Tag: Suspense

Book Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne – C. J. Tudor

In today’s post, I am sharing my book review for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor. I read this book just over a year ago, so it’s well due its five minutes of fame on my blog.

I really enjoyed The Taking of Annie Thorne. Previously, I had read and loved The Chalk Man, also by the same author. It’s for this reason that I wanted to pick this latest book up, and I’m glad I did. This time last year I wasn’t reading anywhere near as much as usual. However, I read this book a lot quicker than I had been managing other books of similar length.

I think that speaks volumes for itself, but in today’s post, I share plenty more reasons why you should read this book for yourself!

 

The Taking of Annie Thorne – C. J. Tudor

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Pages: 346

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 21 Feb 2019

Rating: *****

 

Goodreads – The Taking of Annie Thorne

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her. Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie. I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

 

My Thoughts…

With any mystery or thriller, one of the greatest aspects of this kind of narrative is the characters and their backstory. The Taking of Annie Thorne is told in a dual timeline; we learn the history of the characters and what happened in the past, and we see some of those same characters back as adults. If you like this kind of idea, and in particular, if you liked the timeline in the likes of Stephen King’s book, IT, this is very similar.

Given that we are juggling two timelines interspersed within each other, the pacing of the book works really well. Nothing is revealed too early, keeping us on our toes as to what happens – in both timelines! If you are concerned that juggling both at the same time is confusing, I can assure you, I didn’t find this to be the case at all. Each is clearly set out at the beginning of the chapter as to which timeline we are in. The chapters are also not too long, so nothing too chunky happens all at once and we then forget the events of the other timeline.

I particularly liked the characters of Annie and Joe. The story is told from Joe‘s perspective. As Annie’s brother, he is close to the event when she goes missing, and in the subsequent action. I liked both of these characters for different reasons. Annie, after she comes back, is creepy. She definitely has a sinister vibe that defines this mystery novel for me, but adds elements of horror. She is characterised perfectly.

I like Joe for different reasons. He turns out to be a very complex character with very distinct character development between these two timelines. Also, I enjoyed how this was kept consistent throughout the book; at no point did his personalities or perspective merge. It made the reading of each timeline easier to follow, and was very interesting to observe how he has changed outside of the book. Joe turns out to be a character with varying shades of grey when it comes to morality. I really enjoy this element of a book. I like reading a narrative and having to consider whether whatever has happened is true, or whether the perspective is biased or not. Having Joe as a morally grey character really added to the mystery that was already here and present in the book, and I’m all for it!

As I said in my introduction above, I read this book a lot quicker than I was reading other books of a similar length. I was deliberately not taking on anything too ambitious last year, as I experienced a little bit of burnout. Yet, I managed to devour this book in a handful of days at a time when that wasn’t really the norm for me. At about 350 pages, I think this is a book that anybody could pick up at any given time. It’s not too heavy (and I don’t just mean in the literal sense) – it’s a very easy narrative to consume. It is engaging with its interesting mystery with a creepy twist, so this can appeal to a lot of readers.

As a fan of The Chalk Man, I wasn’t disappointed by The Taking of Annie Thorne. I got the narrative style and characterisation of a calibre I was expecting, with a plot twist that I couldn’t anticipate; this was one of my better reads of last year when you consider the five-star rating I gave it, and how quickly I read it!

What are your thoughts on The Taking of Annie Thorne? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Book Review: Keep You Safe – Rona Halsall

In today’s book review post I’m sharing my thoughts on a book written by local author, Rona Halsall. Keep You Safe appealed to me in its own right, but when I found out that Rona also lives on the Isle of Man, and that the book is also set here, I knew I had to give it a go!

I’m a huge fan of thriller novels anyway, and I was not disappointed by this book at all! I read this over the course of a week, and as with all thrillers, I could not put this down at the end. I binge read the last 130 odd pages in one sitting, late on a Sunday night because I didn’t want to leave it… I couldn’t!

Before I jump into my full review, here are details of the book below: –

 

Keep You Safe – Rona Halsall

Goodreads- Keep You Safe

What if trying to protect your child only put them in danger?

Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows she didn’t commit.

But her husband believed the police, and took their son.

Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?

If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?

A totally gripping psychological thriller– perfect for fans of Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train and C.L Taylor.

