Monday, 13 February 2017

Blog Tour and review - Sealskin by Su Bristow

Sealskin – Su Bristow – Review and blog tour



When I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Sealskin and given a description of the book I accepted with alacrity as the description made me feel this book is something a little different.

What I expected was a grown up fairytale. What I got was an absolutely enchanting and captivating, tear at your heart, love story with the twist that it’s based on a legend and the bonus that it is completely and utterly believable.



I’ll NEVER look at seals in quite the same light again. This book has made me believe in Selkies and I will be wistfully scanning the shore for a glimpse of one of these rare enchanting creatures.

The story begins simply, its set in Scotland in an indeterminate era of the past when myth and superstition feature strongly in everyday working folks lives. This is a community of fisherfolk and young Donald is slightly apart from the crowd he is a bit of a loner, a man of few words, struggles to fit in and find his place in this close knit society.

Until one day, wandering along his beloved sea shore, he sees something he can’t quite comprehend – he is witnessing the transformation of Selkies from seal to human and he watches with awe, bewitched by the mysterious creatures. Completely overcome with emotions he has never before experienced he acts out of character, committing a sudden and brutal act, which is to have massive repercussions which alter his life.



What he does after molesting her is the cruellest move of all. Hiding her sealskin means she can never return to her own folk and it is this act which shapes everyones futures.

This is a coming of age with a difference. A love story with no parallels. Magic that transcends time and place.

Mhairi is the metamorphosed Selkie who transfixes the gauche and bumbling young lad and through his determination to put right his momentary transgression, with the support of his Mother, he takes her into his home where Mhairi is soon to become his wife.

Unable to speak in human tongue, understandably she is seen as slightly “touched” thus people find her strange, and it’s difficult for her to be accepted. It’s vital that Donald protects her real identity and in his new role as protector he uncovers new depths to his own character. The young man who began the story in an unlikeable way begins to grow into a character of astounding hidden depths.

Whist Mhairi is just Mhairi and gradually her Selkie charm begins to bewitch folk into either accepting or fearing her. That she enchanted me is therefore hardly surprising.
It is the utter beauty of the prose which truly captivated me. The wonderful characters, both loveable, hateful and just downright difficult to understand. The stunning, remote location and innate sense of past all combined to bewitch and mesmerise me from beginning to end.

This is a novel about human failings and frailities, prejudices regarding those who are different, how a momentary decision can have life altering consequences and about feelings and love and regret.

That I wept, is no secret, that I squawked aloud at one point nearing the end when a past misdemeanour is revealed, is a given. I wasn’t expecting a gasp out loud OMG moment in this book but I got one!

I am going to remember this book for a very long time. The impression it’s made on me and the deep enchantment I felt when reading it have left a splinter in my heart which is going to remain with me.


Completely enthralling, filled with allure, this wonderful book is a MUST read for anyone who like me, loves the work of Eowyn Ivey (Snow child) Ali Shaw (the Girl with glass feet) – Oh blow the comparisons, this is a book everyone should read whatever their genre preferences as it transcends literary comparison by its inimitable uniqueness.

The blurb and publicity

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous … and makes a terrible mistake. 

His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can
love grow when its foundation is violence?

Based on the legend of the Selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. 

With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. 

Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.

Quote:

‘Achingly beautiful … brings psychological depth and great warmth with not a word too many or a word too few. I absolutely loved it’ - Gill Paul, author of The Secret Wife


The Author - Su Bristow 


To discover about the author read more about her here at her publishers website and whilst you're there why not explore and spend some time drooling over their amazing repertoire of books.



Saturday, 4 February 2017

Tattletale - Sarah J Naughton



Crikey, the author tackles some difficult and harrowing subjects in this novel, but it does it with great panache and empathy. Wow, does it pack a punch and is in turn horrifying, scary and heart-breaking.

Firstly, let me declare it a thoroughly gripping read, a real Who? What? Omg! Page turner. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading complex twisty thrillers and isn’t too sensitive to read a fair amount of gruesome detail on the subjects of child abuse and rape, mental illness, murder and a soupcon of gay sex thrown in.

This is a psychological thriller at its very best, it grabs you by the throat from the outset, introduces you to a whole bunch of great characters lets you warm to them then makes you suspect them of all manner of misdeeds. It is that rare mix of character driven and storyline driven novel, which make it exciting, eventful and at times chaotic. It also caused me to reveal some prejudices I felt ashamed of when I was guilty of disbelieving at least one character, whom I should have had the courage to trust.

I did find the rather disjointed beginning confusing, with several short, seemingly unrelated incidents all serving to confuse the reader. Don’t let this put you off – roll with it, put them to one side as the story will throw them at you later and you will go Ahhh, NOW I understand!

The main protagonists are two women, there is Mags, strong, feisty, determined and a successful lawyer, we meet her on a plane, on her way back to the UK after a long time living in America, to be at the bedside of her brother Abe, from whom she is almost totally estranged, not having spoken to him since she left home at 16.

Already at his bedside is Jody, who introduces herself as Abe’s fiancĂ©, about whom Mags knew nothing. Jody is Mags polar opposite, she is quiet, nervous, shy and neurotic, yet that she completely adored Abe is never in question.

