Friday, 7 July 2017

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey

Synopsis and author’s note:

From the author of the critically acclaimed The Mermaids Singing comes a haunting, luminous novel set on an enchanted island off the west coast of Ireland where magic, faith, and superstition pervade the inhabitants’ lives and tangled relationships—perfect for fans of Eowyn Ivey, Sarah Waters, and Angela Carter.

May 1959. From one side of St. Brigid’s Island, the mountains of Connemara can be glimpsed on the distant mainland; from the other, the Atlantic stretches as far as the eye can see. This remote settlement, without electricity or even a harbor, has scarcely altered since its namesake saint set up a convent of stone huts centuries ago. Those who live there, including sisters Rose and Emer, are hardy and resourceful, dependent on the sea and each other for survival. Despite the island’s natural beauty, it is a place that people move away from, not to—until an outspoken American, also named Brigid, arrives to claim her late uncle’s cottage.

Brigid has come for more than an inheritance. She’s seeking a secret holy well that’s rumoured to grant miracles. Emer, as scarred and wary as Rose is friendly and beautiful, has good reason to believe in inexplicable powers. Despite her own strange abilities—or perhaps because of them—Emer fears that she won’t be able to save her young son, Niall, from a growing threat. Yet Brigid has a gift too, even more remarkable than Emer’s. As months pass and Brigid carves out a place on the island and in the sisters’ lives, a complicated web of betrayal, fear, and desire culminates in one shocking night that will change the island, and its inhabitants, forever.

Steeped in Irish history and lore, The Stolen Child is a mesmerizing descent into old world beliefs, and a captivating exploration of desire, myth, motherhood, and love in all its forms

My review:

There a handful of books that leave scars on your soul and re surface once in a while so you never forget them. This is most definitely one of them.

Let’s start with the cover on this one. Amazing – I fell in love with the cover and didn’t really care about the blurb. But after reading that as well I was sold on this book. It was intriguing and didn’t really give that much away.

And oh my, I was in for a treat.

I can only describe this novel as beautiful. Set on a Irish island of St Brigid’s, the story follow one of the island women called Emer, twin to the more beautiful and popular Rose, and a newcomer Brigid, whose arrival will change the island in ways people could not imagine.

I don’t like to give the story away, so I would just say that I loved how the relationship between Emer and Brigid developed. Emer was so quietly desperate for her own friend and Brigid so desperate for the one thing she always wanted and never got. Their loneliness and despair brings them together and rip apart everything they believed in.

The island life was so stunningly portrayed I could just imagine the scenery when the women were walking the hills or having a picnic. The idea of fairies and changelings, superstition and healing magic is so well incorporated into the whole story and makes it that much more special.

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

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Website: www.lisacareybooks.com

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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Child of Clay (Those Who Are Awake #1) by Fiona Skye

Synopsis and author’s note:

Abandoned at birth on the steps of a Catholic orphanage, Jerrilyn Seton spent most of her childhood learning about the saints and angels, serving Jesus, and suffering the sisters' tough discipline, until they, too, abandoned her. Despite this, she still relies on her faith to help her with her work as a ghost hunter. But not once has she ever received an answer to her prayers.

Until now.

Now Jerrilyn hears whispers in the dark, a strange voice that hints at hidden knowledge about her origins and the fate of the world. How are they connected? What will she sacrifice to become one of Those Who Are Awake?

My review:

Oh my goodness, where do I start. I loved it. And I need more.

This is the perfect book for lovers of supernatural, with gripping scenes, angels, demons and ghost and a couple of ghost/demon hunters with just the right amount of attraction to keep them going but not overtake the story.

Both main characters are very likable and most readers will be able to associate with them. Jerrilyn is a strong individual, roaming the United States, helping lost souls to cross over. What she doesn’t realise until she meets Travis, is that there is much more to her gift that she ever expected.

Travis opens a whole new world for Jerri, world that frightens her (well demons are scary), but at the same time invites her to finally find out more about her own roots and what really is the reason that she was put on this earth.

Fabulous book – I cannot praise it enough and I hope that the second installment isn’t going to take too long.

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

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Website: www.fiona-skye.com

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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.


Synopsis:

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!

