Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

Publication date: 22 September 2016

Published by: Little Brown

Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Passengers boarding the 10.35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.

Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. Onboard customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack . . .

My Review:

I am a big fan of Cath Staincliffe and her work, so I was delighted to be approved for a review copy of her new book The Silence Between Breaths. As you can imagine from the synopsis, this book is jam packed full of tension, and given the sad and shocking events in recent years, it was easy for me to imagine this becoming a terrifyingly real situation.

As they board the train and start their journey we become aware of a number of passengers, and scene by scene we get to know snippets about who they are, and why they are travelling today.  I love travelling on public transport, or sitting in a cafĂ© people watching, so I easily transported myself into the carriage, mapping out who was sitting where, what they looked like, and why they were on the train. All of this whilst at the back of my mind knowing from the synopsis that they were in grave danger.

But the beauty of this book is that we don’t only see life from the impact that this event could have on the passengers, the author has also given thought to the family of Sahel who is carrying the rucksack of terror. The media, and us as public never really think about the effects on the family of a terrorist. We wonder how could they not know what was going on, and forget about any anger, embarrassment, shock, and equally love they might have. Cath uses this book to highlight this, and it certainly got my attention and made me think about it.

The book not only follows the lead up to the event, but also the immediate after effects, as well as some further time after. It feels wrong to say enjoyed seeing their journey, but I guess I was intrigued to follow each of them to see what their fate was, and how it would impact on their future.

I found it hard to put the book down. It is horrific, but not in a gory or overly descriptive manner. It pulled in my imagination which then created scenes of fear, upset, and intrigue. I found myself saying ‘just one more chapter’, and before I knew it an age had passed!

If you are a fan of thrillers, and well written, absorbing novels this could definitely be a must read for you. Full of description, well developed characters, and the ability to tap into our fears and worries Cath Staincliffe has created a cracker of a book that is fast paced and gripping.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington

Publication date: 8 September
Published by: Harper Collins
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Every family has a story…

But for the Guinness family a happy ending looks out of reach. Olly and Mae's marriage is crumbling, their teenage daughter Evie is on a mission to self-destruct and their beloved Pops is dying of cancer. Their once strong family unit is slowly falling apart.

But Pops has one final gift to offer his beloved family – a ray of hope to cling to. As his life's journey draws to a close, he sends his family on an adventure across Europe in a camper van, guided by his letters, his wisdom and his love.

Because Pops knows that all his family need is time to be together, to find their love for each other and to find their way back home…

My Review:

Welcome to one of the best times of the year – publication day of Carmel Harrington’s newest book baby, and boy The Things I Should Have Told You is a beautifully, perfectly formed book. Infact it has become part of my book family, never to be disowned!

Do you ever read a book that seems to be perfectly written to match a stage you are at in your own life? You devour every part, and come away wondering if someone was sending you a message by placing the book in your hands to be read? That is what this book has done for me.

Carmel is very talented at writing a great novel, with multi-faceted characters who, in my mind, are very real, and just like you and I. They face tough times, and as with her earlier works, Carmel never shies away from tackling serious subjects such as grief, illness, bullying, and unhappiness. But she never writes characters that are like ‘oh, woe me’, or who give up. Infact I often find her work inspirational and with very strong messages of love and family running through them.

The Things I Should Have Told You reminds us of the importance of never leaving things left unsaid. Live, laugh, love, and appreciate the world around you, and those in it. The book actually ends with some house rules, some of which I have written down to peak at when things are getting me down. They are simple, beautiful, and truly inspirational.

I loved meeting and spending time with the Guinness family. Olly, Mae, Pops, Evie and Jamie. They are by no means perfect, and just like most families’ things are up and down, with rows, discontent and, well, life in general. Pops is the go-to guy, who is loved by all, and holds the family together. But Pops is ill, infact he is dying, and I guess he can see that all is not well. So as a final gift to them he leaves a bunch of letters, and a camper van. Each letter holds a set of instructions to follow, and will see them leave home and travel together for eight weeks. But can being cooped up together in a confined space for any length of time, away from friends and everyday life really help? I can’t imagine being stuck in that scenario with my family!!

And so the adventure begins…. each chapter telling the story from multiple points of view, which is always a winner in my book as it allows me to get to know them each as individuals, and what makes them tick, as well as how they get on as a family, rather than just one narrators voice.

I particularly loved Olly and Mae’s daughter Evie. Yes, it’s been a long time since I was a teenager, but I remember those years so well. Wanting to fit in with the crowd, to be liked, to be noticed, and all the angst that goes with it. Evie is a great reminder than whilst teens seem shallow they are actually very deep, and at times troubled young people who really do need to be nurtured.

I would love to sit here and chat about all the different parts of the book that resonated with me, made me chuckle, made me sad, or inspired me. But I loved this book so much I just want to leave it as a lovely surprise for you. I will say though that the epilogue is one of the best I have read in a long time, and I may have let out a big squeal as I read it! Oh, and I nearly broke my neck jumping out the bath to rush and rave about the book to my poor Mum!!!

If you haven’t read Carmel before – where have you been? You need to rectify that! And if you have, and liked her work, then this is another beauty to indulge in.

Thank you Carmel for being so talented in putting feelings and emotion on to paper (ok, Kindle), and for reminding me how important family, love and life are. Never waste time on those that don’t support you and have your best interests at heart. I will smile whenever I think of the Guinness family, and will keep the house rules with me from now on.

So people, this is definitely on my ‘must read’ list, and if you hadn’t guessed by now I would recommend you rush out, buy a copy, and accompany the Guinness family on their travels.

P.S. Isn't the cover just stunning!?!