Friday 29 July 2016

The Aviary (Colouring Book) - Claire Scully & Richard Merritt

The Aviary is filled with an array of beautiful birds to colour and complete.
Each wonderfully detailed piece is a work of art to be treasured by keen colourers and bird lovers alike.
The cover is fully foiled, and makes this book a wonderful gift for anyone who loves colouring.
A follow up to The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour.

What did I think?

With a mesmerising metallic blue jay on the cover, I couldn't wait to turn the pages of The Aviary and get my colouring pencils out. There is such an excellent variety of birds in this colouring book and each drawing is so highly detailed that it will always result in the most breathtaking finished picture.

Within the book, there are 31 birds to colour: Atlantic puffin, barn swallows, Indian peafowl, macaw, grey crowned crane, bald eagle, swallow-tailed hummingbird, mallard ducks, brown pelican, Welsummer chicken, lovebirds, southern cassowary, South American great horned owl, red-billed toucan, swan, blue jay, emperor penguin chick, Victoria crowned pigeon, greater flamingo, Queen Victoria's riflebird, raven, white-capped albatross, common kingfisher, common ostrich, great blue herons, Major Mitchell's cockatoo, long-legged buzzard, red-bellied woodpecker, hoopoe, pheasant and blue-footed boobies.

There really is something for everyone in The Aviary; whether your favourite is the wise owl, colourful peafowl, majestic eagle, or the comical blue-footed boobies.  I chose the Indian peafowl as my first bird to colour and, due to the amazing attention to detail in the drawings, I found that I could really let my imagination run away with me.  I found that, although I started colouring in the traditional colours of the bird, the drawing was crying out for something a bit more unusual.  I'm not the most imaginative of folk, but out came the pink, purple and red pencils and I'm delighted with the result.

I'm relatively new to adult colouring books, but I certainly find it to be a very relaxing and rewarding activity on a cold and wet summer's day in the North East of England.

The only limit in The Aviary is your own imagination.

I received this book from the publisher, Michael O'Mara Books, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Thursday 28 July 2016

The Inheritance - Katie Agnew

"I can still recall how cold the pearls felt on my bare neck as Mr Fitzroy secured the clasp, and how heavy they were. I also remember that they were far, far too long for me. But, oh how mesmerising I found those pearls..."
Sophia Beaumont-Brown was an IT girl. But now she's in the papers for all the wrong reasons. Single, sofa-surfing and not speaking to her family, only her grandmother has any faith left in her. From her hospital bed, Tilly Beaumont sends Sophia letters about her life: dispatches about wartime England, about family secrets and finally, about the most beautiful thing she ever owned - a necklace of the most incredible pearls.
If Sophia's prepared to listen, she'll unlock the secret story of generations of incredible women, from the pearl divers of Japan, to high society in pre-war England, and find that the necklace has changed the lives of all who have worn it. The only problem? No one knows where it is.
Sophia must find out if she's ready to take on the search for something so perfect it can change a life. Wouldn't a girl do anything to hold that in her hands?

What did I think?

The Inheritance is an absolutely stunning piece of fiction.  It's a sweeping saga spanning not only decades but also the globe as it takes us to London, New York and Tokyo.  I had no idea how it was all going to link together but it does so beautifully and I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I had to read the final few chapters through my tears.

Sophia has never really got on with her parents, so she left home and lives with her best friend, Hugo, in London.  They certainly don't live in the manner to which Sophia has been accustomed, but they look out for each other and have been friends since they were young.  At the beginning of the book, Sophia receives a letter from her Grandmother telling her that she is very ill and wants to send her letters detailing her life story.  Sophia's Grandmother is Lady Matilda (Tilly) Beaumont and we learn through her stories about the most precious pearl necklace that she was given by her father on her 18th birthday.  A necklace that was handed down to Sophia's Mum on her 18th birthday but has now gone missing.  It is Tilly's dying wish that she is reunited with her precious necklace and Sophia makes it her mission to grant her Granny's wish.

It was so exciting to read about Sophia's quest for the pearls and at the same time learning so much about the history of the pearls themselves.  All three intertwining stories, of Sophia, Dominic and Aiko, were simply spectacular.  I particularly loved Aiko's story: her mother was a pearl diver and she left her daughter the most precious collection of pearls.  Aiko is torn between parting with her pearls, the only remaining connection to her mother, and making a better life for herself.  Film producer, Dominic's story was only touched on briefly throughout most of the book but he has a big part to play at the end.  I was puzzled as to how he would link into the story but it did all fit together like a perfectly matched jigsaw.

The Inheritance is certainly one of the best books I've read this year and it completely captivated me;  it's a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing family saga that drew me in from the start.  Through Katie Agnew's incredibly storytelling, I was effortlessly whisked away to Tokyo, London and New York in both the 1920's and present day.  The Inheritance is an enchanting book and a perfect example of fiction at its best - I heartily recommend it.

