#BookReview: The Other People by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks #TheOtherPeople #damppebbles

the other people

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .”

As far as most anticipated books go, The Other People is right up there teetering at the top of a fairly exclusive list. Newsflash people, I LOVE CJ TUDOR’S BOOKS. If you’re a regular reader of the blog then this may come as no surprise. Her first two releases – the blisteringly superb The Chalk Man, and the deliciously sublime The Taking of Annie Thorne both made my top books on the year list. No one writes like Caz Tudor – she’s in a league of her own. And if I haven’t convinced you to purchase The Other People (plus her back catalogue) in one short paragraph then I’m doing something wrong here. I might as well quit now ūüėā (I’m not going to do that – just so you know.)

As soon as you start reading The Other People you know you’re in for one hell of a ride – quite literally! Up and down the M1 motorway. Gabe is a character that you can’t help but like. Tudor manages to make him thoroughly likeable despite his mounting flaws – something she has managed to achieve with all three of the male lead characters across her novels. Driving home one evening he spots a face he recognises in the car in front. It’s his young daughter, Izzy. He doesn’t recognise the car and Izzy should be at home with her mum. When the child mouthes the word ‘daddy’ Gabe is 100% sure it’s his daughter in the strange car. After that short fleeting glance, Gabe never sees his daughter again…

It’s not often you find a creepy, totally engrossing psychological suspense thriller set partly in a motorway service station. Necessary as they are, they’re not the most glamorous of locations but that was part of the appeal of this book for me. The setting and the set-up of the story was quite different to everything else I’ve read (please see previous comment about Caz Tudor being in a league of her own!). Tudor draws you into the story and makes you care about her characters with seemingly little effort. You also end up feeling that you don’t know half of what’s gone before, what’s happening behind the scenes, nor where you’ll end up heading as Gabe continues his search for Izzy. Other fascinating characters are brought into the mix; Fran and Alice who are running from something, Katie – the exhausted single mum of two who works every shift she can get at the service station. There’s the mysterious ‘Samaritan’ who ratches up the spooky factor ten-fold. Not forgetting the pale girl in the white room – what’s her role in all of this?

I spent a lot of time, whilst reading The Other People, trying to figure out how the different threads were connected. I was miles off. There was one aspect of the book I was able to guess in advance but I don’t think Ms Tudor will mind too much. Everything else came as a complete shock and left me reeling. And I loved it!

Would I recommend this book? One hundred per cent, yes! I can see it making an appearance on my top books of the year list (which will be the third year running for this author). If you haven’t experienced a CJ Tudor novel then that needs to change. The Other People is a stunning addition to this author’s body of work and I really can’t say it often enough, you need to read this book! Nerve-janglingly good, I was completely immersed in the story from start to finish. You’ll be reading through the night with this one.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Other People. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Other People by CJ Tudor was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 23rd January 2020 and is available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in Summer 2020): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

cj tudor

C. J. Tudor lives in Sussex, England with her partner and daughter.

Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.

#BookReview: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks @DeadGoodBooks #TheTakingofAnnieThorne

the taking of annie thorne.jpg“Then . . .

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.

Now. . .

The email arrived in my inbox two months ago. I almost deleted it straight away, but then I clicked OPEN:

I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again . . .”

The tricky second book.¬† I was a huge fan of C.J. Tudor’s debut, the totally unmissable¬†The Chalk Man¬†which blew my socks off and left me a little bit in love with Ed, the main character.¬† I often still think about him and that brilliant ending (book hangover, much?).¬† So there was nothing on earth that was going to stop me from reading Tudor’s second novel,¬†The Taking of Annie Thorne.¬† I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but this has in no way influenced my review.

I loved it.¬†¬†The Taking of Annie Thorne is just as dark, just as creepy and just as brilliant as¬†The Chalk Man¬†(although I will put my hand up here and confess that I loved¬†The Chalk Man just a teeny tiny smidge more).¬† There are definite similarities between the two books; a small claustrophobic town, our main protagonist is a teacher (there are other similarities between Ed and Joe which I won’t go into detail about here), strange creepy inexplicable things happening to normal everyday people.¬† But I enjoyed that, it added to the story for me.

