Friday, 17 November 2017

The Foster Child @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepeg



 
About The Foster Child

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she's just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie's foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger...

 
My review of The Foster Child
 
 


The Foster Child is a gripping and disturbing read and I devoured it in a few short sittings. It's fast paced, packed with short and punchy chapters that took my breath away. I found myself completely immersed in this unsettling story about a young girl who nobody quite seems to understand. 

Imogen Reid is a child psychologist who together with her husband, finds herself back in the town where she grew up, and living in her deceased mother's house. From the very offset the scene is set for an unsettling and quite creepy read. The shocking prologue brilliantly draws you in and then the descriptions of the town and its inhabitants most certainly have a disturbing and unnatural vibe.

This book's blurb is very vague, and with good reason, so I won't go into plot specifics. It's just enough to say that Imogen in her role as child psychologist, finds herself working with Ellie, the eleven year old girl who was the only survived of a house fire that killed her family. 

Throughout the book we hear from both Imogen and Ellie, and this gave real insight into what had happened in the past. What I most particularly enjoyed was their conversations and interaction. Here is a little girl who has lost everything and who it appears, has been shunned by the local community. Why is this? What are they all afraid of ? Why can't they see the frightened and alone girl that Imogen sees?

This is such a clever read, as it is so difficult to know who to believe. Is Imogen 's version of an afraid and misunderstood little girl, correct? Or should everyone really be afraid of this little girl? While reading, my judgement kept shifting. I think that as a mother you cannot help but side with Ellie. I was on her side, but it was also hard to admit to myself that she made me feel uneasy. And as for the ending...well...just brilliant!

The Foster Child is a stunning read. It's all consuming, eerie, unsettling and it made me question the little girl before me on the page. It's a psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It's an amazing book. 

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for an Advanced paperback copy.

The Foster Child was published by Headline on 16 November. It can be found on Amazon here.


 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin @HodderBooks



About The Wicked Cometh

'We have no need to protect ourselves from the bad sort
because we ARE the bad sort . . .'

'This newspaper has taken note that the past month has been remarkable for the prevalence of cases where men, women and children are declared missing. Scarcely a week passes without the occurrence of an incident of this type' - The Morning Herald, Tuesday 13 September 1831

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city's vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock.

But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking. . .



My review of The Wicked Cometh

The Wicked Cometh is a deliciously dark historical novel that is very much a refreshing and modern read. It's a story about survival, hope, friendship, and kindness in the most darkest of times. It's a lovely book. 

Set in the grime and the heart of London, The Wicked Cometh is set during Victorian times when only the strongest and most quick witted survive. The novel revolves around the disappearances of several children in central London. What and who is behind this mystery? The novel for me worked because it was so authentic. I felt like I was wandering around the inner city streets, amongst the most deprived in the city, and then, due to a life changing event, finding myself alongside Hester as she is transported into the warmth of the Brock family. 

This book is part historical novel, part mystery and ultimately it is a love story. There are many multilayered events to this novel that make it hard to define as simply one genre. It's just enough to say that it is a highly enjoyable read. 

So, we have Hester, born to privilege, an educated young woman who through the death of her parents finds herself thrust into poverty, as she relocates to London while living with her old gardener and his wife. It is only through a chance encounter with the gentleman Mr Brock, that Hester's life path is changed forever.

This novel is refreshing as it focuses upon two very strong and inspiring female characters. Rebekah and Hester. Both women are from different backgrounds, different lives, and although Rebekah's role is to give Hester an education as part of a social experiment, it is actually Hester who inspires and teaches Rebekah. The two women complement each other and I loved the dialogue and interaction between them. 

This Wicked Cometh is beautifully written, it's deliciously slow paced which I found pleasantly surprising in contest to today's fast paced thrillers. The slow pace suited the narrative as we slowly followed Rebekah and Hester in their quest to solve the mystery of the missing children. Nothing is ever easy though, and the book proves this with several unexpected but delightful twists. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this dark, historical and mystery novel with its captivating characters and exquisite writing. It's a remarkable debut novel. 

