Book Review: The Escape by CL Taylor

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”


When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN. (from Goodreads.com

Published by Avon UK 23rd March 2017 


This is the fourth book by CL Taylor I’ve read, and I’ve always found her books very, very readable. The Escape is no different – immediately I was drawn in, hooked to the pacey flow and intrigued by the evolving situation the main character Jo has found herself in. 
The book begins when Jo is approached by a stranger and asked for a lift – only once in the car it turns out that the stranger, Paula, isn’t so random. She’s looking for something that she claims Jo’s husband Max took from her, and she’s determined to get it back. Within the first couple of chapters, the image of both Jo and Paula is firmly and expertly set, with Jo cast as weak, nervy and anxiety ridden in contrast to Paula’s tough, brash and bullying attitude. Taylor uses perfect dialogue and descriptions of mannerisms, particularly in the case of  Paula, so that these characters are vividly realistic. I could see Paula -her stance, her facial expressions – so clearly in my mind. This continues throughout the book with the entire cast of characters, who each have their unique and distinctive voice and style, making The Escape feel almost like watching a TV drama. 
The book is also interspersed with short italicized chapters conveying one of the character’s thoughts and intentions. These sections are filled with malice and threat and are pretty creepy. The author also cleverly leads the reader down one path, before throwing a huge twist I didn’t see coming and had me scrolling back through the ebook to see if I had missed something.  
Jo is an interesting main character, I was torn between sympathy at the terrifying situation she found herself in and frustration at some of her reactions. I thought CL Taylor executed her seemingly irrational and declining grip on reality well, and kept me guessing whether she was to be trusted or not for a large portion of the book. I felt Max on the other hand, lacked a little something. I don’t quite understand his actions and why he did what he did. I won’t go into it further as to do so would give away the plot, but it affected the tension of the book slightly as I read it in my opinion. I did enjoy part two of The Escape, set in Ireland and introducing another well written character, Mary. I wondered how the two parts connected to begin with, seemingly two separate plots going on at once, and loved the way they eventually tied together. 
The Escape is a gripping and accessible read with broad appeal. It’s a once you start, you won’t stop kind of read and you’ll find you’ve covered a massive chunk of book without even realising it. With vivid and well drawn character’s, it’s a book which will play out in your head when you read and has enough twists to keep the reader surprised and intrigued. My kindle broke half way through reading this book, and I was so keen to carry on reading that I couldn’t wait the two days that Amazon would take to deliver a new one, that I found a second hand one for sale on a local selling group and had a replacement in my hand within half an hour.  CL Taylor is an author who knows how to hold her audience, and The Escape is no different. If you’re a fan, then you won’t be disappointed!
(I read an ebook copy supplied by the publisher via Netgalley)

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Recently Added To My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday topic is books recently added to my TBR list. These are the books that have most recently landed on that ever growing, almost toppling over tower of books to read.  

(Clicking on the images will take you to Goodreads for a description)

 








   

There’s a theme running there…and a LOT of black! I’m loving psychological thrillers with no sign of getting tired yet, but I still like mixing it up with some contemporary fiction and YA. 

These are books I’ve recently become the owner of, either through the Amazon Vine Program, Publishers, Netgalley or bought. 


January Reading: Psychologically Thrilling (Mini Reviews)

There’s something about January that screams READING MONTH. Maybe the lull of post Christmas craziness, having a little bit more time to yourself or just the fact that shutting the curtains on a cold, dark night and curling up with a good book in front of the fire is possibly one of THE best things to do.

This January I’ve become a bit obsessed with Psychological Thrillers, which luckily for me seem to be EVERYWHERE right now. They suit the cosy, winter nights perfectly.

So here are some mini reviews of the books I’ve really enjoyed this month.

Daughter by Jane Shemilt 

DaughterThis was addictive reading! I finished it in one day. It tells the story of Jenny, a respected Doctor and parent of three teenagers, and the disappearance of her youngest and only daughter. Switching back and forward between the time Naomi goes missing and a year later, it is tense, twisty and kept me guessing. I thought Jane Shemilt got the nuances of a teen drifting away from their parents and guarding secrets just right. The fear all parents have, that our children will be led down the wrong path or make disastrous choices is very well conveyed.

