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Reviews Written by
Joanna Cannon (Ashbourne, Derbyshire)

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Price: 6.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless, 6 July 2014
This review is from: Her (Kindle Edition)
With many novels, it takes a couple of chapters for me to feel at home and settle in to the book. With Harriet Lane's writing, the minute I begin reading, I fall through a trap-door, straight into another world. The habits of the characters and the detail of their landscapes are served to us with such skill, I feel as though I'm already a part of their lives before the story begins. Her use of words, and her control of language is completely faultless.

The book exposes the subtleties of an unquiet mind, and it does so in such a gradual, chilling way, it's impossible not to be hypnotised by Nina and her fractured view of the world. As Nina's character evolves, there is an almost dark fairy-tale element to the story which is so utterly compelling. As I reached the last few pages, I couldn't understand why I felt such a sense of dread about what Nina might do next ... or how the story could possibly end. As it is, the end is just perfect. I felt a wave of goosebumps roll across my flesh, and I actually put my hand to my mouth. And then, of course, I realised that it couldn't have ended any other way. This book is a masterclass in the art of storytelling.

This is a true thriller, and absolutely, without doubt, my book of the year.

Before the Fall
Before the Fall
Price: 6.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Beautiful, 28 May 2014
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This review is from: Before the Fall (Kindle Edition)
Before The Fall is an incredibly moving novel. This is partly due to the facts of the story, which I believe were inspired by real-life events, but it is mainly due to Juliet West's beautiful prose.
Not only did I immediately take to Hannah, the main character, but I could smell the docks and the filth of the Thames within the first few pages. Such is the power of her writing. The backdrop for the story is,of course, extremely emotive, but the characters are drawn so skillfully, they truly bring with them a very real sense of the horror and uncertainty of living through the Great War. I love that the story remains in London. I think it adds to the sense of suffocation and insecurity Hannah must have felt, and it helps the reader to understand the choices she made.
I finished the last page about an hour ago, and I am really struggling to leave Hannah behind.
A truly beautiful story.

The Three
The Three
Price: 9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely Disturbing, 25 May 2014
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This review is from: The Three (Kindle Edition)
The Three is a story of consequence, the power of fear, and the fragility of the human race.
It begins with the most wonderful hook: four passenger planes crash at the same moment, in four different locations around the world. Lovely Pamela May Donald survives for long enough to leave a voice message on her phone, and what she says is utterly terrifying. This alone was enough for me to pre-order the book, and I am SO glad I did.
The Three kidnapped my weekend, and by the time I'd finished, I was struggling to remember that it didn't actually happen. Firstly, this is a beautifully written story. All the characters have such clear, believable voices, it's impossible not to see them in front of you straight away. The pace of the novel is also flawless, and the hints of storms ahead are so skilfully placed, they intrigue rather than manipulate. This is a book within a book, and it's the perfect vehicle for the story. It couldn't be done any other way, and the fact that it involves a series of interviews, exchanges and emails, only adds to the overwhelming sense of realism.
And the ending? The ending is just wonderful.
The Three is a chilling story, not only in the traditional sense of a brilliantly written thriller, but also because it demonstrates how very easily our lives can be deconstructed.
It is exquisitely disturbing, and I can't recommend it enough.

Surrounded by Water
Surrounded by Water
Price: 5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story told with compassion, sensitivity and incredible skill ..., 21 April 2014
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Surrounded by Water is not only a wonderful story, it is one of the most beautiful, painful and honest portrayals of grief I have ever read.

The book begins with the most intense chapter, in which Elizabeth is told that her husband Michael has drowned saving the life of a stranger. This must have been an extremely challenging scene to write, but it is so expertly drawn by the author, we feel an immediate connection to Elizabeth and are compelled to follow her journey. The book then takes us deeper into Elizabeth and Michael's relationship, through a series of flashbacks, which alternate with Elizabeth's present-day devastation at the loss of her husband.

Whilst Surrounded by Water focuses on Elizabeth's grief, orbiting her life are many others who are affected by Michael's death. As the story evolves, and as Elizabeth's grief evolves, our opinions of these players also changes, as we discover more about the mystery surrounding the night that Michael died.

This is a story about grief, but it is also a story about evolution. You will be pulled through the book by the most wonderful plot, but you will also be reminded about the fragility of life and the resilience of human beings to overcome the most heartbreaking events. This is a very powerful story, told with compassion, sensitivity and incredible skill.

