Friday, 29 July 2016

I See You - Clare Mackintosh - Review - clever and scary

I see You by Clare Mackintosh

My Thoughts

There's only one phrase to adequately describe this book - OMG !! Clare Mackintosh is THE cognoscente of the OMG moment!

Following up a book like I let you go, which achieved rapid and powerful acclaim as the book everyone talked about, with the biggest imaginable twist in the middle, was never going to be a doddle. But Clare has managed it masterfully with her superb new title I see you, which has just completely blown me away with its twisty cunningness and unique take on the nasty side of the phenomenon of internet dating sites.

We meet and get to know Zoe and her family, her partner Simon, 2 teenage kids Katie a budding actress, all drama queen and naivety and Jason a typical "lad" with a bit of a dodgy past but getting himself on track with a steady job courtesy of Zoe's best friend and neighbour Melissa. We also meet Zoe's Ex husband Matt, loads of other characters and then theres a parallel and deeply linked storyline of Kelly a British transport police officer who has a knack for buggering things up for herself by dint of her own caring nature and tenacity which could be her saving grace or her downfall.

It's Zoe who first spots a photo of herself or someone who looks so like her that she is taken aback to see a newspaper advert for some kind of on-line dating site featuring an advert. her initial curiosity turns swiftly to indignation, then fear, as she begins to feel watched and under some kind of threat.

And that's all I'm going to say about the plot, because to enjoy this thriller, the less you know about it the more you'll enjoy it.

Clare's characters are absolutely amazing, punchy, believable and real. I go on a lot about books with great characters that you feel you've met and really know, well the ones in this book are just like that. However the author is so clever she plants little doubts in your mind and I suspected every single person of something nefarious, at some point, then chuckling at myself discarded my doubts and fears, only to pick them back up again.

Clare craftily and deliberately throws so many big fat juicy red herrings in to the pond I was paddling in, which is this book that I couldn't see my feet for them thrashing about and every single one made me go OH!

But the delectable, shuddery OMG moments are nearer the end of this book and (yes I did describe them in plural)

Inevitable comparisons will surely be made with Girl on the train which seems to be the go-to benchmark by which most new psychological thrillers are measured. This one surely deserves such a comparison, it's not just the setting which is a tad familiar being based around women who have a daily commute. The storyline is equally as devious and innovative.

Have I whet your appetite yet? Go on you know you want to read this book, don't let me stop you ... But may I suggest you think twice before reading it on your morning commute, after all maybe just maybe someone's watching you.

I received my advance copy Via Netgalley from the great publishers Little Brown Books and my thanks go to them. It's out NOW - don't miss your copy.


You know exactly where you're going.

You're not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Watching Edie - Blog tour, review and competition to win a copy of the book

Watching Edie

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Watching Edlie the fab psychological thriller from Camilla Way.

Firstly you can read my review: Which was originally published on my blog here

Then scroll down to enter my free prize draw to win one of TWO copies of this fab book.

UPDATE - Competition now closed:

The 2 lucky winners of a copy are Victoria Prince and Miriam Smith - Congratulations I hope you both enjoy your book.

I will contact you for your details and the prizes will be sent directly by the publisher.

My Review

This is a completely engrossing read. I did what I seldom do – received this, opened it, began reading immediately and continued until I’d read it, virtually at one sitting.

That’s not to say it’s a lightweight read either, although it’s easy enough to follow. It just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

It’s the story of Edie and Heather, who were friends at school, Edie was loud and confident, she’s the first one to try things, make-up, boys, drinking. Shy, plump Heather is the quieter one, she doesn’t make friends well, is a little bit of a misfit, the one people snigger at behind their hands for her non-coolness. Neither completely fit in, this pair need the closeness of a best mate. The 2 girls gravitate together. Both with fractured and difficult family lives they seem as needy as each other, but Heather perhaps more than most. Together with a couple more girls they form their own little clique which Heather sometimes feels on the outskirts of.

But when Edie meets the devastatingly handsome but wild and unpredictable atypical bad lad, Connor and falls head over heels in a doomed love affair with him Heather gets her nose pushed out. She loves Edie and doesn’t want to see her hurt so vows to try and stick around to protect her. This has repercussions which haunt the girls in later life.

I could relate to so much of the teenage angst both girls experience. Insecurities, longings and failings make them seem so human, that by the time I emerged from my reading fest I was not just shaken and shocked, I was confused - Had I been there with them? Were these real girls I’ve known?

Fast forward 16 years. We don’t know what happened to drive these 2 girls apart. We do know that Edie hasn’t made a complete success of her life, living in a poky flat she is single and pregnant and has been working as a waitress. She is also pretty isolated, has no friends to speak of, has lost touch with her family and frankly she’s daunted by the prospect of single motherhood.

