Friday, 5 February 2016

Behind Closed Doors - B A Paris

Published by Mira

ebook and paperback - 11 February 2016

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie. 

The Twitter hashtag for this book is #StaySingle. After reading this story, you will understand why.

They have only been married for a few months but Grace and Jack Angel appear to be the perfect couple. Jack is good looking and a successful lawyer who fights for the victims of domestic abuse.  They have an enviable lifestyle and Grace has been able to give up her career and devote her time to looking after Jack in the beautiful house he has designed and had built for her. Anybody watching them would believe them to be madly in love, always together, always holding hands. To add to his perfection, Jack has taken Millie, Grace’s younger sister who has Down’s Syndrome to his heart and is embracing the idea of having her live with them once her time at a residential school comes to an end. They are the envy of their friends.

But behind closed doors…….

This is one of those books that will make you gasp. It is so terrifyingly realistic with mind games, clever manipulation and the thought processes in place to ensure always being one step ahead. The reader does not have to suspend disbelief here, it's not beyond the possibility that this could actually be someone's relationship! The chapters, told by Grace, flit between past and present and with each new revelation there were times when I was actually scared to read on.

I’m not going to go into any detail about the story – you need to discover this for yourself. It might make difficult reading for some but if you like your psychological thrillers dark and twisted then this is the book for you.

It’s disturbing, chilling, gripping and totally addictive – everything I look for in a thriller.  Behind Closed Doors is the author’s debut novel and deserves to be THE thriller of 2016. It's certainly a contender for inclusion in my top books of the year. 

At the time of publishing this post, it can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK - the download being just 99p.  An absolute bargain! 

My thanks to the publisher for providing a copy via Netgalley. 

About the author:

B. A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters.

This is her first novel.

Twitter | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Other Half of My Heart - Stephanie Butland

Published by Black Swan/Transworld

22 October 2015

“It smelled bittersweetly of sourdough, and there was the trace of hot, fresh bread in the air. She took a deep breath and unlocked the door”

Fifteen years ago Bettina May’s life’s veered off course in one disastrous night. Still reeling from the shock of losing everything she thought was hers, Bettina opens a bakery in a village and throws herself into the comfort of bread-making.

She spends her days kneading dough and measuring ingredients. She meets someone. She begins to heal.

Until someone who knows what happens that night walks into Bettina's bakery. In the pause of a heartbeat, fifteen years disappear and Bettina remembers a time she thought was lost for ever . . . 

Can she ever go back?

I have a confession to make. I was part of the blog tour for this book last year (with a great post by Stephanie - which you can read here) and although I read the book soon afterwards, I've only just realised that I never posted a review!

I haven't yet read Surrounded by Water (or Letters to My Husband as it later became known for the paperback release), however The Other Half of My Heart was an excellent book to start with, being an intense and poignant read, with fully drawn, engaging characters and a story that had me hooked from the first page. As the book progresses, we find out why Tina became Bettina and also how her life changed so drastically some 15 years earlier.

It is clear that Bettina is a shadow of the person she used to be and is both physically and emotionally scarred. She opened her own artisan bakery and cafe in a small village, Adventures in Bread, and the bakery has become her life. She lives quietly – visiting her ailing mother in a nursing home and finding solace and comfort in her bread.  Whilst she generally shuns relationships she gradually becomes close to her neighbour Rufus, a man with personal issues of his own. However although she slowly opens up to him, she will not allow herself to fully commit, leaving Rufus confused about their future.

The emerging friendship (sort of) relationship between Bettina and Rufus was as delightful to see as it was frustrating. The author cleverly weaves Tina’s past with Bettina’s present and once her history is known, the reason for Bettina’s reluctance to commit and why she prefers to stay alone becomes clear. There were times when I had a lump in my throat for all that Bettina had gone through along with the misunderstandings of youth and I desperately wanted her to find some happiness again.

This is not a light and fluffy story, it has much more depth. It is a beautifully written story of love and loss but also with an uplifting tone showing that with trust and love there is always hope.  I loved this book and certainly want to read more by Stephanie. 

Finally, for the foodies, if the bread tasting sessions at Adventures in Bread don't make your mouth water, then the recipes for Scarborough Fair Cob and Rufus's Favourite Chocolate Orange Cake at the back of the book certainly will! 

