Friday, 27 March 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott

One dark secret. One act of revenge.
When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six year old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.
Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie,
Then a stranger walks into their lives and their world tilts on its axis.
Emma's life no longer feels secure. Does she really know what happened all those years ago? Any why does she feel so frightened for herself and her baby?
When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all of their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.
They say you should never trust a stranger, maybe they're right. 

Publisher: Black Dot Publishing
Pages: 356 pages

This is the first book I have read by Rachel Abbott but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Emma is happily married to David and they have a baby son Ollie. David tragically lost his first wife in a car accident; the same accident that saw his daughter go missing, more than 6 years ago. Until now, when Natasha reappears in their kitchen with no explanation of where she's been or why she's back. Emma has so many conflicting emotions; she is overjoyed to see David reunited with his daughter but on the other hand she doesn't trust this girl who seems so full of anger and who realistically is a complete stranger. When Natasha's reappearance threatens the life of Ollie, Emma feels she has nowhere to turn; she feels her only option is to call DCI Tom Douglas, he's an old friend but she feels sure that he will know what to do. She has no idea of the danger she is about to place him in,
Rachel Abbott sets a relentless pace from the very first page. I was initially worried that it would nose-dive at some point but she sustained the tension and I really struggled to put this book down.
The author plays on every parent's fear of their child being threatened or taken from them. There were times when I found this book quite uncomfortable to read as thinking of the same thing happening to my own daughter made it all very realistic.
All of the characters in this book are battling with their emotions and this made it all the more interesting. All involved have something to gain and something to lose and you do wonder who is going to come out the worst off.
DCI Tom Douglas is a good, solid character and I liked the way his story was woven into the case. It is clear that the case is personal for him but you just know that he is one of the good guys who always goes above and beyond.
Stranger Child is a gritty, fast-paced read which I would highly recommend. I am definitely going to read more from this author in the future,

Many thanks to Alexandra for providing me with a review copy of this book. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

BOOK TOUR: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

Two couples. Two love stories.
One epic tale.
Ninety-one-year-old Ira Levinson is in trouble. Struggling to stay conscious after a car crash, an image of his adored- and long-dead- wife Ruth appears. Urging him to hang on, she lovingly recounts the joys and sorrows of their life together: how they met, the dark days of WWII and its unrelenting effect on their families.
A few miles away, college student Sophia Danko's life is about to change when she meets the young, rugged Luke and is thrown into a world far removed from her privileged school life. Sophia sees a tantalising future for herself, but Luke is keeping a secret that could destroy it all. 

Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 465

I was very excited to be asked to take part in this blog tour. The Notebook is one of my favourite films but I have to hold my hands up and admit that I have not read any of the author's books. I don't think I'm alone as one of the rea
sons behind this blog tour was to get people to read the book before the film comes out.
The story flits between Ira and Sophia and Luke. Ira has just been in a car accident, he is seriously hurting and waiting to be found. His wife Ruth, who died several years ago, appears to him and we gradually learn about their relationship and the love they shared. Sophia is mending a broken heart when she meets Luke, he is not her usual type but the attraction between them is instant . Love does not run smoothly for either couple but it is interesting to see how they overcome obstacles and also how their two separate stories come together.
Ira was my favourite character and I did enjoy his parts of the book the most. I felt that his love for Ruth was so genuine, I found his story really interesting and very believable too.
I particularly liked the warmth with which Nicholas Sparks writes. I felt that he really gets to the heart of the characters and shows them at their most vulnerable.
The Longest Ride is about love and also the way it doesn't run smoothly. The plot grabbed my attention and held it throughout; it is a book I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Victoria at Sphere for asking me to take part in this blog tour, the book is out now! 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Book Review: Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Even the darkest secrets can't stay buried forever. Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken  but the pact had been made.  Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood... Years later a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shook the Black Country. But when human remains are discovered at a former children's home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she's on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades. As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they can strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it's too late?