Throughout the book I was kept guessing…was it him/her? And right until the very end I didn’t know how it was going to end. But then it ended so damn ambiguously…I ended up with more unresolved questions than answers which was so frustrating!!! An addictive and well written book, slightly ruined by the abrupt ending but non the less a fantastic read and recommended.

Disclaimer by Rennee Knight 
Disclaimer Ok, so this one isn’t out until April 2015, but I’ve noticed quite a bit of chat about it over on twitter. This one follows Catherine, as she finds a book beside her bed which appears to be telling her own story and revealing a secret from the past she hasn’t shared with anyone…even her own husband.
I was hooked by Disclaimer right from the start. The premise was excellent and promised so much,I was desperate to know what happened and was prepared for an explosive twist. However, I felt it didn’t fully deliver. The final third of the book seemed to lack the taut, thriller ending I was expecting. This doesn’t mean it was terrible, in fact it was very well written and raised a couple of very subtle and interesting questions that got me thinking. It was just, well different from how I expected and in the end left me feeling the book lost a little closing impact. 

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkes 
The Girl on the TrainThe book everyone is talking about right now, The Girl On The Train lived up to it’s promise of delivering a highly tense, gripping thriller and I loved every minute. If you don’t already know, Rachel is an alcoholic who has lost her husband, home and job. In an attempt to keep up a pretence of normality, she continues to take the commuter train to London every morning. Then one morning she sees something which will draw her into a terrifying situation. But Rachel is an unreliable witness, to the police and the reader. 
Unputdownable. That’s how I sum this up. Although Rachel is the main character, the book focuses on two more women and it’s unclear until the end what their true motives are. While the ultimate conclusion wasn’t a complete surprise, the book managed to cast doubt on every character in this thoroughly engrossing book. 
The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell 
The Third WifeSo this isn’t a psychological thriller, but I do love Lisa Jewell’s books and there is a mystery at the heart of this one. Adrian’s third wife, Maya, died in tragic and unexplained circumstances a year ago. A mystery woman suddenly appears on the scene and takes a creepy interest in the family. Are the two connected? 
This book isn’t really about the mystery surrounding Maya’s sudden death and the stalkerish lady who’s just turned up. Despite that premise, it’s not a mystery/thriller at all. This book is really about the complexities and dynamics of a large, fractured, extended family. Relationships and resentments. And this is what Lisa Jewell does best. She gets people, and as always this is conveyed throughout the book. I admit to not loving this one as much as her other books, but it’s still a great read.

The Accident by C L Taylor


The AccidentThis is another mother/daughter book (there seems to be a lot about!) published in April last year. This time, Sue’s daughter Charlotte mysteriously steps in front of a bus. In looking for answer’s Sue discovers her daughter wasn’t exactly who she thought she was, but then Sue’s been hiding secrets of her own.

I was looking forward to this as I thoroughly enjoyed a previous book by this author. I was aware it was a big change in style from the romantic comedy she’d done so well and I think overall it was a good read, although lacked some tension I’d expect in this kind of novel. I didn’t warm to the main character as much as I wanted to, guessed how it was going to go and felt it was a little quick to end. However, the writing kept me engaged and I enjoyed the alternating past/present style.

All in all a FANTASTIC month book wise. How about you…have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Author Interview: Cally Taylor + Win a signed copy of Heaven Can Wait!


I recently read and reviewed Heaven can Wait (read my review here) by Cally Taylor and absolutely loved it! If you haven’t already read it, then I really recommend you do! Today I’m pleased to welcome Cally, who has been kind enough to give some brilliant answers to my questions!


Hi Cally, and thanks so much for dropping by! Firstly could you introduce yourself?

Hello! I’m Cally, I’m thirty-six and I live in Brighton. I wanted to be an author from the age of eight but it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally started, and finished, writing a novel. That novel was ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and it was published by Orion in October 2009.


Your first book Heaven Can Wait is certainly unique! Where did you get the inspiration from to write it?


A couple of things inspired me to write ‘Heaven Can Wait’ – the sudden death of a friend in 2006 and a comment from my then boyfriend about how long I’d wait before I moved on if he died (he was a chirpy kind of guy!). An image of a woman, madly in love and about to be married, popped into my head. What would she do if she died the night before her wedding day and had the chance to return to earth to be with her fiancé? That woman became Lucy, my main character.


Lucy is such a fun character and I loved her ditzy side (I relate!) is she based on you or anyone you know?


