Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Biographical #historicalfiction The Other Mrs. Samson by Ralph Webster

Today’s team review is from Judith. She blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Other Mrs Samson by Ralph Webster

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I chose The Other Mrs Samson because it covered both historical and memoir genres. It’s a story that stretches through decades and settings; from the middle of the nineteenth century to the time of the First World War, the mid twentieth century and World War Two to the present era, and from the United States, to Germany and France.

The book’s appeal to me was the description of the intriguing, yet so different, life and love stories of two women for one man with so many settings across a great spread of years. I was keen to start reading the book.

But I struggled with it. And I have struggled to review it as well.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the author has carried out extensive research to provide a background to the story: the Jewish community in San Francisco at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century, conditions in WW1, the growth of Nazism and the dreadful effect on the Jewish people.There is much detail about the politics of the time and the impact on the economics of the societies, the suffering caused through the conditions during the great wars.

And we follow the stories of the two women, Hilda and Katie Samson, who, in different decades, both meet and then marry the same man, Dr. Josef Samson. These are recounted through papers that were found by the narrator in a secret compartment in a black lacquer cabinet; the memoirs of Katie, a friend of the narrator.

The novel relates the difference between the two women, their lives and their emotions; their reactions to events. And this is where I had the problem. Let me say that I enjoyed the start of the book; the finding of the papers and, to a much greater extent; Hilda’s story, which was fascinating. But the enjoyment palled slightly when I came to the story of Katie. Where I felt the narrator’s words brought of the character of the first Mrs Samson alive on the page, for me it wasn’t the same with the second. Initially, I was engrossed in Katie’s tragic early life, set against the so-called decadence of the twenties, the economic downfall in America, the insidious evil of the Nazi party in Germany. As I said earlier, the reader learns so much of the conditions throughout the world, but I also felt the all characters became less rounded, almost an after thought, in the telling of their stories. And, I’m afraid, the author lost me; I skipped through many pages ( then went back to read, because I didn’t think I’d given it a fair shot). It’s not something I normally do, and certainly not something I’m proud of, but it felt almost like an historical explanation of what was happening.in the world rather that following the characters.

I think my problem with The Second Mrs Samson is that I like character driven stories. And I felt that Ralph Webster missed a chance to develop both the main and some minor characters in his quest to write such a brilliantly detailed historical setting.

But, after all, reviews are always subjective and I would recommend The Second Mrs Samson to readers who enjoy historical novels.

3.5 stars

Book description

Surviving two wars, sharing one husband, searching for answers.

A secret compartment in a black lacquer cabinet left in an attic reveals the secrets of two incredible women: Hilda, born and raised in one of the wealthiest Jewish families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, and Katie, whose early life in Germany is marked by tragedy and death. Their lives are forever entwined by their love of the same man, the brilliant and compassionate Dr. Josef Samson.

From the earliest, rough-and-tumble days of San Francisco, through the devastation of the Great War in Berlin and the terrors of Vichy France, and then to a new yet uncertain life in New York City, their stories span the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. In the end, one of these women will complete the life of the other and make a startling discovery about the husband they share.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al @marysmithwriter

Today’s team review is from Judith. She blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al

At a time when we are once more in Lockdown/Tier whatever/ or equivalent, it was interesting to read the accounts of the twenty-two writers in the first Covid lockdown earlier this year.

This is a thought provoking collection which instantly recognises the strangeness of 2020 ( and maybe the first few months of 2021!). And yet it also shows how adaptable, as human beings, we are. However much we resent situations. These stories, accounts and poems, (which I viewed as individual diaries), reveal the uncertainty, the stoicism, the fear of unexpectedly losing the life we took for granted, the half-forgotten memories which became precious because of lost loved ones, or because of the anxiety that those times might not be repeated.