Then there’s a knock on her door, and Heather shows up. Her face is the last one Edie expected to see and despite offering friendship and help she seems more scared than pleased to see her old best friend. But Heather’s made contact and isn’t about to let go easily.

What follows is a portrait of doomed friendships, obsession, secrets and guilt. Both parties are deeply flawed, events from the past unfold insidiously and ominously revealing a doomed friendship tainted by bad decisions and misplaced loyalties, between 2 girls neither of whom are the most stable of characters but both are really likeable.

My sympathy veered wildly from one girl to the other. In fact both girls gained my empathy so what could have just been a tense nail biter became also a haunting emotional expedition between past and present. Damaged girls become damaged women and its inevitable that their early years have had a huge impact on their lives, but is it just the after effects of coming from shattered backgrounds and mixing with the wrong people, or is there much more behind the girls story? Oh I think you know already there must be!

Although each girl is at times painted in varying shades of black I actually liked both of them and was rooting for first one then the other and finally for both, you can never quite decide who did what to whom, until the stunning climax, which made the final twist of the knife all the more shocking and agonising. This book left me reeling I felt as though I’d been punched in the gut and I recommend it unreservedly if you like people based, emotional stories with plenty of twists and turns. An awesome read.

I received my copy from Shelley and Louise, the Lovereading book review team, on behalf of the publisher, the excellent Harper Collins in exchange for my review.

Thanks Girls you picked a Good’un.

The Blurb ....

Beautiful, creative, a little wild - Edie caused a stir when she walked into Heather’s life. Back when they both had dreams for the future. Before it all went horribly, terrifyingly wrong…

Years later Edie is pregnant and alone, desperately trying to rebuild her life. But someone’s been watching her, waiting for the chance to prove what a perfect friend she can be.

It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up just when Edie needs her the most.

A dark secret lies between them and Edie’s about to learn that those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go…


Here's how to win:

Entries from UK and Ireland only please.

Post a comment at the end of this post telling me who you'd least like to bump into from your school days and why. 
You must also provide a way for me to contact you, via your blog link, email or Twitter ID.

The draw will take place on Monday 8th August and will be drawn the traditional way. All names will be placed in a box and two winners drawn out by my partner.

Prizes will be sent directly from the Publisher Harper Collins. 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Falling suns - Julie-Ann Corrigan - Author guest spot and review

Falling Suns Author Q&A

I'm pleased to welcome new author Julie-Ann Corrigan to Beadyjans books today. Celebrating the launch of her debut novel Falling Suns, you can read my review here today too.

I held a fascinating Question and Answer session with Julie-Ann, which I hope you enjoy.

Here's a picture of her so you can see who we are chatting to:

Hello Julie-Ann. It’s great to have you here on my blog, thank you for popping along to answer some questions about your writing.

Q: Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?

A: Thank you so much for having me over on your blog.

I’m married, with one teenage daughter, and 18 months ago we welcomed a very cute cockapoo into our household. We think he was the runt of the litter, which makes us love him even more!
I’m a qualified physiotherapist but at the moment writing full-time. I am very lucky.

Here's that adorable cockapoo now tell me isn't he just gorgeous!

Q: How did you get the idea for your book Falling Suns?

A: First came the idea of a distraught mother and a missing boy, and then at the same time I was thinking about this idea I read few articles online about psychiatric institutions, and decided I wanted to write about both.
Great Idea to combine the 2

Q: What was the most difficult part when writing your book?

A: Definitely writing Rachel. Getting inside the head of a distraught mother whose child is missing and later found dead was not a good place to be. Writing Michael Hemmings was difficult too, but more because I wasn’t sure how far to push and delve into his character.
I admire your tenacity I don't think I would be able to put myself in that position, which is probabaly why I'm not an author!

Q: When you're not writing, what do you like to read?

A: I do like non-fiction and when writing a first draft that’s what you will find me reading!
I love reading psych thrillers, obviously, but like to read in other genres too. I like historical fiction, and I do love a good literary read. I like espionage thrillers too.
We share a love of historical as well as the psychologically thrilling.

Q: As your book is part of a blog tour, do you review books after you've read them and where do you post your own reviews?

A: I have to confess I’m not good at writing and posting reviews, but now I’m a writer myself, I am trying to do more of them. I normally post on Amazon. 
I think twice only have I emailed an author to tell them how much I loved their work. That was DM Thomas for The White Hotel, and Khaled Hosseini for A Thousand Splendid Suns. Mr Thomas did reply!
Early on in my writing ‘career’ I enjoyed very much interviewing authors for a local online Arts and Culture magazine.
I hope to start a blog on my own website soon, and there I will review other authors’ novels.
Can't wait to read your new review blog, you've said it publicly now, so you have to do it!