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

The Wicked Cometh is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 8 Feb. 2018. It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dark Chapter @winniemli @Legend_Press #BlogTour




About Dark Chapter

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.

Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.


My review of Dark Chapter

Dark Chapter by Winnie Li is about the brutal rape of a young Taiwanese-American woman who is a tourist in West Belfast. Her attack happens in broad daylight while enjoying a day's hike. Her rapist is Johnny, a 15-year old boy. The book is based upon the author's own experience of rape.

I'll start by saying that I tried several times to write a concise review of this novel, but that each time I found it difficult to find the correct words. I will say that this book is hugely important, it gives a voice to women who have been abused, repressed and attacked in such a brutal and animalistic way. More importantly, it gave a voice to this author, a way to share her story through the narrative of fiction. This is a story of survival, and I hope that it is ok to use that term, as I am acutely aware that words are important when talking about women who have been victims of this type of horrific crime. So for this review I am going to talk mainly about how this book made me feel, and why I think that it is an important book.

From the very beginning we know that this young woman is raped and who the rapist is, so this is not a who done it type of read. That's not the purpose of this book. I found this book to be an exploration into the mind of the rapist, but more importantly, how the attack impacted Vivian, both psychologically and mentally. That's what this book is all about. All too often we hear about rape, but we don't get to fully understand how women are affected in every aspect of their daily lives. This book tackles this head on, from the actual rape, through to, and then after, the court case. Which leads me onto the actual rape scene. It is graphic, and I found very difficult to read, but I knew that this was the intention. To fully understand what happens to Vivian, we need to read about how she was abused sexually, and so the depiction of rape is needed. I'll be honest and say that I read the scene quickly, wishing it to be over, and afterwards I needed to have a break of a few days as the writing really shook me up, it got under my skin. 

I really did feel as if I was walking alongside Vivian, just after the rape and in the weeks and months that followed it. What she describes is authentic, and I knew that this was because the author was writing from her own viewpoint. The scene in which she needs to be photographed is incredibly poignant, as is the scene in the hospital, with what appears to be uncaring or indifferent staff. My heart went out to this woman. A woman who had been abused in the most horrific way, but that life just carried on around her. The only reference point that I could grasp at was that of a close bereavement, but of course, she had been violated in such a degrading way, and even though I felt I understood her feelings, I couldn't fully feel how she was feeling, I only think that this is possible if you have also been raped.

This book is hugely important as it openly discusses rape from the victim's point of view. It gives women who have been raped a voice, a voice which many will not have. This book now seems even more relevant with the recent #MeToo campaign.

Dark Chapter is, as the name suggests, dark. But I also feel that Dark Chapter is about hope and new beginnings. It is one chapter in this woman's life. Winnie Li writes with such brutal honesty, courage and emotion, that she made me weep. I wept for this young woman who was raped, whose life changed so dramatically at the hands of a 15-year-old boy. I'm glad that Winnie found her voice, and that she allowed us into her Dark Chapter. Thank you for writing such an important and powerful book about the strength of women.  

With thanks to the publisher for the copy of Dark Chapter and for inviting me on  the Blog Tour.

Dark Chapter recently wo the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize.

Dark Chapter was published in paperback on 1st November and can be found on Amazon here





About the author




Winnie M. Li is a writer and producer, who has worked in the creative industries on three continents. A Harvard graduate, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature films, programmed for film festivals, and developed eco-tourism projects. After graduating with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths (where she was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize 2015), she now currently writes across a range of media (including a column for The Huffington Post), runs arts festivals, and is a PhD researcher in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. She was Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger 2015 and also shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize. She lives in London yet is somewhat addicted to travel. Dark Chapter is her first novel.

Follow Winnie online at winniemli.com or on Twitter @winniemli

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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Class Murder @LeighRussell @noexitpress




About Class Murder


With so many potential victims to choose from, there would be many deaths. He was spoiled for choice, really, but he was determined to take his time and select his targets carefully. Only by controlling his feelings could he maintain his success. He smiled to himself. If he was clever, he would never have to stop. And he was clever. He was very clever. Far too clever to be caught.