However both women share something in common – traumatic upbringings which have shaped them into what they have become today. It’s not clear from the outset, when we regress to past events, who exactly they are happening to and this causes apprehension and mystery to develop.
We are never quite sure who is bad, who is sad and whether many folk are a little bit mad, it really put me through the mill of emotions.

Mags begins to have cause to doubt some of Jody’s story and has to decide whether she is being deliberately deceitful, is mad as a box of frogs or maybe she is just confused and grief stricken?

This multi-layered story took me places I never want to go, from the bedside of a dying man who can’t tell us how he sustained these mortal injuries, to the mind of a horrifically abused innocent 7 year old whose belief in happy endings is cruelly crushed, to a tense courtroom drama, where I willed a vile creature to be punished for their crimes.

From a confusing beginning it only gets better and better as the tension ramps up and secrets and past evils emerge. It's totally absorbing and engaging and it's very scary and distasteful and will make even the mildest mannered soul long for retribution.


If ever a book was guaranteed to make you feel hatred and loathing for certain characters and events, it is this one, however it is also a story of revenge and redemption and I actually found the ending rather uplifting.

The Blurb

For fans of Disclaimer and I Let You Go, Tattletale is the debut psychological thriller you can't miss.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who believed in fairytales. Now she is out to get your happy ending.

One day changes Jody's life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags' life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiance Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind.

But the pieces don't quite seem to fit...

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sister sister - by Sue Fortin



Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

Isn't that cover beautiful?

My Review

Sue Fortin has really stepped up to the psychological thriller bar with this tense and terrifying suspense novel about family bonds, lies and betrayal.

In this fast paced, gripping, dark family drama, we meet Clare, mother of 2 lovely little girls and her artist husband, laid back Luke. They all live in Clares childhood home with her emotionally fragile Mother. They have never been able to quite break their ties with the past as all their lives they have been waiting without any success for news of Clares little sister Alice who was abducted by her own father when she was just a little girl. This has left a huge gap in their lives and despite having a successful career as a lawyer Clare always hankers after what might have been, whilst her mum just wants news of her little girl, she has never given up hope that one day she might return.

And one day she does – Hooray! Alice is alive and well and she has contacted them!

Suddenly Clare’s life begins to change, she is no longer the only daughter. Her home and family suddenly has a new dynamic and despite this being what she has always hoped and longed for she finds it really difficult to accept Alice into her home and life. She’s no longer the sad little blue eyed baby Clare had to protect, she is very much grown up! Very soon Clare begins to feel Alice has a hidden agenda and when things start to go wrong,  they go very, very wrong and poor Clare gets her nose pushed out and neither her Mum or her husband believe her.

Is she in fact imagining things? Has she lost the plot entirely? If so, can we trust what she is telling us?

What unfolds is a terrifying journey of manipulation and betrayal, you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to travel.

By the end I was out of breath, shaken and very impressed.

It’s superbly plotted, brilliantly executed and very twisty. I felt at one point I couldn’t trust anyone’s point of view, suspected everyone of having ulterior motives and at first thought Clare was being irrational. If you love twisty domestic Noir thrillers this is definitely an excellent example of secrets and lies and the moral is trust no-one.

Having read and enjoyed this authors previous books: Closing In and The Girl Who Lied I'm delighted to say this writer goes from good to better with every book!

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher HarperImpulse for my review copy.
It's available now for your kindle

The Description

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Claire: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Claire thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Claire is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The girl before - J P Delaney - a raunchy thriller



The Girl Before by J P Delaney - my Review

A rather unusual, contemporary sexy thriller.

Meet Jane and Emma, they have quite a few things in common, these 2 young women and yet their situations and personalities are quite different. One thing they do have in common,  is they have both lived at the same address – One Folgate Street, a state of the art architect designed luxury pad filled with the latest hi tech gadgetry, which they have both been permitted to rent at a peppercorn rent in return for abiding by some stringent and frankly weird rules.

Meet Edward Monkton the designer and owner of this unique property. Widowed and obsessive he personally interviews and vets every tenant and insists they follow his intricate requirements to live in the house he created in memory of his late wife and child.

Jane has a very particular reason for wanting to live there, she needs a new start following the stillbirth of her baby, still reeling from grief One Folgate street will give her the chance to begin again. But soon after moving in she begins to receive deliveries of flowers which turn out to be from the ex-boyfriend of the previous tenant Emma and thus we learn about Emma and begin to move back and forth in time as we hear both girls telling their respective experiences in the house.
Emma moved in there with her boyfriend Simon following a violent and distressing break-in, which has left her shaken and feeling unsafe, but far from being the haven she hopes for One Folgate Street becomes the catalyst for her life to spiral even further out of control and reveals herself to be a somewhat unreliable narrator.

Jane begins to investigate what happened to Emma and what she uncovers is at times worrying and unsavoury and leaves her fearing for her own safety.

There are quite a few shocks and twists in the imaginative storyline and it becomes clear that its not easy to know who to trust and who not to. Have the girls been selected as tenants by Edward Monkton for some sinister ulterior motive? What exactly happened to Emma and who was behind it?

A clever and unpredictable page turning thriller with some sinister and tense scenes coupled with a raunchiness that in some places left me a touch uneasy. The stark minimalism and pristine uncluttered cleanliness of the strange house jarred with the raunchy yet clinical passion of its manipulative (yet coldly attractive to some women) owner whom I found petty, pernickety and sexist yet scary and mystifying.