Price: 0.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully terrifying ..., 15 April 2014
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This review is from: THE ACCIDENT (Kindle Edition)
This is wonderful story of how a quiet life can become very unquiet, if your path happens to cross with the wrong person. Superbly written, with cliffhangers which pull you straight into the next chapter, The Accident had me cheering for Sue from the very beginning. I felt her terror and her frustration, and the diary entries from twenty years earlier were perfectly pitched (would you have fallen for James, when did the red flags start fluttering, and how would you have reacted?) Fabulously done.
A very cleverly woven story of secrets and lies, of relationships and doubt and desperation. Beautifully terrifying.

Cry Baby
Cry Baby
Price: 0.99

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare yourself for one heck of a story ..., 14 April 2014
This review is from: Cry Baby (Kindle Edition)
I very rarely read an entire book in a day. There is always a point where I am able to break off, resurface and get on with the rest of my life. With Cry Baby, I had no choice but to read on, and I finished it in one, perfect sitting.
This is a Just One More Chapter book. This is a book to keep you reading into the small hours, because you will (literally) be unable to put it down. The plot is woven with such skill, it will pull you from page to page, until you might actually find yourself in such a state of tension, you begin shouting into your Kindle (yes, I did that). I am very reluctant to detail anything regarding the narrative, because it would be unforgivable to spoil such spectacular twists ... but if you enjoy superb crime thrillers, you will love it. If you enjoy exceptional writing, you will love it, and if you like a story to dig a little into the shadowy corners of your own mind, then you will definitely love it.
Sit back, settle down and prepare yourself for one heck of a story ...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2014 4:35 PM BST

Price: 3.86

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Hero, 29 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Jubilee (Kindle Edition)
Jubilee is the story of a photograph. It's the story of how a moment in time, captured between glass and leather, can hold so much more than a thirty-year memory. Shelley Harris has created a wonderful hero in Satish. He is perfectly flawed, finding reassurance in the distance he has created between himself and others, and hiding his past within a measured life. When Satish is forced to acknowledge what happened on Jubilee Day, his self-control begins to unravel and the darker side of Cherry Gardens is exposed. This is a beautifully told story. The author's outstanding eye for detail has created an incredibly powerful book, sprinkled with fabulous memories, and anyone who was there will be transported straight back to the late 1970s. It is down to the skill of the author and the exquisite ability of her story-telling that Satish's narrative is so moving and so painfully beautiful. A very personal and heart-breaking tale told against the backdrop of a national event. I can't recommend it enough.

Broken (The Cole Trilogy, Part 2)
Broken (The Cole Trilogy, Part 2)
Price: 1.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Sequel, 8 Mar 2012
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Once again, Marshall Buckley has lifted me from the ordinary world and transported me into a truly wonderful story. "Broken" is a perfect sequel to "The Long Second", and I was delighted to find myself back in Tony's life. I think one of the many brilliant things about these books, is that the reader discovers the characteristics of this world alongside the main character. This gives an instant connection, both to Tony and to the story, and the voice of the narrator is written so perfectly, it is exceptionally difficult to stop reading! I believe there is a land called 'just one more chapter', and Marshall Buckley is its king ...

"Broken" is beautifully paced. It's exciting, poignant and thought-provoking. I managed to make it last twenty-four hours (which I feel deeply ashamed about, considering how long it must have taken to write), but it was just too darned good to put down.

A brilliant read.

Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder
Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder
by Kate Colquhoun
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.05

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Much More ..., 5 Mar 2012
Mr Briggs' Hat is a wonderful account of a truly fascinating murder case. Kate Colquhoun delivers the facts with such incredible clarity, yet tells them in a way which would rival any great novelist, creating a perfect balance of evidence and story-telling. The meticulous research is actually breathtaking. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, I might not have cared quite so much about Mr Briggs, but Ms Colquhoun writes in such a way that I felt as though I were unconvering the truth alongside her, and the discovery of new witnesses and changes in direction meant the pages of the book almost turned themselves. By the end of the story, I cared so much, I wanted to march into the courtroom and plead with the jury to see sense.

This is also so much more than a tale of murder. It's a beautiful insight into Victorian life; a brilliant account of man's reflexive fear of change, of a population fragmented by class and politics, and of a time which found itself on the edge of a moral quandary. It's the story of a man whose fate will be determined, not just by the evidence, but by the attitudes of the society in which he finds himself.


Raven Black (Shetland)
Raven Black (Shetland)
Price: 3.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Story of Unbelonging, 31 Jan 2012
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Raven Black has everything you could possibly want from a crime thriller: an evocative setting, intriguing characters, a perfectly-paced plot and many carefully placed clues (and red herrings!). What makes Raven Black stand out from other crime novels, and what makes it such a wonderful read, is the way the author has used the isolation of the landscape to emphasise the tightly woven sense of community. Against this, she has captured perfectly how it feels to be an outsider, an unbelonger, in a place where identity and tradition are everything. A theme which runs through every page. A wonderful, cleverly-crafted story which was a joy to read.

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