My thanks to the author and publisher for the paperback copy to review.

About the author:

Stephanie Butland has written two books about her dance with cancer. Letters to My Husband was her first novel. She lives in Northumberland with her family.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Stacking the Shelves #4 (30 January 2016)

Stacking the Shelves, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is about sharing the books which have been acquired - whether paper books, e-books, ARC's, books bought or borrowed.

I didn't have time to prepare a post last week so this one covers two weeks and I have some lovely books to share.

Paper books purchased:

Pub. 28 Jan.  I love Lucy's books anyway and this hardcover is just so gorgeous to look at with its shimmery cover, I just had to have it.
Rachel and Becca aren't real sisters, or so they say. They are stepsisters, living far apart, with little in common. Rachel is the successful one: happily married with three children and a big house, plus an impressive career. Artistic Becca, meanwhile, lurches from one dead-end job to another, shares a titchy flat, and has given up on love.  The two of them have lost touch, but when Rachel doesn't come home one night, Becca is called in to help.  Once there, she quickly realizes that her stepsister's life is not so perfect after all: Rachel's handsome husband has moved out, her children are rebelling, and her glamorous career has taken a nosedive. Worst of all, nobody seems to have a clue where she might be.  As Becca begins to untangle Rachel's secrets, she is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about her own life, and the future seems uncertain.  But sometimes happiness can be found in the most unexpected places . . .

Pub 28 Jan.  I've seen this mentioned on Twitter so much and have had my eye on it for ages.  Another I'm really looking forward to reading.
How do you escape what you can’t remember?  She can run. But can she hide?  Helen Graham is a new arrival in a tiny Yorkshire village, renting dilapidated Wildfell Hall. The villagers are intensely curious – what makes her so jumpy and why is she so evasive?  Their interest is Helen’s worst nightmare. Looking over her shoulder every day, she tries to piece together her past before it can catch up with her.  With everything she knows in fragments, from her marriage to her career as a war photographer, how can she work out who to trust and what to believe?  Most days she can barely remember who she is…

The hardback came out last year but this was published in paperback on 28 Jan. I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy last year of this lovely book and reviewed it here.  I was attending a book launch for Jill Mansell and knew that Rowan Coleman would be there and bought myself a paperback copy which Rowan kindly signed for me (she also signed my hardback of The Memory Book so I was a very happy bunny).
Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to an ex-soldier, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the scars and the secrets he carries.   During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.  Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…

On holiday with family and her adoring fiance, Jed, Emily couldn't be happier. But overnight, the idyllic trip turns into a waking nightmare when one of the group is found dead in what appears to be a terrible accident. The devastated party returns to London to cope with their loss while trying to resume their normal lives. But new revelations shed a shocking light on the holiday tragedy and set Emily on a perilous journey to discover the truth about what happened.  Soon a terrifying series of threats and lies bring her face to face with the dark truths at the heart of her family - and into life-threatening danger...

When Rosa and Bee get together in the run-up to Bee's wedding, they reminisce about the holiday they took together as teenagers to the beautiful Greek island of Paros. They remember the sandy coves, the guest house in the converted windmill where they stayed with their friend Iona, and the gorgeous local men. As memories of that long-forgotten holiday resurface, they are forced to confront the turns their lives have taken - and the guilt they both feel about letting Iona slip away from them. When they learn that the windmill guest house is going bust they form a plan: why not go back to the island and take it over themselves? And so begins a life-changing journey - because it turns out that opening a guest house and reliving their teenage dreams isn't that easy ...Full of romance and friendship, love and life, laughter and tears, The Beachside Guest House is an uplifting novel about the magic of starting over with friends by your side.

This signed hardback is a recent ebay win from a charity auction set up to raise funds for #BooksforHebden. 

In the aftermath of the Great War, the de Witt family are struggling to piece together the shattered fragments of their lives.  Rudolf and his wife Verena, still reeling from the loss of their second son, don't know how to function in the post-war world. Stoneythorpe Hall has become an empty shell with no servants to ensure its upkeep.  Celia, the de Witt's youngest daughter, is still desperate to spread her wings and see more of the world. To escape Stoneythorpe and the painful secrets that lie there, she moves to London and embraces life and love in the Roaring Twenties.

