Thursday, 19 October 2017

Sleeping Beauties @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks

About Sleeping Beauties

The inspector frowned and examined the earth under the trees. As he scanned the glade, his stomach lurched. One, two, three, four. Five, counting the mound of earth disturbed under the tent. Somebody had cleared the earth of its natural layer and sown their own flowers

In five places

Five graves

A young woman, Fiona Holland, has gone missing from a small Irish village. A search is mounted, but there are whispers. Fiona had a wild reputation. Was she abducted, or has she run away?

A week later, a gruesome discovery is made in the woods at Ireland's most scenic beauty spot - the valley of Glendalough. The bodies are all young women who disappeared in recent years. D.I. Tom Reynolds and his team are faced with the toughest case of their careers - a serial killer, who hunts vulnerable women, and holds his victims captive before he ends their lives.

Soon the race is on to find Fiona Holland before it's too late. . .

My review of Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties was an absolute joy to read. This book simply has it all - murder, mystery, suspense, wonderful characters and a dash of romance. The book had me hooked from the very first chapter. Although this is the third book in the Inspector Tom Reynolds books, this works very well as a stand alone novel.

The novel begins in the heart of the Irish countryside when five shallow graves are discovered, all of which are young women. When Fiona Holland goes missing, the race is on to find out who the murderer is and if Fiona is the next victim.

The team is headed by Inspector Tom Reynolds and his tight knit team including DS Ray Lennon and DS Laura Brennan.  The banter is fast, witty, the action quick and methodical. There is enough attention to police procedures but without being weighed down in all of the technicalities, instead the focus is upon the people who are leading the investigation and those who are involved. It is very much a character driven narrative with an engaging serial killer plot.

The story is interspersed with first person accounts from the five women who were killed, that helps to shed light upon the human and emotional angle about what happened to these women. As well as helping us, the reader, to establish what happened to them, it also helps us to realise that the bodies that are found had a life, a story,  and that they mattered.  The novel deals with issues of sexual abuse and violence towards women, and the author manages to create a sensitive read with the women's voices being powerful and of importance. It is a novel that explores the power of women, and of women's sexuality, and of how this is perceived by society. This is reinforced with the character of DS Laura, she is no shrinking violet and is treated as an equal by her peers.

As well as the main plot being that of catching a serial killer,  we also gain insight into the private lives of the detectives in the story. We read about DI Tom and his lovely family, and his friendship with his former chief and his wife June who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Here we meet a man who is refreshingly different from the stereotypical drinking, grumpy and lone detective, as he is happily married and generally happy. I also loved the dynamics between Ray and Laura, they made me smile and my heart skip a beat.

Sleeping Beauties really does have it all. It is a thought provoking and entertaining read and I can't wait to read the next story in the series.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for the paperback copy for review purposes.

Sleeping Beauties was published by Quercus on 21 Sept. 2017 and can  be found on Amazon here

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Winter's Child @cassandrajaneuk @Legend_Press Blog Tour

About The Winter's Child

Five years ago, Susannah Harper's son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family's past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.

My review of The Winter's Child

The Winter's Child is a dark, spellbinding read full of twists that hooked me in. The novel has such a beautiful haunting quality about what it means to be a mother. I found it deeply moving. 

The story focuses on Susannah Harper, now a single mum whose young teenage son, Joel, disappeared five years ago. Slowly Susannah begins to rebuild her life, with the help of her sister, but she is always hoping that Joel will return, that he is still alive. A part of this coping mechanism is her blog, in which she documents her life and feelings, in the hope of helping others who are in a similar situation. 

At the beginning of the book Susannah is at a Christmas Fair with her sister, and her young niece and nephew, and it is here that she meets a fortune teller who is about to radically change he life path. She is told that Joel will return to her at Christmas. It is this fortune telling aspect that helps to create an almost gothic taste to this book. Nothing is quite as it seems. Will Jake return? Who can she trust? Should she believe in psychics? 

