Friday, 21 April 2017

The Wild Air - Rebecca Mascull - blog tour and review


I'm thrilled to be second up on the blog tour for the WONDERFUL new book The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull as I'm not sure I can keep my big mouth shut any longer about quite how ownderful I found this story. Wow The Wild Air blew me away (or maybe I should say FLEW me away)

The Blurb ..... 

A heart-warming, exhilarating novel about one young woman's determination to follow her dreams of becoming a pilot in the early 20th century.
In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed.

When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother's aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her.

But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything - and everyone - Della loves.

Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.



My Review:

What an utterly captivating heroine young Edwardian Miss Della Dobbs is.

When I finished reading this book I literally came back down to earth with a thud, I was so lost in the Wild Air with Della.

I was a touch unsure how I’d take to her to be honest as I like my heroines larger than life, feisty and confident and from the start it’s clear that Della is naturally none of these. 

So painfully shy she barely ever utters a word, even at home with her family. In a household of folk who know where they’re headed and with plenty to say about where they’ve been she is the misfit, the one with no skills, no personality and no ambitions (or has she?) Cowed and belittled by her (utterly despicable to my mind) self-centred, overbearing father who, denied the continuance of his distinguished career on the stage, makes a career out of being a disabled drama queen and an absolute boor (can you tell how much I disliked this character?)

No wonder that when black sheep of the family, great Aunt Betty, who dared to escape her mothers family folds, when she emigrated to America to marry a Yank, arrives back in England, widowed, childless and not quite socially acceptable, the two very different women are drawn to each other by their very apartness.

As Betty recounts tales of her life in America and the birth of air travel, Della begins to obsess with aeroplanes and pilots and flight, to hanker after being one of the first women to actually fly a plane and in her burgeoning love of flight is born the ambition, drive and determination to help her make her place in a changing world. We watch Della realize her ambitions from learning the rudiments of flight by building and flying kites on the nearby beach, to inveigling her way into a mans world to gain the flying lessons she yearns for.



Throughout this enchanting novel we watch her confidence and character grow and when she finds a love for which she will risk everything, my heart swelled with fondness and pride for her.

This is a coming of age, a love story and a historical novel about early flight which swept me along until I was flying alongside Della, who proves herself to be every bit the daring feisty heroine I wanted her to be all along.

The chacters in this book are all immaculately drawn, believable and real with flaws and failings and little quirks which made me feel I knew them all. The era it is set in is breathtakingly depicted with passion and the speech and mannerisms of the characters is appropriate and mesmerising.

I also became deeply immersed in the history and development of flight, another aspect I was a little unsure of before I began to read this. The authors detailed knowledge and obvious passion for this subject shines through and charmed and entertained me throughout. Such devoted research was translated so engagingly I was educated and enchanted by every word.

Reminiscent of the wonderful book series Flambards by KM Peyton which I adored and devoured in my teens (the very epitome of early young adult fiction) this is a heart-warming and gripping girls own, for adults, story, wonderfully told.

Even if you have no interest in the history of flying read this gorgeous tale, I'm confident you too will be utterly swept away by Della's memoirs.

Published by Hachette - part of the Hodder and Stoughton group you can discover more about this talented author at Hachette.co.uk

Biographical Notes: 

Rebecca Mascull is the author of THE VISITORS and SONG OF THE SEA MAID. She has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England. Visit her website rebeccamascull.tumblr.com.





Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Escape - CL Taylor - taut page turner



My Review

A thoroughly entertaining and gripping psychological suspense story by the wonderful CL Taylor, author of The Accident The Lie and The Missing all taut, suspense filled Domestic Noir/ psychological thrillers.

In The Escape we follow the life of Jo, our main protagonist, who is the Mother of a little girl Elise, and is married to an investigative journalist Max. Jo is suddenly approached and threatened, by a stranger, a woman called Paula who warns Jo that she needs to keep a closer eye on her daughter and that her husband has taken something that belongs to Paula.