The author seems to have tried to combine elements of 50 shades – with hints of several popular current psychological thrillers, it shouldn’t have worked but it actually did end up pretty gripping reading, if a little too pulp fiction and slightly too little literary merit for my usual tastes.
A quick read if you’re seeking a weekends entertainment to curl up with. Plenty going on, surprises and thrills yet easy to follow.

My thanks go to Netgalley for my advance reading copy and the publishers Quercus for granting my request to read and review it.

The blurb

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price? 

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level ....


Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Another You - Jane Cable - Romantic and dramatic



Review - Another You - Jane Cable

Jane Cable writes wonderfully imaginative romantic fiction set in great locations which she describes so beautifully you feel you’re there.

And look at the beautiful cover.

Another you is set in Dorset, a place I’ve never visited. As I was nearing the end of the book, I watched the first episode of Julia Bradbury’s new walking series on tv and on her first walk she visited every location mentioned in the book – it was great! I recognised the locations of Old Harry, The Dunes and even the military camp and tank museum which feature in this novel, as clearly as if I’d actually been there – and I had – transported by the pages of this lovely book.

The storyline centres around the narrator Marie’s life. She is a Chef in the pub business she owns with her partially estranged husband Stephen, who after a series of affairs, no longer lives there with her. Their Son Jude who is the light of Maries life lives there and works there too and her always angry and grumpy ex-husband still works there too putting undue stress on Maries life. No wonder she enjoys escaping to the beach hut she owns, and strolling along the dunes. 

Between stress induced migraines, hard work and long hours in the pub kitchen with cook Baz and argument after argument between her and her ex it’s not surprising that she is drawn to the enigmatic and gentle Corbin, an American soldier she meets on one of her walks but mystery surrounds him and he keeps disappearing when she most feels she needs him to talk to.

Dorset is preparing for a big re-enactment and celebrations of the D-day anniversary and the story is woven around this, as it brings a flurry of new men into Marie’s life and feeling as vulnerable as she does she embarks on a passionate and physical fling with one of them.

Apart from the mysterious old fashioned Corbin in her life, there comes Paxton, also an American soldier with striking physical similarities to Corbin, he is damaged goods, still reeling from ptsd caused by his recent posting in Iraq. Then there’s Elderly ex militarian George here for the celebrations and his amiable son Mark who has sworn off women after his wife treated him like dirt, devoted to his lovely dog Troy he sails around the coast in his yacht licking his wounds and Marie takes pity on his bachelor status, cooking him tasty meals to keep him going.

Meanwhile teenage son Jude is fighting his own inner battles, newly in love with a girl he is keeping Mum about he is the pawn between Marie and Stephen and often finds himself keeping the peace.

Almost every character in the book is flawed and damaged by circumstances, some almost beyond repair and we watch Maries struggle to find herself and work out what she wants from her own future as she begins to wonder if she is imagining things and going a little bit crazy herself.

There is a mystery surrounding a silver seahorse necklace and a frisson of spookiness that keeps you guessing throughout the book which builds to a tense climax and we wonder if Marie is on the route to self-destruct, fired by her own lack of confidence and low self esteem.


This is a delightful read, very real, romantic without being in any way soppy dramatic and engaging and with enough mystery and suspense to keep the most demanding reader hooked. 

I received my copy in advance through NetGalley.

The Blurb
Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself… 

Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord. 

Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist. 

But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change. 

First there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’. 

Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation. 

And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons. 

As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life. 

Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy? 

Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain? 

Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever? 

But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck, and that it is down to her to get her life moving again. 

Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart. 

Jane Cable writes romance stories with a strong element of mystery and suspense. Her first novel, The Cheesemaker’s House, was a finalist in The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition and won the Words for the Wounded Independent Book of the Year Award in 2015.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Watcher - Ross Armstrong - a stylish contemporary Noir thriller




When I received my advance copy of this new thriller to read it held double appeal for me. I can't get enough of twisty psychological thrillers and I am a keen birdwatcher (who also enjoys a bit of people watching)

My Review

This fabulous book is a tense and terrifying journey into the world of Lily Gullick a young woman who sees something strange and worrying whilst bird watching from the window of her brand new apartment in a contemporary tower block which she and her husband Aidan bought some time ago.

From childhood Lily has been a keen birdwatcher, taught by her Dad to record and identify the different species she spots and living up here with a balcony overlooking a reservoir it’s the ideal pastime to while away her time with her binoculars. However she also has a great view of the other apartments including the remaining semi derelict old blocks of flats opposite, earmarked for imminent demolition by the new developers they are the grim and hulking crumbling relics of the 1970s with few remaining residents, save a few hardened dwellers hanging on until the bitter end in their graffiti ridden, urine scented fortress.

Lily’s story is strange and compelling, it’s clear she has a vivid imagination and her life has a dream-like and almost post-apocalyptic feel, although it’s set very much in the now of modern day city dwellers and the deep social divide between the Young upwardly mobile city workers and those who are not so much have nots as have never hads.

