#BookReview Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

And then she was goneTHEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up 
hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. 
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 
Who still has secrets to hide? 

Published 27th July 2017 by Cornerstone, Random House (UK)  

I’m a HUGE Lisa Jewell fan. She’s the most reviewed author on this site and I’ve loved every single book I’ve read of hers. I started reading her books when I was bought One Hit Wonder for Christmas fifteen years ago, and up until a couple of years ago, had read every single book she’d written. Lisa’s writing seemed to grow with my own tastes and age through my twenties and thirties. However, I missed out on her new direction of writing domestic thrillers, simply because I was so caught up and busy with life and I barely read a thing in that time. It was definitely time to change that, but would Then She Was Gone live up to all my expectations

In short … YES! From the first line, I slipped straight back into Lisa’s wonderfully engaging writing style and was hooked. Then She Was Gone tells the story of fifty something, Laurel. Ten years ago Laurel’s daughter went out to the library and never returned. Now, Laurel is coming to terms with the knowledge she won’t ever see Ellie again, that it’s time for her to move on and heal the rifts in her family following the fall out of the devastating loss of her child. When she meets Floyd, she thinks it’s time to put herself first and begin enjoying life again. But when Floyd introduces her to his nine year old daughter, Poppy, there’s something eerily familiar about her.

I love, love, LOVE Lisa Jewell’s fantastically accurate and vivid characterisation. It’s a skill I think sets her writing apart and is no less apparent in Then She Was Gone. I have no idea how she does it, but when I’m reading, her characters become so absolutely real and solid to me. I hear them distinctly and clearly- Noelle’s up and down at times naive/ at times menacing voice, Poppy’s precocious, disconcertingly arrogant personality with hints of vulnerability. It’s like audio in written form! And it’s not just the voices, Jewell manages to add nuance to every movement, look and reaction, meaning her character’s are animated and incredibly believable. The result is that shifts in tension and emotions are picked up effortlessly by the reader and I became fully involved in this story.

The plot is certainly intriguing and different! I had no idea how twisted it was actually going to be- it’s shockingly sinister and disturbing. I did guess some of the twists fairly early on, but it’s the journey the characters themselves take which make this book so unputdownable. It’s layered and complex, so you become conflicted and switch from sympathy to deep dislike while being completely horrified as the past unfurls in alternating chapters.

I read Then She Was Gone in one greedy, obsessive gulp. I couldn’t go to bed until I’d read every last word, and believe me I’m not one to easily keep awake (usually falling asleep with my glasses on and a book over my face despite my best efforts!) Lisa Jewell continues to be my very favourite of authors – I know I can rely on her every time and there’s just something so intensely personal about her writing that I absolutely love. I can’t wait to catch up on the books I’ve missed out on, I Found You and The Girls, and continue to recommend Lisa’s books to all.

(I read an advance e-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

 

Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

On My Wishlist…

Like any book addict, my wishlist is huge and constantly being added to. I don’t always get to buy the books on it straightaway, or sometimes I’m waiting for them to be released. This week, two books which I’ve added to my wishlist stand out, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly  

A doting mother or a pushy parent?

Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.

Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel. 

But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point. 


Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she? 
(Published by Corgi January 2017) 

Why I’m wishing for it… 
I’ve read some fantastic reviews recently about this book, but this one by Cleo Loves Books clinched it. Also, a couple of years ago my daughter got into playing tennis competitively for a while, an environment way out of my comfort zone, and I definitely came across one or two pushy mums there! Taking this to the extreme sounds like a fascinating premise for a thriller.

And Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell 

 THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. 

Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. 
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 
Who still has secrets to hide? 
Published July 2017 by Cornerstone 

Why I’m wishing for it…
I’m a MASSIVE Lisa Jewell fan. She’s probably my favourite author and I’ve read and loved all of her books up until the most recent two (which I own and need to get on with!). And she’s now writing psychological thriller style books? Well, putting two favourite things together like that, why wouldn’t I be wishing for it?