Kindle books purchased:

Pub 28 Jan.  I've had this on pre-order for a few months. 
So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.   When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.  Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn't want to be found?

Pub 28 Jan.  This is another that I've had on pre-order for some time.
If you lost everything in one night, what would you do?  Saffron is studying for a promising career in medicine until a horrific accident changes her life for ever. Needing to escape London, she moves to a small coastal town to live with her mother. Saffron hates the small town existence and feels trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider. Despite initial misgivings, they grow closer to each other as they realise they have a lot in common. Like Saffron, Joe has a complicated past … one that’s creeping up on his present. Can Joe escape his demons for long enough to live a normal life – and can Saffron reveal the truth about what really happened on that fateful night? Love is the one thing they need most, but will they – can they – risk it?  Redemption Song is a captivating, insightful look at what happens when everything goes wrong – and the process of putting the pieces back together again.

I've seen so many 5* reviews for this book recently that I eventually succumbed.  It's written by a former Scotland Yard investigator who worked on, amongst other cases, the July 7 bombings. July 2005: in the midst of Operation Theseus, the largest police investigation that the UK has ever known, Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan begins to ask difficult questions that lead to the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend and his sudden suspension from the Metropolitan Police.  Who masterminded London's summer of terror?   Why can't Flannagan make headway in the sprawling investigation?  Is Jake's absent girlfriend really who she claims to be? While hunting for the answers to the most complex case in British history, one man will uncover the greatest criminal deception of our time.  Terror, extremism and fear of the unknown, Sometimes the answer is much closer to home.

This was bought purely to replace a large hardback as I had to make some room on my shelves!  
Kendall Deaton pulls herself and her baby out of a wrecked car, and a mixture of courage and fear gets her to the top of a ravine, where she flags down help. But she doesn't dare reveal her true identity or that of her amnesiac passenger to the authorities. Instead, she plans her immediate escape. Her perilous flight begins.  The best public defender in Prosper, South Carolina, Kendall had stumbled upon the town's chilling secret--and her marriage to one of the town's most powerful men became a living hell. Her only hope for survival is to flee. Now Kendall is a terrified mother trying to save her child's life...a reluctant witness who knows too much about an insidious evil...and a woman who knows too little about her own heart. 

I saw this recommended by another book blogger and as it was free on Amazon (and still is as at 30/1/16), I had to click!
A relentless thriller that will grip you by the throat and refuse to let go.  You’ve never met anyone like Tuesday. She has suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of men, and so has taken it upon herself to seek vengeance. She wants to protect and help others like her, to ease their suffering. A force to be reckoned with, she lives beneath the streets of London in the hidden network of forgotten tunnels that honeycomb the city – and this is her preferred hunting ground.  When Tuesday is connected to a series of brutal attacks on gang members, DCI Loss takes on the investigation. A burned-out detective still suffering the devastating effects of the unsolved murder of his daughter three years earlier, the case starts to hit close to home. Because soon Loss will discover that Tuesday could hold the key to uncovering the truth about what happened to his daughter…

This was another book blogger recommendation and is currently only 99p to download. 
Kate Harris, a lecturer in her late thirties, is attacked in her home and left for dead. The assault and the hate letters she starts to receive bring to light the past she longs to leave behind, a past which includes the son she chose to give away.   What happens to Kate also affects the people she counts as friends and colleagues. She has loved her best friend, Nicky, for a long time but Nicky is happily married with two young children, and Kate is determined never to damage the lives of those she cares for.   However, when she makes the decision to contact the father of her son, Kate sets in motion a series of terrifying events she has no control over. Can she save herself and those she loves from the menacing enemy who stalks them?  Thorn in the Flesh was longlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Awards 2006. 

Paper books received:

I was lucky enough to win this in a recent Goodreads First Reads giveaway.  This is also one of the books in the Richard & Judy Spring Bookclub 2016.
When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows she's seen this MO before.  A sadistic serial killer has been operating undetected for a decade, preying on lone female drivers who have broken down. The press dub the killer 'the Samaritan', but with no leads, the police investigation quickly grinds to a halt.  That's when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He's a skilled manhunter who shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man Allen and her team are tracking. As the slaughter intensifies, Blake must find a way to stop it . . . even if it means bringing his own past crashing down on top of him. 