Lily wants to narrow this gap. She is a people watcher of extremes and has created names and even woven lives around many of the people she knows only by sight. It becomes clear that despite her accurate record keeping and obvious intelligence, she is perhaps not the most reliable of narrators. As she begins her quest to meet and talk to her neighbours she displays an erratic side to her personality, heedless of her own safety she makes ill-judged decisions and when she sees something which really worries her, followed by a sudden death she is convinced is murder, she rushes headlong into a self-destructive investigation which is bound to end badly.

Whilst we watch her, watching others, a pattern of unreliability and instability emerge, it’s clear something is wrong in Lily’s life. Her job is unsatisfying and she is only going through the motions her husband appears to be becoming a recluse, a shut -in, and even though Lily loves him it grows harder for her to connect with him.

It’s the sense of isolation and unease as Lily’s life spirals out of control, which permeate the fabric of this psychological suspense novel, creating a really different form of tension and nail biting suspense. 

There is a big OMFG moment which rocked me sideways and glimpses of Lily’s past and present coming together to create the person she has become, and underneath it all is the baffling was it … wasn’t it? murder investigation, missing girl, and strange goings on which make Lily’s life very surreal with a nightmarish quality lightened with brief moments of levity, which made this book sheer reading pleasure. 

The setting of dark and crumbling monoliths of vandalised tower blocks juxtaposed against modern “Yuppie” waterside apartments, all overlooking a tranquil reservoir peopled by birds creates a stark and isolated world for Lily to inhabit and the perfect backdrop for sinister goings on.

This book is a cunning and accomplished debut. I loved reading this stylish, contemporary Noir thriller with a twist.

I received my copy in advance to read before publication and I apologize for allowing life to get in the way and not getting around to it until after it has been published. The advantage of this is you can rush out and grab your own copy right now.


THE BLURB

The Girl on the Train meets Rear Window, The Watcher is an absolutely addictive and on trend commercial psychological suspense read, with a captivating unreliable narrator and some powerful narrative twists. She's watching you, but who's watching her? Lily Gullick lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build flat opposite an estate which has been marked for demolition. A keen birdwatcher, she can't help spying on her neighbours. Until one day Lily sees something suspicious through her binoculars and soon her elderly neighbour Jean is found dead. Lily, intrigued by the social divide in her local area as it becomes increasingly gentrified, knows that she has to act. But her interference is not going unnoticed, and as she starts to get close to the truth, her own life comes under threat. But can Lily really trust everything she sees?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Fracture - Heleyne Hammersley - a journey of discovery

It's a privilege that my first review of 2017 is for the tense and quite wonderful Fracture by Heleyne Hammersley.



What an intense and terrifying road trip of a book!

In this unusual and gripping psychological drama we meet Rosie who has had a very tough time, she bears the mental and physical scars of the bitter ending of a toxic relationship which has left her uncertain of her own future and lacking in confidence.

So when her parents suggest a change of scene might be the thing she needs to boost her recovery it seems easiest to go along with it even though a long solo flight is ultra daunting to Rosie's frayed nerves. Its clear she's apprehensive and uncertain of herself and her mind often plays tricks on her. She sets off on a journey of recovery and self discovery that just might be her undoing.

On arrival in Australia the warm welcome from her laid back Uncle Charlie and loud but lovable Aunt Rita seems to be just the balm she needs to salve her wounds, and following weeks lazing by the pool and reading (my idea of heaven) she finally bites the bullet and gets out to explore her surroundings.

Walking along a cliff top one day she sees a sunbather which her overwrought imagination lets her think is a dead body, when she goes over to investigate - she finds herself staring into the eyes of the naked but very alive and kicking Alfie, an unconventional and irreverent young woman who is about to become a close companion. Is she just the diversion Rosie needs to bring her out of her shell or is she trouble with a capital T?

The book makes it clear from the start that something goes badly wrong as there are snippets of Rosie being questioned by the police about an event she is sketchy about and as the story unfolds it's clear she could be in big trouble. But has she brought this on herself or is Alfie to blame and just how and why has the mysterious and elusive Alfie disappeared?

The psychological twists are superb. Rosie is a likeable yet very unreliable narrator, and although at first her neuroses and hesitance were a touch irritating I soon warmed to her, gained empathy with her and was drawn into her world.

It is a thriller, there is a murder and you never quite know who to trust.

Its clear Rosie has some mental health issues, deep self denial and self esteem at rock bottom. At first I was overjoyed to see her blossoming and building a relationship which at first I thought was going to be the making of her, by the time the alarm bells rang loudly enough to make me have serious misgivings, she was in too deep.

In Alfie she finds the Yang to her Yin, she feels a deep kinship as though she is her own counterpart but Alfie behaves in all the outrageous ways Rosie will never be comfortable with and in this intense love/hate relationship lies the crux of the story a toxic friendship which is more than it at first appears.

This is the second book I have read by Heleyne Hammersley, she writes great characters into threatening situations and takes you on a journey to a beautifully described location to watch them play out.

Fabulous books from a little known author who I highly recommend.

Read my review of Heleynes debut novel Forgotten here.

Buy the ebook or paperback here

My thanks go to the author for allowing me to receive an advance review copy.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Behind her eyes - Sarah Pinborough - Buried secrets

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough takes us on a journey of toxic friendship and buried secrets which kept me up late at night frantically turning the pages over the Christmas hols.