Geraldine Steel is reunited with her former sergeant, Ian Peterson.

When two people are murdered, their only connection lies buried in the past. As police search for the elusive killer, another body is discovered. Pursuing her first investigation in York, Geraldine Steel struggles to solve the baffling case. How can she expose the killer, and rescue her shattered reputation, when all the witnesses are being murdered?




My review of Class Murder

Class Murder is the tenth instalment in the Geraldine Steel police series, but it's the first book that I have read by this author, and I loved it. I can also add that this book worked for me as a stand alone novel, although I now desperately want to go back and read the previous novels in the series.

This really is a gripping serial killer read that hooked me in from the very first chapter. Geraldine Steel is now living and working in York and has been demoted to a DS. She finds herself investigating the brutal murder of a young woman who was alone in her flat, and then the murder of a young man, both of whom went to the same school, and who were in the same class, many years previously. Geraldine finds herself, together with DI Ian Peterson, in a race against time to catch the killer, before they kill again.

This book is told from several viewpoints, including the killer, and I especially enjoyed reading these chapters that gave a snapshot into the mind of someone who kills. The depiction of the killer is cleverly done, with subtlety and clear insight into why they want to kill. Most importantly the killer is utterly believable.

I really enjoyed getting to know Geraldine and her back story. She is very much the new member of staff in this story and as well as having to get used to her new working environment, colleagues and York, she is also having to deal with her own personal changes, in terms of finding herself alone in a new city, miles away from her friends and family.

This is an absorbing and compelling serial killer read that explores the mind and motive of a killer, and how the police work to track down that killer. There are a few twists that I didn't see coming, but for me, this book worked because I liked Geraldine. I liked her work ethic, her vulnerability, and the fact that she is far from perfect. She was 'real' to me, and I can't wait to read more books in this series.

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

Class Murder is published by No Exit Press on December 7 and can be found on Amazon here.



Thursday, 9 November 2017

Yuki Means Happiness @A_J_Lester @johnmurrays




About Yuki Means Happiness


Diana is young and uneasy in a new relationship when she leaves America and moves halfway around the world to Tokyo seeking adventure. In Japan she takes a job as a nanny to two-year-old Yuki Yoshimura and sets about adapting to a routine of English practice, ballet and swimming lessons, and Japanese cooking.

But as Diana becomes increasingly attached to Yuki she also becomes aware that everything in the Yoshimura household isn't as it first seemed. Before long, she must ask herself if she is brave enough to put everything on the line for the child under her care, confronting her own demons at every step of the way.

Yuki Means Happiness is a rich and powerfully illuminating portrait of the intense relationship between a young woman and her small charge, as well as one woman's journey to discover her true self.


My review of Yuki Means Happiness
 
 

Yuki Means Happiness is such a beautiful book to read. This book explores Japanese culture, a differing culture, and is an interwoven mystery with two central love stories, that for a child, and for the young man Porter who is waiting patiently for Diana to come home to America. I adored this book for so many reasons and devoured it in a few days. 

The book revolves around Diana, an American nurse who many years before helped Emi, a Japanese woman, who had given birth to Yuki Yoshimura. Diana helped her attend to the baby in the month following the birth. It is then two years later that she meets the husband, Naoki, once again, and agrees to become a nanny to Yuki following the couple's separation, as it appears that Emi has left Yuki to start a new life. But to begin with Diana only hears Naoki's point of view.

So I instantly found myself thrust into Japanese life, as did Diana, and I absolutely loved the colourful descriptions, the Japanese language and characters that we stumbled upon. I have always wanted to go to Japan, and in particular Tokyo, (I love the film Lost in Translation) so I gobbled up all the Japanese culture, food and general way of life. 

The bones of this book is about the relationship between Yuki and Diana, and I particularly enjoyed the passages of the book that featured only the two of them, that helped to show me as a reader their special bond. Here is a young woman, a nurse, who takes on the role of mother and protector, and I admired her for this. 

