What are you afraid of? by Alexandra Ivy – A Review.

The description of “What are you afraid of?” was something that drew me in straight away. Serial killers, journalists and copycats are words that immediately catch my eye and grab my attention. Instantly pull me in but did the novel match up to its initial description?

I find myself for the first time struggling to write a review on a book which is new for me. I did really enjoy this book and the storylines that it follows, I mean, I finished in in less than two days. And yet here I am struggling to give it a review to the best of my abilities.

The storyline follows that of Carmen Jacobs, an investigative journalist that has recently risen to stardom because of a book that she released featuring interviews with serial killers. One of these being The Trucker, who is safely tucked up in jail where he belongs. However, Carmen receives a package from someone calling themselves The Trucker that has polaroid photos of dead women, closely resembling Carmen herself.

With the police ignoring her Carmen reaches out to a computer and security specialist that she had been trying to interview for her book but had been quickly denied.

We meet Griff Archer, the previously mentioned computer and security specialist, who all of a sudden is in the hunt for the serial killer alongside Carmen. The narrative switches between Griff, Carmen, the real perpetrator and the women that are being killed in this sick and twisted game. There are many twists and turns to the story line, with the suspicion changing constantly on who could have caused these brutal slayings that are mirroring the methods of the serial killers that Carmen featured in her book.

We find that there is a personal element to the killings and the trail leading Carmen back into the past where we learn about the brutal murder suicide of her parents. We are teased as the audience as to whether the tragic event that happened when Carmen was 12 could be possibly linked to the killer teasing Carmen with the photographs and other presents that he has left her along the way.

The ending is a satisfying twist that I did not expect and I applaud the author for this sudden twist in the tale. However, I did feel that the book dragged at some points but then was too fast, not focusing on the details at other times. I sort of feel that we were following along the trail of murders quite steadily and then were suddenly thrown the ending. Overall, I did enjoy this book, and would read another one of Alexandra Ivy’s books. It doesn’t however quite match up to the novels that I have already read this year.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – A book review.

With a first-time author being given the praise of a master like Mr Stephen King to stamp across the cover of their book, you come to expect great things from this individual. With twists and turns and intricate story lines woven expertly together throughout, C.J. Tudor takes you on a journey in The Chalk Man that you would expect from an author much more experienced in her field.

It is rare that you find a female author that so correctly conveys a male voice like C.J. Tudor does in The Chalk Man through his younger years but then can also adapt that voice into a matured adult.

Tudor moves the story between the 1980’s and present day, so effectively we grow with Eddie. We initially see him as a young and innocent boy, hanging round with his gang of trusty mates and speeding through the woods on their bikes – basically the normal 1980’s childhood. That is until their childish game of leaving chalk figures as notes for each other goes horribly wrong.

Through Eddie’s childish eyes we see the death of a friend’s brother, an assault by a gang of bullies, the near death of a local girl, the frowned upon relationship between a teacher and a young girl and the protests of his mother’s abortion clinic to name but a few of the subjects covered in front of this young boy’s eyes. Not forgetting the murder that shapes the whole book.

In the present day, we see an older Eddie who hasn’t managed to move on. He is seemingly stuck in the past shown through his living same house he grew up in long after his father’s early death and his mother’s moving on with another husband. Thus, leaving him to move a lodger into his spare room in order to make ends meet on his meagre wages as English teacher at the local high school that he once attended.

A blast from the past of an old school friend also reveals that his lodger is not all that she seems, leading him back down the path of his past that he has hardly travelled from since he was 12 years old.

After 30 years information is revealed by various characters that you have come to love in the chapters based in the 1980’s that leave you reeling. Highlighting that not everyone is as they seem. Which is something that you come to understand very clearly in this book. The twists and turns don’t stop until the very last chapter and the very last page. I found my eyes re reading the last pages many times to make sure that I had really read it correctly. It didn’t make sense but at the same time, everything slotted into place and it really did make sense, in the best of ways.

I read this book in two days, even sneaking in a few chapters when I arrived early for work because I just couldn’t shake the characters from my thoughts! If C.J. Tudor can deliver a book that kept me on the edge of my seat like that then I sincerely look forward to her next book coming out later this month.

Awakening by Sharon Bolton – A review.

