Saturday, 16 June 2018

A gathering of Ghosts - Karen Maitland - wonderfully atmospheric historical writing

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

My review:

Karen Maitland smashes the bar again with another fabulous, bewitching medieval masterpiece.

She populates her latest book with a cast of superbly memorable characters.

A group of holy sisters in an isolated Priory, ruled by the indomitable Prioress Johanne assisted by a group of sisters including the wonderful sister Basilia (I must confess I instantly pictured her as the wonderful actress Patsy Byrne - most famous for her role of Nursie in Blackadder, and wonder if the author had this character in mind when she created her?)

Knights of St John, tinners working on Dartmoor living in impoverishment I shudder to imagine, and some wonderful mystical and magical pagan women.

The whole story is woven around survival, the battle between pagan beliefs versus Christianity, magic, ancient lore, the wisdom and fortitude of women from different walks of life entwined with the occult. Combine this with a stunningly believable storyline and strange happenings and you have a winner.

If you like your historical fiction to be scrupulously researched, scintillatingly imaginative and deeply engaging look no further. I was wowed by this latest book by one of my favourite historical authors.

The Blurb

The year is 1316 and high on the wilds of Dartmoor, hidden by the mist, stands the isolated Priory of St Mary, owned by the Sisters of the Knights of St John. People travel from far and wide in search of healing at the ancient holy well that lies beneath the chapel.

But the locals believe the well was theirs long before Christianity arrived and there are those who would do anything to reclaim their sacred spring... As plagues of frogs cascade from the well and the water turns to blood, is there witchcraft afoot? Or is the Old World fighting back at last?

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Wrecker by Noel O'Reilly - gritty historical fiction

Wrecker by Noel O'Reilly

My review

I can't resist a trip into the dark and murky past of our forbears and Wrecker plunged me into the world of bygone coastal Corwall.

(I must admit the beautiful cover drew me in like a moth to a flame)

This is a take of poverty stricken fishing folk who often struggle to put another pilchard on the table and whom desperation makes reckless. These villagers live in crude hovels with naught to their names but the hand me down pagan beliefs they have inherited. They eke out the meagre living they try to sustain with fishing and farming, by scavenging goods which have been washed up from the many shipwrecks which occur in the area.

In this twisty tale of times gone by we meet Mary Blight, a feisty feckless heroine, who lives with her ailing Mam and her beloved sister. Mary wants to better herself and is about to seize any opportunity that comes her way, but she is apt to make a bad decision or two:

like the time she goes to the beach to see what pickings she can find following a shipwreck and impulsively pulls a pair of expensive boots from the body of a dead woman whose body has already been mutilated by a previous wrecker, an act she is to come to regret.

Like the time she gets very drunk at a village gathering and lifts her skirts to try and ensnare a man who is promised to someone else, alienating herself from her peers.

Like rescuing a man from drowning and the attachment she makes to this man she rescues from the sea. Gideon Stone, a married Methodist minister who, after his salvation at Mary's hands finds in himself a burning ambition to save the villagers of Porthmorven from their pagan superstitions and returns to build them a chapel where he can preach and save their souls.

Mary is a character I rooted for, yet didn't wholly like, she is cunning with a mercenary streak but seems to lack the sharpness of wit required to fully make the most of her opportunities. She treats people badly and her motives are sometimes unclear but mostly driven by greed and understandable dissatisfaction with her lot.

The book is a gripping historical story, with love at its core and secrets and superstition at its heart, yet it's as far removed from a regency romance as the characters are from the drawing rooms of polite society.

Atmospheric and rather dark its a great read for the lover of gritty historical fiction.

The blurb

A powerful debut exploring the dark side of Cornwall – the wrecking and the drowned sailors – where poverty drove villagers to dark deeds…

Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorvoren, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two.

When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary’s sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorvoren by building a chapel on the hill.