There is poignancy, humour, sadness, anger here. But, threaded throughout, there is also, a strange feeling of relief in being able to step away from normality, of not ‘having’ to do something, of not being tied to duty. And being able to look at the world around us, to see nature in all its glory; to appreciate it. In this collection I was glad to see what I saw in those months – an underlying sense of freedom

Writedown reveals a fascinating glimpse of an extraordinary time in our lives and I have no hesitation in recommending this book to any reader, as a reminder of 2020 in the years to come.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Coming-Of-Age #Mystery THE BOY AND THE LAKE by Adam Pelzman

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Boy And The Lake by Adam Pelzman

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The Boy and the Lake is a coming of age story that was recommended to me. I have to admit it’s the first of this genre I’ve read, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found it to be a good story well told. It’s a steady read, introspective and very well written; I did like the author’s writing style, especially the descriptive language of the settings, the seasons, the lake.

 And it’s the lake in New Jersey (a summer retreat for the protagonist, Ben, and his family before the riots in the nineteen- sixties made it too difficult to stay in the city) that is the background of the book.

The story is told from the first-person point of view by Ben. The reader learns of his relationship with his parents, Abe and Lillian, his friend, Missy and various members of the closed, committed Jewish community he lives in. And, through his eyes we see the rituals and ceremonies that are celebrated throughout the year. Learn of his attitudes towards them, whilst all the time he is also grappling to solve what he sees as an unexplained drowning of one of the neighbours, Helen.

 The discovery of the body in the lake by Ben and his grandfather is the lynch pin for all the action, for all the contemplation by the protagonist. How Helen drowned takes up quite a lot of the narrative, and of both his internal and spoken dialogue. But there is also the angst of youth: of indecisiveness, self-doubt, infatuation, guilt for thoughtless actions. And a retreat into childhood, where he needs the love and comfort of his mother (two attributes she cannot supply) that vies with an insight to adulthood, when he sees, with pity, the weakness in his father (who refuses to acknowledge the truth of his marriage). But there is also a strong bond between father and son which will be broken when Ben leaves the life he has always known, to go to university. A bond not only broken by distance but by the results of actions of the two of them.

As I said at the beginning, this is the first of this genre I have read. There is a much to enjoy: the descriptions, the many layers and growth of the protagonist, the twist at the end of the story. For readers who enjoy a coming of age story, I have no hesitation in recommending Adam Pelzman’s The Boy and the Lake.

4 stars

Book description

Set against the backdrop of the Newark riots in 1967, a teenage Benjamin Baum leaves the city to spend the summer at an idyllic lake in northern New Jersey. While fishing from his grandparents’ dock, the dead body of a beloved neighbor floats to the water’s surface—a loss that shakes this Jewish community and reveals cracks in what appeared to be a perfect middle-class existence. Haunted by the sight of the woman’s corpse, Ben stubbornly searches for clues to her death, infuriating friends and family who view his unwelcome investigation as a threat to the comfortable lives they’ve built. As Ben’s suspicions mount, he’s forced to confront the terrifying possibility that his close-knit community is not what it seems to be—that, beneath a façade of prosperity and contentment, darker forces may be at work.

In The Boy and the Lake, Adam Pelzman has crafted a riveting coming-of-age story and a mystery rich in historical detail, exploring an insular world where the desperate quest for the American dream threatens to destroy both a family and a way of life.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Real Crime Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs by @SueColetta1

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs by Sue Coletta

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It’s been a while since I read a non fiction book. Whilst I generally enjoy the genre, it’s usually more to gain knowledge on a certain subject, to read about a particular topic or person. And then move on.


Sue Coletta‘s Pretty Evil New England is a book that will stay in my mind for a long time. I should say at this point, although I never give spoilers when reviewing fiction, I have, below, given some details of each of the five women, the murders and the results of the trials


It is obvious from the beginning that the author has researched these stories extensively. Her attention to detail is remarkable. Not only in that she brings these women to life for the reader, not only in that their crimes are revealed, but the background story of each one gives an insight to the way their characters were formed. Which, in a way, gives the reasons, why it was almost inevitable, that they became murderers.