We also have the evolving relationship between Diana and Porter (oh I loved Porter) and of how Diana gained perspective on her relationship with him because of the distance between them. This really is a story about how this young woman finds out who she is and where her life should be heading. It is also about her dealing with issues from her past that then help to shape her future. 

Yuki Means Happiness is a deceptively clever read, as nothing is as it first seems, and the cracks within the Yoshimura household soon begin to appear. The real joy is in the observing the blossoming relationship between Diana and Yuki, how Diana grows in strength and how she begins to find her place in the world. Part romance, part mystery (as to why Emi left her daughter) this really is a most beautiful and enjoyable novel that is deliciously slow paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for providing a hardback copy of the book for review purposes.

Yuki Means Happiness was published by John Murray in hardback on 27 July 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.




 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Birthday Girl @suefortin1 @HarperImpulse




About The Birthday Girl

Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea

Come and join me for my fortieth birthday adventure weekend, full of mysteries and surprises
the like of which you can’t imagine.

When Joanne’s friends reluctantly accept an invitation to her birthday party, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to this weekend than they are expecting.

One of them is hiding a secret.

And Joanne is planning to reveal it…

A weekend away in a cottage in the woods sounds like fun – until no one can hear your cries for help.
Four friends.
A party to die for.
Who will survive?


My review of The Birthday Girl



The Birthday Girl is a fast paced thriller that resolves around Carys and her three friends. Joanne, Zoe, and Andrea. From the very beginning I was hooked and was very aware that these four women shared something much darker than merely friendship. This instantly piqued my interest as I wanted to know what bound these four women together. I was not disappointed.

The Birthday Girl has an ominous start and the tension gradually builds as the women leave the comfort of their own homes to go to an unknown destination, a cottage in some deep, dark woods.  It is soon evident that Joanne has organised the so called party to reveal secrets, and to gain revenge. The setting of the remote woods, away from civilisation, helps to create this feeling of foreboding and I read,  thinking to myself that nothing good was going to come from this weekend.

As the blurb suggests, many questions ae raised including who will survive? I wondered throughout what would happen to the women, and as I gradually learned more about their past and relationship with each other, the more insight I gained into each of these characters. All of them very different and with their onw unique take on what happened.The pivoting theme is that of trust. Who can Carys trust? Do we believe her version of events? What about her so called friends? It's a complex plot and nothing is as it really seems. I did have to suspend belief a few times, but I just went along with the very enjoyable plot.

The Birthday Girl is an enjoyable read. It explores female friendship in a refreshing new way. What was interesting was that although I didn't really bond with any of these women, nor really like them, they did interest me from a psychological point of view. All four are very different, and it was interesting to read how they interacted with each other.

The Birthday Girl is an enjoyable psychological thriller that had me constantly shifting my loyalties throughout the book. It's a clever read that explores the intimacies of female friendships and the extremes that we go to seek out the truth. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

The Birthday Girl is published by HarperImpulse on 30 November and can be found on Amazon here.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard




About A Lifetime Burning


A complex family drama spanning the 20th century from the author of Kindle bestseller, HOUSE OF SILENCE.

“There has been much love in this family – some would say too much – and not a little hate."

Looking back over a turbulent lifetime, Flora Dunbar recalls an eccentric childhood lived in the shadow of her twin, Rory, a musical prodigy; then early marriage to Hugh, a handsome clergyman twice her age. Motherhood brought her Theo, the son she couldn't love, but in middle age she finally found brief happiness in a scandalous affair with her nephew, Colin.

Now Flora Dunbar is dead. But it isn’t over.

The spectre at the funeral is Flora herself, unobserved by her grieving family and the four men who loved her...

My review of A Lifetime Burning
 
 

A Lifetime Burning is an unsettling, haunting and emotional read about the different types of love within a close knit family. I will just say that due to the sensitive themes within the book, that it will not be for everyone, and to be honest, if I hadn't already read other books by Linda Gillard, I would have thought twice about reading this book. What we read is simply a woman's story about the men who played such powerful roles within her life, and who shaped the woman that she was to become. It is a beautiful story handled with great sensitivity.