Q: Are you active on Social Media and how important a part do you feel it is to authors today?

A: I’m a chatterbox on Facebook! I’m not so into twitter, but attempting to be.
I think that for newbie authors, being on social media is imperative for their ‘presence,’ if you like. Also, writing is a lonely business so it’s good to be able to connect with people without having to leave the house!
So true, Social Media is the best way to connect with like minded people whilst still in your pj's!

Q: Finally is there one more question you’d have liked to be asked – and what would your answer have been? .....

 ......Is all the hard work of writing, editing and publishing a novel, and often intermittent disappointment, worth it?

A: On my publication day it definitely is, and I can’t thank my publisher, my writing friends, and agent, enough for having faith in the book. 

Great question and fab final answer. and I'll add MY thanks, to you, for coming along today and giving some of your time to take part in my blog.

Julie-Ann's new thriller Falling Suns has just been released and is available now in paperback or ebook

My Review

Imagine you’re a Mother who is no longer a Mother. Your only child has been abducted and murdered and you no longer trust those closest to you.

The convicted murderer of your young son Joe, has links to your family and is responsible for not just the brutal ending of your son’s life but of your own life as you knew it. Your child is dead, your family are hiding secrets, you can no longer do the job you love effectively and your husband has had an affair and left you, and all of this has happened since the day your 7 year old boy didn’t come home. Wouldn’t you want revenge?

Grieving Mum Rachel is in a better position than most to exact her revenge, she is an ex detective Inspector with in depth knowledge of the criminal side of life, and has the knowledge and contacts to dig deep beneath the surface and reveal what lies beneath. Coupled with this she’s a strong and determined woman – cue mayhem!

The story begins as Rachel is still hoping Joe might come home, but its soon obvious this isn’t going to happen. We witness a harrowing trial and conviction and begin to discover distasteful truths about Rachels own family, but its only when we fast forward a few years to discover the convicted paedophile and murderer is in a secure hospital and may soon be transferred to a less secure unit, that we begin to discover nothing is quite what it seemed at first.

It’s dark and dramatic and covers some very unpleasant topics, but it’s very cleverly constructed with a rather unreliable narrator and some unsavoury twists to leave even the most die-hard thriller aficionado reeling. There are some truly despicable characters and some just not very nice ones but most have their own dirty little secrets for the reader to discover.

Not for the faint hearted, a disturbing thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat and squirming with dislike and distaste filled with characters you'll love to hate, and a few you'll end up sympathising with.

The Blurb

Ex-DI Rachel’s small son is missing. Then his body is discovered. Her cousin Michael is found guilty of his murder and incarcerated in a secure psychiatric unit.

Four years later, now divorced and back in the police force, Rachel discovers that Michael is being released to a less secure step-down unit, with his freedom a likely eventuality. Unable to cope with this, she decides upon revenge, assuming a new identity to hunt him down and kill him. However, as she closes in on her target, her friend Jonathan, a journalist, uncovers some unnerving information about her mother and others in her family and begins to suspect that Rachel’s perception of the truth might not be as accurate as she thinks – that she might be about to murder the wrong man…

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

My Husbands wife - Amanda Prowse - Emotional

My Review

There’s no doubt about it, author Amanda Prowse has a very specific talent for creating the most utterly believable characters. She introduces you to people that you cannot help but feel an affinity and kinship with and in this her latest book in creating Rosie Tipcott she has really excelled herself…

Rosie is your typical everyday happily married Mum of 2 very lively daughters Leona and Naomi. Her life is great, she has everything she ever wanted – a cosy home, husband Phil whom she adores, a great best mate Mel, even her in-laws are wonderful. Who can boast a loving mother in law who completely fills the gap of not even having known your own Mum. OK her job cleaning caravans isn’t the exciting life of a travel agent she once dreamt of, but her boss is fair, her best mate works there too and she certainly isn’t unhappy in her work.

Living by the seaside in Woolacombe we are invited along to sit with her on her favourite bench overlooking the sea where she goes when she needs a little “me time” time to think, and I swear I sat beside her on that bench and felt the sea breeze caress my face as I joined Rosie inhaling the faint aroma of apples which to her signify that the Mother she never knew is close by.

Wouldn’t we be fortunate if we could claim such contentment and completeness?

Wouldn’t we crumble if it were all ripped away from us?

Well it is, and she does!

I’m not giving away any spoilers here when I reveal that Rosie’s comfortable and satisfying life is about to be blown to smithereens by a totally selfish and unbelievably callous act, when her lovely caring husband suddenly announces that he’s off, leaving Rosie, the girls and the family home for another woman.