The author gives a voice to each of the woman. It’s quite chilling to hear the way they saw the world and their victims. The reasons they say why they chose their victims are varied; suffice it to say, it only shows how evil they were.


The book is divided into five sections, dealing with each woman: Jane Toppan, truly frightening in the caring facade she presented to society for so long. Wicked in her careless reasoning for the deeds she carried out – for the way she discarded the deaths of some. Reading between the lines of the author’s writing, I thought Lydia Sherman was a a sociopath with little empathy for those around her. Again, a woman with veneer of compassion in public life that hides her true vicious character. Nellie Webb was a conundrum; well educated and religious, she stood trial as a poisoner but was not convicted ( though many doubted her innocence) Afterwards, together with her husband, she vanished. Her grave was never found. Sarah Jane Robinson, in debt and desperate for the payment from insurance policies, nevertheless, gave the appearance of a compassionate woman.who gathered her own and others’ families around her but she was a woman who claimed to have dreams of loved ones dying. And then they did. After the trial, she lived the rest of her life in solitary confinement. Harriet Nason was a solitary person by choice, viewed by many in the community with distrust. Although shown through the author’s research to be almost certainly the murderer of four people, she was found not guilty.


For me, Sue Coletta’s writing style keeps the reader enthralled. Her attention to detail is impeccable; she presents the court transcripts, newspaper articles, the interviews with the women against the background of the era at the time, and reveals the society they lived in.
I must give a mention to the illustrations and photographs. Excellently portrayed and placed to add a grim reality to the text.
And I loved the cover.


This is a non fiction book that will fascinate any reader who loves both fictional and real life crime. Thoroughly recommended.

Book description

Nineteenth century New England was the hunting ground of five female serial killers: Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson. Pretty Evil New England tells the story of these five women, from their humble origins through the circumstances that led to their heinous crimes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Fiction THE INCONVENIENT NEED TO BELONG by Paula Smedley

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Inconvenient Need To Belong by Paula Smedley

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I found this book a difficult one to review. On the one hand there was much to enjoy about the story, it’s an interesting account of a man’s life: the friendships and relationships formed over a lifetime, the honest self realisation of someone nearing the end of his life, living within the controlled regime of a care home. A regime he rebels against in small ways, which emphasis the greater rebellion in his earlier life when he left home and the controlling rigid rules of his father. On the other I think an extra edit would have shortened and tightened the story, making it much stronger.

On the plus side I liked the portrayal of the protagonist, Alfie. Nicely rounded, the internal dialogue adds layers to the character as he recounts his life story. Unfortunately I didn’t get much of an insight to a lot of the other characters and I wonder if this is because there are too many minor ones, whose limited input add little to the story. However, there is another storyline that runs parallel to Alfie’s story, that of Julia. This is a much stronger portrayal and I think this character is worthy of a separate story of her own. But this is only my thought.

On the whole, the dialogue is good and differentiates the characters. And there are evocative descriptions to give a few of the settings a good sense of place. And it is a poignant easy read that, I’m sure, will appeal to any reader who enjoys what reads as a fictional memoir.

3*

Book description

In the summer of 1953, twenty-year-old Alfie steals away from his troubled childhood home in London to start a new life in Exeter. His own life. And at first it’s everything he ever dreamed it would be. For the first time in his life Alfie feels like he belongs.

Today, in a care home in the Midlands, eighty-six-year-old Alfie is struggling to come to terms with his dark past.

