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on 26 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had already read Cuckoo by Julia Crouch and had enjoyed that book so when I saw this new book by her I was keen to read it. It was an interesting story and I liked the character of Peg, although unfortunately a description of her was not in the very first part of the book so I had an image of her that was completely different from snippets that came out about her later on in the book. I got drawn into the story quite easily. It was an easy book to read and I did enjoy it but would not describe it as a thriller. The ending did have a couple of surprises but I thought overall it was a little too predictable and therefore a little disappointing.

I didn't find the setting of the story, the bungalow in which Peg had grown up, particularly chilling or creepy but a bit sad and melancholy and I felt sorry for her with her dilemma of living her own life with her partner Loz or looking after her Nan who had brought her up and her disabled Aunt Jean.

All in all I would say this was a good read but not as good as Cuckoo. I also found a few typing errors which I found a bit annoying and one error actually referred to the main character's brother when she was an only child and it should have said her uncle!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 October 2013
Peg always felt a little blurred, a little lacking in definition. Her mother died when she was six, her father simply disappeared, and she was brought up by her grandparents and her obese, bedridden aunt. But, despite all this, she never developed the habit of asking questions.....

But perhaps she should have done...or not! Anyway I muchly enjoyed this novel, a total indulgence, one I found hard to put down and after I had finished I felt a little like I had run a marathon...

Why? Well mostly down to the characters. I didnt like hardly ANY of them. Isnt that terrific? Yes it is because they are so well written. I'm not entirely convinced that Ms Crouch WANTS people to like them. In fact the only one I loved was the one that peripherally I was probably supposed to be suspicious of. No. Not saying. But anyway, we have Peg, with her never ending passive stance, tempered by Loz who knows it all and never shuts up. Then you have Grandma "Doll", frail but full of her own importance and Auntie Jean who can't get out of bed due to her MASSIVE bulk and can talk around a subject and leave your head spinning like no other...throw them all together with the mystery of what exactly happened to Peg's father, and why she has no memory of her early years and you have a corker of a story.

Information is drip fed to you in short little bits and bobs as we watch Peg slowly but surely start to realise that everything is not as clear cut as it appears...everyone is hiding secrets and no-one wants to tell the truth..the blame game is played to perfection and you are never sure if what you are hearing can be relied upon. Blimey though I wanted to hit her over the head with a frying pan upon occasion - so ridiculously fond was she of hiding in the corner from the actual facts that were emerging..

Anyway, cleverly done, paced perfectly, no downturn in the quality at any point made this one of my favourite recent reads - hey I was curled up under the duvet with a torch at 3am this morning (so the children didnt see my light on and decide it was time to get up!) so that probably tells you all you need to know. Now..I'm sure Ms Crouch has written some others. Better go find them then....

Happy Reading Folks!
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on 21 March 2013
Julia Crouch's first two books were excellent, but her third psychological thriller feels to me like the best yet. Despite the relentless pace of the book, and believe me you will want to keep reading, she never loses the skill of writing beautifully and even at moments of intense drama, you will find yourself caught up in a perfect turn of phrase. It's rare to find a book which immerses you so completely in a location, complete with textures, smells and the tastes of childhood - and then twists cleverly enough to make you gasp and grip the book a little tighter.

Tarnished starts off as heart-wrenching, moves quickly to intriguing and very soon after that becomes downright terrifying. You will not want to miss this book.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Peg is a library assistant, living in London with her partner Loz who is a chef in a wholefood restaurant. Every week she visits Tankerton near Whitstable to visit her Nan, who now suffers from Alzheimers, in her bungalow, where her obese Auntie Jean lives in the extension and hasn't moved from her bed for ten years. Peg was brought up by her Nan and grandfather after her mother died of cancer when she was six: she has few memories of her early life, and yearns to know what happened to her father. So she starts to dig - armed with a notebook and voice recorder - and soon finds herself wishing she'd never started.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Peg's gentle character - not the wimp others have called her - and I thought her relationship with the more feisty Loz was particularly well drawn. And as for Auntie Jean - with her Guinness, nightly fish and chip supper and malevolent cat - well, she is a real monster in more ways than one. The plotting - with its slow reveal - is taut and gripping, and I found the ending a real surprise. The writing is excellent, with its touches of humour shot through with horror. Highly recommended to fans of Sophie Hannah and Elizabeth Haynes, or anyone who enjoys a well written psychological thriller.
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VINE VOICEon 16 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Peg is in her twenties and has very little memory of her childhood. She knows that her mother died when she was only a young child and that her father disappeared soon afterwards. She was brought up by her beloved nan and granddad, the gentle and kind Dolly and Frank together with aunty Jean - her father's parents and sister.