I am a self-professed super fan of Sharon Bolton and have been steadily making my way through her novels – both stand alone and her one series –  for the past year. For some reason, her style of writing drives me forwards through the book. With relatable characters that you feel for and intricate plot lines you become deeply invested in and Awakening was no different.

The novel starts with a prologue that gives you a hint of the carnage that is coming in due course throughout the rest of the novel.

“The darkest hour I’ve ever known came last Thursday, a heartbeat before the sun came up”

From the first line my pulse started racing thinking of the possibilities of the plot and what insights that this small chapter would give me. It wasn’t until later that I would realise that this prologue was a chapter simply plucked out of the novel and is integral to the story. Whilst standing alone it works giving you just the right amount of intrigue to make you want to carry on but at the same time it doesn’t ruin the plot of the book or give away any spoilers.

The first chapter starts with a rhetorical question instantly drawing the reader in and engaging them and introducing us to the main protagonist, setting up the main vein of the story to come. Before very confidently tapping into the vein that is Clara and bleeding her dry of her story over the next 560 pages.

Our Clara is painted so delicately as a very intelligent and compassionate woman whose whole life focus is that of the animals that she cares for as a very experienced veterinarian. But instantly we are shown that she is a self-isolating and lonely character who only keeps herself in the company of her animals. Instantly Bolton alludes to Clara having a facial disfigurement – but to what extent we really don’t know. Throughout the novel more and more is revealed about the scars that she bears, both physical and psychological, but I won’t spoil it for you. I will tell you however, that it is the reason for her self-imposed loneliness and why she hides herself away from the world.

This all changes when she is called upon in an emergency by a neighbour, that she has spent year avoiding, to come and save her child. Clara shows her skills when freeing a poisonous snake from a babies’ cot when they are found sleeping peacefully together. Until the baby starts to stir that is. This is where Bolton first gets to flex her knowledge with the handling of snakes which then is demonstrated further throughout the novel at different intervals. You can see through the writing that the technical and medical jargon for both human and animal was well researched and understood by Bolton and the book severely benefits from it.

The snake in the babies’ cot is not the first incident that Clara is called to consult on as the closest thing to a snake expert that this sleepy English village has. Especially when the deaths by venom start stacking up and the world’s most exotic and deadliest snake makes an unexpected appearance in a child’s bedroom.

I was interested to know that more snakes are born after a long hot summer. That doesn’t bode well for us this spring after the horrific summer of 2018 and it also doesn’t bode well for me with a severe phobia of snakes!

It was honestly a struggle for me to make it through some of the scenes where there was a rogue poisonous snake on the loose and Clara was trying her best to catch it with her police officer companion that we meet frequently thorough out. I found my heart beating too fast and I kept on gasping at the actions of the characters and the snake and it has been a long time since a book made me do that.

We also meet Sean North the rugged and well-travelled minor TV celebrity who specialises in dangerous animal documentaries – specifically snakes. I couldn’t help thinking of the parallels between Bolton’s Sean North and Australia’s own Steve Irwin, who sadly died in 2006 whilst documenting stingrays and his love of animals. I wonder whether Irwin was an inspiration on her characters whilst Bolton was writing this novel.

At the start of the story its seems as though it is a normal murder mystery plot but then as it carries on it becomes more and more intricate. But not too complicated so that you can’t follow along-side Clara, who is learning of the tragedy that struck her village 50 years ago from religious extremists who have returned, bringing their snake fascination along with them.

Through various twists and turns, my theory on the antagonist behind all of the deception and intrigue kept changing, keeping me on the edge of my seat right up until the end. Bolton has a way of combining short and longer sentences to build up the tension during the dangerous scenes. They make you hold your breath, not wanting to tear your eyes away from the pages, desperately wanting to know whether certain characters survive the events that transpire (hint hint).

In the ending chapters the story line is finished and tied up into a pretty neat little bow in the aptly named “Tail End”, it is nice to see an author with a sense of humour. However, the ending lines do leave room for a little something more…is there more to come Mrs Bolton, or are you just teasing us?

Welcome!

“This suspense is teribble. I hope it will last.”

– Oscar Wilde

Welcome to my book review blog. My preferred genres to read are Thrillers, Crime and anything psychological. Basically anything full of twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat until the early hours of the morning.

I am a 21 year old Creative Writing student based in the UK who has a weakness for books, particularly written by female authors.

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