The writing is simply beautiful and as the story is told from Susannah's point of view, you are drawn into her world. I felt so sorry for her, her emotions so evident on the page, all mixed up, anger, worry, frustration, sorrow and a huge sense of unease that she would never see her son again. This is a book about a mother's love, and the relationship between mothers and sons.

What should be a deeply difficult book to read, because of the subject matter, is made manageable because of the way in which the author writes. She writes in no nonsense language, stating those feelings and facts so that as a reader, you understand completely what the characters are going through. 

This book a deeply moving story and one that sent a constant shiver down my spine, in the never knowing what happened to Joel and then the slow unraveling of what did happen. The Winter's Child is a breathtaking winter read, so, curl up on the sofa with a warm drink and enjoy!

The Winter's Child was published  on 15 September by Legend Press and can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to Imogen Harris from Legend Press who provided an Advanced Reader Copy and for inviting me on the Blog Tour.

About the author

Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Author of The Summer We All Ran Away (2013) and The Beach Hut (2015) and Lily's House (2016).

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Monday, 16 October 2017

The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell @orionbooks

About The Wrong Child

What if your child committed the ultimate crime?

When a rural village school building collapses, only one child survives: Dog Evans.

To his own mother and father, Dog becomes a daily reminder of their survivor's guilt.

To the other parents he is a hated and feared emblem of their unbearable loss.

Now, seven years after the tragedy, Dog's parents have abandoned him.
And with no one to protect him, the broken community's desire for justice soon becomes unstoppable...
My review of The Wrong Child

The Wrong Child is a book that challenged me. It is fairly dark and brooding, and looks at the not so  bright side of life. But I found it most illuminating, in its depictions of childhood, friendships and the tightly knit community of a Welsh rural village. It would be wrong to say that I 'enjoyed' reading this book, as it is not that type of book. As I say, it challenged me, it made me think. We read books for many different reasons, and so this book for me really was an exploration into what makes an entire community turn its back on a child.

The book revolves around Dog Evans, past and present, the only survivor out of a group of 22 children, when the local village school was destroyed. For this very reason, even seven years later, Dog is a hated member of the community, because he survived - the wrong child, when his classmates did not. Dog lives his life as best he can nearby the ruined school, a daily reminder of what happened and who he became as a result. He reeks of survivor's guilt and my heart went out to him. Throughout the novel he is still trying to come to turns with what happened, he wants justice and he wants the truth.

The novel deals with the issue of abandonment and grief. The fact that Dog's parents abandoned him due to their own consumed grief. This I found very difficult to read. The fact that a mother could abandon her own child.

This novel asks many questions about what it means to be a mother and the definition of the mother and son bond. What causes an entire community to turn their back on a child? How can a mother becomes hateful toward her own flesh and blood? What is interesting is that although the novel asks many questions, there are many questions still left unanswered as you turn the final page. If you like to read books with neat and tidy endings, then this may not be the right book for you. However, if you like a book that challenges your notions and ideals of morality, and is unsettling, then this book ticks all the right boxes.

The Wrong Child is published by Orion on 2 Nov. It can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks o the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

Friday, 13 October 2017

All the Colours in Between @EvaJordanWriter

About All the Colours in Between

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie's sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem... A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband plus a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made. Gritty but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals, and coming of age. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

My review of All the Colours in Between

Wow, well what a breath of fresh air this novel is. It's a book that deals with what life throws at you. As the book states, 'it's not a life, it's an adventure.' I laughed, I cried, and raced through the pages, savouring every word. It's an honest read about family life, and I loved it for its rawness. I'll just mention here that All the Colours in Between is the follow up novel to 183 Times a Year, which I haven't read, but that this book worked very well for me as a stand alone novel.

So, where do I begin? This book is told from first person multiple points of view. with each chapter stating who is talking, so it's very easy to follow the story. Having said this, each character has their own particular voice, and some use more colourful language than others, so if you are easily offended by swear words, then this may not be the book for you. The language used is current, especially the dialogue from the younger members of the family, but the language is needed to make these characters real. I'll admit that I had to google the word 'peng.'