I don’t think I’ll be alone when I say that from this point on I went through the emotional wringer with Rosie. Really, I mean honestly, I experienced such a gamut of emotions I was quite exhausted by the time I’d finished the book! Because when things go wrong they go from bad to worse – I’m welling up here even writing this because Rosie was REAL, I loved her, I wanted to be her friend and BOY did she need one. When people all around her let her down, and hurt her and frankly treated her like shit, I went from deep indignation to feeling incandescent with rage I was SO angry.

I had to keep putting the book down and having a break from reading it as I became so emotionally involved the storyline kept inducing near panic attacks in me. I genuinely had palpitations and began to shake. I won’t say any more about what and how many things go wrong and what horrible spineless creatures some characters turn out to be you can find all that out when you read My Husband’s wife.

This is a FANTASTIC book, but don’t go into it expecting a light and fluffy chick lit romance. It’s a deeply emotive and pretty dark look at a woman’s descent into despair and eventual breakdown and it’s NOT easy to watch. It’s about family and friends and never really knowing what goes on in other people’s minds and how fickle and feckless some folk can be. It is enlivened by the girls who are wonderfully refreshing and their antics brought many a smile to my face. They are completely innocently caught up in the backwash of this breakdown of a marriage and I was saddened by their involvement.

The Blurb

She thought she was a wife and mother. Then her husband and children left home. Who is she now? The new bestseller from Amanda Prowse.

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

Advance Praise

"Prowse handles her explosive subject with delicate skill... Deeply moving and inspiring." DAILY MAIL
"Captivating, heartbreaking, superb." CLOSER
"An emotional, unputdownable read." RED MAGAZINE

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Sandlands - Rosy Thornton - a fascinating short story collection

Author Guest spot - Rosy Thornton

I'm delighted to welcome to my blog today author Rosy Thorton.

An established author of several highly acclaimed books including The Tapestry of love and the wonderful Ninepins, find my review here Rosy has used her love and knowledge of the Suffolk countryside to write a new short story collection in which wildlife and nature play a large part.

I'm thrilled to participate in helping promote her work which is always delightfully different and intriguing. If you already love Rosy's writing you'll no doubt be queueing already for her book which comes out in paperback on 21st July and you can order yours here If you've not yet sampled her lovely atmospheric writing this beautiful collection of short stories is the perfect way to start and they will make the ideal travel companion for your summer holidays.

Here's a lovely article Rosy has written especially for Beadyjans books, which gives you a flavour of her writing and the kind of stories contained in Sandlands:

Something about owls

Have you ever had that creeping feeling you’re being watched?

Idling one morning in the woods near my Suffolk home, while my spaniel investigated some unapproved smell among the fallen leaves, I became convinced that someone was watching me.

Someone was – or maybe that should be something. Paradoxically, I think it was its lack of movement which made me notice it: funny how, among all the constant slight motion of a wood on a breezy day, attention is drawn to the one thing that’s entirely still. In this case it was an owl, staring out at me from the branch of a dead tree.

There’s something about owls, isn’t there? The stillness, yes, and the fact they never seem to blink. But I wonder if it’s also the shape of their face. Most small birds will cock their head and fix you with a single, berry eye, but an owl observes you with both eyes at once, giving it an oddly human gaze.

After that first encounter, when out with the dog I began to look out for the owl on the dead tree, and it was very often there, perched on the same truncated branch. It set me thinking about the mythology of owls, and reading up about them.

The Lenape peoples of the Delaware and Hudson rivers apparently believed that if they dreamed of an owl it would become their guardian and the protector of their soul. And if owls are guards and night watchmen, they are also, in folklore, clairvoyants. I suspect it’s their keen nocturnal vision that has led people over the centuries to endow the owl with the power of inner sight. The bird became the totem of prophets and seers, a messenger between the hidden world of death and shadow and the world of light. The one who hears what is not spoken and sees what is unseen. The knower of secrets; the watcher of souls.  

And that was it – the title for a short story. And very soon its subject-matter, too, because I felt as if the owl on my woodland walks was guarding something there beneath his dead tree, a hidden something. Buried treasure, forgotten secrets, an unknown grave? Or (of course – I had it!) letters: a cache of long-lost letters which would tell a story of their own.

‘The Watcher of Souls’ became, if not the title story of my collection, Sandlands, then at least the story which gave the book its cover. The designer chosen by my wonderful publishers, the Scottish independent Sandstone Press, came up with this striking and enigmatic image – gold on black, with the quirkily horizontal owl, and his glittering, unreadable gaze.     

Even on the spine, when the book is safely away on the shelf, he is still glaring hard at you with that penetrating, amber eye.

