beginning of the book was one that would bring terror to any parent or dog walker…a dog in trouble in the water. Now when you haven’t been in this situation, it’s very easy to judge! How many lives are lost each year when people attempt to rescue their dogs from a situation but get into difficulty? And the awful thing is that normally that person dies but their dog has somehow survived against the odds. So I found this a very realistic and scary start to how Minty dies and becomes lost and separated from her twin Jess. There was an essence of The Lovely Bones from this point onwards as Minty is stuck in an afterlife where she watches her family struggling to cope without her.

The relationship between Minty and Jess and also the one she strikes up with Jack, her afterlife friend who helps her to understand what’s happened to her, are really well developed which leads to a true depth of feeling to their interactions. It doesn’t matter that you know where the story has got to be heading as it’s Jess and Mintys journey to their acceptance of the inevitable that is at the core of this lovely book.

This is the sort of book my girls would have loved when they were teenagers and that I would have encouraged them to read. It’s a poignant and emotional read that ultimately has an uplifting message of hope in its plot. I can tell that the author has put a lot of herself and her beliefs into her work and it works all the better for that.

I received a review copy of this book from the author and have chosen to write a review after reading it.

Minty is out now and available to buy here from Amazon UK

About the author…

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Christina Banach is a former head teacher who lives in Scotland with her husband and their two rescue dogs. She loves walking; delicious food and wine; evenings at the theatre; exploring new places; surfing the Net; listening to music; and anything that makes her laugh. Plus she has a penchant for shoes and handbags. A voracious reader, she particularly enjoys children’s fiction (all those years buying for school libraries!) – which led her to writing. Christina is hard at work on her next novel.

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All Fall Down by Tom Bale **Blog Tour**

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About this book…

You tried to save a life. Now you’re fighting to save your own.

It should have been an idyllic day for the Turner family – until a dying man, beaten beyond all recognition, arrives at their home, uttering the words, HELP ME.

Rob and Wendy Turner and their children try to explain away the horrific scene as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in the days that follow their lives are threatened in ways they could never imagine.

The family is unaware that they are being watched by someone with their own terrifying agenda, who will stop at nothing to fulfil their own twisted desires.

But when hidden secrets come rushing to the surface, it’s clear not everything is as it seems in this happy family. Are the Turners a victim of circumstance – or does the key to their fate lie closer to home?

Forced to fight for everything they hold dear, can they save themselves before time runs out – or will their act of compassion see them paying the ultimate price…?

A heart-stopping, shocking and tense thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page.

My review…

Wow! And then some more Wow! It has actually taken me a whole 24 hours since finishing this book to be able to form some sort of thought process about it! And I haven’t even been able to start another book which is rather unheard of for me! Yes, I have had a MAJOR book hangover!

I really enjoyed Tom’s last book See How They Run, the whole concept of an normal family becoming engaged in a nightmare scenario due to no fault of their own was brilliantly devised. So I was looking forward to All Fall Down, which has a similar theme, but I didn’t realise just how involved I would get in it! I read it in just one day as I physically couldn’t put it down. It was like I was part of the storyline and by stopping reading I was letting this family down! Such a weird feeling but I really was engaging with the Turner family and wanted to help them in anyway I could! I loved Wendy especially and felt I could relate to her the best, in her marriage to Rob and in her fierce protection of all her family. I think this is why I actually enjoyed this book more than See How They Run, it was a family that could have been mine! Those everyday little things that we all take for granted within our home life suddenly become the big things when there is a chance of losing them. And that’s the great thing about this book, it plays on all those fears you have for your own families safety especially when you know that fate can play a huge part in the path you travel down.

I loved the way that the book opened with a scene that is played out in thousands of homes across the country on a Sunday-a family barbecue. And although Rob trys to explain away the man who turns up half dead as a coincidence, we become aware that Rob may be hiding some secrets of his own. The thing is, are these secrets connected? There were so many little red herrings and misdirections for the first half of the book that I really wasn’t sure which of the many characters who were popping up were relevant to what was actually going on. 

Once the action moves to Norfolk, I was actually feeling sick anticipating what was going to happen next. In fact, it was like Tom Bale had some sort of insight into my worst nightmares as one of the things that happened there is one of my biggest fears! And to see it played out was just an incredibly harrowing experience! Due to the way that it’s written I do have to say that this would make a totally brilliant screenplay especially on the big screen-although I for one would probably be watching it with my hands over my eyes saying “Is it over yet??” It truly is terrifying at times!

This really is a book to raise your blood pressure and get that adrenaline pumping. It will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, give you goosebumps and then you will want to go and give your family a big hug when you’re finished. For me, Tom Bale is now right up there with Simon Kernick, a true master of the “fight or flight” thriller.