Lizzie is a mother, a writer and is fast approaching fifty. She has a busy life and has many a drama in this novel that I can't go into without giving away spoilers, but I can say that I admired her greatly. She is a woman who worries about her children, her elderly father who is ill, all while trying to juggle a writing career. Many of her chapters are poignant, and brought a lump to my throat.

Connor is Lizzie's son and is also a central character. At fifteen his voice is incredibly fresh and utterly believable. Here is a boy on the brink of adulthood and I just wanted to give him a big hug, I really liked Connor. Cassie is Lizzie's daughter, who works in the music industry, a young woman who has to deal with a life changing event, and I found myself utterly gripped by this young woman's story, of which her emotional journey was very well written.

All the Colours in Between is a powerful, emotional, and fast paced story about modern life in a blended family. It was a pure joy to read and I can't wait for the next instalment in this family saga.

With thanks to the publisher for an Advanced Raeder Copy.

All the Colours in Between is published on October 19th by Urbane Publications and can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne

About Mirror Mirror


Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Rose, and Naomi are misfits; still figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Life isn't perfect, but music unites them, and they're excited about what the future holds for their band, Mirror, Mirror. That is until Naomi vanishes before being pulled unconscious out of the river.

She's left fighting for her life in a coma. The police claim it was a failed suicide attempt, but her friends aren't convinced. Will Naomi ever wake? What -­ or perhaps who - led her to that hospital bed? How did her friends fail to spot the warning signs?

While Rose turns to wild partying and Leo is shrouded by black moods, Red sets out to uncover the truth. It's a journey that will cause Red's world to crack, exposing the group's darkest secrets. Nothing will ever be the same again, because once a mirror is shattered, it can't be fixed.

Cara Delevingne, the voice of her generation, explores identity, friendship and betrayal in this gripping and powerful coming-of-age story. For fans of WE WERE LIARS, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and THE GIRLS.

My review of Mirror Mirror

First of all I'll start by saying that I read this book based on the blurb and cover. It looked interesting, the story of a teenage girl who goes missing and who is later found almost dead in a river. I wanted to know why she had gone missing and what had happened to her. I had no idea that the book was written by a celebrity, although I now do so. Sadly this book didn't quite work for me, and I have rather mixed emotions about it, and I'll try to explain why. I'll keep my review short.

As already mentioned the plot really piqued my interest. I wanted to find out more about Naomi and who had left her for dead, but I have to say that I guessed within the first couple of chapters what had happened to her. This in itself is not a bad thing, I have guessed in previous novels about what has happened to a central character, but the storytelling and characters have gripped me, and I wanted to understand more about what had happened. Sadly, this didn't happen with Mirror Mirror. None of the other characters grabbed my interest. I found them all pretty shallow, and because I didn't like thauthenticallyve  in then, the story was somewhat lacking. It's not a bad story, it just wasn't the right one for me.

The only character who I found interesting was Ash, Naomi's older sister, the hacker. But sadly she was only really in the final parts of the book. I would have liked to have leaned more about her, What I will say is that the novel tackles head on serious issues of sexual assault, gender identity and generally how vulnerable teenagers are in this modern world that we live. This was dealt with sensitively and authentically, and will I feel resonate with many teenagers who read this novel, and hopefully will be able to help those who ate struggling with their sexuality and issues surrounding bullying.

This book didn't work for me, but I know that lots of people will love it.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an Advanced Reader Copy.

Mirror Mirror was published on 5 October by Trapeze.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things @ruthmariehogan

About The Keeper of Lost Thiings

Meet the 'Keeper of Lost Things'...

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.

But the final wishes of the 'Keeper of Lost Things' have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters...

My review of The Keeper of Lost Things

I absolutely adored this beautiful book. It is simply stunning from beginning to end, a real page turner and a book that I will read again and again. 