Now if Jo's reactions to this encounter seem a touch extreme this is explained when we realise that she is agoraphobic, in fact as we immerse ourselves deeper in her story it is revealed that she has several mental health issues, is somewhat unstable and doubts begin to creep in. My empathy for her began to waver slightly as she becomes the atypical unreliable narrator around which many psychological thrillers are woven and the ideal breeding ground for mistrust and red herrings.

Then more facts about her home life are revealed and I'm back in her corner, rooting for her, but maybe I was right to be sceptical? and so on, the wavering, is she behaving logically or is she a fruit loop keeping me on a knife edge. Who IS this Paula and what is her story? Is husband Max as devoted as he would at first appear?

But it is never in doubt that Jo loves her daughter deeply and it becomes clear that she will stop at almost nothing to protect her. There is a parallel storyline, that of Mary, an older woman who is also battling stress and the prolonged effects of grief after losing a child in terrible circumstances. Coincidence puts these 2 women on a collision course.

I won't reveal too much more about the story, suffice to say that if you loved CL Taylors earlier thrillers you'll devour this one. It's dark and twisty and very clever and its a damned good read to keep you turning the pages late at night.


The Blurb

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.


No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Everything but the Truth - Gillian McAllister - taut domestic noir for the internet generation



My Review

Everything but the truth is about relationships and secrets a taut Domestic Noir thriller/ romance.

Rachel and Jack are like any young couple, they are very much of the Social media generation, they haven't been together long enough to really deeply know each other inside out, but what they do know is they are in love, they are in it for the long haul, which is just as well as Rachel is expecting Jacks baby.

Perhaps they should have waited a while, but Things are what they are and they both very much want this baby, after all they have the rest of their lives to get to know the little quirks of each others lives.

But although Rachel is certain that Jacks the man for her to spend the rest of her life with, a judder of deja vu runs through her when, following a glimpse of an email he tries to conceal, she suddenly begins to suspect he may be hiding something from her, after all this has happened to her recently in a previous relationship which crashed when she had cause to mistrust boyfriend Ben. Surely history can't repeat itself?

It soon becomes evident that Jack is hiding something but will Rachel make matters worse if she persists in trying to uncover his past? She is clearly keeping something bottled up herself and her past life as doctor even though she is no longer practising medicine is revealed in snippets and we work out that nothing is straightforward with this couple at all and makes us think perhaps its better not to know than keep digging and digging until the hidden is revealed in its stark hideousness.

The book is very contemporary and Jack and Rachel are the couple of today we see all the time in the cafe sipping their lattes and gazing into each others eyes. Well next time you're people watching maybe this book will make you wonder just what is simmering beneath the surface and ask the question do we really know our partners and ourselves?

With plenty of red herrings, twists and reveals it's a thoroughly entertaining page turner to satisfy the modern romantic with a penchant for examining the darker side of relationships and personalities a taut Domestic Noir for the internet generation.

The Blurb and accolades

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister's stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman's compulsive need to uncover the truth


It all started with the email.

Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost? 

'Packed with twists and turns that will make it almost impossible to put down!' Hello!

'Twisty and emotionally charged. Breathlessly brilliant' Heat

'A gripping, compelling page turner that kept me up half the night' Liz Nugent, bestselling author of Lying in Wait

'You won't be able to put it down!' Hollie Overton, bestselling author of Baby Doll

'Perfection. Intriguing and compelling. An exceptional debut' Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of I See You

'A beautifully written domestic noir full of secrets and lies' Claire Douglas, bestselling author of Local Girl Missing






Monday, 6 March 2017

Secrets we keep - Faith Hogan - blog tour and Review



My review

Secrets We Keep - Faith Hogan




I wasn’t sure whether I’d love this book, described as romantic contemporary women’s fiction. Of late I find I’m not always enjoying this genre nearly as much as I did, once upon a time.