I received this book from the publisher, Orion, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

The Stepmother - Claire Seeber

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…

Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.

After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it? 

What did I think?

I may have mentioned in the past that my favourite fairy tale is Cinderella, but Snow White comes a close second.  The Stepmother is something of a modern fairy tale for grown-ups loosely based on Snow White, but with strange ghostly goings-on instead of cute little dwarfs.

Jeanie has had a tough life but she thinks her dreams have come true when she meets and marries Matthew, after a whirlwind romance.  Jeanie and her son, Frankie, move into Matthew's home which has an evil Queen style ornate mirror and its very own turret. Matthew has two children from his previous marriage: twins, Luke and Scarlett.  Scarlett's moods are as red as her name - she's very angry that her parents have split up and resents Jeanie moving into what was once their home.  Luke is more accepting and quiet on the outside, but is he more affected by his parents' split than we realise?

When strange things start to happen, all seemingly directed at Jeanie she feels her marriage crumbling before her eyes.  Jeanie has a secret (or two) hidden in her past and like many secrets, nothing ever stays buried for long.  As one of Jeanie's secrets is discovered, it is used against her and even Matthew doesn't side with her.  As Jeanie is mentally tortured, she starts to think that Matthew also has a few secrets hidden from her as the paranoia in The Stepmother reaches record levels.  As Jeanie's mind whirled with questions, I was eager to find out the answers too!  What really happened to his previous marriage?  What's behind the locked door?  Who is the woman whose post gets delivered to the house?  

The Stepmother kept me on my toes from start to finish; filled with secrets, lies and paranoia it's such a gripping read that I found difficult to put down.  I loved the links to Snow White: 'mirror, mirror on the wall', the good instead of evil step mother and the young beauty of the story being represented by red instead of white.  Hugely enjoyable, twisty and gripping: make sure you put The Stepmother on your list to read.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Bookouture, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Blind Side - Jennie Ensor

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked...

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

What did I think?

Blind Side is a superb debut novel from the pen of Jennie Ensor.  From the opening prologue to the very last page, I was completely immersed in Georgie's story as we are transported back to London, 2005 - set before, during and after the 7/7 bombings.

The book opens with a short prologue that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I simply couldn't read fast enough to find out what had happened.  Jennie Ensor cleverly keeps us in suspense as we have a whole lot of story to get through before my curiosity could be satisfied.

We meet Georgie and her friend, Julian, on the opening page.  Julian has given Georgie a pair of earrings on Valentine's day, but apparently they're just friends.  At least that's what Georgie thinks.  As they listen to the dulcet tones of Norah Jones and drink a few bottles of wine, Julian tells Georgie that he wants more than friendship.  My head was screaming 'Danger!!' but the wine performed its magic trick and all their clothes fell off.  For Georgie it was just sex, for Julian it was a whole lot more.

Georgie realises that she has made a mistake by sleeping with Julian; one evening her troubled mind guides her into a bar where she is drawn like a moth to a flame to Nikolai, a dark and brooding, rugged Russian.  From the moment they first meet, it is clear that Nikolai is troubled; he was a soldier who fought in Chechnya and we can only imagine the horrors that must replay over and over in the minds of all servicemen and women.  Fate has brought Georgie and Nikolai together but Julian is determined to tear them apart.  As Julian becomes so 'crazy in love' we have no idea how far he will go to remove Nikolai from Georgie's life.  We've all heard of a woman scorned, but what happens when a man is scorned?  Read Blind Side to find out.

Blind Side is a wonderful exploration of trust in a new relationship, especially during the difficult and volatile period following the 7/7 bombings.  As we suddenly became suspicious of our friends and neighbours, we ask ourselves the question, 'How well do we really know people?'  Georgie wants to trust Nikolai but he's clearly hiding something and her friends and family won't stop pecking away at her and watering the seeds of suspicion.

There are so many subjects and issues to discuss in Blind Side, that I think it would be excellent for book groups.  For me, I think one of the major points for discussion is the plight of immigrants.  They live in such poverty and are so keen to work that employers do take advantage of them with low pay and poor conditions.  Blind Side really is a multi-faceted read; it's so much more than a love triangle.

Blind Side is an absolutely stunning debut from Jennie Ensor; so thought-provoking and profound that every reader will get something different out of reading it.  I'm so excited to read the psychological thriller than Jennie is working on next.  If it's half as good as Blind Side it will be a cracker!

I received this e-book from the publisher, Unbound, in exchange for an honest review and I am delighted to release my review as part of the Blind Side Blog Tour.

My rating:

Buy direct from the publisher Unbound
Buy from Amazon

About the Author

Jennie is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. For much of her life she’s been a wandering soul, but these days she lives with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. As well as from reading and writing novels, she loves poetry. Her poems, published under another name, tend to inhabit the darker, sometimes surreal side of life.