But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary’s enemies are plotting against her…

Gripping, beautifully written and utterly beguiling, Noel O’Reilly’s debut WRECKER is a story of love, injustice, superstition and salvation, set against Cornwall’s dark past.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Blog Tour and my Review – The Retreat by Mark Edwards

Blog Tour and my Review – The Retreat by Mark Edwards

I’m delighted to welcome one of my favourite authors of twisty psychological thrillers, Mark Edwards,  to Beadyjans books today with his latest terrifying new book – The Retreat.

My Review:

The Retreat is a clever and compelling thriller with great characters lots going on and plenty to scare the pants off you!

If you’re reading my blog it figures that you’re a keen reader, blogger or writer and most of us who write, whether it be books, articles, blog posts or book reviews will surely have dreamt of some place quiet and peaceful to get away from the stresses of everyday life - the phones constantly ringing, people clamouring for our attention and thoughts and memories crowding in and interrupting the creative process.

Well, that’s just what successful horror author Lucas thinks he’s found when he books a break at a newly created writers retreat in an old rural house in Wales, where owner Julia is trying to make ends meet after the sudden death of her husband by letting out rooms to writers so they can enjoy the peace and quiet and get on with creating their masterpieces.

However, relaxing tranquillity isn’t quite what he gets. There is a shroud of mystery and darkness over the whole rural area, which is steeped in local legends and myths, which he plans to use to good advantage hoping they will inspire him to regain his lost writing mojo. But local folk seem suspicious and sinister and seem to be concealing something.

He discovers Julia to be kind and attractive yet deeply troubled as not only was her husband killed in a tragic drowning incident but their only daughter Lily was lost in the same tragic accident, but as her body has never been found, 2 years on she still can’t accept this tragic loss of her beloved young daughter, closure hasn’t been granted to her and she is undoubtedly deeply troubled by the past.

Of the 4 writers currently staying at the Retreat, Lucas can relate to this, he has his own personal demons of grief and loss to deal with, but despite his feeling deeply attracted to the widowed Julia they hit it off on the wring foot and each time he feels he’s getting closer to her he puts his clumsy great foot in it once again.

Something or someone is causing strange occurrences around the house and despite his vivid imagination he finds it impossible to accept that it could be haunted, any more than he can believe in the old local legend of the Eerie Red widow who snatches children. He knows that this can’t have been what happened to Lily and he sets out to find out what really happened that fateful day at the river and hopes to give Julia the closure she so desperately needs.

He unleashes more than a spook when he begins to delve, he uncovers secrets and dark deeds which have been buried over the years and he might have put his own life in danger as the more he reveals, the more someone wants to shut him up.

There is everything you need to be scared witless in this story, death and mayhem, murder and mystery coupled with spooky goings on are the perfect recipe for a gripping and EEK inducing tale.

You gotta love Mark Edwards style - when you think he has wrung out every drop of horror and emotion from the situation he has written so cleverly about, he manages to give it another little squeeze right at the end and produce a few more juicy drops which send a final shiver down the spine.

Author Mark Edwards.

This book couldn't have come at a more appropriate time as I am in the process of launching my own little private writers and readers retreat by offering my lovely private chalet in Spain to rent for anyone needing a few days or a week retreating to the sun. Read about it here I can guarantee it won't be as exciting as the one in Marks book but will actually be a quiet and tranquil getaway spot for you to read and write.

The Blurb

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

Order your copy now from Amazon.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Blog Tour and my review for The Old You by Louise Voss

Blog Tour and my review for The Old You by Louise Voss.

Today I am part of the buzzing blog tour for the fab twistiness that is the latest thriller from Louise Voss.

My Review

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive” …

There is a whole load of deception within these pages and to find out who is deceiving who and why, you’ll have to read it. I just read it and it blew my socks clean off.

If you like your books to mess with your mind then this will fit the bill.