Lucy is a completely fictional character and much sweeter than I am but we’re both romantics and both share a bit of a ditzy side! I’m always embarrassing myself one way or another but at least these days I can console myself by thinking, “Hey, that would make a really funny bit in a novel!” A couple of the embarrassing things that happen to Lucy in ‘Heaven Can Wait’ actually happened to me but I’m not admitting which ones!


I also found Claire’s story incredibly touching, how did she come about?

In the same way that I share a few traits with Lucy I also share a few traits with Claire. When I was a teenager I was horribly grumpy, wore far too much black and was quite insecure. I used those emotions as a basis for Claire’s character but she’s a lot more sarcastic than I ever was and made extreme decisions and choices that I’d never have considered. I’m so glad you found her story touching. I grew really fond of her as I was writing ‘Heaven Can Wait’.


I love asking this question (sorry!)… If Heaven Can Wait was to be made into a movie, which actors would play: Lucy, Anna and Archie?

I’d absolutely love to see ‘Heaven Can Wait’ as a film! I waver over who I’d choose to play the main characters but think I’d pick Rachel Weisz as Lucy, Jim Sturgess as Dan and Elijah Wood as Archie (he’d have to put on an English accent though!).


If you had the choice would you choose heaven or ghost? And if ghost…who/where would you haunt?

Oooh, brilliant question! I’d only choose to be a ghost if there was a chance of getting to heaven eventually. I’d also want to be able to move around a bit. I think I’d get really bored if I was stuck in one house for eternity! If I could be a ghost for a bit I’d probably sneak around trying to uncover conspiracy theories (like whether there are aliens in Area 51 and whether Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana were murdered). I’d also spy on people like the Queen and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to see what they get up to when they’re out of the public eye!


Can you tell us about your route to publication?

After I’d edited ‘Heaven Can Wait’ I bought a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook and looked through it for agents who represented chicklit. I drew up a shortlist of six agencies and sent them a covering letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of my novel (or whatever they asked for). The Darley Anderson Agency was the first agency to ask for the full manuscript of my novel. I received some fantastic feedback, did a bit more work on my novel and signed with them about a year later. A month after that Orion offered me a two book contract. Since then my agent has gone on to sell the foreign rights to Germany, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Czech Republic, Taiwan and China
.


Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read a lot. And don’t just read for pleasure – read books you love to try and work out how the author kept you so gripped and/or make you laugh/cry. Read bad books too so you can learn what doesn’t work! I also bought lots of ‘how to’ books on writing a novel (I’ve listed my favourites on my website – www.callytaylor.co.uk – under the ‘links’ tab) and learnt some important lessons on structuring a novel, pace and character.

The most important tip is to actually write. It’s easy (and a lot of fun) to dream about holding your published novel in your hands but that won’t happen unless you sit down day after day and actually write the thing! It’s easy to get disheartened or lose interest in your novel when you’re slogging away at it day after day but every published author I know feels the same way. My motto is ‘First drafts are supposed to be rubbish.’ It’s the rewriting and polishing you do after you’ve written that first draft that turns it into a book. Finally, make sure you get feedback on what you’ve written before you approach agents. Don’t rely on friends and family who are likely to say nice things to spare your feelings. Join a writing group (a local group or online) and ask for honest criticism. It can really sting at first but it’ll make you a better writer.


When you’re not writing, who do you like to read? Favourite books/authors?

I read everything and anything! My favourite chicklit author ever is Lisa Jewell and I devoured ‘The Truth About Melody Browne’ in a couple of days when it came out last year. I also read all the Twilight books. This year I’ve read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, ‘Twenties Girl’ by Sophie Kinsella and am currently reading ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbery. I’ve got a huge pile of books waiting to be read on my bookshelf and am itching to start reading ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Steig Larsson because I’ve heard great things about it.

What’s next for Cally Taylor?


I’ve just received the edits for my second novel from my editor and am about to start work on them. Hopefully that novel, currently untitled, will be out in January 2011. Once the edits are out of the way I’m going to start work on my third novel. I can’t wait!

I Can’t wait for the new book! Thanks so much for answering my questions.

Now Your Chance To Win!