We meet Flora Dunbar at the beginning of the book, as a spectre at her own funeral, and this instantly grabbed my attention. As a character, she truly captivated me, and I wanted to know what had happened to her in life, and the reason for her death. Her life was shaped by four men, her twin brother, her husband, her son, and the young nephew whom she had a brief affair with. Throughout the book, that stems from her early childhood that was somewhat eccentric and unorthodox, right through to the moment of her death, we learn why Flora is who she is. 

Every single character is important within this novel. All impacted greatly upon Flora's life, all are flawed, and all unique. We have Rory, the twin brother, a talented musician who learned to play before he could talk. Flora is forever in his shadow. Here is a man whom I couldn't get to like, no matter how hard I tried, but who stayed with me long after I had finished reading the book. Then we have Flora's marriage to Hugh, a clergyman who is much older than her. She was very young when she married him, a widower, and from the very offset it is clear that the marriage is doomed. The exploration of Flora's relationship with her brother is what shapes every other single relationship that she has. I don't think I have ever read another book that explores the twin relationship in so much detail and intensity as this book. It is quite extraordinary to read. At its heart though is a tangled love story. Of a woman who was loved and who had much love to give. 

But this is also a book that explores the relationship between women, of mother and daughter, and in particular that of Flora and Grace, her sister-in -aw. This relationship was fascinating to read. Both women are bound together because of Rory, a forced bond that is exquisitely explored. 

Flora though is the starring role. I felt great empathy towards this woman whose life was pretty much mapped out from birth. The descriptions of her life as a young mother to Theo were incredibly difficult for me to read. Here was a woman who clearly struggled with motherhood, who struggled to bond with her child, and my heart went out to her. 

A Lifetime Burning is one of those books that tackles the darker realities of life with compassion, understanding and great sensitivity. What should be a somewhat difficult read is made to be a consuming and thought provoking one because of the great skill of this writer. It's an emotional read that fully engaged me. Flora and Rory will stay with me for a long time. 

With thanks to the author who provided a paperback copy for review purposes. 

A Lifetime Burning can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Girl in the Tower @arden_katherine


About The Girl in the Tower

For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic...

The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.

Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...

My review of The Girl in the Tower


The Girl in the Tower is the second book in this magical Russian fairytale trilogy. I absolutely adored the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale, and this book is just as beautiful. Set in medieval Russia, The Girl in the Tower is once again a magical and enjoyable fairytale that transported me to another world.

Once again we follow Vasya, now a young woman who has to make a dramatic life choice. She will either be forced into marriage or will have to live in a convent. So what does she do? Neither of these things, as she has the power of magic. Set within a world of unrest, we meet bandits, observe burning villages, while 
the members of the court of the Grand Prince of Moscow try to defend their kingdom and quell the unrest. It is here that they meet  a 'boy' riding a horse, who only Sasha, the priest,  recognises as Vasya, his younger sister. He keeps her identity secret, and what ensues is a fantastical tale of survival, courage and friendship.

This is such a beautiful story. Vasya is a feisty, courageous and most likeable heroine. Instead of fleeing her beloved Moscow she decides to stay and fight, to protect her homeland when she could have chosen the easy way out, but Vasya stays amongst the burning villages deciding to trust her heart and to defend what she believes in. I love this character, a protagonist who is such a strong female role model for younger female readers.

We are also re-ntroduced to Vasya's older sister, Olga Vladimirova and her children, and it this character who helps to explain the difficult times in which they live, as we read her worries and concerns regarding the future. The two sisters are polar opposites, one married with children, a life of domesticity, while the other is perceived as wild and carefree,  and I loved these differences. Olga's quiet existence and life of privilege creates a stark contrast to the life that Vasya is living, which makes her life even more exciting to read about.



