Category Archives: Bantam Press
Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior
Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy living her quiet life with her husband, Clive. Happy to wander the Exmoor countryside and write the occasional poem that nobody will read; happy to dream of all the things she hasn’t yet managed to do. Or is she?
Meet Dan. He thinks all he needs is the time and space to make harps in his isolated barn on Exmoor. He enjoys being on his own, far away from other people and – crucially – far away from any risk of surprises.
What Ellie and Dan don’t know yet, is that a chance encounter is about to change all of this.
It was such a real pleasure to have read Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior (Bantam Press) a beautiful novel set on Exmoor. And yes there is a Pheasant that does appear in the storyline. I have always held a fascination for the Harp and have come to appreciate the music.
Ellie is happily married to Clive and is almost content with the life they live, until one day when she is out waking she comes across a barn in the middle of nowhere and when she enters Ellie is immediately captivated. Here she meets Dan and the handmade harps he crafts from wood. The thing about Dan is that he is not making a business out of what he does as this is purely for love from the woods around the workshop.
It becomes apparent almost immediately that there is something special between Ellie and Dan. Their love of the countryside, poetry, nature and music. Ellie is just delightful. Often wandering the country lanes reciting poetry she has written. She comes across as someone who is a bit of a loner and so when she meets Dan and is beguiled by his craftsmanship. It is then that Ellie tells Dan that she wants to play the harp.
The story is told by both Ellie and Dan and you begin to read each other’s thoughts and when Dan gives Ellie one of his beautiful Harps this causes problems at home for Ellie. Hazel Prior has crafted such a warm and charming story that you just wanted to spend time with both Ellie and Dan who is just a little different from most people and sees the world through different eyes.
Wonderful characters and the setting of Exmoor is very descriptive. And yes Phineas the Pheasant does a play and integral part in the story of Ellie and Dan but I am not going to spoil the story for you. A novel to make you smile and lift your heart.
Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior was published by Bantam Press and was published on 2nd May 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Never Greener by Ruth Jones
Many will have come to love Ruth Jones for her role as Nessa Jenkins in the hit TV comedy Gavin and Stacey and also her other roles she has become so well known for as well as a script writer, but now we can add author the list. Released on 5th April is Ruth Jones’s debut novel Never Greener (Bantam Press).
I must be one of the luckiest people around who gets the chance to read books before they hit the shops and every now and then a book comes along that just knocks me over. Never Greener is one of those books it is big and oh so wise. A book telling the story of second chances and also at times funny. Ruth Jones is not just a great actress she is also a terrific writer.
The characters are so real that you just do not want to let them leave your life. We meet Kate and Callum who had a passionate affair, Kate was young in her early twenties and Callum old and married, he should have known better, was he looking for some excitement in his ‘mid-life’ what was Kate really hoping for? Sadly, for Kate it ended and left her bereft and heartbroken. Callum carried on with his life his secret hidden.
Fast forward seventeen years and life is about to get very complicated. Kate is now doing very well for herself, a successful actress in her own right. Well known wherever she goes. Callum is still married and has a family and happy in Edinburgh. Secrets buried in the past never to be spoken of.
Kate and Callum now meet again Kate the successful actress is invited back to her old school and this is where Callum is a teacher, and so it begins again their passionate affair, this is more than just a spark. It is an inferno that could consume all and everything. No spoilers from me as to what happens to Kate and Callum. Go and buy the book and see for yourself what happens next.
Superbly written with great characters. They be floored characters but I just loved reading about them, affairs generally always tend to end in disaster with a trail of destructing left in its wake. But let’s not detract from a fantastic debut novel that many will love. There are funny moments and moments that will leave you wincing and just wondering what that hell next. There is so much packed into over 400 pages. Every emotion possible pours out of the pages. A brilliant novel.
Ruth Jones is going on a book tour to go alongside the launch of Never Greener. If you are close by to any of these locations this will be an event not to be missed. #NeverGreener
Thank you Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Never Greener by Ruth Jones.
Never Greener by is published by Ruth Jones and is published on 5th April and will be available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Night School (Jack Reacher 21) – Lee Child
Just released is the 21st book in the Jack Reacher series of thrillers by Lee Child. This time round Reacher finds himself being awarded a medal for his last assignment the ‘quiet’ ceremony was barely over when he was told of his next assignment. Jack Reacher was heading back to School.
Set in 1996 and back during his army days this school though is a bit of ‘cover’ as he is joined by two others to form a three-man secret ‘ops’ mission to seek and find an American traitor. As yet they are not sure of the traitor’s true identity. Add into the mix that there is an Islamic terrorist group in Germany and that they met with the unknown American but what is it that he has offered to the terrorists? The asking price is staggering at $100 million. This man must be found and found quickly before he compromises the United States.
The three-man team including Jack Reacher are specialists in their fields and each is investigating in their own way. For Reacher he heads off to Germany but not alone and with him is Frances Neagley together they must seek the answers that will lead them to the traitor before something catastrophic takes place. This is a full on thriller and you can hear the clock ticking away in the background as time starts to run down. Can Reacher save the day? There are some rather interesting moments in the book as Reacher baits some Germans as war losers and not afraid of showing some select individuals just what he is made of. Even in 1996 you do not pick a fight with Jack Reacher and expect to win.
The one thing you can expect from Jack Reacher in a tight spot is that he will come through. So even at this earliest point in his ‘career’ you can just see the makings of what was to come in the years ahead. A thumping good thriller is what Night School is and if you have read any of the previous Jack Reacher novels then you must not miss this look back to his early days.