Highly recommended by me!

All Fall Down: A totally enthralling, totally gripping thriller is published by Bookouture on 1st September 2016 and is available to buy from Amazon UK here.

About the author…

Tom Bale
Tom Bale decided that he wanted to be an author from the age of seven but, after another career got in the way, it wasn’t until much later that his dream was fulfilled.  After several books with Random House, Tom signed with Bookouture for two stunning ‘everyman’ thrillers.
Visit his Website, follow him on Facebook, or on Twitter

 

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

About this book…

She kept moving forward. She didn’t stop. She didn’t look back.

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she’s been locked away from the outside world. During that time she’s changed from a girl into a woman. She’s had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know – to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend – and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily’s perfect life as a teenager doesn’t exist any more. Since she’s been gone, her family’s lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.

My review…

I read Baby Doll in two sittings (not one as I should have been able to according to the blurb for Baby Doll!) as I just couldn’t bare to put it down at all. My love of books about twins is well known but I think this is one of the better ones I have ever read as it seemed to get right to the heart of that very special relationship twins have. It didn’t surprise me to read at the end in the acknowledgments that Hollie Overton is herself a twin. They say you should write about what you know and it is obvious here that Hollie has taken those feelings she has about her twin sister and wound them around this story making a fictional relationship that much more authentic.

This plot has been brought to feature in a few books recently. I feel that recent news reports of similar abductions have encouraged authors to put their own spin on what is an horrific crime. But here, the abduction isn’t the plot. We know from the start that Lily has been living in a locked cabin in the woods with her daughter fathered during her imprisonment. One day she notices the lock hasn’t been shut properly, but even then she has been conditioned to think that it’s all a test, a ploy by her abductor to check her loyalty to him. The story really comes to life after Lily gets away and it is then a character driven study into the aftermath of this awful crime and how everyone responds to Lilys freedom. It is told by multiple characters, Lily, her mother and her twin sister and also her abductor. We know very early on who has taken Lily and why, so anyone looking for a who and why psychological suspense will surely be disappointed. Instead, we get an emotional family drama as they try to get their lives back on track whilst awaiting the outcome of the forthcoming trial. The blurb made me think of the book Room by Emma Donoghue but apart from the fact that Lily has a child, there isn’t much of a comparison here and both books have their good and bad points. Up until the end I had been thinking about a 5* review but I was a little disappointed by the last few pages although I quite understand why the author went down that route.

I think the relationship between Lily and Abby was one of my more favourite parts of Baby Doll but all the characters were very well written and believable. There was a common bond between them all that felt established and realistic. It was an emotional read for me as I have followed similar real life cases and can’t begin to understand how someone could cope with a long-term imprisonment like that, never knowing if there will ever be any escape from it or just being too broken to try. So it was nice to read a book with a different twist to the well used abduction plotline and I think this worked better than most. I look forward to seeing where Hollie Overton goes from here as I loved her style of writing.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Baby Doll is available in e-book on 30th June 2016 from Amazon UK

It’s Friday and it’s Twin Day!

I thought that I would share a few of the books about twins that I have read recently in honour of my own twins whose birthday it is today!  Due to being a mum of twins, I have always been drawn to works of fiction featuring them and the complex relationship they have. Most people find twins fascinating, myself included, and I’m sure that’s why there has been an increase in the amount of books that have twins at the centre of them. So here goes!

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

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Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.

My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

But what really happened to Coco?

Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed…

Reviewed January 2016

As soon as I heard Alex Marwood had a new book out I pre-ordered it from Amazon. Having a chance to read it early with a review copy was a fantastic opportunity for me as I am an incredibly impatient reader when it comes to books by my favourite authors. In fact, I normally read my books in order of publication (it does border on ocd to be fair!) but I made a huge exception for The Darkest Secret as I physically couldn’t wait!
I don’t want to go into the plot of this book too much as I think people should read it with no preconceptions. Sean Jackson is holding his 50th birthday party over a Bank Holiday weekend in August attended by various friends and family. Over the course of the weekend, one of his twin daughters, Coco aged 3, goes missing. Ten years later Mila, Coco’s half sister, and Ruby, Coco’s twin, come together to attend his funeral. The story unfolds in 2004 and is told from the viewpoints of various party guests and then alternating with Mila in 2014, who is trying to make sense of her relationship with her deceased father and her half sister Ruby but may also be about to uncover the truth about Coco.
It’s amazing that an author can take a bunch of unlikable and immoral characters and make you want to keep reading about them! You are watching what is happening with a hand over your eyes, dreading what you will find out about these dreadful, narcissistic “friends”. It shows how the actions of adults can ripple down the years to affect children, even when they are adults. It’s very true to life unfortunately.
I loved this book. The apprehension as you read, to find out what has happened to Coco, builds up gradually until you don’t want to read further as the truth is revealed but you just have to know! I adored the relationship between Mila and Ruby and the way it developed over just a few days. And I started off hating another character but as the story unfolded further my opinion turned on its head as it also did with other characters but in reverse!
A superb read from Alex Marwood and will certainly be one of the big reads for the start of 2016. Her best so far I think and as a huge fan of The Wicked Girls that is saying something!
I received a copy of the book via netgalley in return for an honest review.
The Darkest Secret is available to buy at Amazon UK