‘What would I do without you, Lucy Brown?’ he said, and kissed me softly. I held his face in my hands and kissed him back. I felt that life just couldn’t get any more perfect. And I was right, it wouldn’t. By the end of the next day, I’d be dead. Lucy is about to marry the man of her dreams – kind, handsome, funny Dan – when she breaks her neck the night before their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime’s separation from her soulmate, Lucy decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan. But it turns out things aren’t quite as easy as that. When Lucy discovers that Limbo is a grotty student-style house in North London she’s less than thrilled. Especially after meeting her new flatmates: grumpy, cider-swilling EMO-kid Claire; and Brian, a train-spotter with a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet and a big BO problem. But Lucy has a more major problem on her hands – if she wants to become a ghost and be with Dan she has to complete an almost impossible task. How the hell does a girl like Lucy find a girlfriend for the dorkiest man in England? IT geek Archie’s only passions are multi-player computer games and his Grandma. But Lucy only has twenty-one days to find him love. And when she discovers that her so-called friend Anna is determined to make a move on the heart-broken, vulnerable Dan, the pressure is really on…

Cally has kindly offered to send a signed copy of her novel, Heaven Can Wait to two lucky winners!

This contest is open to everyone, you don’t have to be a follower or tweet about it (although obviously I’d be grateful if you did!)

But to make things interesting, I’m offering an extra entry if you leave a comment telling me who you would haunt if you were a ghost and why! (this is entirely optional, you still get one entry just filling the form in below)

Competition closes at midnight Thursday 15th April and the winners will be picked at random and notified by email.

Good Luck!

Book Review: Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor

Lucy Brown has never been happier. About to marry the love of her life, Dan, she’s living the life she always wanted. But on the eve of the wedding, Lucy has an accident and dies.

But that’s only the beginning, because Lucy has just woken up in limbo and has a choice to make. She can go up to heaven, where her beloved parents and eternal happiness await her, or she can return to earth to Dan … as a ghost. Lucy barely has to think about it and rushes back down to earth. There’s a catch though as before she can become a ghost she must complete a task. She must find love for scruffy computer geek Archie and she only has 21 days to do it. To make matters worse Lucy finds out that her best friend Anna is already hitting on a grieving Dan. Time is running out, but can Lucy ever complete the task and finally be with Dan forever?

You know how there are some books you pick up and know from the first few lines you’re going to love them? Well for me this definitely was one of them! I immediately warmed to Lucy, who is a little ditsy but completely loveable. By page 9 I’d already laughed out loud a few times, with a scene where Lucy is reminiscing her first date with Dan having me in stitches, while scarily being able to relate to and cringe along with.

Lucy’s death happens very early in the book, but if your thinking this may sound a bit morbid you’d be wrong. The details of her death are kept to a very bare minimum, as that’s not what the story is about. If you’re completely unable to suspend reality and just go with a story then to be honest, this probably isn’t going to be the book for you. From this point on Lucy returns to Earth as a Living Dead and moves in with fellow wannabe ghosts Brian and Claire.

I absolutely loved the interactions between the three housemates, who are so completely different in every other way but one. While the story is told in the first person from Lucy, I also found myself really warming to both Brian and Claire and becoming wrapped up in their personal stories too. Despite being dead, the three all have something to learn about themselves before they finally pass on and I thoroughly enjoyed each ones journey. I thought Claire in particular was a fantastic character and her story is incredibly touching. Lucy’s human task, Archie is also extremely well written with characteristics that are so realistic I could imagine him perfectly. I think it’s a huge credit to Cally Taylor that in a story that defies reality, she manages to create such perfectly believable characters.

I flew through this book once I got time to settle down properly with it and finished the 370 pages in a couple of days. The writing is fast paced and I found it very easy to get completely engrossed in. I was also never quite sure where things were going. Lucy may well be a typical chick lit character, but her situation isn’t typical of the genre at all and so I really didn’t know quite what to expect. There are a few twists and turns along the way that kept me intrigued and a real shocker at the end which I didn’t see coming at all.

While I did have tears with this book, most of them came from laughing or because it was just so lovely and touching, not because it was depressing. Heaven Can Wait was a real emotional roller coaster of a read to me, taking me from laughter, compassion, sadness and joy. Lucy’s love for Dan is so simple and beautiful it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it all. If you love chick lit, then you will love Heaven Can Wait. Perfect beach read or cosy weekend in, this is a real treat of a book and I highly recommend!

Thanks to Cally for sending me her book for review.