The Girl in the Tower is a fairytale for grownups and I devoured every page. It is beautifully written, packed with action and characters that are both intriguing and likeable. This really is the perfect book to curl up with this Winter.

The Girl in the Tower is published by Ebury on 25 Jan 2018. It can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to NetGalley and the pusher for the Advanced Reader Copy.






Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Snare @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #BlogTour


About Snare

A stunning thriller the first in the Reykjavik Noir series - by bestselling Icelandic crime writer, with an unforgettable lesbian protagonist.

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.


My review of Snare


Snare is the first book in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy and what a brilliantly fantastic book it is. This book is like no other I have ever read. It's a dark thriller but with a deeply human element that both fascinated me and touched my soul. It's that type of book. The characters stay with you long after you turn the final page, in particular those of Sonia and Bragi.

The book is told from several viewpoints, that help to shed light on the darker and more murky side of life. All chapters are short, which help to increase tension and quicken the pace. I honestly couldn't put this book down. 

We read Sonia's point of view. A recently divorced and single mother who finds herself trapped in the snare, frantically trying to provide for her young son. She will do anything to keep her son. Sonia is truly unique and utterly likeable. She is a strong willed, smart and sexy woman, who will do anything for her son. I completely understood this character and empathised with her plight. 

On the other side of the fence we have Bragi, the ageing customs official, who, with a keen eye and years of experience, becomes Sonia's worst nightmare. He too has his own struggles and I loved his backstory, that of a family man, a working man, who thrives on routine and the need to care for his wife. He too is likeable and complex, just as Sonia is, and I instantly warmed to him. 

We also meet Agla, Sonia's on and off lover, who works in finance and, who finds herself having to deal with the aftermath of the financial crash in Iceland. Here we have a woman who is confident, bold and straight taking when it comes to her working life, but who is the complete opposite in her private life. For example she refuses to acknowledge the fact that she is a lesbian.

The novel is set within the heart of Iceland and after the  Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption. I really felt as if I was living there, I got a real sense of the environment and the locals who lived there.

This is a book that is so much more than a dark thriller. Yes it is utterly brilliant plot wise, full of twists, but it is also the story about a mother who wants to provide for, and keep, her son. That's what is at the heart of this story, that much needed personal and emotional element, and that is what I feel makes this book so very special. It really is unlike anything I have ever read before, and I feel that the literary world will happily embrace this new female protagonist. 

With thanks to Anne Cater and the publisher for a paperback copy and invitation to the Blog Tour

Snare was published by Orenda on 1 Oct. 2017 and can be found on Amazon here.




About the author

Lilja Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic crime-writer and playwright, born in 1972. She is the author of four crime novels, Steps (Spor), 2009, Forgiveness (Fyrirgefning), 2010, Snare (Gildran) 2015, Tangle (Netið) 2016 and Cage (Búrið) 2017.

Her debut stage-play Big Babies (Stóru Börnin) was staged in the winter of 2013-2014, became critically acclaimed and won the Icelandic Theatre Prize Gríman as “Best play of the year.”

Lilja´s latest book, Tangle, (Netið) was published in Iceland in October 2016 by Forlagid publishing. The rights to the novel have already been sold to France/Switzerland/Luxembourg/Canada (Éditions Métailié); World English (Orenda Books)


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Friday, 27 October 2017

Mother @SELynesAuthor @Bookouture



 
About Mother


How far would you go for the perfect family?
Every mother loves their child. Every child deserves to be loved. But Christopher grows up so lonely it hurts. Until the day he climbs into his family’s dusty attic, and finds a battered old suitcase.

Inside the suitcase is a letter. Inside the letter is a secret; a secret about his mother that changes everything.

Christopher finally has the chance of happiness. A happiness he will do anything to protect…

An unputdownable thriller about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep, Mother will hold you breathless until the very last page and leave you reeling. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Apple Tree Yard.


My review of Mother
 
 

Oh this book! What an emotional rollercoaster ride it is. It's a book about what it means to be a mother, what we want a mother to be, and that mothers are so much more than flesh and bone. It's an exquisite read.