 

My Thoughts…

It is a surreal experience to read a book set in the place where you live and work. Streets I have walked countless times – some I see every day nearly – set the scene of this novel… and I will be honest and say it was a tad strange! But at the same time, it was brilliant! I could picture exactly where events were happening in vivid detail and it was really easy to follow. Even without the local knowledge, I think anybody could follow the events in this book. I just have the added advantage that I know the local geography.

Keep You Safe is the kind of novel that keeps you guessing. Natalie has been betrayed in the past by someone she loves, and her distrust and paranoia is deep-rooted. She is a protagonist who can be sympathised with to the extent that she has been separated from a child. However, in other respects, she is a very morally grey character. I wasn’t rooting for her 100% of the time; her decision-making is far from rational or logical. But in the same vein, it is these flaws that make her undoubtedly human. She is a well rounded character – and as a key component to the story… this shines through.

At the heart of this tragic story is a little boy that just wants to be loved. In amidst the lies, deceit, and far more besides, there is an innocent child stuck in the middle. I really enjoyed the ending of this book, as evidenced by my binge reading of it! Perfect elements of mystery come together with a darker, more thrilling ending that I really enjoyed! The pieces slotted together very nicely and we are kept in suspense up until that very last moment. I was lining everybody up as a potential suspect. It’s the kind of book that you think about even when you’re not reading it.

My one, small wish this book is that the island was not referred to as a tax haven. The island has that reputation enough, when in reality most residents as normal, working people just like everyone else. Just like most of the characters portrayed in this book. The only difference is that we have to pay over the odds for a pint of local milk. It may not be all sunshine and roses here on the Island, and yes it has some very wealthy corporations and individuals, but I feel it isn’t an accurate representation and the Island could have been painted in a better light if this was not mentioned. That’s a personal thing though. I’m very passionate about living here and naturally, I want people to see the best of it! 

 

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Shelf Control #47 – 22/04/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

I really like the sound of today’s featured book. The synopsis is intriguing and sinister all at the same time! I’ll put you out of your misery and not keep you in any suspense – as I am sure you are curious to find out what today’s feature is?

 

Sleepyhead – Mark Billingham

Goodreads – Sleepyhead

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne now knows that three murdered young women were a killer’s mistakes — and that Alison was his triumph. And unless Thorne can enter the mind of a brilliant madman — a frighteningly elusive fiend who enjoys toying with the police as much as he savors his sick obsession — Alison Willetts will not be the last victim consigned forever to a hideous waking hell.

Already an international bestseller, Mark Billingham’s “Sleepyhead” is a chilling masterwork of crime fiction — a boldly original experiment in terror that will beget dark dreams and sleepless nights.

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of this book is well-written, because there is enough information to draw your attention but equally give nothing away at all. And all in a nice, concise and easy to read way. Perfect, right? Well, it worked for me, and I can’t wait to pick this up. I haven’t read any books by Mark Billingham to date, although I am very familiar with the name and the kind of genre he writes.

I can’t wait to give this a try! I’m always looking to broaden my horizons and read new books/authors. What I particularly like the idea of is getting invested into this series. According to Goodreads, this series of his alone is 18 books long. That’s plenty to sink my teeth into if I fall in love with it! I enjoy the mystery/thriller genre as well, so it has plenty of promise!

Have you read Sleepyhead, or any other books by Mark Billingham? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Shelf Control #46 – 08/04/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

When looking through my TBR for my next feature for this post, I got excited seeing this title! I remember adding this to my TBR all those years ago because the premise really stood out to me.

This is a book that deals with difficult topics, namely mental health, so if this sort of thing triggers you then I wouldn’t recommend reading this post. I do hope though that it doesn’t upset you too much and that you can enjoy my initial thoughts on this particular book!

 

The Good Samaritan – John Marrs

Goodreads – The Good Samaritan

She’s a friendly voice on the phone. But can you trust her?

The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.

Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.

But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?

The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…

Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.

 

My Thoughts…

This book caught my eye for its unique plotline, and I think it’s interesting to base a thriller novel around the abuse of a position of power. It’s not the sort of thing you were traditionally associate as this kind of role, but it is true. When you are emotionally vulnerable, and you connect with somebody you think is reputable in order to help you, they will have a lot of influence over you in that moment. This is a really interesting hook for the premise and I can’t wait to see how events of the book play out!