But I needn’t have worried. Secrets we keep has completely renewed my faith in books written by women, for women, with a lot of heart and a good few twists along the way. This is so much more than Chick-lit it’s a very competent and compelling dual timeline of love and loss and heartache spanning the generations, set in a small seaside town in Ireland called Ballytokeep.

It is in Ballytokeep that Kate arrives, world weary, tired after years in her successful job as a top London lawyer, looking for a change of pace, a place to calm her soul and put down roots, a place like Ballytokeep.

She comes to stay with elderly distant relative Aunt Iris who, with husband Archie, runs a charming, if slightly faded, guesthouse in this seaside village which charms so many folk who return year after year. You will finish this book desperate to visit Ballytokeep yourself and hoping to meet the new friends you make in the pages of this wonderfully descriptive and atmospheric story.

Then there’s Todd, ageing Rock star who gets a sudden wake up call with a health scare which fundamentally changes his outlook on life and brings him to Ireland for a gentler pace of life.

The stories of all these characters are woven intricately around their pasts and present, many of the secrets being kept evolve around the old Bathhouse, owned by Rita and Archie but lying empty and forlorn waiting for the right person to breathe new life into this seaside spa cum café.



The main historical thread looks back at Iris’s youth and the encounters and men who have moulded her. She has rather a tragic past along with dear, darling Archie who for me was the unsung hero in this book. I was swept along with her story even when she makes a decision or two I found hard to accept.

We also spin back 10 years to discover why Kate is middle aged and single, with little time for romance. There is even a strong story woven around Rita, who becomes a good friend to Kate.

The writing is superb Faith writes like Maeve Binchy for the noughties.

The characters are extremely authentic and their lives detailed, rich and believable. Despite this they are not all perfect, in fact several of them are pretty flawed and boy are there some poor decisions made which have long lasting repercussions. But this entrancing book shows us that, although we must live with our past mistakes, that the past undoubtedly shapes our futures, although we can’t go back and put wrongs right, in moving forward we can atone and come to terms with the secrets hidden in our past.

This book is the most perfect holiday read, one to read whilst relaxing in a vintage tea room with a slice of home-made cake, a cup of coffee in a faded bone china cup and the sound of waves crashing on the shore.

The Blurb - from the Author's own website


Two distant relatives, drawn together in companionship are forced to confront their pasts and learn that some people are good at keeping secrets and some secrets are never meant to be kept.

A bittersweet story of love, loss and life. Perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan and Adele Parks.

The beautiful old Bath House in Ballytokeep has lain empty and abandoned for decades. For devoted pensioners Archie and Iris, it holds too many conflicting memories of their adolescent dalliances and tragic consequences – sometimes it’s better to leave the past where it belongs.

For highflying, top London divorce lawyer Kate Hunt, it’s a fresh start – maybe even her future. On a winter visit to see her estranged Aunt Iris she falls in love with the Bath House. Inspired, she moves to Ballytokeep leaving her past heartache 600 miles away – but can you ever escape your past or your destiny?

About the Author:



Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published by Aria, (Head of Zeus) in 2016.   ‘Secrets We Keep,’ is her second novel.

Contact Faith or visit her webpage:

Twitter (her favourite) 





You can check out her books on:










Saturday, 4 March 2017

Goldsmith Jones - Sam Taylor-Pye - A lawless historical romp


My Review of Goldsmith Jones by Sam Taylor-Pye



Goldsmith Jones - It's like Oliver Twist with sodomy!

Set in the wild west, in the gold rush era, the eponymous character is a teenage rent boy and he is a damn' fool! He just never learns from his mistakes and he gets himself into many risky situations he could so easily avoid, yet lands himself in scalding water, again and again.

I'm not really sure why I found this book so engaging, but I rolled with it and really rather enjoyed it. It's certainly different and darkly exciting.

Goldsmith Jones "My name's not Nancy or Boy" arrives, with his long blond hair tucked beneath a greasy cap, in San Francisco in the mid 19th century to find it a lawless and poverty ridden place.

