Anne Bonny #BookReview A Spark Of Light by @jodipicoult 4.5* #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction @HodderBooks

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A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult
Review Copy
Synopsis:

The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.

Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.

Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.

And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

My Review:

Jodi Picoult follows up her previous literary novel Small Great Things, with another novel that centres around a contemporary moral issue. With Small Great Things the focus was on race and racism. With A Spark Of Light, the focus is on abortion rights and female reproductive rights.

The author has been very clever is the way the narrative is written. She never takes a stance on either side of the debate, she simply allows the characters from both sides of the debate to tell their stories. So whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, this would make for a thought-provoking read.

The novel works in a backwards storyline, starting with the huge event (a gun man entering an abortion clinic) and telling the stories of the individuals and how they came to be their that day. Not just the female patients but the staff members and the people accompanying the patients.
It isn’t long until we discover that one of the young women inside is a 15yr old girl named Wren. And Wren isn’t just anyone’s daughter, she is the daughter of the hostage negotiator brought into deal with the armed man.

‘She shouldn’t have come here she should have stayed a little girl’ – Wren 15yrs

The gunman is named George Goddard and slowly we begin to learn his backstory and why he has entered the clinic with an eye for revenge. . .
‘An eye, a life for a life’

The novel informs us of the backstory of the 5 hostages held inside and the owner and doctor who run the clinic. I was absolutely captivated by their stories and they felt so incredibly real. It wasn’t until I got to the authors note that I realised the depth of research the author has undertaken on the topic.
It really is worthy of your time to read this part of the novel.

The novel does detail the communication between the gunman and the negotiator and we learn both men’s history’s as they attempt to share their personal stake in this situation. But only one man can put down the gun and give up, a man that it seems is beyond reaching. . .
‘Some men wear responsibility and some men are worn by it’

The novel also covers a completely separate abortion case. One of a young woman arrested for taking abortion medicines, because in the state of Alabama although abortion may be legal, there are strict legal guidelines to be followed and adhered too. If this legislation is not followed to the letter, the woman may find herself facing a lengthy sentence as does 17yr old Beth.

‘We are all capable of things we never imagined’

Although the novel is a fictional story HEAVILY based upon facts, research and statistics. You as the reader do become dis-attached from the reality. That is when Jodi Picoult cleverly reminds us of the real-life case of Roe v wade. As a UK reader, I know that Roe v Wade is an incredibly important piece of legislation; but I was unaware of who Norma McCorvey was and the history that surrounds the 1970’s case. The details are again delivered from an unbiased viewpoint.

Jodi Picoult is not trying to conform readers but asking them to see things from the other side of the debate. It is very intelligently done; and the author deserves to win some awards for her brave take on such a personal issue for many women.
The novel tackles the theme of abortion from various angles: the emotional trauma, religious reasoning by telling the stories of the individuals involved within.
The novel does also cover the shame/stigma associated with choice of abortion and I felt this was a very important theme to include.
‘Good women want to be mothers, bad women don’t’

Personally, I am pro-choice. I wouldn’t personally wish to undertake an abortion and I never have. I don’t believe it is something any woman WANTS to undertake. I just don’t think it is something I could undertake, there is no religious/moral reasoning for this. It is just a personal feeling.
I do however, 100% believe in the legal right for ALL women to have access to safe and accessible abortions. Because every woman in the world does not live my personal circumstances and we must accept that we cannot decide for others. . .
‘It wasn’t sex that made you a woman. It was having to make decisions, sometimes terrible ones’

This novel deals with some tough themes. No matter which side of the fence you sit, your personal views will be challenged by the individual stories.
But I think the author puts it best. . .

‘Laws are black and white. The lives of women are a thousand shades of grey’ – Jodi Picoult

4.5*

JP
Jodi Picoult
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Lies Between Us by @Ronnie__Turner #NewRelease #PsychologicalThriller #DebutAuthor @HQDigitalUK @HQStories #WhereIsBonnie

Lies Between Us
Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Will they ever learn the truth?
Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.
Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.
Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

My Review:

‘Not all love is pure
not all love is kind
not all love is true love
some love is blind’

The novel focuses around three central characters. John the father with the perfect life who had it all until his young daughter Bonnie went missing. Maisie the Intensive care unit nurse who cares deeply for her patients; and Miller an innocent child with a dark and deadly home life.