I attended the launch party for Jill's book on Thursday and a hardback was in the goody bag...and even better, I was able to get it signed!
On the morning of Lily's twenty-fifth birthday, it's time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.   Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum's life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.  Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily's friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again..

Books gifted:

A lovely fellow blogger kindly gave me her spare proof copy .   
Joan Seabrook, a fledgling archaeologist, has fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit Arabia by travelling from England to the ancient city of Muscat with her fiancé, Rory. Desperate to escape the pain of a personal tragedy, she longs to explore the desert fort of Jabrin, and unearth the treasures it is said to conceal.  But Oman is a land lost in time - hard, secretive, and in the midst of a violent upheaval - and gaining permission to explore Jabrin could prove impossible. Joan's disappointment is only alleviated by the thrill of meeting her childhood heroine, pioneering explorer Maude Vickery, and hearing first-hand the stories that captured her imagination and fuelled her ambition as a child.  Joan's encounter with the extraordinary and reclusive Maude will change everything. Both women have things that they want, and secrets they must keep. As their friendship grows, Joan is seduced by Maude's stories, and the thrill of the adventure they hold, and only too late does she begin to question her actions - actions that will spark a wild, and potentially disastrous, chain of events.  Will the girl that left England for this beautiful but dangerous land ever find her way back?

That's my latest haul of books, have you read any of these?

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Nightblind - Ragnar Jónasson and GIVEAWAY

Night Blind by Ragnar Jónasson

Sequel to Snowblind (Dark Iceland series)

(Translated by Quentin Bates)

ISBN: 978 1 910633 11  3
EPUB:  978 1 910633 12 0  
1 December 2015 EBOOK 
22 January 2016 PRINT

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the attack on a policeman - shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.

Snowblind is the first in the Dark Iceland series, with Nightblind being the fifth and set some 5 years after the end of Snowblind (the intervening years will be covered by the next three books, the next one being called ‘Blackout’. I had already bought Snowblind however my reading schedule didn't go to plan and I didn't have time to read it before Nightblind.  In my opinion, Nightblind can easily be read as a standalone, and I didn’t feel that I missed out by reading out of sequence. 

Ari Thór Arason, a local policeman in the small town of Siglufjörður lives with his girlfriend Kirstin and young son. He has been passed over for promotion and his feelings of disappointment have done little to improve relations between him and his new inspector. His new superior officer, Herjólfur takes over a shift that Ari Thor should have done if he hadn’t been suffering with the flu. Herjólfur is critically injured whilst attending a call out to a deserted property. His shooting sends shockwaves around the town, violent crime being so rare in Siglufjörður.

Ari Thor doesn’t get to investigate this case on his own, his old boss Tómas is bought in from Reykjavík. Both men are put under pressure and have to try and retain their integrity as local politicians wanting to protect their own careers try to interfere. 

The story spreads out in different directions - I don’t want to give too much away but for both Ari Thor and Tómas this complex case certainly stretches them.  There are many people who have their own secrets to protect and the question of conflicted loyalties arise. 

The wintry cold and isolated setting of Siglufjörður, on the northernmost tip of Iceland, is well described, as is the character of Ari Thor. Although he has a ‘quietness’ about him he is a complex character. He is still affected by events of his childhood and has his moments of jealousy and bad temper, none of which help his relationship with Kirstin. 

Throughout the story are separate chapters narrated in the form of diary entries, written by a patient in a psychiatric hospital, this adds an extra element of intrigue and mystery to the story.  

Nightblind is a quietly chilling crime thriller, relying on description and atmosphere rather than hard core action to drive the story forward. However don’t be misled, Nightblind has enough twists and intrigue to keep you turning the pages.   This may be a fairly short(ish) novel of just over 200 pages but there is so much quality both in terms of writing and the plot contained within.

I must give a mention to the excellent translation by Quentin Bates. His skill ensures that the story and dialogue both flow seamlessly without the clunky turn of phrase that so can often affect translated novels.   

Ragnar Jonasson has a superb talent and this is a series that I will certainly be keeping up with.  