‘I can still see you,’ he seems to say.  ‘Ignore me at your peril. You know you can’t walk past: you’ve got to take me down and read me!’

Book blurb:

Sandlands (Sandstone Press, release date 21st July 2016)

From the white doe appearing through the dark wood to the blue-winged butterflies rising in a cloud as a poignant symbol of happier times, the creatures of the Suffolk landscape move through Rosy Thornton’s delicate and magical collection of stories. The enigmatic Mr Napier is feeding a fox rescued from the floods; an owl has been guarding a cache of long lost letters; a nightingale’s song echoes the sound of a loved voice; spiralling rooks recall the dogfights of wartime Spitfire pilot. Through the landscape and its creatures, the past is linked to the present, and generations of lives are intertwined.

Author bio:

Rosy Thornton is a Fellow and Tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge. She has published five novels (including Ninepins which won the East Anglian Book Awards prize for fiction in 2012), and Sandlands is her first short story collection. She divides her time between Cambridge and the Suffolk sandlings.

Her books to date are as follows:

More Than Love Letters (Headline, 2007)
Hearts and Minds (Headline Review, 2008)
Crossed Wires (Headline Review, 2009)
The Tapestry of Love (Headline Review, 2010)
Ninepins (Sandstone Press, 2012)
Sandlands (Sandstone Press, 2016)


Find Rosy's author website here:

She is also on Facebook here:

Monday, 18 July 2016

Owl Song at Dawn - Emma Claire Sweeney - BLOG TOUR and review

Owl Song at Dawn by Emma Claire Sweeney:

To celebrate the launch of the new book by Emma Claire Sweeney I'm delighted to reveal my review of this delightful heart warming book ....

My Review

Oh wow! This book is just so much MORE than I was expecting. It’s hugely emotional with gentle threads of wry humour, the odd burst of unexpected hilarity and haunting scenes of great tenderness and harrowing moments of despair woven together to form a robust fabric of shimmering silken beauty.

In Owl Song at Dawn, the author pulls NO punches. This is a work of fiction with its feet undoubtedly based firmly on experience. It’s about the lives of a collection of people with disabilities getting on with their lives yet often facing prejudice at every turn. Parts made me weep with frustration and others made me roar with injustice, yet some particularly those set in the quite recent past made me feel a creeping unease and shame.

The main protagonist is Maeve, now in her 80’s she still works hard in the seaside resort of Morecambe running a traditional sea-side Bed and breakfast to which she has devoted most of her adult life.

Maeve was born a twin, her sister Edie the pivot around which Maeve’s life turned, as youngsters they were inseparable. Edie was the chalk to Maeve’s cheese and that Maeve loved her twin with an all consuming devotion is never in any doubt. Edie is quite severely disabled, she can talk but not fully communicate with anyone apart from her beloved twin who has an almost psychic empathy with her, sometimes she just quotes poetry which Maeve has read to her, she loves to sing and play her mouth organ (or Gob-tin) and against all advice from the medical profession (who speak cruelly and bluntly about their mentally subnormal daughter) the girls parents decide not to have Edie institutionalised but bring her up at home alongside her twin. Despite her obvious adoration and devotion to her sibling this undoubtedly causes some restraints to Maeves social life and we see her relationships flounder.

Now, many years after the death of Edie, Maeve is elderly, cantankerous and steeped in loneliness, filling her life with folk who need her as much as once Edie did. We are introduced to a budding romance between 2 wonderful disabled characters Steph and Len and when suddenly a face from Maeve’s past turns up unexpectedly, her surprise and confusion is apparent.

The characters are all wonderfully larger than life and yet extremely authentic and sincere. From Dot the terminally ill cancer sufferer to Ukrainian hotel Manager Zenka with her tottering high heels, lycra mini skirts and heart of pure gold. There are new neighbours to contend with and regular hotel guests – a barber shop band called, of all things – Aspy fella A capella, every single member with Aspergers, autism or Downs syndrome.

Oh hell, this is one book I’m going to have to stop waffling on about and just firmly INSIST you get hold of a copy and READ it right now … It’s blown my mind – why should you get away with yours intact?

Whether you’ve had any contact with people with learning difficulties and disabilities or not, I think you’ll just love the extraordinary characters in this wonderful, uplifting yet unbearably sad book.

I have spent several weeks doing volunteer work in a holiday respite centre for disabled guests and their carers and the parallels with Sea View Lodge made me feel instantly at home in this genteelly crumbling, once majestic sea side holiday abode.

This is a superb summer read with a uniqueness and harmony all it’s own. Just make sure you’ve got your sunglasses at hand to hide those red rimmed eyes behind and celebrate being different with the wonderful residents of Sea View lodge.