The novel opens in 1992 with a traumatic scene from Miller’s childhood, one that will go on to shape the man he becomes. . .
‘Sweet girl. Funny girl. Dead girl’

We then jump to 2015 and the disappearance of author John Graham’s 6yr old daughter Bonnie. John lives with his pregnant artist wife Jules in Oxford and until the disappearance of their daughter they had the picture perfect life.
Is someone targeting John? If so, why?

We then move to 2016 and meet Maisie Green an ICU nurse treating coma patient Tim. Maisie becomes involved in Tim’s life and personal backstory due to the nature of his circumstances. Tim was attacked and left for dead. His devastated wife and daughter regularly visit; and this draws Maisie deeper into their lives.

‘I’ll start with my family because you know the beginning is just as important as the end’ – Miller
Miller’s backstory is harrowing, and I became quite obsessed with his character. I was desperate to know if Miller really is the victim of abuse, or if Miller just perceives himself to be the victim? You have to read his scenes and inner thoughts to fully try to grasp his character. It does not make for easy reading.

‘It isn’t death that fascinates me. It is life’ – Miller

The biggest mystery within the novel is #WhereIsBonnie? Who has taken her and why. The chapters are short, sharp and stick to the point. The author provides you breadcrumb like clues to each of the individual characters.
But will you be smart enough to figure it out?
When John begins to receive threatening notes and photos the tension and suspense is really ramped up!

‘Bonnie is a piece of weaponry in the kidnapper’s arsenal’

The author has written an intelligent and well crafted plot. That instantly reminded me of, Why Did You Lie by Yrsa Sigadottir. It isn’t all the mini/sub plots that give this novel it’s intelligence but how they all eventually come together.

I was 80% of the way through the novel and had no idea how the novel would tie up.
A menacing and taunting psychological thriller, from an author with a bright future ahead of her. 4.5*

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Ronnie Turner
Website
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*Apologies to Ronnie & HQ, that my post is a few days late, I have been laid up with flu*

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***

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Anne Bonny #BookReview Ragdoll by @Daniel_P_Cole #CrimeFiction #Series @TrapezeBooks ‘A twisted killer, a detective on the edge’

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Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
My own copy
Synopsis:

ONE BODY. SIX VICTIMS. NO SUSPECTS.

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes & Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

My Review:

I actually own a signed copy of Ragdoll and it had sat on my TBR pile for far too long. This was a novel that had been recommended to me by Sarah Hardy over at By The Letter book Reviews. SO, I knew it would be a dark, edgy thriller.

The novel opens in May 2010, where Samantha Boyd is serving as a jury member on a lengthy trial. The trial of ‘The Cremation Killer’. Naguib Khalid stands accused of murdering 27 victims, mostly teenage sex workers. The victims were set alight (hence the media label name). Detective William Fawkes aka Wolf was the investigating Detective. When he hears the not guilty verdict he bursts into an uncontrollable rage and attacks Khalid.

YES, that is just the prologue!!!!!!!! So, I knew this was going be one hell of a dark and action-packed read!

Four years later, June 2014 Wolf receives a 4am call from Simmons from a crime scene at a flat in Kentish Town. Six body parts – no blood – amputated with a hacksaw – removed post mortem. From SIX DIFFFERENT VICTIMS!
Where are the murder victims remaining bodies? Does London have a serial killer running loose? Or are the limbs from corpses in mortuary’s?

This is a violent and graphic scene, which is described within the pages. If you’re squeamish, this is probably not the book for you.
That being said I was a HUGE fan of the move Seven and this novel constantly reminded me of it.
No wimps here!

Upon seeing the scene, Wolf instantly asks blames Khalid and asks someone to put in a call to Belmarsh prison to check his current status, as of that exact moment.
The body parts are pointing directly into Wolf’s apartment – This is personal!