Orphaned and soon on the run from the law, he begins a life of male prostitution to earn himself a roof over his head and a crust and soon falls in with a succession of unsavoury characters, who in the main, treat him badly, apart from the nearest he finds to a real friend, half breed native American boy Raccoon. Everyone else has an ulterior motive and most of them involve sex, violence or law breaking. 

It's quite strange and rather explicit and covers a lot of rather graphic gay sex scenes, most of them involving or even instigated by the hapless main character who, when the book begins, is only 14! Hmm, it should be SO very wrong, but it is historical fiction and this kind of thing undoubtedly went on. Not for the faint hearted reader though.

This book reads well, its a rollicking romp through the cesspit that is Saint Francis town (San Francisco) filled with bullies and beasts and paedophiles and I couldn't put this book down. It's full of larger than life dislikeable, flawed and enigmatic characters, including two cross dressers I rather did like, Ally a woman who dresses as man and Violet, a man who dresses as a woman, (but I thought she was a woman until she let herself slide and began to grow facial hair) He has a love/hate relationship with a sailor he calls Sweet Virginia from the fragrance of fresh tobacco he always has, and is taken under the dubious wing of gang leader the vicious and unpredictable Saul Suarez.

If you're offended by a child earning his crust by giving blowjobs to drunken sailors up a filthy back alley and the frequently used term c***sucker offends you, I think it's best you don't read this book.

There is a lot of violence as well as a lot of sex in fact there's a fair bit of violent sex. This is a brutal old world, yet its so easy to become immersed in this dark and gritty tale about the dank underbelly of gangland San Franscisco.

It reads like part western (reminded me a little of The Sisters Brothers by Patrick De Witt) part gangland tale. Sometimes Goldmsith comes across as an ingenue, sometimes he's far too knowing, he can be calculating and canny but he always calculates wrongly, always he's a fool to himself and charges in where an angel fears to tread without ever assessing the possible consequences. For much of the book I was thinking "Oh for Goodness sake, you're never going to do that are you?" but he does, and ends up bloody and even more damaged and hurt and I have to be honest I never warmed to him quite as much as I hoped as I just wanted him to grow from his experiences and he really doesn't!


If you're looking for a fast paced, gritty read that's very different from the norm, give this a whirl as long as you're not looking for hearts and flowers, cause you sure won't find any of those here.

The Blurb

San Francisco, 1863. Fourteen-year-old Goldsmith Jones is left stranded in crime-ridden, gangland territory. He finds himself living at The Shades, a home to local street kids.

While selling sexual favours downs the Dead Man's Alley to survive, Jones is charmed by a seaman he knows as Sweet Virginia. Moving further away from the relative security that The Shades and his best friend, Raccoon, offered him, Jones is drawn ever closer to the manipulative Sweet Virginia.

When Raccoon falls gravely ill and is taken to convaless on the rural Rancheria, Jones is left under the controlling powers of the unscrupulous navvy.

Swindled and wrongly accused, he is unexpectedly rescued by the leader of the villanous Suarez Brothers, the charismatic Saul.

Faced with a choice between becoming Saul's 'little brother' and saving Sweet Virginia's life, Goldsmith Jones must embark on a dangerous journey which will change his young life forever. 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Blog Tour review and giveaway of Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies



Blog tour and Book Giveaway

Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies



It would be hard to find a more richly descriptive and lavishly depicted book than Before the Rains. Every page bursts with opulent, evocative imagery, colour and vibrancy, including the beautiful cover and it is astonishingly, heart-warmingly, romantic.

Dinah Jefferies is rapidly becoming my go-to author for vivid, plausible escapism. With her words she paints stunning exotic landscapes of epic proportions, which immerse the reader in past cultures, gently educating us about historic events, breaking our hearts a little, before wrapping us in the warmth of a passionate relationship.

In Before the Rains, I was transported to India in the 1930s in the final days of the crumbling British Raj and instantly immersed in the spice laden, colourful, Indian culture, where I met Eliza, a recently widowed British woman of 28.