Peg has never been a confident person. Although she felt loved by her grandparents and Jean, her schooldays were miserable and friendless and she has always believed everything she has been told without question. However, she now realises that she is starting to remember snippets of her childhood - is her memory playing tricks on her or is she really remembering?

There are some very unlikeable characters in Peg's life. Her father seemed to be a shady character - a nightclub owner who appeared to be involved in some unlawful activities. Her aunty Jean is a vile character, she is manipulative and despite being bedridden for many years due to her obesity, she still insists on continuing to eat her own bodyweight in food and smoking her cigarettes in between puffing on her oxygen mask. I didn't really warm to Peg either at first - I thought she was too meek and too easily manipulated by other people, especially her feisty girlfriend Loz and her aunty Jean.

This was a slow burner of a story and whilst not an edge of your seat thriller, it starts very slowly with the tension building throughout the book, with sinister twists and turns until the conclusion - which I never saw coming. Peg, with Loz's help, tries to put together her fragments of memory and find out the truth concerning her family never imagining the danger heading her way.

This was an excellent read and I would certainly recommend it.
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on 6 November 2013
I enjoyed Cuckoo and had high hopes of Tarnished. Unfortunately I really didn't like it. The two main characters have clunky names for a start. Peg (who is called PEG these days) and Loz. Names that really jarred. The plot dragged in places and I had to force myself to plod on only to find that it had a ludicrous ending. I wouldn't recommend.
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on 22 March 2014
Different kind of a book which ended completely opposite to what I expected which was clever. Not fast moving in fact sometimes bit frustrating you just want the story to progress but maybe this is also what makes it good. Off to try another Julia crouch so can really make my mind up what I think of her style. Well worth the read.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought Cuckoo, the debut from Julia Crouch was a great read, although I wasn't as impressed with her second book Every Vow You Break, so I had reservations before reading this book. I'm really glad I gave it a go; an intriguing story backed up by skilful writing meant that this was an enjoyable read.

Peg has no childhood memories of being brought up by her lovely grandmother, Dolly in the same house as her obese aunt Jean. When Dolly starts suffering from dementia Peg decides to track down her father but maybe she should have left the past where it was? Peg is in a relationship with a much stronger partner, Loz who is pushing her to find out what it was that the family are reluctant to reveal to Peg. Events soon take a very dark turn as the two women dig into the past.

Julia Crouch manages to raise the tension in this book with the aid of Peg's slowly returning , memories, the descriptions of the house where Dolly has hoarded stuff and Jean's obesity are so well described it made my skin crawl. The reader may need to suspend a certain level of belief, particularly towards the end but it is no less thrilling for that. A book to become absorbed in and to be repulsed by in equal measures, I can't wait for the next one.
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on 3 November 2014
The prologue of this book certainly grabbed my attention and intrigue but unfortunately this was followed by the slow and trundling account of Peg in her search to find her mysterious father who left when she was a child. The storyline is so long winded and Peg's family are cringe worthy and stereotypically written in order to play up to the reader in their expected fashion - the scenes in Spain especially apply here. Despite having this book for over a month, I hardly had the urge to pick it up and continue reading after getting a quarter of the way through. A disappointment - The Long Fall is so much better.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I haven't read any of Julia Crouch's work before, so was sort of expecting this book to be a psychological thriller like her others seem to have been. It's not quite a thriller but it is definitely a psychological book. The main character is Peg, a woman in her early 20s who is only just starting to remember parts of her childhood that she seems to have blocked out. She spent much of her life with her nan, Doll, and her aunty Jean. Doll is a tiny but incredibly strong woman, and Jean is a massive woman who hasn't been out of bed for 10 years. Peg had moved away but when Doll has a fall and Peg has to go back and sort out her bungalow, in which Doll has hoarded everything and anything over the years, Peg starts to discover things that don't quite make sense and long-buried mysteries start to fall into place.

I really liked this book. It's quite a page-turner and I enjoyed how Peg and Loz, her girlfriend, uncovered the past bit by bit. The story managed to keep up the suspense of who did what until right at the very end, which is an impressive thing to do. I think Julia Crouch really portrayed the location, the squalor of the bungalow and the characters extremely well. I'd definitely read another by this author.
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