For some people this won’t be an ideal read. It might not be the easiest subject to read about if you’ve had health problems in this way before. I’m not shy though. I’m not saying any sense that I haven’t experienced my own difficulties before and therefore mental health doesn’t concern me. I’ve had a moment.

Years ago I got the contraceptive implant and it was the worst decision I ever made. It’s one thing to be told what kind of side-effects you can have and quite another to experience them. Although, to be honest, I’m not even sure that these were explained fully. I don’t remember a conversation that went along the lines of “this could make you feel like shit”. I never did anything drastic on it, but it did affect me. I was angry and short-tempered a lot of the time, I would get upset at the slightest inconvenience or comment and it dragged me down for over a year. I’m not exaggerating when I say that having it taken out 15 months later felt like a cloud lifted – it really did. I was lucky in that I was able to identify the problem and get rid of it. Not everybody has that luxury!

It’s true that we all have our own difficulties throughout our lives. We all experience it, maybe to varying degrees, but we do. I would like to see a day where it isn’t taboo to talk about it transparently… where we can open up to our friends and family, or work colleagues, as openly as if we had a physical injury. I’m a firm believer that only through talking about these things and demonstrating that it’s okay to be open about it can we encourage others to open up themselves. I’ll start in the only way I can – with myself. 

And that’s the same for my blog. I am going to read books with difficult topics and I am going to talk about them. It’s a great way to open up to a subject and start a conversation. As is the case with this book, it can highlight vulnerabilities and where additional safeguards need to be put in place to protect people.

All in the guise of an entertaining read. Every day really is a school day. That’s all from me in today’s Shelf Control post! Have you read this book, or is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Shelf Control #45 – 25/03/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my Shelf Control post for today! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

There was no dramatic purge of my reading list this week, and I’m excited to share today’s feature with you.

When I first saw and purchased a copy of this book I didn’t realise it was the fourth of a series! Given how exciting this book sounds, I have very high hopes for the earlier books in the series too! Shall we find out what it is?

 

Th1rt3en – Steve Cavanagh

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36217425-thirteen

The serial killer isn’t on trial.

He’s on the jury…

They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of this book sounds brilliant, and there are obviously a lot of other people who agree with this! The book has several thousand reviews and a 4+ star rating. I’m willing to go with the consensus here and say that I’m going to enjoy this book.

It’s a courtroom legal thriller, which isn’t something I pick up a lot of… but for that reason I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it. I pride myself on the diversity of books that I pick up and whilst I’m not shy towards a crime thriller novel, this is going to be new for me. I can’t think of any books I’ve read in the past with a similar theme. The characters also sound intriguing in themselves, so I can only hope that they uplift this already tense and exciting story to the next level.

You know me though. I’m not going to be able to pick this up until I’ve read the first few books in the series.It’s just my thing. If it’s written that way, I’m of the view it’s meant to be read that way too. So, I’ll be picking up the first three books of the series before I get to Thirteen.

I’m excited already!

 

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Shelf Control #43 – 25/02/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Today’s feature is a crime fiction novel – something that I don’t think I’ve picked up for a while. I added this to my TBR several years ago, but my interest in this book has not waned over time in the slightest!

So, do you want to find out what today’s book is?

 

99 Red Balloons – Elisabeth Carpenter

Goodreads – 99 Red Balloons

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

 

My Thoughts…

Crime fiction novels are always a great genre for me to turn to. It’s not something I’ve read anything in recently, but it’s for that reason that I’m looking forward to picking this up. I really like reading this style of book and it’s always good to pick up something a little different and diversify every now and then.

What really catches my attention with this book is that the reliability of one of the main characters is called into question. This is an aspect I really like about books. I like how the bias of perspective can alter the way we interpret a storyline and if used effectively, it can provide opportunities for major plot twists!

Naturally, the storyline might not be for everybody. If the idea of children getting hurt or going missing is difficult for you to stomach, then this isn’t necessarily going to be a book for you. However, I don’t shy away from topics like these. Ultimately, this is a fictional narrative. Yes, there is reality that this could happen to somebody child, and that’s the hook that gets you to invest into the story and really feel for the characters involved, but at the end of the day it is just that – a story.

Have you read 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter, or anything like it? Let me know in the comments!

