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Barbara Copperthwaite

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February 2016

Review: THE BUTCHER BIRD, SD Sykes

The Butcher Bird, by SD Sykes. Review by Barbara Copperthwaite

“I thoroughly enjoyed this blast from the past. It’s time to get medieval!”

THEY SAY

Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. The Black Death changed many things, and just as it took away his father and elder brothers, leaving Oswald to be recalled from the monastery where he expected to spend his life, so it has taken many of his villagers and servants. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more – something the King himself has forbidden.

Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear.

Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumour, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.

From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald’s journey is full of danger, dark intrigue and shocking revelations.

I SAY

If you like your crime fiction with a touch of history, you’ll love this book. Set in 1351, just after the Black Death ravaged Britain, it features Oswald, a 19-year-old with secrets in his past that threaten to be unmasked. As if that isn’t enough, he is faced with the murder of a child, which his superstitious friends and family are convinced has been committed by a bird sent by the devil – the Butcher Bird. It is up to Oswald to not only solve the crime but avoid causing a lynch mob in the process.

What’s so wonderful about this book is… TO READ REVIEW IN FULL, CLICK HERE

“SERIOUSLY IMPRESSED. IT WAS SUCH A POWERFUL PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER.”

Bestselling domestic noir thriller Invisible, by Barbara Copperthwaite

 

“A totally raw and uncensored account… Just captivating” Invisible is praised by Many Books, Many Lives

So when I see a review where the reader has understood all the nuances, it makes me want to dance with glee. Abbie Osborne, of the gorgeous blog Many Books, Many Lives, has made me want to spin, leap, and basically put Darcy Bussell to shame with what she has written about INVISIBLE.

“When I finished this book I was seriously impressed. It was such a powerful psychological thriller,” she writes. “There was so much that I liked about this book. The writing was brilliant. The way in which the author takes us through every thought and emotion this character feels without losing the reader or making the entire book any less gripping is really impressive. The epistolary form was a perfect way for us to be able see a totally raw and uncensored account.”

Abbie also praises the way that the main character changes as the story progresses. “It was really amazing to experience such monumental character development,” she writes. “It was an amazing journey to take with her. [Invisible is] One of the most in depth and interesting demonstrations of character development, and the strength of the human spirit.”

Finally, she adds that this “unique disection of the consequences of violent crimes” is “a definite must read for psychological thriller lovers. It has a powerful message and fantastic characters. I’m really looking forward to reading more work from this author.”

To read the review in full, visit Many Books, Many Lives, by clicking here.

Review: THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, Joanna Cannon

THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS & SHEEP, BY JOANNA CANNON. REVIEW BY BARBARA COPPERTHWAITE

“Natural, flowing language used with incredible imagination, and understated power”

THEY SAY

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

I SAY

Sometimes you hear people raving about a book, and after you’ve read it, you think: what were they on about? Well, I decided to read The Truth About Goats and Sheep after hearing so many wonderful things about it…and they were absolutely spot on. This is a gentle crime novel that will make you smile as you savour – and fall in love with – every word.

Firstly, I’ll hold my hands up and admit there are standout details from… TO READ THE REVIEW IN FULL, CLICK HERE.

Review: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors

“Will grab readers and hold onto them until the bitter end”

THEY SAY

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

I SAY

A dark story of domestic bliss gone wrong, it is possible to imagine Behind Closed Doors happening on any street in Britain – and that is its strength.

The start is slow, but I had to keep reading, eager to discover how the story was going to unfold. Just what hold did Jack have over Grace? What was his background?

The narrative slips between past and present, revealing all. Some of the secrets are truly sickening, and Jack’s ultimate plan was twisted in the extreme. Finally, the timeline narratives collide at the end for a showdown.

My problem? I did find…TO READ THE REVIEW IN FULL CLICK HERE

BE GONE, GIRL: WHAT’S IN A NAME

There was an interesting article in The Guardian today about the titles of books (which can be read here).

It got me thinking about the current trend for titles with ‘girl’ in it. Suddenly something occurred to me that went way beyond thinking about the trend; it was more a revelation about western culture, obsession with youth, and the potential diminishment of adult females. How did it do that?

Because I suddenly realised that although the titles reference ‘girl’, every single one of the characters is in fact a woman. Would it be such a terrible thing to acknowledge this? Would sales be affected if it were ‘The Woman On The Train’ instead of ‘girl’? How about ‘The Woman In The Ice’?

I suppose the alliteration of ‘Gone Girl’ just about justifies its use; that and the fact that the main character has a little rant about such things herself. She talks of the illusion of the perfect woman – note the word illusion. The sad thing is that everyone else using ‘girl’ seems to have missed that point entirely, and instead seem simply to use it because it is a buzz word that encapsulates something young, beautiful, and to be coveted. I wonder if Gillian Flynn is tearing her hair out now over that?

It can certainly be frustrating when someone misses the point of a title that has been agonised over for months. Take my debut novel, Invisible. One reader in their review said that they didn’t understand why it was called that because it didn’t have anything to do with the book. I was amazed. To me, Invisible sums up the story entire. This is about a woman who has spent her entire life being overlooked in one way or another: by family, friends, and more than anything by her husband. She even becomes the one victim of crime that no one notices. Even when she becomes one of the most infamous women in Britain, still no one truly sees her.