The Old You begins quite gently with a dreadfully sad subject, the early onset of dementia and as we watch Lynn come to terms with her husbands sudden and rapid decline into senility it seems as though this is going to be a heart-breaking family drama, which it is …. in a way, however it is also Domestic Noir with a capital N, at its very darkest, filled with secrets and lies and OMG moments. Psychologically it’s mind blowing and so damned cunning it’s a joy to read.

Lynn married Ed ten years ago when they fell head over heels for each other despite him being older than her and she has built the perfect scene of domestic bliss, surrounded by a lovely group of friends, a stepson she eventually came to look upon as her own. She’s recently started a nice new job which suits her down to the ground and everything has been going so well. But that’s all about to change and not only because of Ed’s encroaching illness causing him to slip into periods of forgetfulness that make her scared to leave him alone.

Amidst coping with him behaving increasingly strangely, embarrassingly and occasionally violently, she feels there is someone watching her, things which cannot be easily explained are happening and she just wishes she could have the old Ed back together with their old life.

But that is NOT going to happen.

When a face from the past shows up bringing old memories of a past which has been carefully kept under wraps, things begin to unravel for Lynn and the sudden death of a close friend seems to be the final straw which will have her running screaming from her life. But she has to be the strong one, after all she has experience of dealing with change, she can cope with anything … or can she? Perhaps it’s not just Ed who is losing the plot.

This is brilliantly written with so many red herrings and about turns you’d think it would be confusing to read but the author is so highly skilled the transitions are seamless and the story flows so smoothly that every - single – little – bump, every gear change, on this journey jolted me out of my seat.

Reading it is like snoozing gently on a long car journey and suddenly waking up to find the car has left the road and is hurtling down a rocky mountain and all you can do is hold tight and wait for the impact! And when it comes, boy will you know about it!

Tense, scary and devious The Old You is out now – what are you waiting for?

You can buy a copy from Amazon and other great booksellers

The Blurb

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller

Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble. 

But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Review - the Silence of knowing - Jenny Jackson

The Silence of Knowing by Jenny Jackson is a novella so its a quick and easy read.

I rattled through it in an evening and it kept me entertained as it's unusual in style and exciting in content. Set in the 1950s it is narrated by 11 year old Josie who is unable to speak, having been born with no vocal chords.

Because of this she communicates mainly by writing things down which leads her to have a vivid imagination and be very observant. Her twin brother Mitch and she don't know the identity of their father and its their dream to find him and they weave a mystery about his absence in their lives believing him to have been some kind of spy in the recent world war 2.

When a new teacher arrives suddenly at their school and reveals that his surname matches their names and he is an American they become convinced that he is their long lost Dad but soon events point to even greater mysetries surrounding him.

But meddling and prying soon get them and a small group of school pals in a few sticky situations. It sounds like a kids story but the content is aimed at the more adult reader, although it would suit any age.

This Famous Five style adventure story is great for grown ups who fancy revisiting their past who, like me, grew up reading Enid Blytons books and enjoys reminiscing about the fairly recent past, seen from a childs point of view.

A jolly good few hours entertainment, I can recommend this when you don't want anything too demanding and just need to be entertained by a riveting tale a little longer than a short story but not too long.

Get a copy for your kindle or in paperback now on Amazon

The Blurb

1952 - a small Kentish village seemingly little affected by the war years. 11-year-old Josie, dumb from birth and who communicates through her writing, is on the verge of puberty and life in the wider world. It is a time of childhood innocence. She and her twin brother, Mitch, are thrilled when an American teacher arrives at their village school, suspecting him of being their long-lost father. Together with their two best friends they set about collecting evidence for their suspicions but soon find themselves embroiled in deeper, darker secrets which land Josie in a life-threatening situation. As childhood recedes and mature thought begins to surface, Josie, who tells the tale, realises that she is not the only one who has been unable to speak.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Blog Tour and Review - Ghost by Helen Grant

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for the new novel by Helen Grant - entitled Ghost it has all the requisite elements of a rather gothic ghost story - with a unique difference.

