You’re The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher published 25 April 2017

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Synopsis

As Maddy stands in her beautiful wedding dress she looks down the aisle to her husband to be and his best man.  Maddie, Robert and Ben have been best friends since they were nine years old.  She is about to marry Robert, but it could so easily have been Ben, and maybe it still could be.  Maddy questions if she has made the right choice and if Ben spoke up would she change her mind.

Review

You’re The One That I Want is a lovely, easy read about friendship, love, growing up and the decisions we make.  The three main characters, Maddy, Robert and Ben refer to themselves as a ‘tripod’; if one of them was missing the there two would collapse.  With this in mind I was surprised that the narrators of the book were just Maddy and Ben, we never see the story from Robert’s point of view.  As characters I thought they were very grounded and real in their interaction, mannerisms and their reactions to the situations they find themselves in.  Out of the three I found I was more drawn to Ben’s character, I had real empathy and admiration for how he dealt with the situation of his two best friends being in a relationship when he was also in love with Maddy.

The plot is full of life, love, happiness, and a touch of sadness which make it a good fun positive book to read.  It is well written and I feel that Giovanna Fletcher gave a balanced view, from both Maddy’s and Ben’s perspective of the situations they find themselves in.  It’s vey well thought out and true to life.

You’re The One The One That I Want is an engaging, rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and cry but ultimately it is a pleasurable, feel good read that entertains from beginning to end.

A Life in Books with Graham Smith.

 

 

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This evening I am joined by author Graham Smith whose new crime thriller Watching the Bodies is released today.  Graham has written a guest piece on his book that you can read below.

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I’m a mid-forties joiner who has run a hotel and wedding venue for the last 16 years. I’m married with one son and I have less hair and more belly than I am comfortable with.

 

What was you favourite book from childhood?

I loved so many of the Enid Blyton books it’d be impossible to choose a particular favourite.

 

What type of books did you read as a teenager?

I read the Hardy Boys before moving onto the “adventure” series by Willard Price. Then I51ZfYslio6L moved onto thrillers by the likes of Clive Cussler and Alistair Maclean

 

What was your favourite book that you studied at school?

It would have to be The Hobbit as I loved it so much, I saved my pocket money to buy The Lord of the Rings

 

What is your favourite classic book?

To my shame I haven’t read any of the classics.

 

What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?

This is impossible for me to answer as I have read so many fantastic books over the last five years. If pushed I’d say it’s a dead heat between twenty or so.

 

What book to you think you should read but never get round to?

I am determined that I will one day read Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler

 

510QA3E52NLWhat do you consider to be your favourite book ?

My all time favourite is HMS Ulysses by Alistair Maclean as it combines plot, pace and character like no other book I’ve encountered.

 

 

Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

There are many, but knowing what a labour of love it is to write a book and get it published I’d rather say that I picked up the wrong book for me, than say the book is rubbish.

 

If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with 71Ty2NHNXxLyou?

I’d take the Bible and the Koran so I could spend my days trying to work out what all the fighting is about. I may even sneak a copy of the Torah with me for a third perspective.

 

Kindle or Book?

I don’t own a kindle although I have the app for my phone. I much prefer to read a physical copy but as an author, I don’t care what platform readers use or prefer, I just want people to read my stories.

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When I started writing Watching the Bodies I knew I wanted to create a lasting series with a character who’d hopefully become iconic.

To do that I had to think long and hard about all kinds of things including, the lead character, the setting, the propensity for getting said character into trouble and the fact that I had to repeat the process for every new story.

I created Jake Boulder, a former Glaswegian who’d been taught how to fight by his grandfather, a former shipbuilder on the Clyde docks. Boulder works the door at a bar where even the music has to be twenty-one to get in.

Next I needed a setting, so I decided to start the series with Boulder in a small town where the police are all but useless. Doing this allowed me to get Boulder involved in a murder investigation which ends up with him on the trail of a serial killer.