Wanting to carve out her name as a photographer she accepts a position, through the British Government, to work in a palace as official Royal photographer, a rare and cherished opportunity for a British woman at this time.

Having lived in India as a small child, until the sudden and brutal death of her beloved father Eliza speaks a little of the language and is familiar with many local customs. However it is only after she witnesses the barbaric treatment of a young widow, that she fully appreciates how vital it is to conceal her own state of widowhood for her own safety.

Upon her arrival at the Royal palace she is surprised to discover that she will be living within the palace walls and under constant observation. The culture clashes she experiences make it difficult for her to know who she can fully trust as although she is warmly welcomed by some members of the Royal family she is seen as an interloper by others.

There is an instant affinity between herself and Prince Jay who is easy for her to relate to, having had a very British upbringing due to his education in the UK and she soon feels she’s found a friend. But despite a growing attraction between the young couple it’s clear that a closer relationship must be avoided. A Royal must marry another royal in order to provide legitimate heirs and inter racial relationships are so taboo they can hardly be spoken of, as the secrecy behind the illegitimacy of a young woman called Indi, whom Eliza also tries to befriend, is testament to.

Eliza is in for a rocky ride and despite her determination to be an independent modern career woman things don’t always go smoothly. Close family friend Clifford always seems to have her very best interests at heart but maybe he has an ulterior motive? His pale, sweaty, flushed skin made my skin crawl and despite Eliza obviously viewing him with similar contempt she finds she needs to rely on his protection. 

There are mysteries and subterfuge and underlying tensions which simmer away beneath the romantic exterior.

Jay is a handsome, smouldering, heart stopping hunk of a hero who captivated me yet remained an enigma by the glamour and mystery of his life.

I was completely and utterly engrossed in this opulent and vibrant tale of British Rule in India and forbidden love which is the absolute epitome of historical romance. Eliza’s story transported and enthralled me throughout.

Read more about the author and her other sensational books on her own web page


WIN A COPY

Now you too can experience Eliza’s India by winning your very own brand new hard back copy of this delightful book.

To be entered into my free prize draw for one of two copies of Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies all you need to do is post a comment after this blog post telling me …. If you could time-travel back to 1930 and be anywhere in the world where would you go, and why? Or Tweet me @Beadyjan with your answer and the hash tag #BeforetheRains 

Two lucky winners will be selected on 11th March and notified by email. So I must have some way to contact you, please also provide a link to your blog, your twitter handle or email address. Good luck!


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bad Little Girl - Frances Vick - twisty thriller

Bad Little Girl – Frances Vick



My review

An absolute corker of a psychological thriller, with a deprived and abused little girl at the heart of it – prepare to be moved – prepare to be terrified.

Take an inner city school. Meet Claire, a harassed, very compassionate and caring, middle aged teacher who sometimes feels like a bit of dinosaur as she juggles the responsibilities of her dull private life, her irascible Mother, her non-existent social life, with her beloved career.

Her path meets that of neglected 5 year old Lorna from a feckless family with a bad reputation on a run-down housing estate and both their lives are about to be affected by the meeting. Warning bells ring when Claire uncovers a heinous crime – Lorna, with the stick like limbs, the dirty clothes and the badly worn shoes, in a bid to be accepted by her peers, has stolen some collectable kids erasers and thus Rubbergate is unleashed! Far from bringing her friendship and admiration it makes her despised and scorned.

It seems such a small event to trigger so many repercussions, but what it does is bring Lorna to Claires attention and Claire isn’t about to let a child in need of care and protection down so decides she will keep an eye on this little girl, whose family don’t seem to care about her, who appears with bruises all too often. It’s clear she needs protection and Claire would never forgive herself if she did nothing, as memories of an earlier abused child who wasn’t helped, haunt her.
But her pleas to the ineffective head and young flighty teachers, fall on deaf ears, they feel she is overreacting. 

