Anne Bonny #BookReview The Guardians by John Grisham 4.5* #Legal #Thriller #NewRelease @JohnGrisham @HodderBooks @HodderFiction @HodderPublicity

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The Guardians by John Grisham
My Own Copy ~ Hardback book
Synopsis ~

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle.

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.
Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought.

My Review ~

I absolutely adore legal thrillers. I also find the American justice system so much more fascinating than here in the UK. Any novel which has the theme of ‘miscarriage of justice’ or ‘death row’ instantly grab my interest. I immediately purchased this from the local supermarket and devoured it in one weekend.

A potential miscarriage of justice, a life sentence without parole, racial injustice and building tension. GET IN MY SHOPPING TROLLEY!

The novel does surround the case of Quincy Miller in a crime that took place 22yrs ago. He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of divorce lawyer Keith Russo. He was convicted in a largely all white town, the jury was tainted from the get go and evidence was lost/misplaced. Quincy Miller never stood a chance!

‘It’s fairly easy to convict an innocent man and virtually impossible to exonerate one’ 

However, before the novel gets into Quincy’s case, we learn about Cullen Post an innocence lawyer and former preacher. We learn of the work he does at the innocence project. Who he will and won’t appeal cases for and the type of man he is. Cullen is a intriguing character and one I hope to read more of in the future.

There are backstories in the form of Cullen’s other cases. This is where you will meet other prisoners and some of them accused of heinous crimes. Are they innocent? That is for Cullen to prove. When we first meet Cullen he is consulting on a violent rape and murder conviction. The convict Duke Russell already has his execution scheduled. Can Cullen save his life and prove him innocent? Or is this simply too much to ask for one man?

‘Clemency for Mr Russell is therefore denied’

As we follow Cullen in his investigations into Quincy’s case (and various other sub-characters). We learn it is not only the fight for innocence that drives Cullen but the desire to see justice for the real predators out there enjoying their freedom while someone else does their prison time.

Quincy Miller’s case is complex. It involves a messy divorce, kids that don’t know he exits and jailhouse snitches. Even if Quincy Miller is innocent, he is going to need god on his side to get free. In walks Cullen Post a former preacher and unique man with a personal quest for justice and balance in the world.

‘For twenty-two years he has maintained his innocence, but no one is listening’

Whilst Quincy has a theory on who and why someone set him up. It is going to take heaven and earth to get the people from his past to admit they lied under oath, if they so did lie. But Cullen Post has a plan…

‘Very few women are criminals. Their mistakes are picking bad boyfriends’

Along the way we meet other convicts such as Shasta Briley and Gerald Cook. They bring added depth to the legal novel and that is what make John Grisham the king of the genre. There are multiple thought-provoking scenes and moments to pause and reflect. I will leave you with this quote, which is my personal favourite within the novel…

‘Prison is a nightmare for those who deserve it. For those who don’t it is a daily struggle to maintain some level of sanity’ ~ 4.5* 

JG
John Grisham
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Anne Bonny Top 5 #TravelWithBooks pick from the TBR pile @natashasolomons @thesailorsgirl @brazil_thriller @C_E_Lawrence @DominickGDonald @WindmillBooks @HarperCollinsUK @unbounders @amazonpublishing @HodderBooks

house of gold - Vienna
House Of Gold by Natasha Solomons ~ Location = Vienna
Available in HB/Ebook/PB
Synopsis ~

The start of a war. The end of a dynasty.

VIENNA, 1911. Greta Goldbaum has always dreamed of being free to choose her own life’s path, but the Goldbaum family, one of the wealthiest in the world, has different expectations. United across Europe, Goldbaum men are bankers, while Goldbaum women marry Goldbaum men to produce Goldbaum children.

So when Greta is sent to England to marry Albert, a distant cousin she has never met, the two form an instant dislike for one another. Defiant and lonely, Greta longs for a connection and a place to call her own. When Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden, things begin to change.

But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War breaks out, threatening to tear everything away. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides. How will Greta choose between the family she’s created and the one she was forced to leave behind?

Black mamba boy - Africa
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed ~ Location = Africa 
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Named as one of the GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2013.

For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.

Aden,1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world.

Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of east Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere.

And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camp, across the seas to Britain and freedom.