The serial killer I have him after has a very unusual method of selecting his next victim and there are revelations in the story which give Boulder more to think about than just the case.

Naturally I gave Boulder a series of strengths and weaknesses to round him out as a character as well as a few traits which I’ll freely admit, I wish I shared with him.

The basis of this construction, has given me the foundation to complete the second book in the series and I’m roughly one week away from starting book three. While events and characters from previous books may reappear, I have kept them to a minimum so each book can be read as a standalone.

So, at the time of writing this post. I have the first novel coming out, the second with my editor and the third in my head. Book four is currently a mystery to me, but there is time enough for a plot to come to me during the writing of book three.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances published 20 April

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Synopsis

Laura Cavendish  is like any mother, she loves her son Daniel, to whom she is very close and would do anything for him.  She is looking forward to spending the summer with him when he comes home from Cambridge University before he begins his training as a surgeon.  When Daniel announces he has a new girlfriend Laura is over the moon and has high hopes of them spending time together and becoming friends.  However, when Laura and Cherry meet it is obvious that Cherry has different ideas.  Cherry not only wants Laura’s son for herself but also the life that Laura leads.

Laura doubts Cherry’s motives when it comes to Daniel and after tragedy strikes she sees her chance to take Cherry out of the picture with a simple lie.  Little does she now how damaging this will be and how it will turn her life upside down.  Cherry wants revenge, and just how far will she go to destroy all that Laura holds dear and take it for herself?

 

Review

The Girlfriend is Michelle Frances’ debut novel.  The narrative is told from the perspectives of Laura and Cherry and through them we see their very different views of each other and how they see themselves as a part of Daniel’s life.  Laura lives a very comfortable life in an expensive house, with nice clothes and a property in St Tropez and has a successful career  as a producer of television programmes.  She comes across a very strong and confident in all she does but weakness is in her marriage; she stays with her husband even though the live separate lives and he has been having an affair for many years.  Cherry is Laura’s opposite, she comes from a one parent family where her mother had to work long hours to keep a roof over her head, and grew up wearing hand-me-down clothes.  She now wants a better life, meaning a rich boyfriend to support her and where she can live the life Laura has, except she doesn’t want to work.  Both characters have a cold and calculating side, that brings out the worst in them.  Michelle Frances’ characterisation of not only Laura and Cherry but the extended family and friends is believable and makes the reader realise that this narrative could happen to any family.

The book is well written and grabs the reader from the first page.  The descriptive writing gives a detailed visual to London, St Tropez and the Lake District so you feel you are there with the characters.  The rapid pace of the story line builds the anticipation of the plot, which has its fair share of menace and culminates in one last shocking twist.   The Girlfriend is a brilliant dark and chilling debut from Michelle Frances that will make you think about vetting your children’s partners in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

A Life in Books with Jessica Paige Johnson

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This evening I am joined by fellow blogger and reviewer Jessica Paige Johnson.  Details of her blog and how to contact Jessica are at the bottom of the page.

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I live in Georgia, married for four years on March 16th, and the mommy to two rescue cats: Sage and Curry. They will be two in May. If you follow my blog,Twitter, or Instagram they make appearances.

I am also one of the admins of the Bookies Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Bookiesfan/) I have been doing that for over a year now. It is lots of fun. Check it out if you want!

 
What was you favourite book from childhood?
I read a lot of RL Stine and The Babysitter’s Club. I still have one book from my childhood91jXiajov+L that I enjoyed a lot called The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth. I loved dinosaurs when I was a kid, so I’m guessing that’s why I still have it.

 
What type of books did you read as a teenager?

Stephen King! For a while I was in some kind of subscription service where I would get a book of his in the mail. I still have those books.

 

What is your favourite classic book?

I haven’t read many classics. I would like to read some when I am able. I really enjoyed Alas Babylon, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lord of the Flies, and The Great Gatsby which we had to read in school.

 

What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?