The cover's lovely - so simple and clean yet really eye catching with that little key - Just who does it belong to?

My review:

Ghost is an eerie and haunting ghost story in the classic setting of a deserted remote old Gothic country mansion in the wilds of Scotland but the “ghost” within is not your typical spectre.

I loved this haunting and mesmerizing tale with a few terribly tantalizing twists along the way. It sucked me in right from the start as everything is just a little strange and spooky. Be prepared for some surprises in the pages which kept me reading this completely gripping, subtle yet fast paced book ramps up the tension beautifully with nail biting precision.

Part love story, part coming of age, this eerie book will have you hearing noises in the night and glimpsing shadows from the corner of your eye. If it all seems a little weird and wonderful - roll with it, you don't want to miss the nail biting conclusion.

Within the pages are all the elements of a memorable ghost story

The typical haunted house....
From the dense Scottish forest surrounding Langlands Hall you wouldn’t even know it was occupied. Rumours that it is haunted keep folk at bay. Dusty, ramshackle and huge it nestles in the woods, waiting for something or someone to give it the kiss of life.

But someone does live there.

The characters....
Old Rose McAndrew resides within with only her 17 year old grand-daughter Augusta for company. Augusta knows she can never leave the house or there will be dreadful consequences and she trusts her Gran who is the only other person Augusta ever sees or speaks to and she knows everything her Gran does is always for her own safety. She knows the second world war is raging outside, though the pair are safe from it here. But change is in the air ….

One day part of the roof is damaged and strangers have to be invited to Langlands Hall to make urgent repairs. Whilst the builders are present Rose insists that Augusta must hide and not be seen and she locks her in the attic so she will never be discovered.

The romance.....
Watching through the window the young woman sees that one of the builders is not much older than she is, he’s a handsome young lad and she overhears him being called Tom. She is entranced with the idea of making some small advance towards him.

Can she stay hidden forever or will the world come crumbling down if she does contact him? She is about to find out.

The mystery ......
One day Rose heads off in her old car for groceries as she regularly does, but this time she doesn’t return. How will Augusta manage alone? As she discovers nothing in her closeted life is quite what she had supposed it to be, secrets come tumbling from behind locked doors. Will her tenuous contact with Tom be her salvation or her downfall?

This is a coming of age story with a difference, a haunting ghost story which isn’t perfect for skeptics who don't like the supernatural (yeah really), a twisty mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat, a whole bunch of secrets and lies, a tale of the past and the present meeting and above all a tender romance of doomed love and hidden family secrets. Enter the hidden world of Ghost if you dare.

Twisty, haunting and utterly compelling reading whether you’re 17 or 70.

The Blurb

Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think.

Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between - everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted.

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. Then Tom McAllister arrives - good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart.

As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past?

In the end, Langlands House and its inhabitants hold more secrets than they did in the beginning...

The Author: Helen Grant

Helen was born in London in 1964. She showed an early leaning towards the arts, having been told off for writing stories under the desk in maths lessons at school.

Helen went on to read Classics at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, and then worked in marketing for ten years to fund her love of travelling. Her two most memorable travelling days were the one spent exploring Damascus in Syria and the day she went to the Raj Mandir cinema in Jaipur to see the romantic blockbuster Beta.

In 2001, she and her family moved to Bad Münstereifel in Germany. It was exploring the legends of this beautiful old town that inspired her to write her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, which is set there.

Helen now lives in Scotland with her husband, her two children and her two cats.

Visit her website

Follow her on Twitter @helengrantsays

Purchase Ghost from Amazon

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Blog tour and guest post - The Black Earth

Today I join the blog tour for The Black Earth by Philip Kazan.

Look at the beautiful cover doesn't it just make you want to know who the people are and what is happening in their lives? well you can find out by reading this book. I still have that to look forward to but as the book is set in Greece I am really looking forward to reading it this summer.