Source: My own purchased copy. 


I have a duplicate copy of Nightblind and with the publisher's permission, I have a brand new paperback copy to offer for a giveaway.  Entry details below via Rafflecopter.  Good luck - whoever wins is in for a great read. 

About the author:

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.  His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts in four countries, shortly after publication, and continues to attract a great deal of attention. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and recently set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA, in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters. 
Blackout will be published by Orenda Books in 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 18 January 2016

Our Song - Dani Atkins

Published by Simon & Schuster

ebook - 21 January
Paperback 28 January 2016

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured - perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they've never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally's ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever. 

Full of Dani's signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else's life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

Our Song is a story of two couples, who by fate and circumstances find themselves in the same hospital intensive care unit one night. Ally is married to Joe but one selfless act has led to him lying in a hospital bed. Charlotte is married to David - who also lies in a nearby room. David was Ally's first love and she has always felt that Charlotte was instrumental in their split. Over a period of 24 hours, we go back to their past and get to know their history.

This is the first book I have read by Dani Atkins, but I really do wish I had picked up one of her books sooner. This intense and moving story of love and loss had me hooked from the first page and shows how easily it is for the course of our lives to change.

Ally has a happy marriage to Joe. They have a 7 year old son, Jake and life is good. However when Ally realises David is lying in a nearby hospital bed, all the memories of the past flood back. Charlotte used to be a friend (albeit not a close one), but when the two women meet again, all the insecurities and resentment that Charlotte felt for Ally return. Can the two women ever put their past behind them and support each other through such difficult times?

Dani Atkins writes beautifully and makes an excellent job of fleshing out the characters so that the reader really gets to know them.  The story is cleverly structured and flows seamlessly between the past 
when David, Ally and Charlotte first met at university and the present. What I particularly liked was the way the story, very subtly, and without obvious repetition, often showed the same event from both perspectives of Ally and Charlotte. Having made my mind up about one person, once I saw their version of events, it did rather change my opinion. 

There is a wonderful cast of characters here and although they all have their own distinct personalities, all the main characters are engaging and realistic. Max, Ally’s best friend, was a sweetheart  and his obvious affection and protectiveness towards Ally was lovely to see.

This is an extremely moving and emotional read and if like me, you are a bit of a softie, you will most probably need tissues! I don’t want to give too much of the story away and my review can’t possibly do this book justice - I loved it and although it’s still only January, this book could easily be a contender for my top books of the year. Emotionally, this book had the same effect on me as ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes – if you were a fan of that book, then I’m sure you will like this one.

My thanks to Sara-Jade and the Books and the City team at Simon & Shuster for the paperback copy to reivew.

The review copy itself was absolutely stunning – the book being contained in a lovely tactile purple slipcase – definitely one to treasure.

About the author:

Dani Atkins was born in London in 1958, and grew up in Cockfosters, a suburb of North London. She moved to rural Hertfordshire in 1985, where she has lived in a small village ever since with her husband, two (now grown-up) children, one Siamese kitten and a soppy Border Collie.

Dani has been writing for fun all her life, but Fractured, (published as Then and Always in the US) and The Story of Us in 2014, now writes for work.   Her third novel, Our Song, will be published in January 2016.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Stacking the Shelves #3 (16 January)

Stacking the Shelves, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is about sharing the books which have been acquired - whether paper books, e-books, ARC's, books bought or borrowed.

Paper Books received for review:

Published by Simon & Schuster, Hardback - 28 January 2016

Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Carole Lombard lead a magnificent cast of characters, real and imagined, in Adriana Trigiani's new novel set in the rich landscape of 1930s' Los Angeles. In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Trigiani takes us back to the golden age of movie-making and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame, success - and love. With meticulous, beautiful detail, she paints a rich landscape, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.

Published by Headline Review, 19 May 2016

What magic is this?    You follow the hidden creek towards a long-forgotten house.
They call it Keepsake, a place full of wonder ... and danger. Locked inside the crumbling elegance of its walls lies the story of the Butterfly Summer, a story you've been waiting all your life to hear.
This house is Nina Parr's birthright. It holds the truth about her family - and a chance to put everything right at last.  Harriet Evans. She brings you home

Published by Penguin, 25 February 2016

1952, French Indochina. Since her mother's death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule - and her own family's involvement shocks her to the core...      Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she's always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem? The Silk Merchant's Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.

