Wednesday, 21 June 2017

When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi #blogtour #ariafiction

Firstly I would love to say thank you to Yasemin at Aria for letting me be a part of this #blogtour. I am rather partial to a bit a crime fiction and this book certainly didn’t miss the mark.


A breathtaking, heart-pounding, dark debut, sure to delight fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep.

When Anna, a much-loved teacher and mother of two, is left savagely beaten and in a coma, a police investigation is launched. News of the attack sends shock waves through her family and their small Swedish community. Anna seems to have had no enemies, so who wanted her dead?

As loved-ones wait anxiously by her bedside, her husband Erik is determined to get to the bottom of the attack, and soon begins uncovering his wife's secret life, and a small town riven with desire, betrayal and jealousy. 

As the list of suspects grows longer, it soon becomes clear that only one person can reveal the truth, and she's lying silent in a hospital bed...

My review:

Brilliant book. What more can I say?

Every page and every chapter took me on a journey I wasn’t expecting. I changed my mind about each character so many times my head is still spinning now.

The book begins with Anna being attacked. Whilst she is lying in a hospital bed in a coma, we start learning about the people around her. We learn about her husband Erik, who drove me absolutely potty and I can only describe as Anna’s third selfish child, who on the surface seems like the devoted husband. Nut has secrets of his own.

We learn about her student Daniel and his unhealthy obsession with her, but who could blame him, taking into account his own painful background.

And we also start learning about her other relationships - the ones from Anna’s second life that she hides from everyone else.

This book journeys into the deep, dark corners of every character’s soul and takes you through all their dirty laundry, their deepest secrets and desires and just proves that not all is what it seems.

I don’t like giving the plot away and you wouldn’t want me too. This book is a page after page of discovery and really worth the read. Very clever writing with many plots and twists and turns. Just my cup of tea – surely life would be boring if we could work everything out from the start?

Thank you to the author and Aria Fiction for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

About the author:

Born in Sweden, Jessica moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. She worked in publishing in the UK for a number of years before heading to Chicago where she edited a magazine for expats. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university, and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Last year, she was one of the winners in the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she's known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!

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Facebook: @JessicaJarlvi
Twitter: @JessicaJarlvi

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Phenomena: The Lost and Forgotten Children by Susan Tarr

Synopsis and author’s note:

I was raised within the community of the New Zealand, Seacliff Mental Hospital village during the 1950s, with each of our family members working in the psychiatric hospital at some time or another. We sometimes shared our primary school with young patients who came down from the hospital. On turning fifteen we often worked up the hill, helping in the canteen, laundry, wards or occupational therapy. From a young age we absorbed the stories, and it was difficult to know where fiction ended and the greater truth took over.

To separate the truths from the almost-truths at this stage would be an impossible task as many of those concerned have died. Therefore I have blended together various stories in this narrative as representative of our family and friends' combined belief of what most probably did happen during the period covered by this narrative. Wherever possible, I have used correct dates, names and places. When there is a modicum of doubt in my mind I have changed names and details for the protection of those still living.

As a child I knew Malcolm, who was then a young man, since Dad often invited him home for meals. He was one of the lost children, those forgotten or abandoned by their families. We followed Malcolm's story from childhood to adulthood as best we could even after he was eventually discharged back into the community. When considering the tragedy and abuse of Malcolm's wasted earlier years, it is a story of immeasurable sadness. Yet he ultimately rose above it all, and with admirable strength, courage and innate resilience, was finally able to 'free the regular boy within' as he had always wanted.

This is Malcolm's story as I believe it unfolded

My review:

I can’t give this book enough stars. I love true stories about people’s lives. It makes me feel so normal and grateful for the things and people I have in my live. I’ve had a fab childhood and just wish I could pass some of what of that proper childhood experience on Malcolm.

Malcolm has been in the mental health institution as long as he can remember. And what he can remember isn’t much. He is allowed to live on the outside for a while to be part of the real world, but a freak incident in the house sends him straight back to The Building for more electro-shock therapy and years of healing.

As Malcolm starts to remember bits of his past, the reader is taking on a journey of love, pain, rejection and distraction of a little innocent boy. Malcolm introduces us to his friends (inmates, patients – whatever you want to call them) and tells us their sad stories whilst trying to piece his own life back together.

This is definitely a book of hope. Malcolm is such a lovely character, but his story (and those of his friends) leaves you feeling sad and angry at how people were treated just for being that little bit different, or happy in a way ‘normal’ people didn’t understand.

Brilliant book I would highly recommend to anyone wishing to find out more about the lost souls of the unwanted.

Thank you to the author and TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Twitter: @SusanMTarr

Available to purchase from:

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer


My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They're not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I'm supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won't say. I won't tell them I'm going to hunt for my real parents. I don't say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he'd give me a medal for lying.

I wasn't lying. I'm a hunter for lost souls and I'm going to be with my real family. And I'm not going to let Mick stop me.

My review:

This book is much better than the introduction blurb suggests. Thank goodness I don’t give too much attention to these as it gives an impression of a different book to the one I have read.

Ruby is a messed up girl who is desperate to find her own place in the world, desperate for her parent’s love that every child deserves. It seemed to me that the whole village knew how she has been treated by her father and it made me angry that no one did anything to stop it, but I suppose such were the days.

Finding out that Mick and Barbara are not her real parents certainly explained Mick’s awful behaviour towards her. It also sends Ruby on a downwards spiral whilst trying to find her family, living with the strange people in place she doesn’t understand.

There are elements of the supernatural throughout the novel as it changes from Ruby’s story to the voice of Shadow – Ruby’s constant companion – the only ‘person’ that has been there for her as long as she can remember and the one that helps her on her way of discovery, pain, friendships and light.

This book is beautifully written. It’s an emotional journey for the characters as well as the reader. It’s something different and it certainly stands out among a sea of the ever so popular thrillers and crime novels. It’s one to read and to remember.

Thank you to the author and NetGalley for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s website:

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