Thursday, 12 July 2018

Advance Review - When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon

My Review of When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon.

Wonderful, epic, historical fiction, I loved it and couldn't put it down. I consider myself very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a copy in advance of publication. My advance review copy is now well creased, as I read this remarkable novel in bed, on the bus and crammed it in my handbag to take to work, I was so engrossed in the story.

Quite recently I read another fictional book with a supernatural angle The Hunger based on the same true subject, the Donner party of pioneers who came to grief, back in the mid 19th century when thousands of brave and some plain foolhardy, folk set off with their wagon trains to cross the Sierra mountains from Cincinatti, headed West towards California to try and build a better life. What bravery, how hard it must have been in these days centuries before tripadvisor and google maps and without even any real trail or markers to follow.

Both these books are wonderful, yet rather different accounts of the same true journey.

When winter comes is told in the intimate first person voice of a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken feckless and violent family home, following a series of mishaps.

The book begins in 1859 when our narrator is a rather sedate married woman, living a quiet life of domesticity bringing up her girls, meeting up with her friends at a quilting bee, and looking after her husband, Jacob, who presents her with a journal as a gift. As she begins to put pen to paper she is unsure what she will write about as every day is the same. But as soon as she begins, memories of her past come flooding back and memories she had suppressed clamour to be told.

In a series of flashbacks to 13 years earlier when she was just 15, we learn how she became involved with the fated journey of the infamous Donner party and her version of events unfolds in all its grim pathos. As winter halts the travellers in their tracks terrible choices have to be made which will scar her for life.

We watch her grow and change from quite a selfish young madam into a reliable and stoic young woman. This is a coming of age born of necessity and hardship that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

The descriptiveness of being part of a legendary journey in times gone by are painted with a deftness and utter plausablity, that makes the reader experience rather than merely read the story. It reads like a memoir and gives you an insight into a fictional characters thoughts and actions around a true event.

It is captivating and harrowing by turn, beautifully thought out and well written with evidence of much in depth research.

If you like historical fiction with a literary quality and a whole host of characters all the more real for their flaws and foibles you'll LOVE this book, I did.

Pre-order now from Amazon

The Blurb

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival. 

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend. 

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . . (less)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Review - The Corset - Laura Purcell -

The Corset by Laura Purcell

My Review
WOW - brilliant, loved every word of this ravishing historical thriller.

I do wish I hadn't read this book!! Only because I'm pretty darned certain it's going to such a hard act to follow that I'm going to find each and every new book I pick up for months, lacking in comparison and I'm saddened and green with envy that everyone who is yet to read this, still has it's delights to look forward to.

The description had me chomping at the bit, the cover had me swooning and I KNEW without doubt that it was my kind of book to a T. Yet still I didn't know what absolute reading PERFECTION this completely spectacular book was going to be.

Reminding me very much of two of my all time favourite reads Affinity and The Observations I am almost lost for words, to describe my feelings adequately after reading this.

It is a historical twisty mystery which is deviously dark and devilishly delectable. Featuring two very different young women. Dorothea Truelove is a well off young lady who wishes to do good works, has an interest in reading the shape of the head, phrenology and in particular observing the characteristics displayed by criminals. She resists her fathers attempts to marry her off, wishing to choose her own suitor, though this is not an option of the well to do Victorian female.

Her choice of good works is to be a prison visitor in Oakgate womens prison, where she soon becomes intrigued and involved with the young murderess Ruth Butterham who is charged with murdering her employer. A talented seamstress, with self taught skills she hones creating herself a corset from scraps of left over fabric, Ruth falls on very hard times as a series of dreadful personal disasters leads her to believe she can cause death by sewing hatred and ill will into the garments she works on.

With her talent with a needle being the only way she can earn a living she ends up apprenticed to the vile and Dickensian sweat shop of the Metyard familys dressmaking business.

What follows is a life of drudgery which is revealed stitch by intricate stitch, as she slaves for the Metyards, crosses paths with the vile Captain, makes a friend in Mim and encounters the handsome Billy. The lives of these two women entwine as each struggles against the whims of others and the restrictions placed on women in this era.

Their are dastardly deeds aplenty, the writing is sheer poetry it has an eerie and compelling literary quality and the characters are sublime. It is worthy of comparison with the wonderful Sarah Waters writing and is a sensational follow up to the authors successful debut novel The Silent Companions and in my opinion is far superior to it.

Put this on your must read list. It will be published in September and you can pre-order it now so you have something to look forward to when the nights begin to draw in.

I received my advance copy of #TheCorset from #NetGalley
My thanks to Raven Books, home of deliciously dark books

The Description:

The new Victorian chiller from the author of Radio 2 Book Club pick, The Silent Companions.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth.

Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Review - The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite - perfectly terrifying

My Review of The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite:

It's just what we all want isn't it? The Perfect Friend?

Barbara Copperthwaite has excelled herself, yet again, with this terrific, tense and terrifying, twisty thriller. My goodness, I just can't imagine how she manages to dream up characters capable of such dastardly deeds. Just when I think she can't possibly get any better, my favourite writer of dark and daring deeds blows my socks off.

The Perfect Friend, scared me so much I really don't think I'll ever dare trust anyone, ever again!

On the surface it's a novel about friendship, surviving and learning to live with your own failures. Beneath its a seething maelstrom of lies, deceit and corruption that made my head reel.

The perfect Friend introduces us to two lovely ladies who become friends through a support group which helps people who are finding it difficult to cope with what life has thrown at them.
Both are damaged and traumatised. Despite their difference in ages they have become firm friends.

Alex is the elder woman. In her struggle to cope with her husband leaving her and offspring she can no longer speak to she has succumbed to the debilitating condition of Anorexia. With a lot of love to give she is pouring her affection into her friendship with the younger woman Carrie, almost young enough to be her daughter, Carrie is sweet and bright and cheerful despite fighting cancer.

The two women are drawn together and would, it seems, do almost anything for one another.

And maybe, not the most reliable narrators to tell this story.

Alex feels there is something she must make up for and throws herself into supporting her young friend who has become like a surrogate daughter to replace the one Alex is unable to spend time with any more.

But nothing - absolutely NOTHING, is quite what it seems and secrets and lies are peeled back from this toxic friendship, to reveal deeper layers of deceit and confusion. Reading it, I was swept along so swiftly I didn't even see the rapids coming until I'd hurtled over them and rose from the deep spluttering and in denial.

A fabulous convoluted cornucopia of trickery which will have you looking at your best friend and wondering .... what if??

The Blurb

She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

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

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Review - Call of the Curlew - Blog Tour

Today I am part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks.
This historical fiction set on the brooding Tollbury Marsh published by Penguin Random House is out now. Find it on Amazon and many other good booksellers. #CalloftheCurlew @ManxWriter

My review:

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks:

This haunting and atmospheric book is set in a fabulously dramatic and brooding location which is painted in beautifully descriptive prose by the author. Saltwinds is an old house set on the edge of Tollbury Marsh a vast silent landscape of seeping water and sucking sands which come and go with the tides, populated with wading birds it’s nevertheless not a place to go walking, its eerie beauty belies the deadly nature of the swampy marshland.

Not the ideal spot you might think for a young orphan girl to be brought to live. But eleven year old Virginia considers herself fortunate to have been chosen by the childless couple who live at Saltwinds, for amidst the outbreak of world war 2 and the uncertainty in the air, she has been adopted and found her forever home at the edge of this Marshland which both fascinates and terrifies her.

Quite a lot scares her, not least whether her new parents will like her!

As the book begins she is taken of foot along the path beside the marsh by her new adoptive Father towards her new home, and won over by the rather dour man who hands her sweets from his pocket. But her new Mother Lorna seems constantly distracted and is a difficult women for the lonely little girl to love. But Virginia has a lot of love to give and this lonely place proves very insular and isolated making growing up difficult and confusing for her. My emotions were really tugged for this confused young girl.

The book takes us back and forth in time from Virginia’s childhood and upbringing to the present when she still resides at Saltwinds as lonely and old lady at 86 as she was as a child of eleven. But time has passed and she knows tonight is the time she is due to die, so, as she begins to make plans for her own demise, (should she leave a farewell note? Find someone to feed her cat) the past begins to throw up its own reminders of things she believed buried beneath the shifting sands of time and of the terrible marsh beyond the windows. Why has she lived all these years under a terrible pall of guilt? The dual time aspect creates a real sense of mystery and intrigue.

Back in the past, terrible events, involving a German pilot who crashes into the marsh is about to shatter her newly built family, fractured though it already seems, it is about to completely break.

As Virginia tries to come to terms with loss and being left behind with the mother she remains detached from, the pompous and sinister Max Deering, one of their closest neighbours and his family become embroiled in their lives and a secret she has promised to keep hidden threatens to be revealed and leave nothing the same ever again.

The writing is superb, it has a slightly misty, murky feel just like the marsh which surrounds us as we read it, nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems …. see that nice clear path across the Marsh – DON’T step on it, it will swallow you up!

The book is very atmospheric, the storyline creepy and sinister with a gentle tension which builds so subtly you are hardly aware your jaw is tightly clenched as you read it. It’s one of those books where you are lulled into almost believing not much is going on, until you look back after you read it and think - Oh my, that was something else!