Follow Jessica

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

Synopsis:

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: www.katehamer.co.uk

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Friday, 5 May 2017

The Note (Eddie Collins novella) by Andrew Barrett

Synopsis:

I’m Eddie Collins, a CSI.

Ever had that feeling of being watched but when you turn around no one’s there?
I have. 

It was raining, and I was working a murder scene around midnight when that prickle ran up my spine. If I’d listened to that feeling, if I’d thought back to my past, maybe I could have prevented the terror that was to come.

Back at the office, I found a death threat on my desk.

I had no idea who sent it or why they wanted to kill me.

But I was about to find out.

My review:

I love Eddie Collins. Especially his grumpy, no-nonsense approach to anyone who rubs him up the wrong way – which seems to be most people he works with. 

Interestingly though, when he gets the note, he seems to forget everything he has learned in his job and drives straight into danger’s arms. 

This is a very quick, entertaining read that keeps you glued to the pages until you can breathe a sigh of relief at the end. For a short thriller story I also found myself giggling at Eddie’s demeanour in the face of death as Andrew Barrett somehow manages to make Eddie seem very real, which is exactly the sort of character I like in a book.

Thank you to the Andrew Barrett for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5

Author’s website: http://andrew-barrett.co.uk/

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The Cold Hard Truth by Amanda Leigh Cowley

Synopsis:

Nothing could prepare Emily for what she witnessed that day.

With no money to support herself and suffering from panic attacks, she reluctantly moves in with her estranged mother and half-sister overseas. But as fractured relationships start to heal and a new one threatens to blossom, she uncovers a disturbing secret.

When the truth hurts this much, would you prefer not to know?






My review:

I thoroughly enjoy suspense crime novels and this one was no different. Add a little bit of a nice guy and romance and you have the perfect book.

When Emily returns home one day unexpectedly early, she finds herself in the middle of a complete nightmare that forced her to make live changing choice. She ends up having to leave everything behind in London and move in with her estranged mother and sister in California, a place she never thought she would end up after her mother left her behind at a young age.

She is angry, sad and awkward, especially since her half-sister Harriet seems to do her utmost to carry on as nothing ever happened.

She finally starts to feel some normality when she’s offered a job, which conveniently comes with a very handsome owner who seems to have the hots for her.

The writing was great and kept you guessing as to who the bad guy is. The story has some good twist, nice little spark of romance and plenty of good, likeable characters.

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

My rating: 4/5


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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein

Synopsis:

Ancient secrets cannot remain buried forever.

Founded two centuries ago by a powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly.

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, new people began arriving in Rowan, unnervingly handsome and odd people. I begged them to leave, but they stayed, because their enemies—my ancestors—were beginning to awaken.

My review:

Oh how I missed fantasy books about the fae folk. I would say my reading is quite varied but coming back to this sort of novel was just so lovely. Not what I fully expected when I read the blurb, but enjoyable nonetheless.

I have read some of the negative reviews regarding the credibility of the Native American history, but really this book doesn’t state it’s based on facts. This is a work of fiction. And if you are going to throw in fairies and fae-hunters, you must ask yourself whether the facts are really that important.

But away from that. I loved it. This book only lost one star because the only character I kind of warmed to was Cruz and I felt I needed more of him. I have a niggling feeling that he is going to become a very important part of the storyline going forward and I hope he is given more time in the next books. Catori annoyed me at times, especially when it came to her indecisiveness, but she is young and kind of thrown into the deep end, so I can live with her flaws – I suppose no one is perfect.

I can’t say more about the story without spoiling in, but I can say that for me this was a great escape from a reality into a world that I can’t wait to read more about.

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

My rating: 4/5

Author’s website: http://oliviawildenstein.com/

Available to purchase from:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Old Cross Cottage (Psychic Surveys #4) by Shani Struthers

Synopsis:

In a quiet Dorset Village, Old Cross Cottage has stood for centuries, overlooking the place where four roads meet. Marred by tragedy, it’s had a series of residents, none of whom have stayed for long. Pink and pretty, with a thatched roof, it should be an ideal retreat, but as new owners Rachel and Mark Bell discover, it’s anything but. 