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Shelf Control #40 – 07/01/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

I’m excited to pick up this next book on my list because it’s a series my grandad enjoyed reading. I didn’t know this at the time I added it to my TBR, but my mum mentioned it afterwards having seen it on my blog. In its own way, I’m looking forward to picking it up so I have something in common with him… a reminder of him. Sadly none of my grandparents are still alive, but I still have connections to them through the memories and the things they taught me. For me, enjoying this series (I hope) is a way of connecting with him in a way I haven’t before.

So, do you want to find out what today’s book is?

 

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) – Lee Child

Goodreads – Killing Floor

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of Killing Floor appealed to me even before I knew of my grandad’s interest in the series. I think it will be a fun and intriguing read. In a way, I like the vagueness of the synopsis. It encompasses the crux of the novel without going into too much detail. For a reader it allows the imagination to run wild and there is so much possibility with this book.

This will be my first read by Lee Child so I have no prior knowledge or expectations for this book. It’s a blank slate; I enjoy reading books by new authors and trying something new. I’m looking forward to moving a tad out of my comfort zone a little to try this one!

I’m also hoping I enjoy this first book because if I do, then I have a long series to look forward to continuing with. I had no idea there were that many books in the series when I added it to the list but I’m not daunted by it in the slightest! If it’s good (and I have every faith that it is) then I won’t be short of reading material for a very long time…

Have you read Killing Floor, any other book in the Jack Reacher series or any others by Lee Child? Let me know in the comments!

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Shelf Control #38 – 12/11/2021

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

This week’s featured book is one that my sister purchased a copy of years ago. I can’t remember the exact details, but it was on some kind of offer, or student discount, that she got. Having read about it herself she quite liked the sound of it. She asked if she could read it first and then pass it on to me once she was finished. I don’t know if she ever finished it, but I certainly haven’t seen it!

Interested to find out what it is?

 

The Bone Collector – Jeffrey Deaver

Goodreads – The Bone Collector

Lincoln Rhyme was once a brilliant criminologist, a genius in the field of forensics — until an accident left him physically and emotionally shattered. But now a diabolical killer is challenging Rhyme to a terrifying and ingenious duel of wits. With police detective Amelia Sachs by his side, Rhyme must follow a labyrinth of clues that reaches back to a dark chapter in New York City’s past — and reach further into the darkness of the mind of a madman who won’t stop until he has stripped life down to the bone.

 

My Thoughts…

I really like the sound of the plot. Crime thrillers are a great read and it’s a popular genre with a lot of people. I’m intrigued by the characters, in particular the villain based on the little hints we get from the synopsis. There is something twisted about the human brain because we are intrigued by the actions and frightening intelligence of the most devious, narcissistic killers. It’s a kind of morbid fascination… but is it’s obviously a popular subject because this book has fantastic reviews. And as you will know, a lot of dramas on TV have the same kind of premise, or at least the characters.

I can’t wait to pick The Bone Collector up for myself. As I said, I’ve never actually clapped eyes on the copy of the book my sister bought. Whether that’s because she finished it and decided she wanted to keep it for herself, or that she hasn’t finished it yet, I don’t know! It doesn’t matter though. Either way, I will be getting round to this – even if I have to get my own copy!

Have you read The Bone Collector? Would you recommend it? As always I would love to know!

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Shelf Control #32 – 02/07/2021

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on Reviewsfeed and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

I like to take this opportunity to have a look at the books on my TBR, in order, to share with you why I’m interested in them. It’s also to filter out any I no longer want to read too. A lot of the older books on my list were added a good number of years ago, so I have filtered a few out since starting the series.

This week‘s featured book has been on my TBR since July 2017 and having read the synopsis again, I really can’t wait to see if I love this book as much as I think I’m going to. It has a really unique premise and it’s unlike anything I have seen before.

Read on to find out about the book!


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Goodreads – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.


My Thoughts….

I really like the concept of this story. It’s unusual and unique and I’m hoping I really get on with a slightly different style of narrative. Having read some reviews, this seems to be a love it or hate it book. I for one am optimistic that I will enjoy this one and I hope to be picking it up before too long.

From the synopsis and the reviews, I’m not really sure what kind of genre this fits into. It doesn’t seem to fit too well into horror, despite what the synopsis makes you believe. But I don’t know where else it would sit. I suppose in a way that can be seen as a good thing. It’s a way of diversifying and reading something new – which I’m always keen to do.

Have you read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? What did you make of it if so?