In some ways this book reminded me of the wonderful modern classic novel – The Book Thief (not least of all the fat tear which wound its way down my cheek as I drew a gasping breath at the end) tempered with a hint of Daphne du Maurier.

This sublime book is perfect for anyone who enjoys a historical setting subtle mysteries and the slight other-worldly misty memory feel you get when we slip back and forth in time inside someone else’s memories.
Loved it.

The Blurb:

Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh in reparation for the mistakes of her childhood.

On New Year's Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

In 1939, Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new adoptive parents, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. 

The house sits right on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. It's the start of a new life for Virginia, but she quickly senses that all is not right between Clem and Lorna - in particular, the presence of their wealthy neighbour Max Deering, who takes an unhealthy interest in the family. When a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, Clem ventures onto the deadly sands to rescue the airman. And that is when things really begin to go wrong...

Monday, 25 June 2018

Review - The House on Half Moon Street - Alex Reeve -

The House on Half Moon Street - Alex Reeve

My Review:

I feel a bit embarrassed that it took me a while to get around to reading this fabulous historical mystery with a difference. And my only excuse is that it arrived on my tbr accompanied by so many other great tales it took me lonegr than I wanted to get around to reading them all. This was worth the wait!

2018 has been for me THE year of the historical novel, with a plethora of wonderful, tempting new titles to entice and beguile me, and a delightful profusion of new historical fiction.

This one is no exception. A most entertaining, heartfelt and gripping murder mystery with twists aplenty and characters who entranced me.

This intriguing new title, features a hero I was a little unsure whether I'd relate to at first, but have to admit i fell head over heels in love with. Leo, born in a girls body has always known he is a man and left his family and his former female identity to live as a man, in the city of London.

An inevitable decision, yet nevertheless a very brave one as not only, if he were discovered living transgender in the Victorian era, would he be viewed as perverted and insane but is, every minute of every day, just by being his true self is breaking every law in the book and would face severe penalties.

In the course of his job, working in a hospital as a coroners assistant he comes close to the recently deceased and I was almost as shocked and horrified as he must have felt, when he peels back the covering from the face of a woman dragged from the Thames, to see the face of his beloved! Maria, a prostitute, nevertheless won Leo's heart with her gentle acceptance of his true self and her sweet nature despite her calling, made him fall hook line and sinker for this lady of the night and even though he has always known that she can be any mans for a few shillings, he dreamt of a future for them together as a couple maybe even as man and wife one day and all that is now shattered. Maria is dead and Leo, beside himself with grief decides th elast thing he can do for her, is uncover what really happened to his beloved girl.

Suspecting foul play he becomes embroiled in the lives of other people, Rosie Flowers recently widowed, his landlord the hapless pharmacist with an enterprising nature who tries to set up a dental surgery in his shop without great success and his young daughter Constance, who dreams of owning a kitten and tries to educate Leo in the manufacture of medicines and cures by constantly testing him on the properties of potions and physics.

But life gets more complicated as Leo becomes at first a suspect then gets himself further and deeper in the clutches of some nefarious characters who all surround the house in half moon street which is the brothel at the heart of his investigation.

He ends up with some truly terrible things happening to him one of which in particular made me really cry my eyes out and he makes discoveries that not only is he harbouring his own great secret but almost everyone else around him has their own secrets too. The reason I loved Leo is, he retains, together with some of the physical frailties of the womans body he is encased within, a gentle understanding of women which seems singularly lacking in most of his male contemporaries, making him slightly vulnerable and I just wanted to give him a big hug and mother him.

Peopled with wonderful characters, some likeable, some loathsome, located in the murkiest of 19th century London slums and dockland and mystery piled upon mystery all make for a truly entertaining genre and gender crossing and captivating, wonderful book.

Loved, loved loved it.

The best thing is this is number one in a forthcoming series and I can hardly wait to meet up with Leo again soon.

My review copy was from Netgalley and my thanks go to the publisher Raven Books for providing me with the ebook to read.

The Blurb
Everyone has a secret... Only some lead to murder.

Leo Stanhope. Assistant to a London coroner; in love with Maria; and hiding a very big secret. 

For Leo was born Charlotte, but knowing he was meant to be a man – despite the evidence of his body – he fled his family home at just fifteen, and has been living as Leo ever since: his original identity known only to a few trusted people.

But then Maria is found dead and Leo is accused of her murder. Desperate to find her killer and under suspicion from all those around him, he stands to lose not just the woman he loves, but his freedom and, ultimately, his life.

A wonderfully atmospheric debut, rich in character and setting, in The House on Half Moon Street Alex Reeve has created a world that crime readers will want to return to again and again.

Available now at Amazon and all good bookstores

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.

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