Alfie’s story is one of regret, the mistakes we make, and the secrets even the most unassuming of us can hold. But it is also a story about family, friendship, the things we should treasure and protect, and how the choices we make can shape our lives and the lives of others.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT GENERATION W: 100 Inspiring Women, 100 Years Since Women Got The Vote

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Generation W by Urban Kingdom

I have dipped into this book over the last few weeks and, on the whole, enjoyed ‘listening‘ to the voices of so many inspirational women giving their opinions and their voices to what it is like to be a woman living in these times. There are many sections: arts, sports, feminism, music, politics – so many different walks in life; so varied. Some so intense that it’s only been possible to read one or two before having to set the book aside to think about their issues, their points of view. I have to admit there have been so many scenarios that I have not had to deal with in my life – and I have great admiration for the strength of character that comes through in the telling.

A small note of disappointment and something that could easily be rectified; the book does need another edit and proofread. I’ll leave it at that.

However, the honesty and integrity shines throughout the book in these uncensored interviews and I have no hesitation in recommending Generation W. A word of warning though: this is a book to buy to keep, to, as I say above, dip into. It’s actually a book I will give to my granddaughter when she is older. It shows that so much can be achieved by anyone with determination and self- belief.

 

Book description

Generation W is a collection of 100 uncensored interviews with 100 unapologetic and leading British women from all generations who answer the same ten questions about what it was like to live through the 100 years since women began to receive the vote.

Including:
Dr Averil Mansfield – The first British female professor of surgery.
Sally Gunnell – The only female athlete to win Gold at Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth level.
Laura London – At 16 years old Laura was homeless, at 18 years old she was the youngest female magician to be inducted into the Magic Circle.
Alice Powell – on the centenary of women receiving the vote, Alice Powell became the first female racing driver to win a race in Saudi Arabia, in the same year it was finally made legal for women to drive in the country.
Stacey Copeland – growing up, boxing was illegal for women to compete in, in 2018 Stacey Copeland would become the first British woman to win a Commonwealth Title.

ALSO INCLUDING:
The great-granddaughter of legendary suffragette Emmeline Pankurst, HELEN PANKHURST
The first Black leader of a British political party MANDU REID
Former Vogue cover model, leading actress and environmentalist LILY COLE
Beyonce ‘Freedom’ and ‘Runnin’ songwriter CARLA-MARIE WILLIAMS
The first mainstream celebrated female of rock music SUZI QUATRO
Ten times European Gold Medallist Speed Skater ELISE CHRISTIE
BBC Radio 1 DJ JAMZ SUPERNOVAM
PR legend and activist LYNNE FRANKS OBE
Elusive grafitti artist BAMBI
Former Chair of British Library and principal at Newnham College, Cambridge University DAME CAROL BLACK

And many more.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Generation W: 100 women. 100 years since women began to receive the vote. 100% uncensored. by [Urban Kingdom]

Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT With Team Member @judithbarrow77

Recently we celebrated our review team’s six year anniversary by revealing fourteen of the team’s favourite books.

You can find out which books they were in part one and part two.

I invited some of my team members to tell us more about being part of the book reviewing team.

Welcome to Judith Barrow, who also writes book reviews at Judith Barrow Blog

“It’s your review; to write as you want”. I carried  this advice from Rosie Amber (#RBRT) around in my head as I struggled to find a way to put into words what I thought about the first book I’d read and was about to review for her team. I’d never reviewed a book before – or anything, come to think of it.

As a creative writing tutor, I was used to reading essays, stories, poems – but this was different. Five tries later and I decided to break up the parts of the book into sections, as I do for my work: characters, dialogue, settings, points of view, plot etc. A moment of eureka; I didn’t need to tell the story of the book, I could say what I thought were the strong points and what didn’t work for me, because I know any review is subjective, and what I might like or not be so keen on, someone else will always have different thoughts. Writing it that way I could then recommend it to readers who like a book that had a good plot, is character led, told in a certain tense, and so on – or for readers who like particular genres.

One thing I do like with being on the #RBRT team is that if I really can’t get to grips with a book, I’m not expected to finish it; I’ll let Rosie know and that’s the end of the matter. And I don’t give below three stars; I don’t think it’s fair to any writer who has worked hard to produce a book but has probably not used either an editor or a proof-reader. It happens and I always think it’s a shame if the plot/idea is good.