Beside Myself by Anne Morgan

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Helen and Ellie are identical twins ? like two peas in a pod, everyone says.

The girls know this isn’t true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back…

And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself ? until eventually only ‘Smudge’ is left.

Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister’s dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?

Reviewed in January 2016

I am a total pushover for books about twins (especially twin girls due to having my own!!) as twins are still seen as something a little bit different, with a mystical quality that still makes complete strangers stop and ask questions. I’ve been through them all personally myself “are they twins?” “are they identical?” and everyone’s favourite quote “double trouble! You’ve got your hands full there!” So I was looking forward to this darker novel about twin girls who decide to swap places one day when they are six and, as one of them refuses to change back, it affects the lives of both girls into adulthood.
Helen is the “good twin” who does well at school and is much loved by their mummy whereas Ellie is a little slower, not so popular at school or home. One day Helen thinks it would be fun to change places and they swap clothes, hairstyles etc. But Ellie likes the attention and enjoys being Helen so refuses to swap back. This leaves Helen stuck in the “personality” of Ellie which gradually because hers when no one believes what has happened to her.
I found this such a sad book and was totally frustrated by it. The girls mother Margaret is awful! How 2 small girls can fool their own mother is totally unrealistic in my opinion but there are many hidden layers in this well executed debut novel and so you suspend believe as you get sucked into the story. It’s a moral tale of how we act when we are pigeon holed into a specific role in life. My twins have taken place in studies since they were very young to see if it is nurture or nature that defines who we become as an adult. In this case, mental illness in the twins as adults is thought-provoking in very different ways, both girls affected by the differing life experiences and the personalities they took on.
Our main focus is Helen-who-becomes-Ellie and we don’t get such an insight into Ellie. I would have liked more of her story if I’m honest to get a balanced idea of why things happened and how and why she reacted the way she did. But that didn’t spoil my reading experience of this disturbing insight into how society defines us from a very early age. I will certainly look out for books by this author in the future.
I received a copy of the book from a competition giveaway in The Book Club.
Beside Myself is available to buy at Amazon UK

Dont Say A Word by Jennifer Jaynes

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Death has always stalked single mother Allie Callahan. For the first time in her life, she has found a fragile sort of happiness living a quiet, peaceful existence in East Texas with her young son, Sammy, and her adoptive mother.

Still, Allie fears she may be susceptible to the same mental illness that destroyed her serial-killer mother and brother. She’s haunted by the idea that she could become incapable of caring for Sammy.

When twelve-year-old twins Zoe and Carrie arrive on her doorstep late one night, their parents slain in a vicious double homicide, Allie’s strength and sanity are put to the test. What did the twins see on the night of their parents’ horrific murder? They are too frightened to say.

Soon faced with a series of menacing phone calls, a rising body count, and the pressure of keeping the girls and her own son safe, Allie fears she’ll lose her mind—and her one shot at happiness—once and for all.

I reviewed Don’t Say a Word by Jennifer Jaynes in May 2016

The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

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I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?
The Silent Twin: A dark, gripping detective thriller (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 3) is available to buy at Amazon UK

Too Close by Gayle Curtis

This is going to be next next “twin read” and here is the blurb..

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A devastating and unsettling story of a powerful and unshakeable twin bond, Too Close is a twisty and gripping tale of secrets and lies. For fans of The Twins by Saskia Sarginson.

Cecelia and Sebastian have a connection like no other – more than just brother and sister, they’ll go to any lengths to protect each other. Growing up in a bleak old farmhouse, their mother gone and their father violent and abusive, the twins have only each other to keep them alive.

But when the secrets of their mother’s disappearance start to emerge, and truth and lies are thrown into question, events take a terrifying turn . . .

As Cecelia tries to break away from the ties that bind her to her brother, Sebastian is determined that the twins should be together – whatever the costs.

 

So that’s just a few of the twin books that have come out in 2016 so far! Have you read any others that I might have missed? And after reading these books I thank my lucky stars that MY twins come with a lot less drama. Happy birthday girls!!