I'm trying to stay away from Netgalley until I've cleared a few from my list but I love Tammy's books and couldn't resist requesting this one and was thrilled to be approved. 

Published by Black Swan/Transworld 21 April 2016


Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years - they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ....

Now, there's something chilling in the air.  Who secretly hates everyone?    Who is tortured by their past?  Who is capable of murder?

Kindle books purchased:

The Missing and the Dead (Logan McRae, Book 9) - Stuart MacBride

One mistake can cost you everything…   When you catch a twisted killer there should be a reward, right? What Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae gets instead is a ‘development opportunity’ out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire. Welcome to divisional policing – catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped farm animal.   Then a little girl’s body washes up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive manhunt. The Major Investigation Team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don’t care who they trample over to get them.    Logan’s got enough on his plate keeping B Division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team. As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside, burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.   One thing’s clear: there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone’s going to get out of this alive…

Hidden - Catherine McKenzie

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life.    Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

The Storms of War - Kate Williams

The first novel in Kate Williams' groundbreaking new historical series which begins in the First World War. For fans of BIRDSONG and DOWNTON ABBEY.   In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. German Rudolf and his aristocratic English wife Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter, Emmeline, while their eldest son Arthur is studying in Paris and Michael is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood, and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped out future and exploring the world.  But with the onslaught of war, the de Witts find themselves in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age to join the war effort and finds herself embroiled in a complex plot that puts her and those she loves in danger.  With gripping detail and brilliant empathy, Kate Williams tells the story of Celia and her family as they are shunned by a society that previously embraced them, torn apart by sorrow, and buffeted and changed by the storms of war.

Books Gifted:

I was delighted to receive this from a lovely book blogger friend.  I have very fond memories of the 80's and looking forward to reading this.  

What a Way to Go - Julia Forster - published 7 January 2016

1988. Harper Richardson's mum and dad are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and plenty of free time to indulge his WWII obsession. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest to understand the world around her and the responsibility of fixing her parents' broken hearts...
Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl's mission to run headfirst into the middle of some of life's big questions - and to come out the otherside with some reasonable answers.

That's my haul for this week, I'd love to hear what books have come into your house this week.  Happy reading! 

Friday, 15 January 2016

After You Die (DI Zigic & DS Ferreira Book 3) - Eva Dolan and GIVEAWAY

Published by Harvill Secker

ebook and Hardback - 14 January 2016

Paperback - 22 September 2016

A gas leak leads to the discovery of two bodies— a mother and her severely disabled teenage daughter—in the third instalment in Eva Dolan's gripping series following two detectives from the Hate Crimes Unit. Was the target of the killer the mother or daughter?

Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit. The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead, stabbed to death, while Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death? While Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she's up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?

DI Zigic and DS Ferriera investigate hate crimes.  When the body of Dawn Prentice is found following a gas explosion at an adjoining property, the case is immediately passed to them because of the previous harassment claims against the family which Ferriera had briefly been involved in.  However they are against the clock to discover whether this is a crime connected to those incidents before the case is taken off them and passed to CID.

This was a tragic case. Dawn’s murder led to the death of her teenage disabled daughter Holly.  Holly was paralysed following an accident and relied totally on others for her care.  Holly was left to die.  Who could be so callous?

There are no shortage of suspects for the deaths of both Dawn and Holly and at first it is unclear who was the intended victim.  Holly was a vocal advocate for the ‘right to die’ which led to her being targeted by online trolls and the victim of harassment at home.  

Add into the mix an 11 year old boy, on the run and armed with a knife and the list of suspects grows.

I haven’t yet read books 1 and 2 in the Zigic and Ferreira series but After You Die can be read as a standalone.  There is just enough explanation to show the current state of mind of the two detectives to engage and draw the reader into the story from the beginning. However the conclusion of the previous story is referred to so do bear this in mind if you want to read the series.  