Publisher: Bookouture

This book was a fantastic read and a complete breath of fresh air. I may be biased as I am a very proud Brummie but it was so refreshing to read a crime book that wasn't set in London or Manchester!
Angela Marsons doesn't hold back, she takes you straight into the thick of it, five people standing round a shallow grave. These pe
ople thought that their secrets were buried but a spate of murders linking staff at a children's care home mean that people are going to start asking questions.
D.I. Kim Stone is called to the first murder which leads her to the care home connection and the remains of a child buried in the grounds. I really liked this character, I felt that she was very believable and even though she had a very hard shell, she does care deeply about her job and getting justice for those who can't get it for themselves.
This case particularly resonates with Kim as she is a product of the care system. Throughout the book we learn more about her past and her story is heartbreaking.
Silent Scream hits the ground running and has a relentless pace. There are more murders and more secrets revealed. Then ending completely threw me and I loved that it was so unexpected.
Anglea Marsons is writing more D.I. Kim Stone books which I am chuffed about as she is an excellent creation. This book has been sitting at the top of the Amazon chart for a while and it is clear to see why,

Many thanks to Bookouture for allowing me to review this book via netgalley.

Monday, 2 March 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Two Of Us by Andy Jones

This is not a love story.
It is a story about falling in love...
and what happens next...
Fisher and Ivy have been an item for a whole nineteen days. And they just know they are meant to be together. The fact that they know little else about each other is a minor detail. Over the course of twelve months, in which their lives will change forever, Fisher and Ivy discover that falling in love is one thing but staying there is an entirely different story. 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 451

I do not read a lot of books by male authors so I wasn't sure what to expect from The Two of Us by Andy Jones but I really did think it was good.
The whole book is told from Fisher's perspective and I liked him straight away. His heart is in the right place and he just wants to do the best for those he loves. What's not to like?
I liked Ivy in the main but even by the end of the
book I didn't necessarily feel as though I knew her that well. There were a few points where she seemed quite selfish but this could just be because we don't get her side of the story. The two of them together though are brilliant and extremely realistic. Their relationship, for one reason or another becomes very serious very quickly and I liked how Andy Jones demonstrated that by showing them go through a very intense set of emotions and feelings.
There were some chapters of the book that I found a little slow but the ending more than made up for these. The last few chapters of this book were like a master class in how it should be done. There were so many ups and downs packed in and so much emotion. I felt that Andy Jones dealt with it all beautifully.
I used to read a lot more by male authors (Tony Parsons and Mike Gayle in particular) but then I found it really hard to find a male author who I could still identify with. I think I may have found him again in Andy Jones, I hope this author goes on to write more books as he clearly has more to offer.

Many thanks to Clare at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of the book to review, it is out now! 

Friday, 20 February 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Up and In by Deborah Disney

A wonderfully wry tale about the pressure women put on themselves and one another to fit in, measure up and look glamorous while they're doing it. Distinctly middle class parents, Maria and Joe have committed every bit of available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne -swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing but a minefield of social politics. While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a mid-life crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents). For every woman who has ever felt she might be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you- you're not alone. 

Publisher: Harper Collins

Up and In by Deborah Disney is such an enjoyable read. Maria inadvertently upsets Bea, the Queen Bee of the mothers at her daughter's exclusive school. Maria does everything she can to fit in so that she can be part of this exclusive clique but Bea really does not make it easy for her. Maria's desperation to be included leads her to do things she would never have dreamed of, is it all worth it or has she lost sight of who she is?
I very much enjoyed Deborah Disney's writing style  and she has explored a situation that nearly every mother will identify with. The desire to fit in and be included doesn't disappear when we leave school. Maria initially seems to be doing it for her daughter's sake but very quickly it becomes Maria's own desire to be in the elite group of Mums and to be be liked by Bea. In the main, I really liked Maria but there were times that I
wanted to shake her ad her behaviour seemed selfish. There were several moments that made me cringe and I wondered why anyone would put themselves in such awkward situations as Maria does.
Bea is a marvellous creation, she is horrible, manipulative, bitchy and a complete snob. She makes an excellent villain in the book and again, readers will definitely have come across someone like Bea in their lifetime.
Up and In is a very entertaining read with some rather serious undertones. Deborah Disney explores our desire to be liked and included and the lengths we will go to in order to make this happen.
This is the first book that I have read by Deborah Disney but she is an author I would recommend.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Book Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Firecombe Manor during the long languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?
As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes even more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph- and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's.