‘The rest of the world continued on as normal: people killing people, rapists and thieves running free’

We then discover why Khalid is at Belmarsh prison despite receiving a not guilty verdict. It would appear that justice isn’t always infallible.

There are twists and turns galore and with each new limb being identified. We uncover more and more about the twisted killer’s motive.
A twisted killer, a detective on the edge. 4.5*

*I already own the next in the series Hangman on my kindle and look forward to getting back into the series*

DC
Daniel Cole
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Resin by @AuthorAneRiel #NewRelease #Literary #Thriller @TransworldBooks Protected Treasured Trapped . . .

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Resin by Ane Riel
Review Copy
Synopsis:

The multi-award-winning international bestseller.
Suspenseful and heart-breaking, Resin is the story of what can happen when you love someone too much – when your desire to keep them safe becomes the thing that could irrevocably harm them.
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Liv died when she was just six years old. At least, that’s what the authorities think.
Her father knew he was the only one who could keep her safe in this world. So one evening he left the isolated house his little family called home, he pushed their boat out to sea and watched it ruin on the rocks. Then he walked the long way into town to report his only child missing.
But behind the boxes and the baskets crowding her Dad’s workshop, Liv was hiding. This way her Dad had said, she’d never have to go to school; this way, she’d never have to leave her parents.
This way, Liv would be safe.

My Review:

WOW! Where to start with this one!!!!!!
The whole novel can be summarised with one word: disturbing!
Which I do not mean in a derogatory manner. The novel focuses around one of possibly the most disturbing families I have ever read! Straight from the opening sentence, you know you’re in for a treat with this one. . . .

‘The white room was completely dark when my dad killed my granny’ – Liv

Meet Liv, your strange, awkward child protagonist. She tells us about the home-made Christmas presents and family hoarding. Even her granny being smothered, set alight and buried is all too nonchalant for Liv. . .
‘After all, none of us is meant to suffer’

The family live on ‘The Head’ a small isolated island, which is linked to the larger island Korsted. But the family are the only occupants at The Head. They steal what they need from others and this is a routine father/daughter night time activity.

‘In time I learned we weren’t like other people’ – Liv

Throughout the novel there are a series of letters from Liv’s mother written to Liv. To be completely honest, they only add to the whole strange/weirdo vibe of the whole family. . .
‘I don’t know whether to call our life a family story or horror story’ – Mum
Even further alarming with words like. . . ‘He may kill me’

This is a family in desperate need of some social services involvement. Immediately!

Liv’s father is Jen Horder and through the novel we learn his backstory and family history. Prepare yourselves!
We also learn how he met and fell in love with Liv’s mother. His mother Else wasn’t too keen on the union between the pair and considering she dies in the opening scenes, I don’t think she was far from wrong!

When Granny Else plans to take Liv away to the mainland for schooling. A premeditated plan is hatched.
One that will see Liv disappear!

‘Live knew that not being seen was a mater of life and death’

This novel is dark, disturbing and yet I could NOT look away from the pages. The scene for which the title gets its name, is beyond my understanding. The last 20/30 pages make for intense reading! I am absolutely HOOKED!

Brilliantly disturbing 4.5*

AR
Ane Riel
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Way Of All Flesh by @ambroseparry #HistoricalFiction @canongatebooks Edinburgh 1847. City of medicine, money and murder. . .

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The Way Of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder.

In Edinburgh’s Old Town young women are being found dead, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. Across the city in the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson.

Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, who recognises trouble when she sees it and takes an immediate dislike to him. She has all of Raven’s intelligence but none of his privileges, in particular his medical education.

With each having their own motive to look deeper into these deaths, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.

My Review:

As a huge fan of historical fiction, the synopsis instantly captured my interest. Edinburgh 1847, medicine, money and murder = SOLD! Within the immediate opening scenes you are aware that the writing is without a doubt intelligent and skilled. The novel is packed full of interesting and insightful information regarding the history of medicine. This is a huge part of this novel and it is not a typical Victorian era, murdered prostitute thriller, it is very much more than that!

