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on 13 August 2013
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Net Galley, and I'm so glad that I did because I really enjoyed it.

It is written in the past and present, switching between the two in alternate chapters, and normally I don't like this, but I felt that it really worked in this book.

The story focuses around an old derelict house in which four people are living who have run away. They all have different stories to tell about why they ended up in the old house, and the house itself tells a story as well.

I thought that the characters were very likeable and I warmed to them all. There was not one character who I disliked in any way. The past linked to the present very well and there were lots that kept me reading, in order to find out who was who and what the answers were to the many questions that were going through my head throughout the book. I thought I had figured it out, but as always, there was a nice twist at the end, which left me feeling happy and contented.

It was quite an easy book to read, there was nothing complicated or boring about it. Sometimes when a story flits between past and present, things can get confusing, but I didn't find this with this book.

I will certainly be recommending this - it's a great summer read and will also brighten a dull winters evening. In fact, I think maybe reading it when there is a storm outside will give a better atmosphere as it will bring the empty house and it's ghosts to life. I certainly think that this book should be a must read for anyone!
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on 11 September 2013
A fantastic debut novel by Cassandra Parkin, her first but hopefully not her last.

The story has chapters from Now and chapters from Then. In 'Now' we meet Davey, badly beaten and clearly at the end of his tether; not knowing where to turn he makes his way drunk and randomly to Cornwall; guided by a light across the water he makes his way to a house where he collapses on the doorstep to be taken in by an odd bunch of people who offer him a place to stay, no questions asked as long as he returns the no question favour.
Sixteen year old Priss is one of the residents of the house; feisty and curious she and Davey investigate the strange house, part of which is shut off. Convinced that at least one of the other residents is a murderer, Priss is determined to unravel the mystery of the older residents Kate, Tom and Isaac.
'Then' starts off with the story of Jack Laker, a musician and recovering addict but as the novel progresses 'Then' becomes everyone's story and we find out why everyone has ended up at this big house in the middle of nowhere and what has drawn them there as their secrets become known...and why there is a panther on the loose!

I found this a very easy story to become involved and interested in. The characters were intriguing without being fantastical and I found I wanted to read on to find out more about them and their stories. Whilst Tom's story was surprising, both Davey's and Priss' stories and characters were especially compelling and I had a lot of empathy with them.
The Now and Then of the telling works well and ties both past and present nicely together. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't find out what happened after the secrets were out; I felt there were loose ends that maybe could have been tied up a little better to allow for a proper new beginning for all the characters as I did feel most readers would want to know how all the stories ended and know that they could begin again.
All in all though I did enjoy it and found the writing very good and very thoughtful, you could certainly get into the mindset of Tom, Priss and Davey. I'd definitely look out for another novel by Cassandra.
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on 29 August 2013
I was haunted from beginning to end - still am. The title suggests escape and I did, every time I opened a page bookmarked by whatever discarded scrap was to hand. I loved how past and present merged, how issues that test us, destroy us, save us, are the same no matter what era we belong to. Davey captivated me the most, perhaps because we begin with him, perhaps because his history of abuse resonated so much or perhaps simply because he's so beautifully written. I was also intrigued by Jack Laker and the doomed relationships surrounding him. I don't want to give much more away - there are twists, revelations, but they're not those sometimes thoughtless ones that a writer appears to have added when they run out of ideas... they're perfect, adding depth to the characters and situations. This is definitely a recommended read, not just for summer, for any season.
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on 21 September 2013
Great book, great read, excellent story. This book flips back and forth in time over each chapter and tells us the stories of Davey, and other runaway characters that stay together in a big old house in the present timeline, and Jack Laker, a musician in the past timeline. The story unfolds slowly, captivating enough to keep you completely hooked. The house they are staying in also has its own story and secrets which some characters try to discover and some try to hide. The story is told at just the right pace and the lives of the characters are intriguing and their overlaps are discovered in the twists and turns of time. The end of the book provides us with enough information to piece the puzzle together, but leaves plenty of the details to the imagination in an excellent blend. The author uses some very impressive descriptive language throughout the book, though for the first couple of chapters it felt a bit OTT, as though trying to please an English teacher. There were a couple of smaller twists at the end of the book, which I think were supposed to feel more powerful than I felt they could be. Overall though an excellent book which I couldn't put down and had to keep reading to find out what happened and who the characters really were.
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on 31 August 2013
Cassandra Parkin's warm-hearted and engaging debut novel takes place in a rambling house in Cornwall, flipping backwards and forwards between past and present. In the past the house was owned by a rock star, with drug-fuelled parties and a pet panther. Now it is empty, though mysteriously not derelict, with the panther's empty cage lurking in the garden. The house brings together a group of squatters, the motherly Kate, Tom, who appears to be an ex-convict, and two teenage runaways, Davey and Priss.
Parkin's lively dialogue and well-paced prose unfold the stories of both groups of inhabitants and the secrets that link them in a way that is both entertaining and moving.
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on 7 May 2015
I liked this book, but it took me bit of getting used to as it was jumping form the past to the present and then back to the past again. It is a story based around four people who due to difficult and different circumstances in their own life, end up living in the same isolated, rundown, elegant, big house.

There is a sense of mystery throughout the story as nobody seems to be what they appear to be. Priss and Davey are the main players in the story and I warmed to both of them very quickly even though there were times in the story when I felt like saying "How can you do that? You are young ....go out and enjoy yourself....don't waste it being miserable". I was always hoping that they could sort themselves out, get over their problems, and work out what they had to work out so they could get on with their lives.