But how important is a title? Is it worth spending months pondering over? Should it be something that encapsulates the story, or merely intrigues? Does a poor title mean fewer sales?

And also, more importantly, should a title go beyond the book and try to be something bigger? Should we, as authors, all make an effort to drop the ‘girl’ and instead embrace the ‘woman’? Would our subtle change have a subliminal effect on society, and help to stop the pointless, continual pursuit of youth? No, I’m not convinced, either…but I think it’s worth a go.

Review:MARK CAWARDINE’S GUIDE TO WHALE WATCHING IN BRITAIN & EUROPE, Mark Cawardine

MARK CAWARDINE’S GUIDE TO WHALE WATCHING IN BRITAIN & EUROPE

“This guide is fabulous – informative and very easy to use.”

For my second post (and review) of the day, I’m turning my back on crime and instead feeding my other passion: nature.

The fact that Mark Cawardine knows his stuff is indisputable – he is a zoologist, seasoned presenter, and author of more than fifty wildlife books. That knowledge runs through every single sentence in this book, which has been updated and upgraded in this fabulous second edition, which will be published on 25 February. It is packed with information. It isn’t simply a guide to places to see whales, dolphins and porpoises in Britain and Europe, it is also incredibly though-provoking.

For example, why does Iceland continue to hunt whales? Cawardine sets out a factual and well-reasoned answer that is frankly astonishing: because tourists…TO READ THIS REVIEW IN FULL, CLICK HERE.

Review: THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, Kate Hamer

girl in the red coat

“Beautifully written, this novel paints gorgeous pictures with each sentence”

THEY SAY

She is the missing girl. But she doesn’t know she’s lost.Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift…While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is – and who she might become.

I SAY

You’re in a crowded place, desperately clinging to your child’s hand, and the little devil is in a mood so keeps slipping from your grasp. There’s that heart-stopping moment, where you think you’ve lost them…but there they are right beside you.

But Beth Wakeford’s worst nightmare happens when her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, gives her the slip, only to be found by a man with a terrible agenda.

Beautifully written, this novel paints gorgeous pictures with each… TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW, CLICK HERE

“TOTALLY & UTTERLY CONVINCING”

Bestselling domestic noir thriller Invisible, by Barbara Copperthwaite

“A pacy read”

I’m so excited! Fabulous site Postcard Reviews has given my debut novel, Invisible, a wonderful five star review.

When Invisible came out, back in April 2014, I didn’t know a thing about social media – I didn’t even have a Facebook page, let alone anything else. It was a steep learning curve, but a successful one, as my debut novel reach Number 6 in Kindle Murder. The only problem? I hadn’t contacted a single review site to see if they would be interested in reading it and giving me an honest review. There hadn’t been time – and I hadn’t known where to start.

As a result, this is the psychological crime thriller’s first ever review from a book blogger!

“I am surprised that I have not come across this fabulous read before,” notes Tracy, “but I have just read and reviewed ‘Flowers for the Dead’ by Ms Copperthwaite and couldn’t wait to read more of her inimitable style of story-telling.”

The truly wonderful thing is that Tracy, who runs Postcard Reviews, came across my books herself. Just before Christmas I happened across her post about Flowers For The Dead (to read that, click here). So for her to decide to tackle Invisible, too, is particularly special.

It seems she feels the same.

“This is one book that is totally and utterly convincing. It has the reader torn between what is really happening, and what you might be feeling and thinking if you found yourself in the same situation,” Tracy writes.

She goes on to note: “It is a pacy read, and captures life.” Then for the chilling conclusion: “It does make you wonder though, do we really know the person we love?”

Huge thanks to Tracy for taking the time to read and review my novels. I’m so glad she enjoyed them.

To go to Postcard Reviews and read Tracy’s thoughts in full, click here.

“ONE HELL OF A WHITE KNUCKLE RIDE”

 

Bestseller 'Flowers For The Dead' by Barbara Copperthwaite

“Totally took my breath away” Chelle’s Book Reviews

Hurray! Fabulous book blog Chelle’s Book Reviews has given my novel, Flowers For The Dead, a huge thumbs up.

I met Shell the other week, at the author and bloggers meet up in Birmingham, and she told me then that she had heard good things about my psychological crime thriller that she was desperate to read it.

“Oh no, I always find if I have high expectations of a book, it never lives up to them,” I joked. “Go into it thinking it will be rubbish – then you’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s decent.”

Luckily, my theory was proved wrong – phew! – because Shell loved Flowers For The Dead.

“This book is one hell of read, and totally took my breath away. Seriously, I thought I was going to have an heart-attack,” she wrote. “This is one hell of a white knuckle ride; I was gripped from the start. I loved the fact that it was so twisted and warped, and you never knew what Adam [the serial killer and main character] was going to do next.”

She adds: “This is very well written, and Barbara keeps you on tenterhooks all the way through.”

I’m very grateful to Shell for taking the time to read my book and give it an honest review – and I’m very glad she loved it so much! To read the review in full, click here.

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