 On My Wishlist was a regular weekly feature I hosted here at Cosy Books in 2012 (see HERE). While I’m not intending to start up as a meme again, I’m more than happy for others to join in if they like. 

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?

Book Review: Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

Having grown up on the quiet island of Guernsey, Betty Dean can’t wait to start her new life in London. On a mission to find Clara Pickle – the mysterious beneficiary in her grandmother’s will – she arrives in grungy, 1990s Soho, ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks…

In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette – Betty’s grandmother – is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But less than two years later, tragedy strikes and she flees back to Guernsey for the rest of her life.

As Betty searches for Clara, she is taken on a journey through Arlette’s extraordinary time in London, uncovering a tale of love, loss and heartbreak. Will the secrets of Arlette’s past help Betty on her path to happiness? (from Goodreads.com)

I’d probably site Lisa Jewell as my favourite author and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of her books. Before I Met You is no different.

The book has a duel narrative, one from Betty in the 1990’s and the other from Arlette in the 20’s. Lisa proves she is just as comfortable with an historical setting as a modern one and I loved both ladies stories.

Like many of Lisa’s book there’s a theme of looking for something/someone that runs through the story, and with evocative descriptions of both past and present Soho brought wonderfully alive it’s easy to become fully immersed in both eras. I love the way Lisa Jewell can describe a feeling or thought, without being dramatic or flowery, so perfectly I can conjure the feeling myself when reading.

I also love how her characters are real, flawed, strong and interesting. I adored the relationship between Betty and Arlette. It’s sweet without being sappy. Both are feisty, slightly prickly characters and it’s a mutual respect that draws them together.

Before I Met you is different to any of Lisa’s other books, but I think that’s certainly often the case with this author who grows with each new novel. Fans and new readers alike shouldn’t be disappointed with Before I Met You and I recommend it highly!

Published July 2012 by Century (UK)
My copy was a proof received from the Amazon Vine program for review purposes

Book Review: The Making Of Us by Lisa Jewell

I’ve been a huge fan of Lisa Jewell for more than a decade and can distinctly remember reading my first book of hers. I was having a bit of a crap Christmas and was alone on Boxing Day. My Mum had bought me one of Lisa’s early novels, One Hit Wonder, so I picked it up to have a read. I remember finding myself so invested in her character’s stories that they seemed completely and utterly real to me. It’s a quality I’ve found in Lisa’s writing ever since and new novel, The Making Of Us, is no different, if not even more so.
The Making Of Us is a story of many people, unconnected and completely different to begin until it’s revealed each has one thing in common. They share the same donor father. All are at complicated stages of their lives, Lydia, 29, has gone from rags to riches but is desperately lonely and struggling with her past, Dean, 21, has just become a father, but lost the baby’s mother in tragic circumstances and is struggling to bond with his daughter, Robyn, the youngest at 18 has moved to London to study medicine, a path she was so sure of until she was on it. In alternating chapters we hear from each of them, as well as Maggie, whose close friend Daniel is terminally ill and has asked her for help to fulfil his dying wish.
Wow, this book is an emotional roller coaster right from the start. The plot is so brutally human and complex yet Lisa Jewell absolutely pulls it off. Once again her skill at creating completely believable, relatable and flawed characters is perfect. I love alternating viewpoints when done well, and in The Making Of Us all four narratives both stand out individually and intertwine to create a heart wrenching and uplifting tale of identity and family. Each chapter is titled with the name of the character we are hearing from, although I do think they have strong enough voices to let the reader differentiate anyway.
I loved all the characters in this book, though in particular Lydia who is so far away from myself in many ways yet surprisingly familiar too. I also really liked Dean, the young brother she discovers through a donor sibling registry, and the developing relationship between the two of them is gorgeous, awkward but touchingly beautiful all at once. What I always love about Jewell’s characters is how layered they are, and how she isn’t afraid to show their weak and at times pathetic sides-the ones we all have but hide from the world, making them all the more stronger for it. You get the feeling while reading that these people could be ones you pass every day.

