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...