Ruby Davis hasn’t quite told her partner the truth. She’s promised Cash a holiday in the country but she’s also promised the Bells that she’ll investigate the unrest that haunts this ancient dwelling. Hoping to combine work and pleasure, she soon realises this is a far more complex case than she had ever imagined.

As events take a sinister turn, lives are in jeopardy. If the terrible secrets of Old Cross Cottage are ever to be unearthed, an entire village must dig up its past.

My review:

I am so happy to be able to review another one of Shani’s books and on its publication days too. This is a fourth book the in Psychic Surveys series, but a first one for me and it read well as a standalone novel.

As always I was not disappointed. Although this book hasn’t spooked me as much as the others, the story went along well and kept you guessing till the end. The village and the cottage itself were described so well I could really picture it in my head (plus I love the cover!).

When Ruby told her boyfriend Cash that she found a lovely Dorset cottage for week’s holiday, she holds back on the fact that the cottage is riddled with unsettled spirits and she was actually contacted by the owners to see if she could move them on.

Things start going wrong right from the start and it’s not long before both Ruby and Cash feel the presence of more than one spirit. As they start to unravel the history of the cottage they soon realise that this case might not be as easy to solve and that the whole village is somehow involved.

Fabulous spooky book from Shani Struthers and I can’t wait to read the others. I have book one and three and my kindle and will now read them as soon as I can. For anyone who likes to be kept on the edge of their seat with the unknown at the grasp of their fingers, these books are perfect.

Thank you to the author for spooking me once again and #TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s website: www.shanistruthers.com

Available to purchase from:

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

As You Lay Sleeping by Katlyn Duncan

Synopsis:

I did it all for you…

Cara’s boyfriend is dead. When fingers start pointing at her, she knows she’s in more trouble than she originally thought. Because Cara can see that something isn’t right.

As her carefully constructed life begins to crumble, Cara isn’t sure who she is anymore.

But maybe that’s exactly what someone wants her to think…

My review:

When seventeen year old Cara finally answers the phone to her unwanted boyfriend she is relieved to hear that he wants to end their relationship. All she has to do is to go and see him for the last time. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan and Cara finds Joe dead.

When a detective starts digging into Joe’s death and an old friend Ryan turns up in town, Cara finds herself in the middle of her own investigation into the strange circumstances surrounding that awful night.

This is a YA crime novel and I found it written in a really good style that kept me interested throughout the book. Cara was a typical teenager trying to better herself, mixing with the high society. Ryan is a down to earth kid that somehow reminds Cara of who she really is and what is important in life.

The only thing slightly disappointing about this book is that I found the last few chapters quite rushed. I felt they were missing the attention to details that was so great in the rest of the novel.

Overall this is a great book, proper page turner and hugely recommended to all who like a bit of mystery and crime. It has some good elements of the upper classes and their abuse of power, money and drugs and on the other side the working class family, doing their best by their children.

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

My rating: 4/5

Author’s website: www.katlynduncan.com

Available to purchase from:

Friday, 7 April 2017

After Anna by Alex Lake

Synopsis:

A bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Daughter by Jane Shemilt, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. 

A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless. The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved. But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned. She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

My review:

Once in a while I still like to get to my printed books. I have over three hundred at home and there are some real crackers amongst them. This was most certainly one of them. I bought this book because I liked the cover - impulse buy, some might call it, but I also read the blurb and thought it sounded good. My son is five so it felt quite close to home.

It’s fabulous. It reminds me of Little House by Philippa Gregory - the overbearing mother-in-law, the mummy’s boy husband, the strange goings on.

The novel is written in two ways with some short chapters written in first person that is kind of supporting the perpetrator and eggs him on. The rest is written in third person and it seems to work very well as you get know a lot about the main characters Julia and her husband Bryan and of course the strained dynamic of their relationship, but you are also somehow allowed a first seat row in the mind of the kidnapper.

It’s clever, with good little twists. I kind of guessed what was going on about third of the way through, however I still enjoyed the book till its last page. And I had to finish the last 100 pages in one sitting meaning much less sleep last night. But it was worth it.

If you like clever psychological thrillers than this is for you. I can highly recommend this book and it will be one to stay with me.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Twitter: @Alexlakeauthor

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