From the very beginning the tone is set, as that of a deeply dark, psychological thriller. It's in the choice of words, pace and the grim depictions of the area in which Christopher lives. We are also introduced to an unknown narrator, who has their own story to tell about Christopher, and this helps to create an extra layer of mystery. We actually read Christopher's story through the words of this unknown narrator, and this helps to create distance between the reader and this young man who is haunted by his past and his need for the perfect mother. It's not until the end of the novel that this narrator is revealed to us.

Christopher's life changes when he finds an old battered suitcase in the attic, in the family home. His whole existence shifts, this life changing event is very emotional to read. His identity, his past and future all hinge on what he finds in this suitcase. I felt great empathy towards Christopher, although not a likeable man, I did feel that I understood him and the journey that he was on.

Mother is set in the north of England, in Morecambe, and then later on in Leeds when Christopher starts at the University to read history. He is there during the time of the Yorkshire Ripper, which helps to create a great sense of unease and displacement during this time. It was also vey obvious that the author had done much background research about the Ripper.

Mother is a deeply disturbing read that questions what it is to be a mother, while exploring what  a young man is prepared to do in order to get his version of that perfect mother. It's a clever read, full of twists, but ultimately it is a sensitive read that makes us question our own morals and what we believe are right and wrong actions. It really is a deliciously dark, unsettling and clever read.

Mother is published by Bookouture on 22 Nov. 2017 and can be found on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Man Who Died @antti_tuomainen @OrendaBooks






About The Man Who Died

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he's dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

My review of The Man Who Died

I absolutely adored this book! It's dark, quirky and very funny, which is surprising given the fact that this is a book about a man who has just found out that he is dying. I love black humour and Scandinavia noir, so this really was the perfect book for me

The Man who Died focuses upon Jaakko Kaunismaa,  a 37 year old man who runs a mushroom company with his wife. I now know a lot about mushrooms thanks to this book. At the very beginning he is told quite bluntly by his doctor that he is dying, as he has been slowly subjected to toxins, which in turn have managed to cause damage to every organ in his body. What a brilliant way to begin a story. I was hooked. 

What you would assume to be a rather pessimistic and sad story about a man coming to terms with his own mortality, is instead turned into a  story of revenge and self discovery as Jaakko launches into a personal investigation to find out for himself who wants him dead. Along the way he also learns a lot about the people who work for him, including his wife.

This is a story about trust, loyalty and friendship, all told with delicious twists and lashings of black humour. It is refreshingly different. It's also worth noting that the translation is flowing, with no awkward phrasing. It was only the pronunciation of the characters names that I struggled with. I really did get a sense of what it was like to live in this sleepy Finnish village near the sea and the mushroom woods.

I really liked Jaakko, to me he was a sort of anti hero who I just couldn't help but love. A man who believes that he has lost everything, and so has nothing else to lose but to solve his final mystery. It's a fascinating concept, and one that makes an equally fascinating and brilliant story.   

The Man Who Died is an absolute treat of a book. From the stunning cover through to the final sentence. If you love a good old 'who done it', black humour and a thoroughly absorbing plot with interesting characters who you'll remember long after you close the book,  then you'll love this story.

With thanks to the publisher and Anne Cater for the paperback copy and the invitation to be part of the Blog Tour.

The Man Who Died was published by Orenda Books on 10 Oct. 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.



About the author



Finnish author Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother's Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen's third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for 'Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011' and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer - the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki - 'unputdownable.' Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen 'The King of Helsinki Noir' when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula.

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Monday, 23 October 2017

The Future Can't Wait @AngelenaBoden @Urbanebooks


About The Future Can't Wait

A gripping story of a mother's love for her daughter.

The Future Can't Wait is a contemporary novel set in multi-cultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State.

Kendra Blackmore's half-Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home-loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers - and to bring her estranged daughter home...