Years pass, Lorna continues to decline and Claires attempts to intervene on Lornas behalf fail. Poor Claire, she’s a successful teacher but makes some poor decisions and fails to find support for her actions when she needs it. Her suspicions about what has been happening to Lorna at home escalate and although reluctant to explain fully, it seems she is being badly abused.
Cliare feels a deep affinity with this bright yet neglected youngster and steps in to try and provide some stability and encouragement to this young and promising child.

Events are finally brought to a head when Lorna turns up on Claires doorstep, shaken and distressed apparently having been subjected to a violent outburst by her step father. Pressurised to make a quick decision Claire makes a rash and inadvisable move and from this day forth, nothing will ever be the same again ….. and that, dear reader is just the beginning!

We are taken on a journey of deceit and manipulation which will twist your mind.

One minute I was thinking poor Lorna, she so needs Claires help and though it’s obvious she has huge problems which have impacted on her, making her behaviour erratic, she can be so loving no wonder Claire is prepared to take huge risks for her. Then things she does and says begin to niggle t me, she is very mercurial and I think maybe she exaggerates to get things to go her own way, maybe she tells lies to turn things in her favour? Maybe she really is a bad little girl after all.

At times I felt very supportive of Claire, she seems so well meaning, but I began to wonder does she have an ulterior motive, is she reliable, what motivates her, for her knee jerk reactions can be so drastic?

Then a third person appears on the scene, Marianne, loner, misfit, usurper, dragging her dog Benji along. She is  an undoubted fly in the domestic ointment, she is about to upset the apple cart.


Oh this is one twisted tale, a real nail biter and an OMG I don’t believe that just happened, curved ball thrown in now and again. You do need to bite your metaphorical tongue and go with the flow as some of the events seem very unlikely, but the most horrifying things in life and fiction are far fetched. If everyone was sensible and reliable and did what you’d expect to be done, there would be no thrillers! 
And thriller this certainly is. 
I give it a big thumbs up for boldness and shock factor and to know any more about it you’ll just have to read it. 
My lips are sealed.

This is another fabulous read from Bookouture, I received my copy through Netgalley. 

Description:

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sharing a couple of book giveaways

Quick catch up and links to a couple of great book giveaways

I feel as though I've abandoned my blog - because all the books I've read this month are for blog tours which aren't happening yet!

So just to keep everyone updated I've rounded up a few of the great #book #Giveaways around at the moment (and there are some wonderful titles available) who doesn't love the thrill of winning and a lovely new #free #book arriving?

While you visit these great book blogs stay and have a read, you'll find some wonderful reviews and recommendations of the best new books around.

Visit Lindasbookbag for the chance to win a copy of Something Missing by Glenice Whitting. A book about two very different women in 2 countries whose lives entwine.

Linda tells me she is hosting more giveaways in the near future so why not follow her book blog?


On Beinganne you'll find a giveaway for Through the Barricades by Denise Deegan a romantic World war One novel by a talented author.



Monday, 13 February 2017

Blog Tour and review - Sealskin by Su Bristow

Sealskin – Su Bristow – Review and blog tour



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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The blurb and publicity

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

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

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

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

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

Quote:

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


The Author - Su Bristow 


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



Saturday, 4 February 2017

Tattletale - Sarah J Naughton



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sister sister - by Sue Fortin



Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

Isn't that cover beautiful?

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Description

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Claire: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

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

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

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The girl before - J P Delaney - a raunchy thriller



The Girl Before by J P Delaney - my Review

A rather unusual, contemporary sexy thriller.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The blurb

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

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


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

Monday, 9 January 2017

Another You - Jane Cable - Romantic and dramatic



Review - Another You - Jane Cable

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

And look at the beautiful cover.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I received my copy in advance through NetGalley.

The Blurb
Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Watcher - Ross Armstrong - a stylish contemporary Noir thriller




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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE BLURB

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

Monday, 2 January 2017

Fracture - Heleyne Hammersley - a journey of discovery

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



What an intense and terrifying road trip of a book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read my review of Heleynes debut novel Forgotten here.

Buy the ebook or paperback here

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