The Blurb

'Fresh, poignant and unlike anything else' -- Jill Dawson, Whitbread and Orange Prize-shortlisted author 

'Tender and unflinching, a beautifully observed novel.' -- Carys Bray, Costa Prize-shortlisted author 

'It crept under my skin and will stay there for a long time' -- Emma Henderson, Orange Prize-shortlisted author 

'Amazing: fierce, intelligent, compassionate and deeply moving' -- Edward Hogan, Desmond Elliot Prize-winning author 

Funny, heartbreaking and truly remarkable' -- Susan Barker, New York Times bestselling author 

Maeve Maloney is a force to be reckoned with. 

Despite nearing eighty, she keeps Sea View Lodge just as her parents did during Morecambe's 1950s heyday. But now only her employees and regular guests recognise the tenderness and heartbreak hidden beneath her spikiness. 

Until, that is, Vincent shows up. Vincent is the last person Maeve wants to see. He is the only man alive to have known her twin sister, Edie. The nightingale to Maeve's crow, the dawn to Maeve's dusk, Edie would have set her sights on the stage all things being equal. But, from birth, things never were. 

If only Maeve could confront the secret past she shares with Vincent, she might finally see what it means to love and be loved a lesson that her exuberant yet inexplicable twin may have been trying to teach her all along.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Penny Heart - Martine Bailey - historical fiction paperback launch

To celebrate the launch of this wonderful historical book which I adored, I'm re-posting my review for anyone who missed it and a few new details.

The blurb

A historical novel of suspense, seasoned with recipes and remedies, THE PENNY HEART summer read that draws on age-old themes of cooking, trickery and revenge.

Sentenced to death for a simple confidence trick, Mary Jebb escapes the gallows … but her reprieve is harsh: seven years in the unforgiving penal colony of Botany Bay. Yet Mary is determined not to be forgotten, sending two pennies, engraved with a promise, to the two men who sealed her fate.

Timid artist Grace Moore jumps at the opportunity to marry handsome gentleman Michael Croxon – happy if only to get away from her drunken father.

But when Grace takes on a new cook, the two penny heart love tokens reveal she is tied to a world she didn’t know existed … A world of deceit, double-crossing, revenge and murder.

A historical novel of suspense, seasoned with recipes and remedies, THE PENNY HEART draws on age-old themes of cooking, trickery and revenge.

Praise for The Penny Heart

‘An ingenious exercise in pastiche gothic, this is a richly rewarding read.’ The Sunday Times

‘A compelling and haunting story, brimming with malice and darkness, and powerfully alive to the harsh realities of 18th century life’ Lancashire Evening Post

‘I really can't recommend this novel highly enough. I loved it from start to finish.’ S D Sykes

The Author
Inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes, writing historical fiction has allowed Martine to indulge in her obsessions with food, history and travel.

As an amateur cook, Martine won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. In pursuit of authenticity she has studied with food historian Ivan Day and experienced Georgian food and fashion at first-hand with an historic re-enactment society.

Martine now lives in Cheshire, England, after spending 20 months house-swapping and researching in New Zealand and Australia. She is married with one son. THE PENNY HEART is her second novel.

My Review

I KNEW I was going to love this one, from the enticing description to the delicious cover - I was captivated from the first sentence, and entranced throughout.

I'm a sucker for a very particular kind of historical novel, it must have a ring of authenticity, a strong female protagonist or two and a quirky, thrilling storyline. What it mustn't be is a bodice ripper, fluffy and feminine, an insipid romance.

The Penny heart ticked all my boxes, seized me by the wrist and dragged me back in time to the late 18th century where it beguiled me throughout. I was introduced to not one substantial female but two and immersed in the decaying grandeur of a crumbling mansion, presented with mystery upon mystery and whisked back and forth between here, and Botany Bay penal colony.

The two fascinating females are Mary Jebb, a cunning and enterprising orphan with skill at impersonating her betters and conning people. Her immersion into the criminal underworld of Manchester leads to her downfall when she is caught mid scam and punished with a death sentence from which a last minute reprieve sees her instead transported to Australia. Life here is cruel, brutal and unforgiving, so it's hardly surprising that she carries with her a desire for vengeance which gives her the strength to seek it out.

Meanwhile gentle, innocent, Grace Croxon, a dreamy artistic girl whose only burning desire is to escape the life of drudgery she endures at the hands of her spiteful alcoholic father who constantly belittles her every attempt to make something of herself. Salvation is offered in the guise of marriage to one Micheal Croxon and although they have barely met, she is relieved when he turns out to be handsome and debonair, that she feels an instant attraction to him seems to be the icing on her cake - or will it be her downfall?