“It’s your review; to write as you want”; something I would say to anyone thinking of joining #RBRT, with the one proviso (which goes unsaid but should be kept in mind) use constructive criticism and be kind. And enjoy the reading. Rosie is approached by many authors of all kinds of genres, eager for the team to review. Their books are put on a list and we can choose the ones we think we might like. I’ve had the chance to read some wonderfully written books of all genres … for free. Although I don’t always manage to review as often as I’d like for Rosie’s Book Review Team, due to other commitments,  I’ve loved being a member since I day  I joined and I’ve made some brilliant and supportive on-line friends in the team. And Rosie is always there for advice and to steer the ship. What more can one ask?

Thank you Judith.

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Irish Family Drama SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by @aimeealexbooks @denisedeegan

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Season Of Second Chances by Denise Deegan

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My Review:

I haven’t read anything from Aimee Alexander before but, as I love any story about the machinations and intricacies of families, when I saw Season of Second Chances on the #RBRT reading list,  I decided to choose this book. It’s described as a novel about, ‘family, love and learning to be kind to yourself…A heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.’

In a way it’s a predictable plot. But it’s so well written I don’t think that matters too much. And with a thoroughly rounded protagonist in Grace Sullivan, it’s easy to believe in her; to start cheering for her straight away in her secret quest to escape her life with an abusive husband. She is desperate to find her roots again in the  village of Killrowan, in West Cork; where she grew up with her parents. But, having been away for years, and taking her father’s place in the GP practice following his retirement, she is initially treated with suspicion by most of his patients. So she is lucky to rediscover the support of two old friends.

In addition to the antipathy of some of the villagers she has two teenage children who have problems of their own; Jack, who utterly resents the move, and her daughter, Holly, who, though glad to have escaped from their father, is emotionally damaged. But both are protective of their mother.

I also liked the parallel plot of the change in Des, Grace’s father. Having retired and in poor health, her return with her family brings him out of his chosen isolation and gives him hope for the future.

I try not to give too much information about story-lines so I’ll leave it there.

Both the main characters and the minor supporting ones are well drawn, with dialogue that immediately identifies them and I could easily picture each one as they took their part in the story.

The settings are brilliantly described and give a good sense of place. I especially liked the sense of peace that is shown through Grace when she is by the sea. There are excellent descriptions here.

There is also a lovely, almost cameo piece, of a dog, Benji, coming into their lives.

Of necessity, in a story of domestic abuse, there are themes of cruelty, fear, lies, self-hatred and loneliness. But in Season of Second Chances, there is also hope, friendship and love. These are all well balanced throughout the book.

As I’ve said, it is a predictable plot in many ways but I loved the author’s style of writing. And, tantalisingly, there are also a couple of loose ends. These left me to suspect that there would be a sequel to Season of Second Chances.As, indee, the author states in the end notes.

I would recommend Season of Second Chances to any reader who enjoys a good story in which to escape.

Book description

When leaving is just the beginning… A novel of family, love, and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the family adapt to life in a small rural community? Will the villagers accept an outsider as their GP? Will Grace live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwives, The Durrells, Doc Martin and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #CrimeFiction STILL YOU SLEEP by @k8vane

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Still You Sleep by Kate Vane.

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I like the writing style of  Kate Vane, she keeps the reader on their toes with this fast moving and complex story. It’s engrossing and I enjoyed each of the plots that are woven together in this book.

But I do have reservations about the amount of the scenarios: the drug scene, the twists and turns of personal relationships, the machinations of the politician despite the facade of decency and his contrivance to be one of the people, the deprivations of a run-down and crime-ridden housing estate and the protests and justified insurgence. I often needed to go back to catch up on how one scene ended, perhaps a couple of chapters before, in order to pick up the particular thread of the one I was starting to read.