We are immersed in the world of a rather lonely young woman Louise, who, on a rare night out meets handsome, sexy David who seems as though he could be the man of her dreams, although they share nothing more than conversation and a kiss.

When she turns up at work and discovers he is her new boss and he is married, it’s obvious to both of them that the flame they kindled must be extinguished, yet still the attraction between them flickers.

Then Louise bumps into Adele, warm-hearted, vulnerable, Adele, to whom she is instantly drawn, they have a lot in common, they both share disturbing night terrors which blight their lives, they are both in need of a friend and ... they have David in common because Adele is David’s beautiful wife and Louise is about to be drawn into the strangest love triangle I’ve ever come across.

It’s immediately apparent that the couples’ marriage isn’t quite as perfect as it seems to outsiders and as Louise is pulled deeper into their puzzling relationship is clear that something is very amiss, Adele is clearly hiding something and seems to have an ulterior motive.

This is the crux of the story which begins to tie the reader in knots. I didn't know who to trust and suspected everyone of all sorts! The clues to what is going on “behind her eyes” are there all along, but unless you can put 2 and 2 together and come to 7, there are surprises and shocks galore throughout the story all the way to that much acclaimed “What the …..??? “ conclusion. I had an inkling of the general direction we might be going about half way through, but the red herrings are so big and juicy that the disclosure when it comes cannot fail to surprise and shock.

We watch Louise as she teeters between a longed for bosom friendship with the beguiling and enchanting Adele, who begs her to conceal their friendship from David and a developing passionate affair with David begins which she knows she must conceal from Adele. But is Adele manipulating Louise and if so why? What exactly are the cracks in the marriage of these two and is David dangerous to be around? Maybe she's not quite as reliable a narrator as she seems.

Poor Louise, from meeting the two people of her dreams and the happiness this brings, her life takes a downward spiral, she is plunged into a desperate entanglement of lies and concealment and a mysterious missing person who may be able to throw some light on what’s going on.

The story is told from the perspective of Louise, then Adele and some enigmatic flashbacks to Adeles life years ago which confirm that she has plenty of mystery in her past.

A very gripping page turner of a psychological thriller with a complex paranormal twist. Extremely well written and exciting there are definitely a lot of twists and shocks and it is intense, compelling, entertainment all the way through.

After reading it I began understanding why certain things had happened and realizing how very imaginative the author has been in creating this complex world where nothing is quite what it appears.

My copy was provided via Netgalley and will be available towards the end of January published by Harper Collins.

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Gift - Louise Jensen - gripping page turner

The Gift by Louise Jensen

A compelling, gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist from the author of the Number One bestseller The Sister. 





My thoughts:

This book has been getting a LOT of kudos in the book blogging community and I’ve found it really difficult not to read the many rave reviews which have been popping up all over the place, following the very recent publication of this new title and a hugely successful blog tour. I was a little late to the party as usual and just finished my copy last night and it really sent shivers down my spine.

Oh and just look at the gorgeous cover!

It’s scarily different, tackling the subject of cellular memory syndrome which smacks of fantasy but is in fact a much reported, very real recently discovered phenomenon where a recipient of a donor organ experiences retrospective memories from the donor.

In The Gift we meet Jenna who is recovering from life-saving surgery following a viral infection which caused her own heart to cease functioning and became the recipient of a transplanted heart from a young woman who died in an accident.



As Jenna gradually regathers her strength and tries to rebuild her life, despite breaking with her beloved boyfriend Sam, seeing this as a selfless act of freeing him from being tied to her possibly foreshortened life span and her inability to bear him children.

Being absent from her job in a vets which she loves, for a long time and being apart from her friends has given her time to brood on the fact of which she is constantly aware – another girl has died in order to give her the chance at life, she struggles to come to terms with this and has feelings of guilt and bewilderment that she is still alive.

Heavily medicated, she has regular visits with a therapist to help her cope, yet she still feels a sense of threat, as though she is running away from something or someone. Nightmares plague her sleep and she awakes disoriented and shaking and she experiences dream-like memories of having a sister and being in an accident which she knows have never happened to her, gradually she fears for her own sanity. Are these the side effects of the drugs she takes to manage her condition, or is it something more? Could she really be experiencing fragments of the donors life, and death?

She manages to track down the donors family and in an ill-advised and unethical approach, contacts the dead girl, Callie’s family and finds an instant bond with them.

But this move might have put her in danger! Yet still she obsesses with finding out what actually did cause Callies death and grows desperate to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Callies missing younger sister Sophie.

What evolves is a tense mystery, filled with suspense and lots of red herrings. Loads of great characters all have their own story and all the time Jenna’s new heart beats away the hours as time ticks by, the more she uncovers, the more mysteries are revealed and the more she becomes desperate to know.

We watch her court danger and all the while her obsession builds and the phenomenon of another persons heart transferring feelings is something she begins to admit must be what is giving her a very real craving for strawberries she once loathed, an instant attraction to Callies fiance Nathan, yet doubts about his devotion to Callie become concerns as to whether his protective nature may have been more domineering than at first appears.

There is question after question, mystery upon puzzle upon twisty turny complications. Nothing is straightforward and there is never a dull moment throughout the book as it races towards its terrifying conclusion.


What a fabulous, gripping page turner and a great follow up to the authors superb debut The Sister.

