The thing that really stood out to me about this book was the characters. They were used expertly to highlight key themes throughout the story and I got to know each individual on a great level. Every character had their own unique features which Amer took the time to really develop and there was brilliant attention to detail. I particularly loved the friendship between Zaq and Jags. Their dialogue felt realistic and their conversations brought plenty of humour to the book. This humour always seemed to come in exactly the right place and prevented me from getting too bogged down in the more violent parts of the book.
I really enjoyed the inclusion of a different language in places and I thought it was woven in brilliantly as even though I didn't understand the language, I was still able to grasp what was happening.
The book was fast paced whilst also being informative and enlightening about the different cultures. I was learning about so many new things but it didn't distract me at all, instead it blended in neatly with the story.
The descriptions were vivid and colourful which meant there was a great sense of place and I felt like I knew the area well by the end.
The conclusion was exciting and a fitting end to the book.
Overall I'm going to give Western Fringes 4.5 out of 5. It was insightful and action-packed and I really enjoyed it.
Western Fringes is available from Amazon here
This book was provided for free in exchange for an honest review.
Split into four parts, The Honeymoon tells the story of Jemma on the Honeymoon from hell. The story is easy to follow and mostly told from Jemma's perspective, although there are other points of view here and there.
Jemma is a rather unlikeable character, but as she is often described, there's something about her which drew me in and made me all the more invested in the story.
I loved the ending to part one and the beginning of part two. It was here that I realised how desperate I had become to find out what had happened between Jemma and her husband. Then the first twist hit me. Oh my goodness. It was such a brilliant twist. My jaw dropped open! Before this point, I hadn't found it too difficult to stop at each chapter but oh my word. I knew that I'd be staying up late to finish reading from then on! It was so cleverly written.
Finally I got to the last twist. Yet again, oh my word!! I never in a million years would've guessed! I was absolutely astonished! The only tiny criticism I have of the ending is that it ended a little too quickly for me. I just wanted a bit more of a conclusion I suppose.
After I closed the book, I must've sat motionless for a good few minutes, still taking in the ending and in absolute shock! I'd suspected every single person apart from the one who was the real cause of Jemma's husband going missing!
Overall, I'd give this book 4.5 out of 5. It's extremely cleverly written with a killer twist which left me reeling.
The Honeymoon is published by Penguin Books on 1st June
I won a copy of this book and this is my honest review.
Today, I've got a Q&A with the wonderful Darren Young, author of Child Taken!
1. Did you always want to become an author? If not, what made you make the decision to become one?
Not an author but I always enjoyed writing and had ambitions to go into journalism at one stage, plus I do quite a bit of writing for my job. But I heard a radio interview with GP Taylor who said that at the age of forty, he decided to become an author and as I was nearly forty at the time, it got me thinking. Eventually, about a year later and after a couple of practice books, I decided to give it a real go.
2. What's your writing process like? Do you have a routine, or just write when you get inspiration?
I find I only have about 2-3 hours of decent writing in me each day and anymore than that, I end up deleting most the next day. I find I write better either early (8am onwards) or bizarrely after 6pm (but only for an hour or so) even if I've worked a full day on other things. And I have to have structured the whole book out beforehand so that the writing is about filling in each chapter based on what I've already decided is going to happen.
3. How do you choose the names of your characters in general, and also specifically Danni and Laura?
I try to find names I like and that I'm comfortable with because I have to live with them for quite a while. One thing I do is have imaginary conversations so I know how it sounds out loud. Interestingly, with Child Taken, Laura was always her name from day one but I changed to Danni and also Jessica at a very late stage because Red Door asked me to (with Jessica it was to avoid having the same name as a character from another of their books). For everyone, I also research the most popular names from the relevant year to make sure they are appropriate.
4. What was the biggest barrier you had to overcome in the process of getting Child Taken published?
I found the process of submitting to agents very frustrating. I had some great feedback followed by months of waiting and lots of rejection with a 'but we really like it' caveat that made me keep thinking it was always so near yet so far. One arranged a meeting then cancelled with literally a couple of minutes left which was very numbing at the time because it knocks your confidence. Now that people are saying things like 'Best Thriller they've read' and 'Best debut they've read' I can't help feel that some of them should have taken a closer look but luckily, I didn't give in and Red Door were absolutely magnificent when they got hold of it.