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Are you kidding!?!?! Narrow it down to one over 5 years? This is a hard one… Ummm…. There was 11/22/63, The Stoning of Soraya M: A Story of Injustice in Iran, Secrets of a Charmed Life, Child 44, Still Missing. I read such a variety that I can’t narrow it down to one. I’m sorry!

 

 

 

What book to you think you should read but never get round to?

I have a whole stack in my TBR and everyone one of the books is telling me to read them! lol 😉 I think I will go with A Man Called Ove. I’ve heard so many good things about it.
What do you consider to be your favourite book ?

I will answer with the book that got me reading again. That was Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella. I was at my aunt’s house and the pink cover caught my attention. I asked if I could borrow it and she said I could have it. It was so funny that it had me laughing out loud at work! I would be reading it in between calls (I worked in a call center at the time) and my coworker across from me asked if she could borrow it. It actually got her reading too! She even got her first kindle before I got mine! Thank you Sophie for writing that book!

 

Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

I try to not have this happen but it has a few times. One was The Time Traveler’s Wife. It was not for me. I didn’t like the movie either.

Another was The Book Thief. This was on audiobook and I did not like the narrator’s voice. I do plan to try and read it at some point since so many people rave about that book.

Another is 50 Shades of Grey. I made it to the contract and could not read anymore. For me is was very poorly written. One thing you might find funny- Ana said “Oh my” a lot in the book. That is George Takei’s catch phrase and he is gay. Every time I read “oh my” I heard his voice…. Not what you want to picture reading that book!

 

If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you.

50 Shades so I can start a fire easily (lol- sorry I had to) and Stephen King’s The Stand. It 51YoddC3yhLis such a tome of a book, then I can finally read it! Of course this would be the unabridged version.

Kindle or Book?

Either! Kindles make it easy to take more than one book with you, but I still like a ‘real book’

 

Jessica Johnson
Reviewer and Blogger
Jessica’s Reading Room
http://jessicasreadingroom.com

Sweetpea by C J Skuse published 20 April 2017

 

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Synopsis

Rhiannon works for the local newspaper, has a good. group friends, and lives with her boyfriend Craig and dog Tink.  From the outside her life looks mundane, but appearances can be deceptive, Rhiannon is actually a serial killer.  Haunted by a crime in her childhood that propelled her to celebrity status for a short period Rhiannon has the instinct to kill.  Her ‘kill list’ comprises of people who have crossed her; her thieving next door neighbour, the checkout assistant at Lidl who always squeezes her loaf of bread, even her boyfriend at times.  Rhiannon is out for revenge and who would suspect her of being a serial killer?

 

Review

Sweetpea takes an alternative look at the subject of the female serial killer.  Rhiannon is the narrator of this book which is written in diary form.  Each day begins with her ‘kill list’ and why she wants to kill those people.  Rhiannon’s thoughts and musings are shocking in parts to say the least, but her observations of life and people are accurate and funny.  The book is coarse and disturbing in parts, so not for the faint hearted, with a lot of violent and sexual references.  I loved the sarcasm and dark humour in this book, I found it original, fun to read and extremely scandalous in parts.

Rhiannon maybe a murderer but she has any redeeming qualities that make her likeable as a character.  Her outlook on life is refreshing as are her descriptions of her work colleagues, friends and family.  Most of us will identify with the people on her ‘kill list’, who hasn’t joked about killing the driver who cuts them up on the road; we all have a little Rhiannon in us somewhere.

I found this book entertaining and compelling to read.  It is a book that will make you laugh out loud whilst being a bit shocked at the same time.  It is well written, full of memorable characters, and has a storyline you won’t forget in a hurry;  it is an exceptional, engaging and dark novel, I highly recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley published April 2016

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Synopsis

Ally D’Apliése hears of the death of her adoptive father, known as Pa Salt, whilst training to take part in one of sailing’s most gruelling races.  Back at home, Atalantis in Switzerland, with her five sisters she is given a letter from Pa Salt and map co-ordinates that gives Ally a clue to her heritage.  Ally’s journey takes her to Bergen in Norway and the story of Anna Landvik, who a hundred yeas ago sang in the first performance of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt.  As Ally researches her past she also begins to question why there is not a seventh sister and just who Pa Salt really is.