This character driven crime thriller is full of suspense and intrigue and was a 5* read for me.  The characters are believable and the contrasting personalities of Zigic and Ferreria added to the enjoyment.  Zigic is more of a solid, 'by the book' family man whilst Ferreira can be unpredictable and obviously has personal issues resulting from a previous story which made me want to find out more.   Everyone has their secrets and the two detectives have their work cut out to discover who and why.   The many red herrings planted by Eva ensured that it was quite some time before I worked out ‘whodunnit’.  

I shall now be adding books 1 and 2 to my never ending pile of ‘must read’ books!  

My thanks to the author and publisher for the copy to review.


I've received a duplicate copy of this book from the publisher and have permission to do a giveaway.  If you'd like to win an unread paperback proof copy, please enter by using the Rafflecopter box below.  Sorry but for postage costs its UK only and in case it makes a difference its the larger size paperback.  Good luck! 

About the author:

Eva Dolan is an Essex-based copywriter and intermittently successful poker player. Shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, her début novel Long Way Home, the start of a major new crime series starring two detectives from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, was published in 2014 to widespread critical acclaim.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 11 January 2016

Forget Me Not - Luana Lewis

Published by Transworld/Corgi

5 November 2015

A tragic suicide? 

When Rose’s daughter, Vivien, is found dead in a suspected suicide, Rose has questions nobody can answer. Wasn’t Vivien living the perfect life? A caring husband, a sweet little girl of her own. 

Or the perfect murder?

But as the police investigation develops, their findings raise new questions. Did Vivien kill herself, or was she attacked? If so, who has something to hide? 

As Rose struggles to piece together the secrets of her daughter’s life, the cracks in the family begin to show. But once Rose knows the answers, there’s no going back...

A gripping thriller perfect for fans of Daughter, The Book of You and C L Taylor's The Lie.

The story starts with an intriguing premise. A dead body lies at someone’s feet but we don’t know who the person standing over the body is or whether the death is by suicide or murder.

With chapters told in the first person by Vivien’s mother Rose and also by way of flashbacks narrated by Vivien, a picture is slowly painted of the truth of Vivien’s life. Rose has never been that close to Vivien, she loved her, but as a single mother struggling with a young child and trying to build a career, Vivien was left to her own devices a lot of the time. Now Vivien is dead and Rose wants to be part of her 8 year old granddaughter, Lexi’s life, but does she deserve to be and will Ben, Vivien’s husband let her?

This is an excellent twisty story which at various stages had me suspecting everyone. As the tale progresses, more is revealed about Vivien and her seemingly ‘perfect’ life. Rose herself wasn’t instantly likeable but I felt that she genuinely had her granddaughter’s interests at heart and there were times when I feared for Lexi being part of such a dysfunctional family.

With a seemingly psychotic ex friend in the story, a grieving husband and a troubled child, Forget Me Not has all the elements of an unnerving and disturbing thriller. It is very much character, rather than action driven, but I couldn’t put this one down and there were times when the tension got too much that I was holding my breath.

Every family has their secrets and no-one really knows what goes on behind the curtains. Luana Lewis certainly has written a disturbing and engaging read. She is definitely an author I want to read more from.

Source: My own purchased copy.   I bought the paperback rather than the Kindle version this time, as I wanted that beautiful cover on my bookshelf! 

About the author:

Luana Lewis is a clinical psychologist and author of two non-fiction books. As well as writing for several newspapers, magazines and journals, she has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She has also attended workshops at Arvon and City Lit.

Twitter: @sharonluana

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Stacking the Shelves #2 (10 January 2016)

Stacking the Shelves, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and about sharing the books which have been acquired - whether paper books, e-books, ARC's, books bought or borrowed.

I have had some fantabulous book post this week and am so very grateful to the publishers and authors who send to me.

Books received for review:

I've been fortunate to have been a member of the Amazon Vine review programme for several years.  While My Eyes Were Closed appeared on my list as available for request and as it was on my wishlist, I didn't hesitate to say YES! 

 Published by Quercus, ebook 28th Jan/paperback 5 May 2016

A nail-biting psychological drama for fans of The Bones of You, Jenny Eclair and Kathryn Croft's The Girl with No Past. 