I found our main protagonist to be instantly likeable.¬† He has a troubled past after discovering his sister, that’s Annie, has changed beyond recognition after she went missing one night.¬† He’s flawed (definitely flawed) with an addiction to gambling and a penchant for stretching the truth but when he receives an email telling him that ‘it’s happening again’ he feels he must return to the town of his youth and see for himself.¬† There are elements of the supernatural at play in this novel which would normally turn me right off but the way Tudor has written her story had me engrossed.¬† I didn’t care that I didn’t really believe in certain aspects of the story.¬† What is reading if not escapism?¬† I was captivated from the first page to the last and felt fully invested in Joe’s plight to discover the truth.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely and I suggest if you haven’t read The Chalk Man you download that too.¬†¬†I’m a huge fan of horror/crime crossover novels and this one is another to add to the favourites list.¬† Tudor’s writing is sublime and before you know it hours have passed and you’ve forgotten to pick the kids up from school (that didn’t happen…honest!).¬† Deliciously creepy, totally addictive and the type of book I want to read over and over again.¬† Don’t miss out on this exceptional book!

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Taking of Annie Thorne.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 21st February 2019 and is available in hardback, ebook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in July (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): ‚čܬ†amazon.co.uk ‚čܬ†amazon.com ‚čܬ†Waterstones ‚čܬ†BookDepository ‚čܬ†Goodreads ‚čÜ

about-the-author3

cj tudorC. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer (@kate_hamer) @FaberBooks

the doll funeral.jpg“My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he’d give me a medal for lying.

I wasn’t lying. I’m a hunter for lost souls and I’m going to be with my real family. And I’m not going to let Mick stop me.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my stop on¬†The Doll Funeral blog tour.¬†¬†The Doll Funeral is the second book written by Kate Hamer.¬† Her first,¬†The Girl in the Red Coat, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Prize in 2015.¬† I had the pleasure of meeting Kate Hamer at the 2017 Wantage (Not Just!) Betjemen Literary Festival in October.¬† Hearing Hamer talk about her characters, her thought processes and how Ruby¬†blossomed into life made me keen to read this beautifully haunting tale.

Ruby is different.¬† Ruby is able to see and communicate with the dead.¬† She has also had a harrowing upbringing.¬† A number of unsightly bruises and marks which need to be hidden away; she has time off school when the bruises get really bad but it’s OK, Barbara and Mick tell her what to say.¬† It’s never the truth.¬† The truth would cause too many questions, too many problems.¬† On her thirteenth birthday, Barbara and Mick share some news.¬† Ruby is adopted, she’s not their ‘real’ daughter.¬† The confirmation that she doesn’t belong fills Ruby with joy and she runs into the garden singing.¬† But this is just the beginning for Ruby.¬† She needs to find out where she belongs.¬† She must find her birth parents as she’s sure they want her back.

Ruby’s tale¬†is a very emotional one.¬† So many issues that an adult would find it hard to cope with, dropped onto the shoulders of a thirteen-year-old child.¬† I personally struggled at times to see Ruby as a child in my mind’s eye.¬† Her wisdom, actions and attitude were more suited to a person in their late teens, a young adult, maybe? Perhaps Ruby is just one of those characters who are old before their time.

I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback sequences where we meet Ruby’s parents before her birth.¬† Seeing how her young mother, Anna,¬†coped with the unplanned pregnancy.¬† The decisions that had to be made and the undoing of all of those decisions once the precious bundle of a newborn baby was placed in Anna’s arms.¬† Anna’s story broke my heart and I will remember it for some time to come.¬† Along with the names of Ruby’s adoptive parents, Mick and Barbara, but for completely different reasons.

The author has a knack of writing such beautifully¬†descriptive and atmospheric prose that I was able to forgive some of the more far-fetched supernatural aspects of the story.¬† I want to put this out there so we’re all clear; I am a non-believer of ghosts and ghoulies.¬† Always have been and always will be unless someone can show me hard evidence of the spirit world existing.¬† I often struggle with a supernatural element in a book.¬† Sometimes it works for me, other times it doesn’t.

Would I recommend this book?¬† I would but it’s best to approach this novel thinking of it as a gothic ghost story (it crosses many genres but gothic ghost story prepares you for what lays ahead).¬† It’s enchanting, dark and multi-layered.¬† I would very much like to read Hamer’s debut now and compare the two works.

Four out of five stars.

The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 4th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

DF blog tour (2).jpg

about the author3

kate hamer.jpgKate Hamer grew up in the West Country and Wales. She studied art and worked for a number of years in television. In 2011 she won the Rhys Davies short-story prize and her short stories have appeared in various collections. Her debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat was published in 2015. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into sixteen different languages. Kate now lives with her husband in Cardiff.

Author Links: | Goodreads | Website | Twitter |