Review

The Storm Sister is he second instalment of Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sister novels that are loosely based on the myth of the constellation of the same name (see details at the end of the review to learn more).  It is a wonderful multi faceted book that takes the reader to Switzerland, Greece, Norway, London and Germany and charts Norwegian history from the early twentieth century to the present.  The thread that holds it all together is Grieg’s composition of Peer Gynt and Anna’s descendants.

Lucinda Riley’s research is meticulous and detailed.  She really brings alive the history of Norway and how culture and politics changed Europe and in particular the world of music by the time Europe was embroiled in World War II.  The parallel timelines run seamlessly through the book, both as compelling to read as each other.

The characters are many, and all fictional apart from Grieg, although you could believe that the fictional characters were based on fact as well as they written with so much detail and verisimilitude.    I really enjoyed Anna’s story,  from her beginnings in the Norwegian mountains singing to the cows to her moving to Bergen and finding herself the centre of attention.  She enlists the readers empathy as she marries for love, but a love that costs her her happiness and career.   The role of women in the twentieth century is a theme that runs through the book and we see how the role of women has changed over time.

Grieg’s music is very much at the centre of Ally’s story and it is also a metaphor for the plot.  Like a musical score Ally’s story has romance, tragedy, heart stopping moments and plenty of characters waiting in the wings.

I found this an engaging, informative and most importantly a pleasureable book to read.    It certainly lived up to my expectations after reading the first in the series, The Seven Sisters last year.  It is one of those books that you can get lost in, and I now eagerly await the third book in the series, The Shadow Sister  that is published in paperback on April 20th.  It is a simply stunning novel.

 

https://www.thesevensisters.com    

 

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Out in paperback 20 April.

A Life in Books with Justin Lee Anderson.

IMG_0921Today I welcome author Justin Lee Anderson to A Life in Books.  His novel Carpet Diem or How to Save the World by Accident was published in 2015.

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I’ve been writing professionally for more than 15 years, as well as writing scripts, plays and books. Many moons ago I came second in a BBC scriptwriting competition, and was sure my future lay in TV and film, but that hasn’t come off (yet!). Instead, I’ve focused on books, and I’m currently writing the sequel to my debut novel Carpet Diem – a comedy fantasy in the vein of Tom Holt or Good Omens. I may go back to scripts at some point in the future, but for now, I’m writing books. I also quite fancy the idea of writing comics, at some point.

 
1. What was your favourite book from childhood?

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. It was always a treat when we went shopping, and I91TYa3GwOLL got to pick a comic to take home. I was a total superhero geek. I was more of a DC kid than Marvel, though I did like the X-Men. As for more traditional books, I read a lot of stuff like Choose Your Own Adventure and Encyclopedia Brown, but the one book that really stands out was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My aunt took me to see a play version of it at the Edinburgh Fringe in about 1985, and that was what made me fall in love with theatre too.

 

 

2. What type of books did you read as a teenager?

A lot of fantasy and sci-fi. I can vividly remember finding A Spell for Chameleon, by Piers Anthony, on a stand in my school library when I was about 12. I loved it, and devoured all the Xanth novels after it. As I got older, I got into his more mature series, like Tarot, Incarnations of Immortality and such, but it all started with that first book. I read a few others, like Terry Brooks’ Shannara books, and Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, but Piers Anthony definitely defined my teenage reading.

 

3. When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

I did a degree in English, so there are a lot to choose from! But I think probably Slaughterhouse 5, narrowly over Catch 22. They’re both such powerful and yet entertaining books about the folly of war and the deeply flawed nature of humanity.