The Making Of Us is at times very sad and touching, but also incredibly hopeful and positive for the future. By the end of the book you’ll feel you’ve experienced these peoples journey, you’ll be behind them all the way and will leave wishes them the best in their future. This is a novel not about a donor father and his dying wish, but one of identity, knowing yourself, finding a sense of belonging and the ties that bind people to each other. It’s compelling from start to finish and I was completely absorbed throughout. I’ve never been disappointed by Lisa Jewell’s work, and I certainly wasn’t by The Making Of Us. With each new book I think ‘this is the best yet’ and that’s how I felt after turning the last page. This is a book I highly recommend. 







Published by Century (UK) May 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review

Book Review: After The Party by Lisa Jewell

It’s been 11 years since Ralph and Jem first got together. Thought to be the perfect couple and now with a three-year-old daughter, Scarlett and new baby, Blake, life should be filled with domestic bliss.

Only it isn’t. Full time Mum, Jem is frustrated at the lack of support from Ralph and when he announces he needs a break and wants to go to California to ‘find his mojo’ she is furious. But surprisingly, she finds the week without Ralph a revelation and with new friend, single dad Joel becoming an ever present figure in her life, she wonders if she does actually need Ralph after all.

Meanwhile, Ralph finds more than his mojo in California. He finds his spirituality. With his new found sense of peace and purpose he is keen to get home and be the supportive, loving partner Jem needs and deserves. And for a while it seems everything is fixed. But then something happens that will rock their relationship to the very core and force them to realise they have not only grown apart, they no longer know the person they thought they would spend their lives with. Can Jem and Ralph ever recover and get their relationship back on track? Is either of them willing to accept the other as they are now instead of wishing for the people they were all those years ago? Or is it time to face the fact that the destiny they believed in is no longer theirs and it’s time to move on?

I am a huge fan of Lisa Jewell’s books and have been excited about this one for quite a while. After The Party is a sequel to Lisa’s debut novel, Ralph’s Party, published in 1999, and I was certain I had read it. However, I had it muddled with ‘Thirty Nothing’ for some reason, and as it happens Ralph’s Party turns out to be the only book by Lisa Jewell that I haven’t read! Even worse, I ordered Ralph’s Party at the same time as ordering this new book, but something went wrong with the order and it never appeared! Happily, this makes not a jot of difference whatsoever, and I was still able to enjoy After The Party immensely.

The book begins with Jem and Ralph separated, and Ralph due to collect the children for his time with them. Only he doesn’t show up and it’s clear something is very wrong. Rather than being annoyed, Jem is concerned and its here the book goes back twelve months to chart the breakdown of their marriage. Jewell describes the resentment and complexities within the relationship with such realism it’s scary.

I have to say I connected with Jem immediately. At times I felt I was reading about myself, and how my marriage was affected after the birth of my daughter. Every thought and feeling Jem expressed was one I had felt too, in particular her feelings when Ralph leaves to go to California and finding it easier being alone than with someone you resent for not helping. This was something I very much related too, and felt slightly amazed that someone had captured those feelings exactly, its not something I ever really talked about yet obviously something felt by many.

But as much as I related to Jem, I was glad that Jewell didn’t choose to just make this book about her. In alternating chapters we hear from both sides, and I was also able to feel sympathy for Ralph. I guess as a woman who really understood what Jem was going through, it would be easy to dislike him, but I couldn’t. As Jewell presents his thoughts and feelings, it’s clear that both have issues and rather than talking to each other, they bury them and allow them to grow into deep resentment. There is fault at both sides, and the journey to realise that is simple, but deeply emotional.

There are few other minor characters within the book, but even these are both vivid and believable. I loved LuLu, Jem’s sister. Actually, I want a sister like her; she’s full of love and reason and her interactions with Jem were lovely, as well as providing some lighter moments. Joel, the single dad who Jem befriends is an interesting one. He provides an air of mystery and is slightly sinister, as I felt straight away something wasn’t right with him.