In the faded grandeur of neglected, semi derelict mansion DeLaFosse Hall the two womens lives evenually cross paths and we begin to unravel a mystery which keeps us guessing throughout the book.

Each chapter is preceded by a recipe which features in the following chapter and as they become increasingly more bizarre I found it fun to try and guess just how and where this particular "receipt" would appear in the storyline.

The mystery is cleverly written and I went from being gently guided along and thinking maybe really nothing much was happening, to whoah, hold on, I wasn't expecting this!

The beauty lies in two admirably created characters and a strong sense of place and authenticity. I loved the book and felt quite bereft on finishing it. May I give my hearfelt thanks to the author Martine Bailey for very kindly providing me with a copy to review and for entertaining and enthralling me with her delicious storytelling skill.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Forgotten - Heleyne Hammersley - travelling towards terror

My Review

A gripping, psychological mystery thriller about self re-discovery.

Imagine waking up in a hospital bed in a foreign country where you speak a different language to those around you, to find you have completely lost your memory, you have no ID, you can’t remember who you are, why you are there nor even where you come from. Scary huh?

That’s what happens to Kai, though even Kai is a name bestowed on her by the doctor who is treating her in the hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Gradually, with the help of Dr Ekachai she pieces together that she was injured falling from a cliff on a nature trail whilst travelling in Thailand. She has no documents or belongings of any note apart from a handwritten diary which was found in her bag.

She begins to read the travel diary to try and unravel her memories, but although nothing in the journal triggers any familiarity, it soon becomes uneasily clear that she felt very threatened by someone or something from her past, she was travelling to escape her old life but her amnesia has completed this to the extreme and she becomes desperate to know who she really is and why she set off alone on a trek around Asia.

The book alternates between what’s happening now, as she begins to edge towards recovery and the travel diary which reads very authentically about her trip to China, Vietnam and Thailand, this part is obviously based on the authors own experiences and as I enjoy travel I enjoyed reading about these places.

News of her accident makes it into the local papers where the police are also keen to discover Kai’s identity. This leads to a man contacting the hospital saying he thinks he might know her, but when schoolteacher Mark visits, he reveals that she isn’t the fellow teacher he knows after all.

But he’s the first friendly face who speaks her native tongue and Kai warily accepts his gentle overtures of friendship. She also begins to have sessions with a therapist Ellen whom she begins to trust.

But as her diary reveals fears and threats towards her which she can’t recall, the reader is treated to another dark and twisted side to one of the few people close to her, of which she is totally unaware making the reader fear for her safety. As she becomes more desperate to leave the hospital Kai makes an ill-advised decision I found rather difficult to accept, I was going “Oh for heavens sake Kai, are you completely bonkers?” This leads her into deeper danger, the pace increases and events become frantic and terrifying.

Part travel journal part mystery thriller, full of suspense and alarmingly scary, this is a tense, well plotted, entertaining read by an accomplished new author whose future work I’ll be looking out for.

I received a copy of the e-book in exchange for an unbiased review.

The book was published on May 1st and is available from Amazon for your kindle now.

The Blurb:

What if you woke up in a strange place and didn’t know who you were?

A woman wakes up in a Thai hospital unaware of how she got there or who she is. The doctor names her Kai, the Thai word for fever.

Unable to recall what led her to end up at the bottom of a cliff, Kai’s only clue to her identity is a diary. Stuck in a foreign land with no memory, she begins to unpick the truth about her past. And she will discover who she and why she is in danger…

This is Kai’s story.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Couple next door - Shari Lapena - taut debut thriller

My Review

Oh what a tangled web we weave – when first we practise to deceive.

For this masterfully engineered debut novel is ALL about deceptions, untruths, secrets, concealment and lies. If you can’t trust your family, friends and neighbours who can you rely on?

New Mum Anne has the baby blues, what I know as post-natal depression and in this book is called post-partum depression, she feels fat and frumpy and a bit of a failure as a Mother, little wonder she’s not really looking forward to a little dinner party next door with friends and neighbours, Scintillating Cynthia and quiet Graham, but they’re the friendly folk next door, they have no hidden agendas, or do they?

Her handsome husband Marco has a successful business but is he struggling with more than he let’s on about? Anne’s Mom and Dad – seriously wealthy, she can rely on them in a crisis – or can she?

But during the fateful dinner Anne makes an ill-advised decision to leave her babay at home alone, it’s only next door and she takes the baby monitor with her so nothing can go wrong.

But the unthinkable DOES happen, little baby Cora disappears from her cot. Who took her and why, who was responsible for this tragedy and will she ever be returned alive?

Everybody is quick to lay the blame at the grief stricken parents door. And it appears nobody is what they seem to be, when you begin to scratch the surface and multiple hidden layers emerge.