Thank you to Patsy Irwin at Transworld Publishers for the advanced review copy.
Night School by Lee Child is published by Bantam Press and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena
The Last Word Review
When I first heard of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena and read up on the story line I knew instinctively that here was going to be one of the thrillers of summer 2016.
Here is a tight taught thriller that really is the stuff of nightmares for every parent and will leave you asking so many questions and asking just who you can really trust and how well we really know some people.
Anne and Marco Conti have arranged to go next door to their friends for an evening dinner party but their baby sitter has cancelled at rather short notice leaving the couple to leave their six-month old baby alone in the house and enjoy an evening next door, they would at intervals take turns and check on Cora. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty of drink has been consumed and Anna is feeling somewhat guilty at leaving baby Cora alone in the house albeit just next door but they have both been drinking far too much and Anna who is suffering from postnatal depression wants to go home and persuades Marco to bring the evening to a close. Anna believes Marco has been flirting again and Anna is close to losing it. Their lives are now about to change. They stand on their doorstep to find their front door is open. Panic now sets in. The couple race to Cora’s room to find the cot is empty. Cora has been taken.
What takes in the following minutes is a blame game between both Anna and Marco, with Marco admitting it was his fault. But who has taken Cora, both parents had been taking it in turns to check on their beloved baby. It seems like in these immediate moments that two worlds have just collided. Anna for some time has had doubts about her husband now her baby has been taken. Anna is venting her fury at Marco and does not hold back.
The opening seems to go so quickly it is that good and is totally gripping and you feel that you are a fly on the wall watching two people lives fall apart. There are so many twists and turns that you start to play the role of trying to solve the mystery for them. Suspicion clearly falls on the couple as the police start their investigations. Look out the police detective Rasbach, in the chaos and confusion he is calm and calculated. He has his suspicions and doubts some of the answers he is hearing and then add to the mix Anne’s very wealthy parents, who have clearly do not have a lot of time for Marco. Then again what about the couple next door Cynthia and Graham, there is something not quite right about this couple but saying that all the key characters left me cold and rather too quickly into the book I found that I had dislike towards all of them. They all seemed to be hiding something and had their own agenda.
It was clear from the opening pages that Lapena has written a summer blockbuster that delivers a page-turning thriller that is packed with suspense. I enjoyed Lapena’s writing style and the fact that she made sure that all the key characters became under suspicion. If there is one drawback with The Couple Next Door it is in the conclusion, I just had the feeling it letting me down, the main story is enthralling and so fast paced but the ending without giving it away, I had high hopes for. But this does not in any way detract from a fabulous thriller.
Thank you to Becky Hunter from Transworld Publishers for the review copy.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is published by Bantam Press and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Review Date: 10 October 2015
Author: Fiona Barton
Release Date: 14 January 2016
Publishers: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers).
ISBN –10: 0593076214
ISBN – 13: 0593076217
Available in Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
Thought provoking psychological thriller, what does go on behind closed doors
One of the most anticipated thrillers to be published in January 2016. Fiona Barton has written the ultimate thriller in The Widow that asks the question what really does go on behind closed doors.
This is a novel as told through the perspectives of the leading characters, and you get to know them very well and some are not quite as they make out.
Bella a two year old girl has been abducted from her garden and the main suspect is Glen Taylor a delivery driver. The police arrive one day to question Glen about his whereabouts on the day Bella disappeared so the story begins. Well not quite, there much more to this psychological thriller than you think. Glen seemed to have it all a great job at the local bank except how did he lose his job and how he explained it to his wife Jean, slowly but surely the facts all start to be uncovered. Glen is not who Jean really thinks he is, in fact the long suffering wife does not know her husband all that well.
The book opens four years after Bella disappeared and a lot has taken place in that time, now Glen has been killed in an accident and Jean has decided to bring the past out into the open. This is a story that flits between the past and the present in short chapters that I found really captivating and dares you to put the book down. I could not as it is that good you just wanted to know more about Glen and why is Jean so supportive of the monster that is her husband.
Normally in a review I will give an outline of the storyline in more detail, but as this is being published in January 2016 and is destined to be a best seller, this time around I am not going to delve to deeply into the story as that will spoil it.
The Widow is superbly written and so many twists and turns and really makes you thinks about loyalty in situations like this. I utterly loathed Glen but with Jean I found myself asking ‘why’ many times and this is a very believable storyline as you can imagine there are many ‘Jeans’ out there in a similar situation.
As I write this review The Widow has been sold to over 28 countries around the world and that is destined to increase and in recent days has been ‘optioned’ for television. You will be hearing a lot more about Fiona Barton and her debut novel through the coming months.
Some will tell you that The Widow will be the new Girl on the Train or Gone Girl I am in the opinion to say that it deserves to stand up by itself and it will and the success and accolades that will surely follow. It is no surprise to learn that Fiona Barton is an award winning reporter so she knew exactly what she was writing about when writing The Widow as she covered many murder cases. What makes women like Jean Taylor stay loyal that is one of the leading questions that comes out of this outstanding crime thriller.
Make a date for 14 January 2016 and prepare to cancel a weekend as turn the first page of Fiona Barton’s The Widow.
Thank you to Ben Willis and Transworld Books for an Advanced Review Copy.
Meet the Author
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. The Widow is her first novel. Born in Cambridge, she currently lives in south-west France.