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448 

I was very attracted to this book when I saw a few reviews comparing it to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I can see why comparisons have been made but I think this book had a very different feel to it.
The book flits between two characters, Alice Eveleigh and Lady Elizabeth Stanton; Alice in 1933 and Elizabeth at least a generation before. Alice is in disgrace after falling pregnant to a married man. She has come to Firecombe to have her baby in secret. She comes across a few photographs of Elizabeth Stanton and is intrigued by the woman who used to live in the house. Mrs Jelphs is the current housekeeper and she used to be Elizabeth's maid but she will not talk of her old mistress which just intrigues Alice even more. As Alice begins to discover Firecombe's tragic past she begins to wonder how it will affect the present; there is a lot of bad feeling in the house and she begins to question whether it is a place of safety for her or not.
I liked both Alice and Elizabeth but I found Elizabeth's story slightly more interesting. It becomes very clear that she suffered from post-natal depression but in those times it was not recognised and women were often locked in asylums  and deemed insane. The treatment Elizabeth received altered her forever and effectively tore her family apart. It was fascinating to see how post-natal depression was viewed at the time and the treatment that women received.
Kate Riordan has written an interesting and enticing book. The tension is very high in places but there were a few parts that I felt were a little too long. I did like how she brought the characters of Alice and Elizabeth together. The subtle way in which she intertwined their stories was very good.
I love books that are set in big houses and go back and forth in time. The Girl in the Photograph has a very good plot and interesting characters, I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Penguin for allowing me to read a review copy of this book via Netgalley.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Book Review: Fragile Lies by Laura Elliot

His name is Michael Carmody.
He is a writer and a father.
His son is lying in a coma, fighting for his life.
Her name is Lorraine Cheevers.
She is an artist and a mother.
An illicit affair has destroyed her marriage.
Michael is desperate to find the couple who left his son for dead, a victim of a hit and run.
Lorraine is desperate to start a new life for her and her daughter.
Michael and Lorraine are about to cross paths- damaged souls, drawn to one another.
They don't know that their lives are already connected.
They don't know the web of lies surrounding them.
They are searching for the truth. But when they find it, it could destroy them both.

Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 13th February, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Fragile Lies by Laura Elliot drew me in from the very first page and I had read it in a couple of days.
Michael Carmody and Lorraine Cheevers are the main characters. Michael's teenage son is lying in a coma after being left for dead in a hit and run accident. Well-known artist Lorraine is moving to the countryside after her marriage was torn apart by her husband's illicit affair. Lorraine wants to get away from it all and concentrate on raising her daughter Emily. Yet Michael and Lorraine are both drawn together, having no idea that they are already linked. As Michael pursues the truth about his son's accident, Lorraine looks for the truth about the nature of her husband's affair.As the truth starts to be revealed, it is not certain if Michael and Lorraine's new love will take the strain.
Fragile Lies has a little bit of everything, love, tragedy, infidelity, lies and secrets. I thought that Laura Elliot set up the story perfectly at the beginning and then she kept the plot going at an excellent pace. The characters are quite complex and I think this added a real edge to the book; they felt very well thought out and I loved how the author weaved their separate stories together.
The family aspect of the book was also interesting. Lorraine and Michael are both very successful in their careers but if you strip everything away they are completely devoted to their children. Michael cannot rest until he gets justice for his son and Lorraine wants to do everything she can to protect her daughter,  no matter how much Emily resents it.
Laura Elliot is a new author for me but I would highly recommend Fragile Lies. Excellent plot, interesting characters and plenty of intrigue.

Many thanks to the lovely Kim at Bookouture for sending me a review copy, Fragile Lies is published on February 13th.


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