One, two, three . . . Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

Coffin Road was received for review from Real Readers

Published by Quercus, ebook & paperback 14 January 2016

A man stands bewildered on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris. He cannot remember who he is. The only clue to his identity is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road. He does not know where this search will take him. A detective from Lewis sits aboard a boat, filled with doubt. DS George Gunn knows that a bludgeoned corpse has been discovered on a remote rock twenty miles offshore. He does not know if he has what it takes to uncover how and why.  A teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her scientist father's suicide. Two years on, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would wilfully abandon her. She does not yet know his secret.Coffin Road follows three perilous journeys towards one shocking truth - and the realisation that ignorance can kill us.

I took part in a cover reveal for Fall of Poppies for Harper US last year and was delighted to receive a review copy from Harper360

Published by William Morrow, ebook 1 March/paperback 28 April 2016

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month... November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.  As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.  In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.
Featuring: Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Heather Webb 

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen.  I was thrilled to win a numbered proof copy signed by the author. I think there were 40 copies available, mine is #10. 

Published by Black Swan/Transworld, ebook & paperback 28 January 2016

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love? Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.  Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.  Lydia’s secret could bring her love - or the loss of everything that matters to her.  One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will collide in a single dramatic moment.  Is it too late for second chances?
Readers of Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty and Lisa Jewell will love this surprising, moving story.

I've read and loved both of Sarah Hilary's Marnie Rome series and jumped at the opportunity to have a proof copy of the latest, Tastes LIke Fear. 

Published by Headline, ebook & hardback 7 April 2016

You'll never be out of Harm's way.  The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.  A runaway who doesn't want to be found, she only wants to go home.   To the one man who understands her.  Gives her shelter.  Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.   He's the head of her new family.     He's Harm.
DI Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl's disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she's about to face.    Because when Harm's family is threatened, everything tastes like fear...

A Miracle at Macy's were sent out before Christmas to members of the HarperImpulse Facebook Supporters Group. Sadly my copy never arrived but the lovely folk at HI have kindly sent out another one.   

Published by HarperImpulse, ebook & paperback, December 2015

One lost dog. Two lonely hearts. A Manhattan Christmas full of magic.  Shy homebody Charlotte is planning her usual quiet Christmas celebration: Turkey for two for her and her beloved pet dog Hudson. Only, this year, little Hudson decides to take matters into his own paws and give his favourite human a holiday adventure she’ll never forget. When Hudson runs away the week before Christmas, Charlotte is devastated. She’d rescued him from the trash years before and gave him a place in her home – and her heart. But with the help of uptight Englishman Henry, Charlotte ends up on a magical treasure hunt around Manhattan to find her furry, four-legged bestie.   Spotted in Central Park as one of Santa's Little Helpers, or last seen in the arms of a supermodel in Times Square, Hudson leads Charlotte and Henry on a very merry dance around the Big Apple, where love, (or should that be Christmas?!) actually is all around.   'Marley & Me' meets 'When Harry Met Sally'!

ebooks purchased:

Published by Corvus, 7 January 2016

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love drink. Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy. Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park not far from her house. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands. Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma...

Published by Legend Press, July 2013

When nineteen year old Davey finds himself drunk, beaten and alone, he is rescued by the oddly-assorted inhabitants of an abandoned and beautiful house in the West Country. Their only condition for letting him join them is that he asks them no questions.  More than thirty years ago in that same house, burned-out rock star Jack Laker writes a ground-breaking comeback album, and abandons the girl who saved his life to embark on a doomed and passionate romance with a young actress. His attempt to escape his destructive lifestyle leads to deceit, debauchery and even murder.  As Davey and his fellow housemate Priss try to uncover the secrets of the house's inhabitants, both past and present, it becomes clear that the five strangers have all been drawn there by the events and the music of that long-ago summer.

Books gifted

This was sent to me by a very kind book friend

The Ghost Fields: The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 7

When a bullet-ridden body is unearthed from a buried WWII plane, Dr Ruth Galloway must find out who the victim was - and who put him there.  Norfolk is experiencing a July heatwave when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery - a buried WWII plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn't possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news. Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk's deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger Blackstocks. As production begins, Ruth notices a mysterious man lurking close to the Blackstocks' family home.  As the biggest storm Norfolk has seen in decades brews in the distance, human bones are found on the family's pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer?

Well that's my book acquisitions for the week, what books have come into your house?