This story of one boy’s long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family.

the burning hill - Brazil
The Burning Hill by A.D Flint ~ Location = Brazil
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

On the run from unjust court-martial back home, a young British soldier gets robbed and shot on Copacabana Beach. The bullet in Jake’s head should have been fatal, but miraculously, it saves him from a previously undetected condition that soon would have killed him.

Jake doesn’t believe in fate, nor does he feel he owes anything to anybody, but he does hate injustice. Vilson, the teenage favela kid who fired the bullet, is a victim of injustice, in a corner with a corrupt cop and a sadistic drug-lord after his blood.

With a turf war erupting in Vilson’s favela, fear stalks every narrow alleyway, and anyone dragged up to the notorious Burning Hill had better hope they’re dead before they get there. But it’s not just fear that shapes life in the favela, belief is also powerful, able to both save and destroy.

The Burning Hill is about the power of belief and one man’s desire for justice at any cost.

Edinburgh twilight - Scotland
Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence ~ Location = Scotland
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible & on Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis ~

As a new century approaches, Edinburgh is a city divided. The wealthy residents of New Town live in comfort, while Old Town’s cobblestone streets are clotted with criminals, prostitution, and poverty.

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is no stranger to Edinburgh’s darkest crimes. Scarred by the mysterious fire that killed his parents, he faces his toughest case yet when a young man is found strangled in Holyrood Park.

With little evidence aside from a strange playing card found on the body, Hamilton engages the help of his aunt, a gifted photographer, and George Pearson, a librarian with a shared interest in the criminal mind. But the body count is rising. As newspapers spin tales of the “Holyrood Strangler,” panic sets in across the city. And with each victim, the murderer is getting closer to Hamilton, the one man who dares to stop him.

breathe - London
Breathe by Dominick Donald ~ Location =London
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

A stunning debut crime novel for fans of Robert Harris, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom’s Dominion.

London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He’s older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. And he’s no Londoner, being from Cotswold farming stock. Then there’s Anna, the exotically beautiful White Russian fiancée he has brought back to these drab streets and empty bombsites. She may as well come from a different planet.

The new copper also has a mind of his own. After an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster they are chasing in a pea-souper fog, something nags at Bourton’s memory. He begins to make connections which his superiors don’t want to see, linking a whole series of deaths and the fogs that stop the city in its tracks.

Desperate to prove himself and his theories, Bourton fails to notice the fear which his mysterious bride is doing her best to conceal – and overcome.

Soon both Anna and Bourton are taking dangerous paths into the worst fog London has ever known…

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Absolution by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir 5* #Psychological #Thriller #ChildrensHouse #Series #FreyaAndHuldar @HodderBooks @HodderFiction

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The Absolution by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – Children’s House #3
Translated by Victoria Cribb
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

The new novel from the internationally bestselling, prizewinning, queen of Icelandic crime.

All he wants is for them to say sorry.

The police find out about the crime the way everyone does: on Snapchat. The video shows the terrified victim begging for forgiveness.
When her body is found, it is marked with a number 2…

Detective Huldar joins the investigation, bringing child psychologist Freyja on board to help question the murdered teenager’s friends. Soon, they uncover that Stella was far from the angel people claim – but even so, who could have hated her enough to kill?

Then another teenager goes missing, and more clips are sent. Freyja and Huldar can agree on two things at least: the truth is far from simple. And the killer is not done yet.

A brilliantly suspenseful story about the dark side of social media, The Absolution will make you wonder what you should have said sorry for…

My Review ~

‘Say You’re sorry’

The Absolution is a thoroughly modern novel, dealing with the themes of online bullying, stalking and revenge! It is action-packed and a neat edition to the Children’s House series. I am a huge fan of this series and have read The Legacy #1 and The Reckoning #2. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the latest.

The novel opens with a vicious attack on a young teenage girl. It is a scene that plays out perfectly as if it was in a teen horror movie. The victim alone, late at night in an empty cinema theatre. Huldar arrives and finds plenty of blood, but a missing body. The CCTV footage later reveals just what took place…

‘What can she have done to the man to deserve that?’