The Blurb

The perfect daughter. The perfect girlfriend. The perfect murder? 

Jenna is seriously ill. She’s lost all hope of getting the heart transplant she needs to live. But just as her life is ebbing away, she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. 
Who was Callie and how did she die? Jenna is determined to find out. 

The closer Jenna gets to those who loved Callie, the more questions arise about her untimely death. Someone knows what happened to Callie. Why won’t they talk? 

Jenna is about to uncover the truth, but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life. 

Available NOW in Paperback and ebook, another stunning offering from Bookouture.






Friday, 16 December 2016

Rattle - Fiona Cummins - phenomenal thriller



Rattle – Fiona Cummins

When you hear as much about a book in advance of publication as I have about Rattle it usually means one of two things:

a) The Book has an outstandingly good publicist promoting it or

b) It’s a phenomenally good book.

Regarding Rattle – Both are true.

But it’s also a debut novel and although new authors often come up with great ideas for books, (after all many of them have been nurturing the storyline for most of their lives) it’s always a bit of a leap into the dark, writing skill can be unpolished, style is sometimes lacking.

Not with this one!

Then there’s the final factor which puts a bit of extra pressure on a reader. Loads of fellow bloggers have been raving about this thriller for the past few weeks and it makes me worry, what if I’m the one dissenting voice that just doesn’t “get it”? That’s happened before and I have sadly felt a disappointing sense of bewilderment and something approaching shame that a book “everyone loves” has left me cold.

Not so with Rattle …. I loved this book - please read on …..

MY REVIEW

My very first thought after picking up this book and starting to read it is “Wow, there’s some writing talent in here”.

I was immediately sucked into the story like milk up a straw and immersed in the flowing liquid storyline so deeply I almost dissolved.



My Second thought was, this author has great similarity to Stephen King, but she’s Female – and British – Oh my.

The clarity and descriptiveness set it high on a pedestal. The way I was introduced to the leading characters quickly, yet without confusion, is fundamental to my enjoyment of this book.

Erdman Frith feels a bit of a failure, his job never amounted to much, he’s a bit pot bellied and can’t always say no to one pint too many, he feels he is constantly letting his wife down and though he adores his only son, little Jakey, has a disfiguring and painful disability, a rare bone condition that is gradually making him grow a bizarre and excruciatingly agonising exoskeleton over his own bones and Erdman finds it hard to accept that he can’t protect his little boy from the pain, discomfort and cruel stares this condition brings. Then there’s Clara, a beautiful little girl with deformed hands earning her the cruel nickname at school of lobster girl.

What kind of sick and twisted serial killer would target disabled kids? The Bone collector that’s who!

The Bone collector is the bogeyman under every childs bed. He is merciless, he is obsessed and he is determined to continue adding to his family’s bizarre mausoleum, a macabre repository of carefully collected and curated human bones. Yet he is an enigma, he has a caring side which we see emerge now and again as he tends his disabled wife.

When little Clara disappears one day, plucked from outside the sweet shop in every Mothers nightmare scenario, families begin to crumble. Into the mix charges renegade cop Etta Fitzroy, having previously failed to find the abductor of a still missing young girl she is determined this time she will avenge. Fighting her own demons and with a very credible reason for becoming way too emotionally engaged, she is the lynch pin around which this story spins.

And spin it certainly does, in a whirl of events and emotions it’s one of the page turniest page turners I’ve read in a long while.



If you’re anything like me you’ll lie in bed ‘til late devouring this book, eventually settling down to sleep with one eye on the window in case you hear the rattle of bones and see the shadow of Jake’s Bogey man “Ol’ Bloody bones”.

Ohhhhh I loved this book, I adored the characters, unlike a lot of books I’ve read lately where the sense of nastiness spreads to all the characters, in this novel almost ALL the loathing is saved for the dark and slimy character who has already been often compared to Hannibal Lecter. 

And though the supporting cast all have their human flaws and foibles, in the main they are redeemed by better qualities, Especially Erdman, who blunders his way through the book and being the most unlikely hero imaginable, and his son Jakey who I really wanted to gently hug (I cried at the brief but poignant memory of his yearning for a dog for Christmas, in fact I’m welling up now)



You know, I’m going to shut up now. (Thank goodness, did I hear you say?)  

I could go on and on about this wonderful, scary and thrilling debut novel and if you’re reading my review I’ve no doubt you’ll find a dozen more all saying similar things – it’s great -it’s amazing – read it! 

So I’ll let you go and pre-order your copy. You’ll have to wait until mid-January to buy a copy for yourself, but I can assure you it’s well worth the anticipation.

Visit the publishers website where you can read an extract.

My thanks to Francesca Pearce at Panmacmillan for allowing me the privilege of early membership of the Rattle fan club with a copy in advance of publication.



The Blurb

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he's just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family's macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey's father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London's Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it's also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

The Author:

Fiona Cummins

Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror show-business journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. Rattle is her first novel.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Witness - by Caroline Mitchell - Twisted games

My Review: Witness by Caroline Mitchell



Witness is an exciting and very scary read. 

Within the pages of this novel we meet Becky, wife to the loving and trusting Sean, Mother to an adorable 4 year old, Lottie. She has an interesting job working in her husbands veterinary practise in rural Wales, along with her sister in law (and best friend) Rhian.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

But Becky has secrets, she has a past life which is about to catch up with her.