My review of The Future Can't Wait

The Future Can't Wait is a contemporary novel that is very relevant to modern day Britain. Set in Birmingham, the story evokes beautifully what it is like to live and work in Birmingham, a multi cultural city that is often misrepresented by the media and society. I found it most refreshing and an addictive read that I could not put down.

The story is told mainly from Kendra's viewpoint, as we follow her in her daily life of teaching psychology part time at the local Academy. She is an intelligent, articulate and strong willed woman who slowly changes throughout the story due to the fact that her daughter, Rami, has decided to cut off all ties with her mother and stepfather, David. Wracked with guilty, Kendra worries that her half Iranian daughter has been radicalised, but is powerless to do anything about it, as she has no idea where her adult daughter is, or who she is with.

As well as highlighting the issues of radicalisation in a sensitive manner, this book is really an exploration nto the bond between mothers and daughters, and I found the character of Kendra utterly captivating. Her grief and slow unravelling are difficult to read as I felt very close to her. I felt as if I was Kendra, and I couldn't imagine how it must feel to not know where your daughter is and the possibility that she could be in danger.

I found myself completely immersed in this fascinating story, and its equally fascinating characters. David, Kendra's husband, is a man who obviously prefers his own company, and is happiest when working with circuit boards in the garage. I liked him, and although not stated, I knew that he had Asperger's syndrome. Equally as likeable and intriguing was Kendra's son, Adam, a doctor who now lives in America with his girlfriend. Here is a man who is intelligent and who tries to be the voice of reason, in that Rami is a grown woman and that she needs to find her own path n life. But as a mother, I completely understood Kendra's anxieties and I understood that as a psychologist, she had the knowledge to back up her very real concerns.

Tins is a really fascinating read. The pace is just right, in that we follow Kendra at her own natural pace from the moment that Rami leaves. We are with her as she tries to communicate her worries to David, and how she seeks friendship from a man whom she meets dog walking. It's a gentle read that tackles the very serious issue of radicalisation, and racism within Britain today. It also helps to shed light on the true Birmingham and that it is a truly vibrant and interesting city in which to live.

At the very heart of The Future Can't Wait is the story about a mother and a daughter, and of how they both need to examine their relationship with each other. It is a beautiful book.

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

The Future Can't Wait is published by Urbane Publications on 2 Nov. 2017 and can be found pn Amazon here.











Friday, 20 October 2017

Behind Her Eyes @SarahPinborough @HarperCollins



 
About Behind Her Eyes

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

‘Sarah Pinborough is about to become your new obsession’ Harlan Coben

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise's new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?


My review of Behind Her Eyes

 

Well I finally got around to reading Behind Her Eyes and what a fantastic book it is. I really enjoyed this domestic psychological thriller with THAT much talked about ending, and yes, I never saw it coming. It's a brilliant read. The book revolves around the issues of trust, infidelity and relationships and has two unreliable narrators, Louise and Adele, both of whom tell their own story, and I honestly didn't  know who to believe. This is a compulsive read, I honestly couldn't put it down.

This story really is a tangled web of secrets, lies and deceit and its brilliant. The words flow and the chapters just flew by on my need to find out how things would end between these three central characters. We also read about Adele's past that helps to shed light on the present day events.

Although this book has been rightly adorned with the hashtag #WTFthatending it is so much more than that ending. This is a psychological thriller that delves into what makes a relationship work, the power between a couple, about who has power and who has a more prominent voice. It is a story that explores the friendship between women, and of how women support and care for each other. It is also an exploration into loneliness and how you can feel alone, even in a marriage.

The three central characters in this book are simply captivating, and I will admit to only liking Louise, as I completely 'got' her. The single mum, trying to make ends meet, trying to survive and who is just trying to do her best. But what really intrigued me was the relationship between Adele and David. Whose version of events was true? I honestly didn't know who to believe, not until the very end.

Behind Her Eyes is a book about obsession, love, lust and plenty of secrets. I'll be honest and say that this book really messed with my head, but what a journey. Just brilliant!

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

Behind Her Eyes was published in paperback by Harper Collins on 7 Sept. 2017 and can be found on Amazon here.





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.