Freyja is brought in to help interview the teenage friends and potential enemies of the victim (Stella). She is moved (and so was I) when she interviews Adalheidur, a female student and victim of Stella’s relentless bullying. The social media bullying narrative is fully explained and the cruel harsh reality of the abuse is laid bare.
There is a narrative from another bullying victim David’s perspective. Hearing the vile threats/abuse and knowing he is at the edges of suicidal ideation, is absolutely heart-breaking! As a parent, my heart was ripped out for these kids. Scary to admit that the perpetrator’s are often just kids themselves also.

There are chapters from the killers point of view, where the killer attempts to justify their actions of murder as revenge. After reading of the harsh venom thrown towards the victim’s, you do begin to understand the killer’s psychology. After all, wouldn’t most of us snap under this kind of daily rigorous abuse?

The novel has dark theme’s as listed above, but in this modern era it is a story we see played out multiple times in the local and national media. Kids bullying kids, to the point of vicious and graphic assaults.
A dark and scary theme, very well done! 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Twitter
My Review of The Legacy – Children’s House #1
My Review of The Reckoning – Children’s House #2
My Review of Someone To Watch Over Me
My Review of The Undesired
My Review of Why Did You Lie?

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
Twitter
Website

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Man I Think I know by @mikegayle 5* #Literary @HodderBooks ‘This novel isn’t just about emotion. It actively challenges the view of disability and personal struggle’

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The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Ever since The Incident, James DeWitt has stayed on the safe side.

He likes to know what happens next.

Danny Allen is not on the safe side. He is more past the point of no return.

The past is about to catch up with both of them in a way that which will change their lives forever, unexpectedly.

But redemption can come in the most unlikely ways.

My Review:

I actually got completely and utterly confused in the synopsis of this novel. I thought it was a modern-day version of Patrick Gale’s A Place Called Winter. I wrongly assumed it was a story of romance between James and Danny. It is not!
That’s not to say, it isn’t just as beautiful and emotive in it’s creation.
The novel focuses on the friendship between Danny and James.
Which is a tender, moving and inspiring story.

‘Some people are simply beyond redemption or salvation or whatever, some of us are simply stuck being what we are’ – Danny

The novel opens to Danny getting the upsetting news that his dole is about to be stopped. He lives with his girlfriend Maya, whom he knows will be furious to discover this. Danny is 36yrs old and appears to have simply given up with life. He applies for a position at Four Oaks residential & respite home. He doesn’t do this to improve the lives of others, but simply to find easy and quick employment. He has no idea, how this choice will have a massive impact upon his life.

James is also 36yrs old, he is learning to adapt his lifestyle due to a savage and brutal attack. James was once a wealthy and privileged property develop. He was celebrating being elected as Labour MP for Birmingham South, when he was viciously assaulted. The attack left him with life-changing disabilities. He lives with his parents and enters the respite centre, so that his parents can enjoy a three-week cruise.
It has been three years since the incident that changed his life. Since the incident James has lived a life of ‘playing it safe’ which by my interpretation is surviving not living.

‘Ever since the incident the safe side is all I get to know’ – James

James arrives at Four Oaks and instantly recognises Danny from his past. But James memory is not always to be trusted, due to his acquired brain injury. Danny denies knowing who James is, which leaves James feeling even more confused and convinced that he knows Danny.

The author has written a thoroughly accurate description of a care home. My previous career was not only working in care homes but as management too. I have cared for individuals with acquired brain injuries and their level of needs is extremely complex and individual. Similarly, to dementia, no person is impacted exactly the same and the symptoms vary person to person. The author has done an outstanding level of research and paid attention to the details. I am MASSIVELY impressed.

Danny eventually admits the truth, that he does know how James is. It turns out the two attended the same prestigious boarding school. Danny was attending on scholarship and his intelligence was renowned. Which is why James is confused as to how/why Danny ended up as a carer. But just like James, Danny has a complex backstory too.

‘I just want to be normal’ – James

The two form a friendship based around James’s desire to live as independently as possible and Danny’s attempt at some form of redemption. What flows is a gentle and emotive novel. There are parts that are emotionally charged. One specific part is Martha’s letter, at that precise moment, I just dissolved into tears.

This novel isn’t just about emotion. It actively challenges the view of disability and personal struggle.

Simply beautiful 5*

MG
Mike Gayle
Twitter
Website