Priss is a young girl running away from a troubled family in Liverpool while Davey is a young lad who has just failed his A-Levels again and is also running away from home to escape the beatings he gets from his stepfather. The other two players in the story are a woman called Kate and a man called Tom, but you never really get to know either one of them very well, which is a shame as they both have an influence on Priss and Davey and could play a much bigger part in the story. I never warmed to either of them, probably because I never go to know them that well, their characters were never really developed and I saw them more as bit players rather than main characters.

There were some twists and turns throughout the story, especially when a new character called Isaac appears out of nowhere. He is described as "odd" and sleeps in a tent outside in the cold, but like Kate and Tom, his character is not very well developed, there was little to like or dislike about him, yet once he made his appearance, he was always there.

I am not going to give the story away, but the ending was good, or at least it started of good, which made me go "WOW, I never saw that coming", but then it fizzled off into a bit of a whimper, it left too many questions unanswered and a feeling of "...and what happened to.....?" I think 10 more pages at the end of the story to explain a few more things, or answer a few questions would have made the story all that much more enjoyable.

It was a good read though, and I did enjoy it. But it could have been that little bit more better if the loose ends had been tied up and the questions answered.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 August 2013
Thank you kindly to Legend Press and Cassandra Parkin for the copy of this novel via netgalley.

In an abandoned house in the West Country a small eclectic group of people gather - including young Davey, escaping from life , who is welcomed into their midst with one caveat - he asks no questions. 30 Years previously, Musican Jack Laker is writing a comeback album...and in abandoning one girl for another sets into motion a wave of events that will ripple through the years until they reach Davey's shore..

I have posted this review under Fiction - you might also consider it as a mystery novel but for me it was all about the beautiful characters and flowing almost poetic prose - sometimes its hard to put a book into a single genre. Cassandra Parkin has created some wonderfully witty and heartfelt folk here - I loved each and every one of them from the hilariously honest Priss (my favourite) down to the less than likeable but still intriguing Evie. As you follow events both in the past and the present, you will get inexorably caught up in their world...a world as harsh as it is breathtaking. The house is almost a character in itself - there is a definite atmosphere about it and you know it is hiding secrets...but what those secrets are it refuses to tell.

The story unfolds over both the time periods in a charmingly delightful manner - it is gentle yet fascinating. You care less about what they may be hiding from than you do for the people themselves and what they might do next. The Summer We All Ran Away is the closest I've come expressively speaking to Agatha Christie - you feel like you are reading an age old tale yet in a modern setting. Of all the wonderful books I have read lately this is the one that has made me feel true nostalgia for those early days of my reading life - when wide eyed I would emerge from a story and suddenly realise it wasnt real. But it feels real when you are in it...doesnt it?

Happy Reading Folks!
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on 28 October 2013
This is Cassandra Parkin's charming début novel.

Parkin's storytelling prowess gripped me from start to end in a book that relies primarily on a smart weaving plot. The novel tracks back and forth from past to present in alternate chapters, focussing on a handful of characters. This temporal oscillation revolves around one particular location.

I don't want to give too much away about the characters nor the storyline as I feel this would do injustice to Parkin's own ability to introduce the various quirks of each character. I went into this book with little/no knowledge of its content and I think my experience of it was all the better for it.

Whilst the book excels in its narrative and mystery, it is the overarching themes that present themselves which linger long after finishing the book. Specifically you will find that the book focusses mainly on the ideas of secrets and escapism. The truth than love/pain may torment but shouldn't make you hide yourself away. Not just because other people have their own problems but because this is what makes up the human condition.

After reading this book, I too felt like I had run away.

I look forward to reading more from this writer.
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on 16 October 2013
An excellent debut novel. Took me a long time to figure out whether it was a ghost story, a whodunit-style thriller, a love story, or what - in a good way. Davey and Priss made for great lead characters, with whom you could really empathise - and trying to figure out what was happening (or was about to happen) to them at the hands of the older characters was very well played through the novel. The tension built up nicely, and the second half of the book was really quite gripping.
Having said all that, the general concept of the book was a bit far fetched - but you only really figure that out at the end of the book - so up until the last couple of pages, who cares... There are also a few loose ends which need sorting out, and I also felt that the author tried to cram a few too many social issues into the storyline - a lot of this was pretty irrelevant and the story would have been just as good without them. If you like a story with characters you'll both love, and really hate - for little things they say and do - not big things - along with a plot that you really can't predict the ending of, then this book has got to be worth a few quid of your money.
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on 10 February 2015
This book is too incredible for my words to do justice. Brilliant plot line, very confusing and mysterious. Some parts of it freaked me out so much I felt weird and like there was somebody watching me, I had to have the light on while reading and would need a reassuring look into the empty corners of the room to double check they were still empty.
The only possible criticism I have is that I while I loved the ending, I didn't want it to end there.

***SPOLIERS BELOW DO NOT READ FURTHER IF NOT READ BOOK YET!! You will regret carrying in if not read the book because I cannot reccomend it enough***

I want to know what happened to priss but mainly Davey! I want to know what happened with his stepdad, what happens with his mother and would have liked a little something more on the relationship with Isaac. The end was great but I felt unfulfilled with not knowing what happens to Davey. Would LOVE some kind of short story, if not a whole second book, on Daveys life after his summer, hopefully including Isaac. With a little touching on Priss and Tom, since we already know Jack gets his happily ever after
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