Lisa Jewell clearly has a great understanding of relationships, and this is what makes the book so compelling and engrossing. I doubt anyone could fail to see a little of themselves in Ralph or Jem. Because they are written with such honesty and sincerity, I began to care for them both very much, and really wanted to just scream at the pair of them ‘what are you doing to each other?’, all the while rallying for them both. There are things that both characters do that are unlikeable, but at the same time completely understandable and so absolutely human.

After The Party is a strong emotional read, which made me sad and angry at times, but also has a lot of heart-warming and hopeful moments too. Lisa Jewell’s writing flows so beautifully it’s easy to get swept up in and I had my nose glued to After The Party for the best part of two days. I’d highly recommend this book, even if you’ve never read Ralph’s Party as I haven’t and I still absolutely adored it. Five stars easily given and Lisa Jewell remains my favourite author in this genre.


Book Review: The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

As After The Party by Lisa Jewell was my Waiting On Wednesday book choice this week, and a few people commented that they had never read anything by her before, I thought I would post a review I wrote last year for her most recent book, The Truth About Melody Browne (which also happens to be one of my favourites too)


When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past.

I’m a big fan of Lisa Jewell and as a rule, always enjoy her books. What I really like about her books is that while being predominantly chick-lit, they have a uniqueness about them and aren’t afraid to tackle the grimmer aspects of life. From the moment I opened this book I was absolutely hooked. I was already interested by the premise when I first heard about the book, however I wasn’t prepared for the fantastic story I found within it’s pages.

Melody was instantly easy to like and relate to. I find that Lisa Jewell’s female lead characters are real and solid and this was certainly the case with Melody who came across as familiar and as approachable as anyone I have met. In the first few pages we are introduced to a 9 year old Melody, awakening from unconsciousness after a house fire with no memory of her former years at all, and a thirty three year old Melody who has had a child very young, worked hard to live a stable and steady life, but who has concerns about her own identity now her son is almost grown up. I was both intrigued by the mystery of the house fire and Melody’s memory loss and connected with adult Melody immediately.

As Melody starts to have flashbacks and regain her memory, a very complex and touching story unfurls. I wasn’t expecting anything quite so serious and was constantly surprised with the way the book would go. In this book Lisa Jewell tackles some very serious subjects, such as child loss, depression and the effects of a marriage break-up on children. I thought that this was done in a particularly human and realistic way and was at times very sad and touching, while also managing to be warm, humorous and loving.

I think Lisa Jewell has achieved in this book the perfect balance of serious subjects and an entertaining and beautifully real, optimistic story. She has created characters that are easy to care about, an intriguing storyline full of twists and turns, and an ending that will leave you smiling…perfect! I absolutely loved this book, and devoured the 326 pages in less than 24 hours. I already really liked Lisa Jewell as an author, however I think this book has just propelled her to one of my favourites. If you have enjoyed Lisa Jewell books in the past, then I recommend this highly, it’s her best yet. If you’ve never read any of her books before, then you definitely should give them a go!


My Rating: 5/5

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine to highlight the upcoming releases we can’t wait to read.


This week, the book I’m desperatly waiting on is from one of my most favourite authors, Lisa Jewell. After The Party is a sequel to Lisa’s first book, Ralph’s Party, first published in 1999! It’s due for release on the 15th April 2010


It’s eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be for ever, that they’d found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did. Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Ralph feels more and more as if he’s standing on the sidelines, and Jem that she’s losing herself. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted – but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after …A warm and involving novel that will restore your faith in life, love and the power of starting over, “After the Party” is Lisa Jewell at her unforgettable best.

I’m really looking forward to this, it’s been a few years since I read Ralph’s Party so will have to have a quick re-read first. If you’ve never read anything by Lisa Jewell I highly recommend you do (don’t let the rather wishy washy cover put you off! I’m not overly enamoured with it at all). In my opinion she is right up there with Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. There isn’t one of her books I haven’t adored, but my personal favourites are One hit Wonder and The Truth about Melody Browne, although it is difficult for me to call!