‘That was Edinburgh for you: public decorum and private sin, city of a thousand secret selves’

In the opening scenes protagonist Will Raven discovers the murdered corpse of prostitute Evie Lawson. He is horrified at the scene but flees fearing he will be blamed. Raven is a client of Evie’s and it is this that leads him to become obsessed with finding her killer!

‘It was not a night for solitude, or for sobriety’

Raven’s background is explored, and we learn that contrary to his public persona, he is not a man of financial means. In fact, he is wanted by Edinburgh’s most feared loan sharks. With the brutal warning find the money or lose an eye.
All hope resides on his new apprenticeship with Dr Simpson.

Raven arrives at Dr Simpson’s and introduced to an array of characters. Jarvis the butler, David and Walter the elder children of the Simpson family and Miss Mina Grindlay, Dr Simpson’s demanding and selfish sister-in-law. But it is not any of these that catch his eye or irritate him. But it is Sarah the housemaid. Sarah is quite the force to be reckoned with, as Raven will come to discover himself.

Dr Simpson is a professor of midwifery and assists all patients rich and poor. At first Raven is completely taken aback by this approach but eventually with experience, comes to appreciate what Dr Simpson is hoping to achieve. Raven is shocked to when he is informed that Sarah assists with morning clinics and even more surprised by the depth of her knowledge. Needless to say the pair do not get off to a great start.

When Sarah learns that the Sheldrake family’s housemaid Rose has absconded and gone missing she is concerned. Mr Sheldrake was known to have quite the temper and Rose was known to be no angel herself. But something eats away at Sarah about the case and she becomes determined to gather some more information.

Evie’s body is finally discovered and quickly assumed to be a suicide via alcohol. Which Raven knows to be untrue given the gruesome scene and the signs upon the corpse. But in this era, women are second class citizens, let alone women of the night.

There are various scenes with patients which all assist Raven in his education and apprenticeship. As the readers they are often truly insightful case studies of what it was like to be a woman in the Victorian era. When you had little say/rights over your own reproductive system, in the medical sense.
Raven continues to have disagreements with Sarah and it is clear to see Raven believes a servant especially a female servant should know her place! At times I found Raven quite hypocritical given that he is staff himself. But Sarah can hold her own and makes it quite clear what she thinks of Raven in return!

“It is my duty to assess those waiting and to recommend the order of urgency by which they ought to be admitted” – Sarah

Sarah longs for a career in medicine, she is intelligent, driven and more than capable. However, the era has a long way to go. She attempts to apply for a position at the local druggist’s. When she is simply scolded for even thinking such an idea would work. . .

‘Our assistant must inspire confidence in our customers. For that, only a man will do’ – Mr Duncan

Raven, Sarah and Dr Simpson all have very credible and interesting backstory’s. They read like real people from history.
Raven and Sarah continue to investigate the two recent deaths and through a bizarre twist of events end up working together. This I absolutely loved, the characters slowly grow on you, but none more so, than when they eventually team up.

But who is the killer targeting women? Is it an illegal abortionist gone wrong? When Raven accompanies Dr Simpson to the local hospital, he witnesses first hand the dangers of women with no access to adequate medical healthcare.
‘Desperate people are often driven to do desperate things’ – Ziegler

As you read on, you begin to question the killer’s motives. Is this a form of medical experimentation? Are the women being punished? When Rose’s body Is found to be with child, it adds further weight to these theories. Raven begins to sympathise with the desperation the women must have felt. . .
‘Desperation is often the mother of misplaced faith’ – Raven

The novel has a clear feel for more literary/historical fiction than crime fiction. Despite the murders that take place. As the focus remains on the medicine within the era. You really get a sense of how dire the situation was for women in 1847.
The novel has such a literary feel and I had so many quotes I wanted to use. I shall leave you with my favourite. . .
‘The only difference between a medicine and a poison is the dosage’

Unique, incredibly well-researched and insightful historical fiction 4.5*