Ten years ago, she was involved with a man called Solomon. He appeared in her life when she was at her most vulnerable, her Mother hospitalised in the final throes of Cancer. Solomon comes on the scene and “rescues” Rebecca, but he turns out to be a girls worst nightmare, a sadistic and violent abuser and their relationship ends abruptly with the murder of an innocent bystander.

Rebecca testifies against her ex, ensuring he is put away for this terrible crime and she gradually manages to build herself this new life.

But it can’t last forever.

And an unexpected phone call threatens to blow her cosy world apart.
Solomon is back ….

He wants revenge.

He wants to play a game of cat and mouse with Becky as the frightened mouse.
And she is given no option, she must play along or risk the lives of those nearest and dearest to her.

But what she is trying hardest to avoid is what she actually sets in motion by going along with his sick game. Trying to protect her family from her past, she puts them all in the greatest danger.
He wants her to be a witness, to crimes of his choosing and as his demands become more twisted and cruel, she is sucked into his warped and wicked world against her will.

It’s one of those books where I was screaming at her “NO don’t do that” I was as appalled at her willingness to go along with Solomons sick and twisted diversion, as I was shocked at his despicable pursuits. He is a thoroughly despicable and obnoxious character whose capacity for twisted mental torture is equalled only by his propensity for physical abuse.


This dark thriller gathers pace relentlessly and even though I could anticipate how bad it was going to get, there are unexpected twists which made me shudder and my blood ran cold as it was revealed just why she is so scared of what he will reveal about her and what this sicko made her do. The end has a really good sting in the tail and the whole is grimly entertaining.

My thanks go to Netgalley for my advance copy and the Publisher Thomas and Mercer

Witness is due to be published on 20th December 2016, so why not treat yourself to a thrilling Christmas read? 

The Blurb

To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse. To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away. Enough time for the nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom—but it’s not her phone. Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime. And, to make matters worse, she has to choose the victims.

Fail to respond and you get hurt. Talk to police and you die. Ready to play? You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.

A Note From the Publisher:

A former police detective, Caroline Mitchell now writes full-time. She has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims—high-risk victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The mental strength shown by the victims of these crimes is a constant source of inspiration to her, and Mitchell combines their tenacity with her knowledge of police procedure to create tense psychological thrillers. Originally from Ireland, she now lives in a pretty village on the coast of Essex with her husband and three children. You can find out more about her at www.caroline-writes.com, or follow her on Twitter (@caroline_writes) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/paranormalintruder).


Sunday, 11 December 2016

My favourite books - Top reads of 2016

My pick of the best books which I've read in 2016

It's that time of year when I look back over another year which has been mapped out in books.

I've read some superb fiction this year, including several great debuts by new authors.

Here are my top 15 books which I've read over the past year.

My very favourite genre is superbly imagined suspenseful literary historical novels, of which there never seem to be quite enough to completely satisfy my desire for dramatic fictional time travel.

Although lacking in quantity the quality this year has been superb and the ones mentioned here have included several outstanding historical mysteries and dramas based around factual events.

Click on the title for a reminder of my review:

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

A haunting romance set in a grim asylum in North Yorkshire in the early 1900s.


The Unseeing - By Anna Mazzola

A Shrewd and genius work of fiction woven around a true crime in London in the first half of the nineteenth century



The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Another cleverly constructed novel woven around factual events, following the story of a nurse who served with Florence Nightingale who is appointed to observe a young girl in Ireland who refuses to eat.



To the bright edge of the world - Eowyn Ivey

An unusual and different haunting romantic adventure set in 19th century Alaska and again worked around real exploration of the last wildrenesses.


Two to watch for in 2017:

The Witchfinders sister by Beth Underdown

This is yet another richly imagined work of fiction describing the life of real life character Matthew Hopkins the notorious Witchfinder General responsible for the persecution and trail of many women accused of witchcraft in the mid 17th century. Its not due out until 2017 so I guess it cheating a bit to put it on my list but its one to watch for in 2017.


It would be remiss of me not to mention that there is another superb book on my radar, which I have been lucky enough to read in advance of publication, however its also not due for publication until January next year.

But I loved it so much I wanted to recommend it as one to watch out for:

It is called See What I have done by Sarah Schmidt and it reworks the true crime of Lizzie Borden who "gave her father 40 whacks"

Here's a sneak preview of the cover:


Finally in my historical fiction is one which is just a little different to the usual.

A strange and delightful quirky novel set in the 1970s

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

captivated and enchanted me as the girl who lived in the lost and found office at Liverpool station spun her way through life.


Moving from historical fiction now we end up at my next favourite choice of reading entertainment - to be terrified and horrified by twisty psychological fiction and again this year I have discovered some corkers.

Invisible by Barbara Copperthwaite

Blew my socks right off. This first novel by an author whose later work Flowers for the dead featured highly in my favourite reads of last year. She is one of my favourite authors because she can create amazing serial killers and take you right inside their brains. A scary capability of which I am in awe.




In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings 

is a tale of lies, secrets and deception which I described as phenomenal after reading it.



Valentina by S E Lynes

a multi layered and exceptionally gripping Domestic Noir thriller


Inside the Whispers by A J Waines

is the first in a new series of thrillers based around the work of clinical psychologist Samantha Willerby.