Here is a post The author, Philp wrote for my blog when I asked what led him to write his latest novel:

Guest Post: by Philip Kazan

The Path to The Black Earth

My latest novel, The Black Earth, is my seventh, but strangely enough it was the thing I began when I first decided to see whether I could write, about twenty years ago. 

My wife and I had moved into my grandmother’s old house in West London, which had been neglected since her death a decade earlier. It was a temporary arrangement: we were living there rent-free in return for renovating the place, so the two of us were knocking around in this enormous late-Victorian red brick house in Ealing, ripping up carpets, sanding floorboards, stripping paint from cast iron fireplaces. 

It was an odd time for me: Tara and I had recently moved back from New York and got married. I’d hit one of those periods of flux in my professional life (I’m just saying that for effect: I’ve never had what most reasonable people understand as a professional life) and was temping and working as a freelance editor, doing some gardening, writing blurbs and spending a lot of time alone in my grandmother’s old house, which held some very powerful memories.

My grandmother, Andromache, had come to England in the early 1920s to marry a man she’d never met. Arranged marriages were still common in Greece in those days, and so Andromache was put on a boat in Thessaloniki and sent to Southampton, where she was met by my grandfather and his two brothers. “I hope he’s the tall one,” she thought, when she saw them on the quayside. He was the short one. Andromache - always Yaya to me - never adjusted to London, though she lived there for nearly 70 years. Her home was a whole different country to me, a boy growing up in deeply rural Devon, with a very British father and a Greek mother. Her kitchen smelled of exotic things. There were icons on the wall, and a hand-tinted photograph of Kastoria, the lakeside town in the far north of Greece where she had been born. She taught me to cook, and I listened to her tell the stories of her childhood, and of her family - my family. I wish I’d listened more carefully.

The house had kept barely anything of Yaya’s presence as a palpable thing. It had been rented out, mistreated, abandoned, and now we were ripping it to bits and reassembling it. But still, I felt very close to her. All the stories I’d never quite paid attention to were still there, lurking in corners, tugging at my sleeve with the fragment of Macedonian embroidery I found in a cupboard, with the stack of old letters with pre-war Greek stamps in a drawer in the cellar. Up until then I’d spent my career, such as it was, in the publishing industry but I’d always wanted to write something myself. One day one of my uncles lent me a book, in Greek, about the Macedonian Struggle of the 1900s. I couldn’t read it but I suddenly remembered Yaya’s stories. How her father and her uncles had fought the Turks and the Bulgarians. How wolves had run through the streets of Kastoria on winter nights. 

We’d just bought our first computer, a huge Gateway PC (the one with the cow-print box), and I found that I quite liked typing on it. So one day I sat down and began to write about Kastoria. About wolves, and Turkish occupiers, and anything else I could pull out of the atmosphere in that partly colonised, partly haunted house. I had the basic bones of the story: an Englishman and a Geek woman, and their pasts, separate and combined. I wanted to write about memory, and the Greek diaspora, and about being someone with a foot in two worlds, and also with a foot in neither. There was a war, and exile, and…

I didn’t get any further than that. The story that I thought I had worked out, suddenly became far more complicated than I could handle. I wasn’t a writer yet. I had no idea about plotting, or about self-control. My Greek book burned itself out in about a fortnight. I dropped the whole thing, spent another fortnight attacking fireplaces with a blowtorch and a wire brush, then went back to the Gateway. I didn’t have a plot now, I just had a person, a feeling, and the Medieval history degree that everybody had said would be completely useless. My person turned out to be, not a 19th Century Greek freedom fighter, but a 13th Century novice monk. In a few days I had a chapter, then two, then three. We moved back to America soon after that, but I kept writing and Relics became my first published book. I wrote another three books about Brother Petroc, then turned to Renaissance Italy.