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Blog Tour Extract: The Five Things – Beth Merwood

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour post for The Five Things by Beth Merwood. I’m excited to be taking part in the tour and for today’s post, I have an extract to share with you. As always, a huge thank you to Beth and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and inviting me to take part.

I really hope you enjoy today’s exclusive extract. This chapter appears as any normal typical childhood would, and in the context of the book we know that something is going to happen very shortly to these characters. The scene seems very innocent and so I can’t help but wonder what happens next! Of course we’ll have to read the book to find out, but for now, here is today’s extract!

 

Exclusive excerpt from The Five Things by Beth Merwood

The Five Things is set in 1969 in rural England. The following excerpt is from an early scene and finds the key characters in their favourite place, playing a game during the carefree days of the school summer holiday. Soon a terrible event will interrupt their world.

Tommy had us lying on our backs in the grass at the far side of the upper field. It was really just a game of hide and seek that he’d slightly embellished.

“Count to a hundred,” he said, and we heard him running off.

We had to lie on our backs so that he knew we would keep our eyes shut. The sun was blazing down, and I put my arm over my face because it was so bright it seemed it could burn right through my eyelids.

Anna, Naomi, Sam, and I were all there.

Sam was moaning. “I’m so hot.”

“Thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six…” Anna counted.

“I feel weird,” I said.

Naomi never said very much. She was joining in the game, though, so that was something.

“Fifty-one, fifty, forty-eight,” Anna said.

“Fif-ifty-fi-i-ive, fiiiiiifteeee-siiiiix, fty-svn,” said Sam. He was saying the numbers slowly, or quickly, or in a funny voice to make it more interesting.

Anna started to giggle. It’s hard to stop giggling when you’re lying on your back, and soon we were all giggling, and no one was counting. Sam stood up.

“Give it a bit longer, then we’ll go and search,” he said.”

We waited. He lay down again. I was trying to look at him through gaps in my fingers without being blinded.

“One hundred!” Naomi said. We weren’t sure if she was guessing or if she’d continued counting the whole time.

We got up and headed to the wood to hunt for Tommy. Anna said we had to split up. I was sent on the normal path, while Sam was to go to the left of the path and Anna to the right of the path. Naomi was to walk round the outside of the wood looking in. I had the easiest route, but I was finding it hard to adjust my eyes after coming out of the sunlight, and I felt dizzy. It seemed so dark, but it was lovely and cool. A piece

of ivy, hanging down, brushed my bare shoulder and made me jump. Then, as I climbed over the fallen tree, I thought I spotted something moving. I sat on the trunk for a while, watching and listening. All I could hear was the sound of the others in the undergrowth, the swishing sounds as they thrashed their way through. I went on. Eventually, I thought I’d been in the wood long enough and came out the other side without finding Tommy. I headed back to where we’d been sitting. As I walked round, I saw Tommy and Naomi lounging on the grass in full view. Tommy put his finger to his lips to silence me. I strode over.

“You’re supposed to be hiding,” I whispered loudly.

He whispered back, “I waited until I saw you all come into the wood, and then I came back here.”

“Tommy, that’s cheating!” I told him. Naomi probably knew he would do something like that.

He shrugged.

“Well, the others won’t be too pleased, they’re searching high and low for you.”

“Shhhhh…” he said.

The others were anything but pleased when they finally returned. In fact, they told Naomi and me we were as much to blame because we hadn’t called off the hunt. Sam had torn his T-shirt, and both Sam and Anna had been scratched by brambles and stung by nettles.

“You’re in for it this time, squirt,” Sam said.

“Little brothers can be very annoying,” Naomi confirmed.”

 

The Five Things – Beth Merwood

Goodreads – The Five Things

For nine-year-old Wendy, the summer of 1969 will never be forgotten.

Local kids have always told stories about the eerie wood on the outskirts of the village, and Wendy knows for sure that some of them are true. Now the school holidays have started and she’s going to the wood again with Anna and Sam, but they soon become convinced that someone is trying to frighten them off.

When a terrible event rocks the coastal community, the young friends can’t help thinking there must be a connection between the incident, the tales they’ve heard, and the strange happenings they’ve begun to witness. As glimpses of a darker world threaten their carefree existence, they feel compelled to search out the underlying truth.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

Author Bio

Beth Merwood is from the south of England. The Five Things is her debut novel.

 

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