I also read and loved No longer safe by the same author in 2016 and it was a difficult choice which of this fabulous writers works to choose to be in my top reads, but inside the whispers won by a narrow margin due to the very real anticipation for the next book in the series for which I cannot wait.



Good me, Bad me by Ali Land 

fairly leapt into my top reads a chilling and terrifying debut novel which took me deep into the psyche of an abused child as a teenager who is the main witness to the heinous crimes of her Mother. Oh so deliciously dark and deep.



My sisters bones by Nuala Ellwood

is a terrifying exploration of ptsd and mental illness which is wonderfully written and shook me to the core




Next is a work of exceptional womens fiction

My Husbands Wife by Amanda Prowse

Emotional and quite harrowing it is the very relatable story of a women who loses everything and when she's down life keeps on kicking her.



Nina Is NOT ok by Shappi Khorsandi 

is a raw and shocking, no holds barred look at teenage alcoholism

Aimed at young adults this is a must read for anyone who's ever woken up fuzzy headed and hungover wondering what they said or did.



Appropriately Last but not least is the very different

The Last one by Alexandra Oliva

A tense and exciting post apocalyptic reality tv show based drama like Bear Grylls meets the Hunger Games.



I hope you find something that's passed you by in my selection and if we have similar tastes watch this space for reviews of all the exciting new books I know are to be discovered in 2017.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Guest Post - Deborah Lawrenson - 300 days of sun

Today I'd like to welcome Author Deborah Lawrenson to Beadyjans books. Deborah is talking about the inspiration for her latest book 300 Days of Sun an intriguing suspenseful dual time mystery set in Faro Portugal. Her article is accompanied by some beautiful evocative images of Faro.

I apologize for not having been able to read this lovely sounding book yet, but having seen these stunning images and read Deborahs article I will be keeping it near the top of my rather large TBR pile.




Guest post by Deborah Lawrenson

300 Days of Sun is a twisty story set in Portugal with an atmospheric sense of place, romance, suspense, and wartime history.

In Faro, Joanna, a journalist in her late thirties meets Nathan, a charismatic but reckless younger man. He has recently discovered he is not who he thought he was: he believes he may have been one of the Algarve’s notorious child kidnap victims. The truth involves a story that began in Lisbon during WW2, when the city was the escape hatch of Europe. It uncovers a love story that crossed enemy lines - and puts them both in clear and present danger.


When I was growing up, the simple question “Where do you come from?” had no simple answer. I was asked it often because I was always the new girl. As a diplomatic service family, we moved across Europe, the Middle East and Asia and back again, interspersed with a few years every now and then in London.

I went to ten schools, starting with an international convent in Peking (as it was), and including an American school in Brussels and a village school in Luxembourg. Home was less the bolt-hole in London than it was the books and crockery that marked our camp in foreign places. It was always clear, too, that the question of where I came from was actually another way of asking “Who are you?”.


Deborah Lawrenson


Perhaps inevitably, states of flux and identity have always interested me. Perhaps that’s also why I like to write recognisable landscapes into my novels; the places are the anchors of the story and the human characters reveal themselves in the way they react and adapt to the setting. 



Questions about identity run through 300 Days of Sun. It’s an issue that can be hard enough to answer in normal circumstances, but what happens if a child grows to adulthood and discovers he is not the person he thought he was? For Nathan, in the present-day storyline, his understanding of his family, his childhood, his place in the world, is revealed to be a lie. How can he ignore the urge to find out the truth? Would it even be possible to ignore what he now knows?

Joanna, a journalist, is also re-evaluating her life. When she and Nathan meet in Faro, Portugal, she is wondering how to make a new start. He recognises her strengths, and asks her to help him. Her determination to be true to herself, come what may, is crucial.



For Alva, in wartime Lisbon, the moment she changes her perception of her circumstances – and her marriage - is when she realises that her husband has no intention of taking her home to America in 1940 after they have fled Paris. She is forced to adapt to life in Portugal, and in doing so, becomes someone entirely different.  
 
And while Nathan and Alva are in the process of change – change neither of them has sought in the first place – the world around them is unstable, too. Violent storms re-draw coastal geography. Nature cannot be contained even with modern sea-barrier engineering. Economic and political power shifts undermine the individual.

Perhaps appropriately, this novel has several different genre elements. It’s part historical fiction, part romantic suspense, part literary thriller. I always try to write in a way that transports the reader to a setting, capturing a vivid sense of place and I research carefully to make the imaginary experience as accurate as possible, whether that is the smells of the old town, or the soft shushing sounds of the Portuguese language.



Is this evocation of place a way of finding a calm still centre in the wild uproar of life? I sometimes think so. As a writer, I’ve become more and more aware that each book I offer a story to the reader - and a complex weave of subconscious thoughts to myself. Sometimes it has been years after a novel was published that I realise (or allow myself to realise) what the story was really about.


With 300 Days of Sun the time had come to think about all those border crossings and classrooms full of unfamiliar faces, and the fear and excitement of having to start all over again. 




If you'd like to experience Faro for yourself through the pages of Deborahs latest enthralling mystery novel you can purchase a copy on Amazon in paperback or for your kindle

Watch this space for my review, I can't wait to immerse myself in this book.