I came back to writing about Greece by accident, almost. Back in England, I’d decided to write about the bohemian art scene in Soho in the years on either side of World War Two and started fleshing out a plot. I’d been talking to my mother, who had been part of the scene in the 1950s, about the people she’d known. Somehow I decided that there needed to be a Greek character in the book. Then my mother told me about a cousin of hers who had survived the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922, been orphaned, lost everything, had ended up in America, and had come to visit my grandparents after the war. I’d been listening to a lot of Greek music and one day I heard a song called Gazeli Neva Sabah, sung in 1934 by a woman from Smyrna, Rita Abatzi, who had become a refugee in Athens. Something in her voice - some quality of desperation, of loss - carried through the scratchy recording. I abandoned Soho and found that, finally, I was in touch with the ghosts in my grandmother’s house. It wasn’t the story I had set out to tell twenty years ago, but then again, perhaps it was the story the ghosts wanted me to tell.

My thanks to Anne Cater at Random things tours for arranging and inviting on the Blog Tour.

If you'd like to read more about the book here is the blurb:

1922. When the Turkish Army occupies Smyrna, Zoë Haggitiris escapes with her family, only to lose everything. Alone in a sea of desperate strangers, her life is touched, for a moment, by a young English boy, Tom Collyer, also lost, before the compassion of a stranger leads her into a new life. Years later when war breaks out, Tom finds himself in Greece and in the chaos of the British retreat, fate will lead him back to Zoë. But he will discover that the war will not end so easily for either of them.

You can find a copy for your kindle here on Amazon and at all good bookshops

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Review - The Lido by Libby Page - a feel good book

What an absolute delight this book was to read. It's a real feelgood book about loneliness, friendship and people, it has a real sense of place and community.

Set in Brixton, London it centres on a bunch of random and disparate people who are soehow drawn together by a sense of purpose and that reason is to save a Lido swimming pool from being closed down. We must all have come across something like this over recent years. A local council struggling for funds sells off a public building, maybe a library, a swimming baths or a community centre, we complain, we mutter and we possibly sign a petition to try and help save it, but how many of actually take action?

Rosemary and Kate do just that.

The Lido has been part of Rosemarys life for over 80 years, she swam there as a child, met her husband there and spent all of her married life using it, looking out at it from the window of her flat.

Kate is a junior journalist, she lacks confidence and suffers panic attacks, but when she is asked by her boss to write an article about the imminent closure of the local Lido pool, something makes her want to get involved. As this interest is born it begins to change her life in subtle little ways. She finally has a sense of purpose, she begins to make friends and as she gets more and more involved we feel her grow and change.

The main story is of the saving of a place which is important to many people. The real thread which holds it together is that of an unlikely friendship between an 86 year old woman and the young writer, 60 years her junior.

Even if, like me you're not a keen swimmer you won't fail to want the campaign to save the lido to succeed especially when in a series of flashbacks and lovely reminiscences we discover just how much of a part it has played in Rosemarys past.

The cast are wonderful, the story is completely absorbing and full of joy and warmth and love. It's absolutely, without question, the most perfect summer read imaginable and I hope you adore it as much as I did.

The Blurb

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Blog Tour - The Man on the middle floor - Elizabeth S. Moore

Today I am part of the Blog Tour for The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S Moore, I was provided with a copy of this intriguing new novel by @RedDoorBooks to read and share my thoughts.

My Review

Review – The Man on the Middle floor Elizabeth S Moore
The man on the middle floor is a dark and rather disturbing novel about several dysfunctional people who live in flats on the 3 floors of a converted London townhouse who become unwittingly involved in a spate of deaths which occur close by.

Although the subject matter is dissimilar the writing style reminded me rather of early Hilary Mantel in particular her novel Beyond black. Although there is no hint of the supernatural in this tale of murder and mayhem and folk who just don’t fit the mould, there is the same sense of bleakness and desperation and cleverly constructed characters, shaped by their own pasts.

The Victorian townhouse in question, overlooks a park and each floor has a lone, single occupant, each ensconced in their own little world, practically unaware of the other residents apart from the odd door slamming or a glimpse through the window as people come and go.