This is a taut plot driven story, fast paced and terrifying. It’s about the lengths to which people will go, to try and put things right after a tragedy, whilst everything around them crumbles.

Its twisty and cunning and full of juicy red herrings. The writing style reminds me very much of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay, so if you enjoy books by these 2 epic thriller writers, add Sahri Lapena to your must read authors.

My gratitude goes to the publishers Transworld who kindly provided me with a free review copy.

The Blurb and accolades (taken from Goodreads)


‘2016’s most talked-about new thriller’ Stylist

‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing.

You never know what's happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone.

You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

'How well do we ever know those around us? THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR will keep you glued to the pages in search of the answer. Even then, you'll never guess the truth...until it's too late' LISA GARDNER

Monday, 4 July 2016

Valentina - S E Lynes - Gripping and compelling

My Review
When I’m reading a book I sometimes make a few notes for my review after reading it and the first 2 words which sprang to mind for Valentina were - loneliness and betrayal, because these are the first 2 traits which feature heavily but as the story unfolds there are multiple layers to this heart-poundingly exceptional Domestic Noir thriller.

Shona is a new Mum, very much in love with her husband Mikey and devoted to their new baby girl Isla. When Mikeys job in the oil industry takes him off-shore on a dreaded 2 weeks on 2 weeks off shift system the natural solution is for the young couple to move closer to Aberdeen, so he can spend as much of his time off with his family as possible. When he finds a picture perfect country cottage Shona is enchanted and moves there with alacrity, despite its comparative isolation. It’s a far cry from her working class upbringing in Govan.

Shona finds it a little difficult to settle, it’s so different from what she’s used to, she’s a new Mum and finding it hard work but her delightful wee girl makes up for the tiredness. But as soon as Mikey heads off for his 2 weeks off-shore she is beset by doubts and overwhelming loneliness, yet she never came across as needy or pathetic.

She feels a bit like a square peg in a round hole, she’s stuck out in the sticks, where even a wi-fi connection is a very hit and miss affair. She misses her family and her friends, especially best pal Jeanie, she misses her lively job and workmates and the wonderfully descriptive feelings the author uses to create Shona had me living inside her skin. I WAS Shona and I was oh, so, lonely.

But she tries not to let the stress get her down too much, she’s a resilient wee thing brought up amongst the Glasgow city streets and she can count the days to Mikeys longed for return safe in the knowledge that if she whiles away the hours he’s working quickly, soon he’ll be back and they’ll have 2 whole blissful weeks to be a happy family until he has to head back to the rig in the North Sea, she adores her very loving husband and knows the passionate re-unions will be worth the wait and the time apart is the price to pay for living comfortably and provide a great childhood for Isla.

But things don’t work out quite how she imagined and she finds herself feeling even more and more forsaken in this beautiful but secluded cottage. So, when she meets lively, irreverent and amusing, young Mum Valentina with a son much the same age as Isla, life suddenly takes on a rosier hue. She now has someone to share her feelings with, someone to be there for her, she’s no longer on the outside looking in all the time and whilst Mikeys away the time passes quicker and more pleasantly, with a pal to spend time with and someone to share the ordeals of motherhood.

Phew, at last things are looking up for Shona …

Oh no they aren’t!

Insidiously, at first things start to go wrong, little things are off kilter and Shona begins to feel perhaps her new friend isn’t quite as honest as she at first thought, maybe she isn’t quite as trustworthy as she hoped and when things are amiss, the tensions builds, rapidly gathering speed and like an express train hurtling along the tracks – I SAW what was coming, but far too late and as much as I screamed at Shona to get off the tracks she couldn’t hear me. Phew I was as satisfyingly exhausted by this slick and cunningly constructed cliff hanger as if I’d run a marathon.

The writing style is genius, addictively compelling, with stunning literary quality and rhapsodic, eloquent descriptions. Every response contains phenomenally realistic knee jerk reactions and true to life characteristics. It’s sheer reading pleasure from start to end. Oh and it's a debut novel - Wow!

This book has just been released in July 2016 and believe me you want to be one of the first to experience it, I predict it’s going to be the book every enthusiastic booklover will be talking about this summer. This is up there amongst the best fabled tomes which captivate the imagination and if you enjoy a twist and an aarghh I urge you to get your copy now and give it a whirl.

I was generously provided with a review copy by the superb publishers Blackbird Digital books.

The Blurb (from Goodreads)

When  Glasgow journalist  Shona McGilvery moves with her partner  Mikey  and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the  frightening  isolation of the Aberdeenshire  countryside begins to drive her insane...

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. 

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?

As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears...

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