 

4. What is your favourite classic book?

51x++fUNS5LWuthering Heights. Beautifully written and with one of the great classic antiheroes. I have a gorgeous old leather-bound copy of it that is one of my great treasures.

 

 

 

5. What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?

The ones that stick out the most are actually ones I never expected to like. My whole family had read The Hunger Games before I finally succumbed and gave them a go – and I completely raced through them. I read the first in a day, and I think the other two were three days between them. Brilliant storytelling, great characters, great world – everything about them was gripping. And I was pleased to see how well they translated to the screen, too.

 

6. What book to you think you should read but never get round to?

God, there are loads on my shelf that I’ve bought intending to read and just never got to. The one I keep thinking I’m going to read and just never pick up is The Three Musketeers. I love that world (the recent BBC version was great) and I know I’ll probably love the book, if I ever get round to it!

 

7. What do you consider to be your favourite book?

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. His writing is like the voice I hear in my head, and his513glvAaYiL imagination is just stunning. I love the way he takes existing mythology and twists it into new tales – they somehow feel more real for it, I think.

 

8. Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

I’m sure there are several! But the most recent I can remember was The Girl on the Train. I gave it over 100 pages, but just didn’t care and didn’t really like the main character, so I gave up and gave it to my wife. She enjoyed it, but said she completely understood why I didn’t!

 

9. If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you?

Something very long! Maybe something like the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes? Not Shakespeare – I always prefer that onstage to the page. Oh, and something by Bear Grylls to teach me how to stay alive! I am not a natural outdoorsman. Without a guide, I’d probably poison myself or get eaten within a few days.

 

10. Kindle or Book?

If I have to pick one, then definitely book. I love the feel and smell of a book. However, I have been converted to reading a fair bit on my wife’s Kindle these days, so I’d prefer to keep both if that’s OK?

 

 

A Life in Books with author Wade Brown.

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Today I am joined by author Wade Brown, whose psychological thriller A Good Daughter is available now.

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

My name is W H Brown, I’m 46 and live in Leicestershire in the UK. I used to be a rock musician but an English degree, song-writing and my love of books has led me to try to be a novelist – sometimes you have to try for your dreams, even if the money’s rubbish!
What was you favourite book from childhood?61-pkWxzvbL

I think my favourite is The Hobbit (though I also loved The Chronicles of Narnia – who didn’t?!) – I was a bit young for Lord of the Rings but that book enraptured me completely. I also loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books!

 

What type of books did you read as a teenager?

I got very serious as a teenager and started to read the classics, esp. Russian writers like Dostoevsky and the French existentialists like Jean Paul Satre and Albert Camus along with a lot of philosophy by Nietzsche and the above French guys.

 

When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

1984 by George Orwell. It changed my view of the entire world and still does.

 

51x++fUNS5LWhat is your favourite classic book?

Wuthering Heights. It’s darkness and complexity is still way ahead of its time – every contemporary psychological suspense novel owes this book a debt with its multiple unreliable narrators – at the end of the book, the whole thing was just from various dubious, subjective viewpoints. Genius.

 

 

What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell just blew me away with its detail and world-building – on a par with Tolkien. It took Susanna Clarke years to write and these kind of books only come along very, very rarely.

 

What book do you think you should read but never get round to?

Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past – and I even own the books! I don’t know anyone who’s actually read all of it!

 

What do you consider to be your favourite book ?

Impossible question, it changes every day. Maybe 1984.

 

Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

Oh, God, loads! Dr Faustus by Thomas Mann was the first book I ever gave up on – so tedious!. Anyway, he missed his own son’s funeral because he was writing, so screw him!

 

If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with51s39Kj28BL you

Everyone says the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible but for me it would be Robinson Crusoe, obvs – desert island? – and the biggest anthology of John le Carre thrillers I could find!

 

Kindle or Book?