On the ground floor is Karen, middle aged, divorced Mother of 3, devoted to her career as a medical researcher writing a paper on people with autism and aspergers she is sure will change the world. She puts her work before everyone, her colleagues, her family, her friends and neighbours and even herself. But is she absorbed and dedicated as she lurches from mishap to crisis, or so obsessed she misses what’s going on right under her own nose?

On the middle floor is Nick, a young man unused to living alone yet desperately seeking solitude. He battles his inner demons and his autism means he keeps everyone at bay, creating a haven of order and trying to live by the rules he struggles to make sense of. He wants to fit in but can he?

Up on the top floor lives Tam, a recently retired police officer, he is lonely and feels useless without the job he has called his life for so long. He seeks solace at the bottom of a whisky bottle but can he find what is missing from his life in the arms of a passionate woman?

Three individuals, 3 separate lives playing out within a small space. Unsurprisingly eventually all three characters paths cross. Will they be each others salvation or damnation?
I found this book much darker than I expected, there is a distinctly distasteful aspect and the fact that a cute kitten accompanies a very dead young woman on the admittedly very intriguing and eyecatching book cover should have warned me that all was not going to go well within these pages. Yet I quickly became engrossed in the events and it made for a very entertaining and thought provoking read.

There is a character whom the author possibly intended the reader to feel some kind of sympathy for, but I didn’t, I disliked them intensely, as their actions appalled me. But it is a book about failed relationships, disorder and discontinuity which made it difficult to relate to any of the deeply flawed characters so that shouldn’t surprise me.

There is a lot of dark humour in the morbid scenes which play out and a grim reminder that nobody is quite what they seem to be on the surface, nor how they perceive themselves.

Something about the book reminded me somewhat of Hilary Mantel's early work - Beyond Black with a similar feel to the writing and the same darkness buried in everyday lives.

A very well written absorbing novel which entertained throughout, kept me reading and ended up leaving quite an impression on me. What more can one ask of a book?

The Blurb

Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon in this break-out debut.

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. 
The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. 
On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger's who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. 
The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. 
They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. 
Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. 
It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Review - The Fear C.L. Taylor

My Review

A really exciting roller coaster read, with 3 wonderful psychologically flawed and desperate women as lead characters and one rather vile man, who almost had me fooled into having some sympathy for him at the beginning but whom I soon learnt to loathe and despise as he revealed his true colours and I joined in with wishing he'd get his come-upppance.

C.L. Taylor writes mind numbingly realistic - "Oh My God thank heavens that isn't happening to me" scenarios, with believable and relatable characters.

They say you never forget your first love - well Lou has never forgotten hers!!

The subject matter is both distasteful yet topical. The grooming of young girls by an older man in a position of trust, who abuses that trust and ruins lives.

That man is Mike Hughes, a teacher, a mature married man. Hardly surprising that young impressionable girls look up to him, hero worship him, fall in love with him. But it's how he misuses that innocent love to his own evil ends that makes this a twisty, oppressive and horrifying thriller.

It's the fact that nearly 20 years after he tried to abduct 13 year old Lou Wansworth, their paths cross again. The experience has left its scars on Lou and she still finds it hard to trust and build a real relationship with a man.

For almost 20 years her hurt has festered and she is about to seek retribution when she discovers the same man who ruined her life appears to be doing exactly the same thing all over again, this vile predator is grooming another lonely and vulnerable young woman. Well she's not about to sit by and let it happen to someone else.

We hear 3 points of view, that of Lou, then Chloe the newest young victim and then there is Wendy, obviously a rather unhinged woman who is to become the 3rd player in this nail biting drama.

I couldn't put my copy from Netgalley down, its terribly scary and scarily thrilling. A very entertaining and shiver inducing psychological thriller.

The Blurb

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

Available from Amazon and all good booksellers now.

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