5. What ambition did you have as a younger Darren which you still hope to achieve?
That's a great question. This has topped everything I'd done before or hoped to do (and I think a hat trick in an FA Cup Final is probably beyond me now) but I've always been a massive film fan so I guess my new ambition is to see Child Taken on the screen.
6. Which authors inspire you?
I found reading while writing quite hard to balance but before I started writing I loved thrillers by Simon Kernick and David Baldacci amongst others, and Mark Billingham's books were an inspiration to me when I started writing. I also love a book called Manslaughter United by Chris Hulme which really inspired my style of writing.
7. Any tips for aspiring authors?
Don't give up even if people keep knocking you back but at some stage, you have to say 'am I prepared to keep going through this?' because it takes its toll. But if you've had enough encouragement from people in the know to suggest you can write, then you have to take the rejection on the chin and move past it. The best thing I did was decide that I simply would not accept Child Taken not being published.
8. How was publication day?
It was amazing. To pretty much fill out a large room of Waterstones and end up signing books for over an hour were things I'd never imagined I'd ever do or be capable of. But the whole build up including the reviews was a special time and made all the harder times worthwhile.
9. Any interesting or random facts about yourself?
There's not that much that's too exciting but:
- I play tennis at least once a week
- my favourite food is Italian (that's why I married into an Italian family!)
- I've done a half marathon and a triathlon (once was definitely enough)
- I'm a little addicted to Orlando theme parks
- I used to commute to Brussels for work
- I don't have an absolute favourite film (Jaws if pushed) but I'm just glad I have kids as the children's films these days are so good I need an excuse to watch them all
- I hate flying (but of the grip the seat variety not avoiding it at all costs)
10. How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Facebook: Darren Young Author
Thank you so much for your excellent, honest answers and for featuring on my blog!
How could such a thing happen?
But it did happen.
I wasn’t one of the others, observing.
It happened to me.
One hot summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won’t give up hope that her daughter is still alive.
How can she?
Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what’s been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.
This stunning debut from Darren Young looks at the impact on everyone affected by the abduction of Jessica Preston, through several different points of view in past and present. I really like the way that the POV of the abductor and the mother got closer and closer to the present day. It felt like I was gradually managing to close in on finding out who took Jessica Preston and it helped to keep me engaged and create anticipation which built up even more tension.
The pace moved along perfectly, the characters had brilliant depth and I found that the book was an ideal length. Child Taken was an absolute pleasure to read.
I was hooked until the very end. Speaking of the end, it definitely didn't let me down! It was fantastic and I thought the twist was brilliant and perfectly written too.
This is the kind of book I'd want to write if I wrote a book!
Overall, I have to give this book five out of five and add it to my Five-star Favourites shelf! I couldn't possibly give it anything less. It was extremely engaging with a fabulous twist and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
This book was provided for free in exchange for an honest review.
Child Taken is published by RedDoor Publishing and is available from the 18th May.
Look out for my Q&A with Darren this weekend!
From the outset, Ginny's unique voice and thoughts come through really clearly and I felt I was able to get to know her well. The story being told from Ginny's perspective enabled me to learn about her traits and characteristics and see the world through her eyes in a way that I couldn't have done with any other style of narration. This insight into her mind was extremely valuable.
Unfortunately, I felt that one or two parts in the book dragged a little. There were areas which I felt could've been shortened or were a bit repetitive. However, this wasn't the whole book, just a few places.
Although some people might say the ending was a little hard to believe, I liked it. For me, it was neat and just the ending I wanted to see for Ginny. Additionally, I really enjoyed the build up to the ending. Without giving away any spoilers, I was definitely holding my breath as I waited to see what would happen and if Ginny would go through with her final plan.
Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was thought provoking and insightful with a unique narrator.