I love ebooks, especially their space conservation properties, but there’s nothing like the touch, smell, feel, fondle of a brand-new paperback book: a thing of true beauty.

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop published September 2016

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Ellie is living a rather dull life in London, but when postcards from Greece arrive for the previous tenant of her flat she starts to dream of going to Greece.  Signed only with the initial A  there is an air of mystery about them; who is A and who  is S Ibitson who the cards are addressed to.  When the post cards stop Ellie decides to take a holiday  to Greece to see some of the wonderful places from the cards.  On the morning  of her flight a package arrives, a journal written by the mysterious A that details his journey through Greece and a collection of stories he has been told by the locals as he visits their villages and towns.  A’s stories bring Greece and its culture to life and make Ellie consider her own future.

This is very different form Victoria Hislop’s previous novels.  I have seen it described as a book of short stories but I disagree;  The book reads like a travelogue, one man’s journey through Greece and through life but with the addition of stories from the Greece’s culture.  The thread is held together by A’s story and Ellie’s to a point.  What makes this book extraordinary are the photographs that accompany the text.  The vivid descriptions combined with the photographs really bring Greece and its gorgeous landscapes and villages.  The only drawback is for those who like to read on tablets or e-readers where the photographs would not be seen in colour and size and thus you would lose a lot of the pleasure and atmosphere of this book;  it has to be read in hard or paperback to fully appreciate the work that has come into its creation.

The characters are many and varied; a married French couple who run into trouble in a quiet fishing village, Giannis a monk who lives in the high monastery in Meteoa, to the many people who make up the soul and life of the villages and towns.  The stories told read like Greek Folklore, with each village or town having its own customs and stories to be told.  Antony (A) really develops through his travels, he moves from being heartbroken over a failed relationship to his realisation that he needs to live his life to the full and let the sadness go.  Ellie is the epitome of many young people today, finished her degree moves to London to try to make her way in the world but falls into a job she doesn’t like and lives in a flat she hates, but she sees no way out.  We see her travel from grey London to the bright sun of Greece, a metaphor for her moving in life to a new bright beginning.

This really is a wonderful read, a tale of love, life, hope and the human condition.  It takes the reader through Greece’s varied history and its many customs and traditions, but it must be read as an actual book.  A sublime novel in full technicolour, a love letter to Greece.

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty published 23 February 2017

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Joni, Eden, Trina and Deb have been best friends since high school, but for the last couple of years children, husbands, and work means they haven’t had as much time together as they would have liked.  Joni decides to book a short holiday, like they had in their younger days, and to reconnect they decide on the first night to write an anonymous letter each telling the others a secret which they do not know.  On reading the letters and the secrets and confessions within the girls start to question their friendships and how well they really know one another.  When Joni finds a fifth letter its contents could threaten and destroy their friendship for good.  What started out as a bonding exercise turns into something that could tear them apart rather than bring them closer, and Joni must find out who wrote that fifth letter.

The Fifth Letter is a fast paced mystery that is  full of secrets, lies and deceit.  The story is told from Joni’s point of view; in the present Joni is reflecting  on what happened in confession, hoping the priest can help her understand the events on the holiday and in the aftermath.  The flash backs to the holiday are also told from Joni’s part of view.   My only complaint of the book is that there wasn’t a clear distinction between the past and present in the narration so it was a bit confusing at times.

The characters are well developed and believable in their relationships with each other and others.  Joni, Eden, Trina and Deb are all vey different in personality and background, it makes for interesting interaction between the as they all have something different to bring to their friendship and thus the plot.  The characters display a vast range of emotions, you will find yourself laughing and crying along with them.  Nicola Moriarty has a good understanding  of how people interact and relate to each other, she writes as if she knows whose these people are; there is an empathy to her writing.

The Fifth Letter is well written with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing;  which one wrote the anonymous letters and more importantly the fifth letter?  It is an engaging read full of suspense, intrigue, scandal and its fair share of dark humour.