Laura is slowly recovering from a disastrous marriage and is eventually getting her life beck on track. She was hired as a housekeeper by Anthony Peardew, a writer, who also keeps a large selection of lost things. He too has suffered sorrow in his life, when his beloved Theresa died at a very young age. His need to collect lost things stems from a broken promise that he made to her all those years ago. Together Laura and Anthony form a quiet yet comfortable working relationship, with both equally fond of the other. 

When Anthony sadly dies, Laura inherits his home, Padua, and the collection of Lost Things. But what entails is the story of how she gains more than bricks and mortar. This is a tale of self discovery, friendship and love. 

We meet many a colourful character along the way. We meet Sunshine, a young woman who has Down's syndrome, and I loved the author's description of her, and the fact that we focussed upon her characteristics  as such, rather then the fact that she was disabled, this I found refreshing. I liked Sunshine and her honesty. I think that if you are lucky enough to have a Sunshine in your life, then you need to hang on to them. We also meet Freddy the gardener, and what can I say other than I fell in love with him instantly. 

Running alongside the main plot featuring Laura and Anthony, we also have the story of Eunice and Bomber, who lived in Brighton. Bomber is a book publisher and slightly eccentric and you can't help but love him. Eunuch is very young when she meets him, and is incredibly na├»ve and vulnerable, but Bomber soon takes her under his wing and a very different type of love story unfolds spanning many decades. To begin with the two stories seem to be entirely separate, but it soon becomes clear that that the two stories are linked. 

The Keeper of Lost Things is quite simply a lovely read. It features interfering charters who we care about, a plot that keeps us hooked and beautiful storytelling. This book truly deserves all of the wonderful praise it has received. Can't wait to read the next book by this author. 

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for a paperback copy for review purposes

The Keeper of Lost Things was published by Two Roads in paperback on 10 Aug. 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Her Last Secret @BCopperthwait @bookouture

About Her Last Secret

Everyone thinks the Thomases are the perfect family: grand London house, gorgeous kids.

They don’t know wife Dominique is a paranoid wreck.

They don’t know husband Ben is trapped in a web of deceit.

They don’t know daughter Ruby lives in fear of the next abusive text.

But someone knows all their secrets.

Can the lies that bind them destroy them all?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

My review of Her Last Secret

I was so very excited to read this psychological thriller by Barbara Copperthwaite, and as usual, it was a spellbinding read. Her Last Secret is a slow burning psychological thriller, that gradually quickens in pace to a delicious and explosive conclusion.

The novel begins on Christmas Day when the police are called to a house in the early hours of the morning, having been alerted by neighbours who have heard gunshots. We know nothing about the inhabitants, but two bodies are brought out of the house, and then the story slowly begins to unfurl.

We are introduced to four family members. Dom, her husband Ben, and their two children, young Mouse (Amber) and teenager, Ruby. We read all of their personal accounts via   alternating chapters. All have their own motives and all are complex. Nothing is as it seems. Dom is a stay at home mum, who feels that her husband loves his job more than her, and she too has her own secrets to keep. She also feels that she is growing further way from her teenage daughter. In fact, does she know her at all?  Ben has his own worries to deal with when it comes to work issues, and he finds himself getting deeper into trouble. Ruby also has a lot to contend with in her school life, but who will listen to her?

The storytelling is magnificent, the story structured in such a way that you know something bad has really happened but you don't know quite what it is, who is responsible and who the victims are. After we learn that the police have been called to a house on Christmas Day, we then go back just over a week before that day, and the story slowly begins to unravel, interspersed with chapters about the police and their findings on Christmas Day. This builds up the pace beautifully and I honestly didn't want to put this book down.

As the book states, this is a psychological thriller and it tackles some serious issues, none of which I will mention as they will be spoilers, but suffice to say that this is a gut punching book, and as a mother, Dom truly resonated with me.

Her Last Secret is a dark, unsettling and addictive read that will reel you in and keep you hooked from the very first page.

Her Last Secret is published by Bookouture on 13 October.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.