Nevertheless, the characters of each part of the story are well drawn and interesting, so it was easy to either dislike or empathise with most of them, especially when they overlapped in scenes. The main characters, Freddie Stone and Tilda Green gel together well despite their contrasting age and outlook and, I’m presuming, they are a combination that will appear in future books.

I would have liked to have found out more about the victim in the book,Vikki Smith; the subject of the title. She is only spoken of through the other characters, so I didn’t feel that I really got to know her. Yes, I know she’s already dead. And I know this isn’t the kind of book that perhaps wouldn’t benefit from flashbacks. But still…

The book has a very contemporary feel with so much inclusion in the dialogue of social media but I did wonder if this would inadvertently date the story. And some of the explanations in the dialogue of the intricacies of Twitter and the Dark Web did rather bore me. But this is merely a personal observation and I’m sure other readers would find these fascinating.

However, other than that, the scenarios I mention above are believable and well written.

I did like the ending; the drawing together of the story. The juxtaposing of the beginning and the denouement were satisfying.

All in all, I feel justified in giving Still You Sleep four stars and would recommend the book.

Book description

Why wasn’t she safe at home?

Vikki Smith was a young woman with a learning disability, living independently for the first time, when she died of a drug overdose.

The police think it could have been an accident, but messages on social media suggest someone was exploiting her death for their own ends – before it was even announced. Her mother is convinced it was murder.

Redundant crime reporter Freddie Stone is a family friend. He wants to help them – and his failing career – but he’s a people person. He asks online journalist Tilda Green to work with him.

Tilda is curious, passionate and runs her own campaigning news site. She’s open to everything except compromise. But she’s intrigued by what Freddie tells her and agrees to work with him – for now.

Tilda thinks the trolls are organised and have links to hate groups. A charismatic local politician is determined to take them on. Some question his motives but Tilda trusts him, maybe too much.

Freddie believes the answer to Vikki’s death lies on the estate where she lived, if he could only get someone to speak out. He wants to know who was bringing drugs into Vikki’s home. He chases old contacts while struggling with his new life.

Beyond the virtual hate and her neighbours’ silence, someone knows who killed Vikki. Tilda and Freddie are determined to find the truth and tell her story.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller No One Can Hear You by @NikkiCAuthor

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley

No One Can Hear You by [Crutchley, Nikki]

This is a tense and intriguing novel which builds suspense as the story unfolds with many twists and turns.  I enjoyed the read, it’s a good plot and I really liked the author’s writing style.

Written from various points of view the reader is able to empathise with each of the strong, well-rounded female characters.

The dialogue, both internal and spoken is excellent and differentiates each character.

The settings are evocative and are good backgrounds for the action that takes place.

There are various themes woven throughout the plot: criminality and drugs. Isolation (emotional, mental and physical isolation), abduction and murder, friendships and relationships. Alongside these is a hint of romance and descriptions of daily life which, for me, made the more sinister aspects of the book darker in contrast.

The novel begins in 2001 with a prologue and introduces the character of Faith Marsden, a rebellious fostered teenager who is abducted in the town of Crawton and then escapes. Years later she is still haunted by the experience.

The story moves forward sixteen years with the protagonist,  Zoe Haywood, returning to her home town of Crawton to arrange the funeral of her estranged mother, Lilian, who she discovers, had ever increasing dementia. But she finds notes which reveal that Lilian had fears that other young women were missing.

I don’t like to give spoilers in my reviews so will leave it there… except to say that Faith and Zoe find a common bond between them from their pasts; a childhood of loneliness and rejection, and  unite to learn the truth of Lilian’s worries.

As I said above, I liked the author’s writing style and would recommend No One Can Hear You to readers who enjoy a book with strong female characters and a good plot.

Book description

He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’. Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars. Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers. As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder. And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

No One Can Hear You is the second novel by Nikki Crutchley, and it’s a cracking female led thriller.

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