While on an extended trip to Australia, Jennie studied journalism and worked as a freelance print journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by the British nuclear tests.

When not chasing the dog, lazing in the garden with a book or dreaming about setting off on a long train journey with a Kindleful of books, Ms E can be found writing or doing Writing Related Stuff. WRS can include singing and playing the piano (vital for de-stress) and watching TV spy/crime/costume dramas (research). Once the excitement of Blind Side's launch has passed she will be hard at work getting her second novel ready for publication, a dark and unsettling psychological thriller.

To find out more, check out Ms E’s author website & blog:

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Sunday 24 July 2016

Boyfriend by the Book - Laura Briggs

Jodi Nichols isn’t the most romantic girl on the planet. She doesn’t get mushy over fictional love stories, or picture herself getting swept away by a handsome hero. She’s much too grounded in reality—and much too busy working as a concierge at the luxurious Regent hotel. Helping customers is Jodi’s passion in life, and while romance may be on the back burner for now, she is nursing a little crush on Levi, the cute and friendly deliveryman for the hotel packages. And unless she’s imagining things, Levi feels the same way about her. 

But Jodi’s friends think she’s turning into a lonely workaholic. They try to fix her love life, buying her a copy of the bestselling relationship guide that claims women can find true love by channeling the wisdom of famous storybook heroines. Jodi thinks it sounds crazy—no way is she acting like Jane Eyre or Lizzie Bennet to find a man! But when Levi suddenly grows distant and Jodi’s chances with him seem to fizzle before her eyes, she wonders if her friends might have a point after all. Disheartened and lonely, she decides to give the so-called relationship guide a whirl, with unexpected consequences.

Before you can say ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Jodi is up to her neck in handsome, brooding men that seem too much like fictional heroes to be true. Her attempts to think like the greatest heroines in romance lead her to meet everything from a modern Mr. Rochester to an angsty Heathcliff, and even a Darcy-esque novelist. But when a former crush re-enters her life in the form of a modern day Romeo, Jodi wonders if there might be something to this ‘inner heroine’ thing after all. Now, if she could just stop thinking about Levi, then maybe her happy-ever-after will fall into place…or is something still missing from Jodi’s storybook romance?

Boyfriend by the Book is a perfect feel good read for curling up with on a rainy day or a summer afternoon, with lots of laughs and surprises to keep the reader turning pages! 

What did I think?

Boyfriend by the Book is a fabulous read and a wonderful idea for a book, bringing the classics into modern day life.  Who hasn't dreamt of meeting their very own modern-day Mr Darcy or Romeo?  Before I go all dreamy about Mr Darcy, let's see what I thought about the book...

Too late...I've gone all dreamy about Darcy...


Jodi is a typical workaholic, she loves her job and goes above and beyond the call of duty to be the best concierge she can be. Although she has a harmless flirtation going on with delivery guy Levi, she doesn't get the opportunity to meet men and go out on dates.  When her friends all start 'coupling-up' they buy Jodi a relationship guide based on the classic romances Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet.  Jodi casts it aside as mumbo jumbo but when she keeps stumbling across the book she decides to give it a go.

It's absolutely hilarious to see the modern day men compared with the heroes in these classics, but they each play the part surprisingly well.  The only trouble is, Jodi can't stop thinking about Levi but she has no idea whether Levi has any feelings for her beyond friendship.  As Jodi goes on various dates, you can't help but wish she was going out with Levi but fate is always in control of the cards and she must play the hand she is dealt.  Will she get the romantic ending we wish for?  You'll just have to read it and see!

Boyfriend by the Book is such good fun, full of misunderstandings and hilarity as Jodi negotiates the dating minefield.  I read it with a smile on my face and it certainly left me with a warm glow.  Reawaken your very own inner Lizzie Bennet by reading Boyfriend by the Book today!

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY: From the Sideline (The Wake-Up Series Book 2) - Amy Avanzino

After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory.

Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win? 

What did I think?

A bit like Autumn Kovac, I didn't know the first thing about American Football although I certainly got into the excitement of the game through Amy Avanzino's enthusiastic writing.

Autumn is a single-mom just trying to do the best for her son Zachary.  When Zachary shows an interest in joining the football team, Autumn puts on her best cheerleader-mom face and takes him to the trials.  As the list goes up announcing who has been picked for the team, Autumn is all prepared to sympathise with Zachary but somehow he got picked.  Life as she knows it will never be the same for Autumn.

It's so easy to like Autumn.  She's an amazing Mom, doing everything she can to support her son - being both mother and father has taken it's toll and Autumn had, let's face it, let herself go.  As she commits to get fit with Zachary, you can really see her changing and she certainly catches the eye of a few men involved with the football team, but which one will win Autumn's heart and indeed which one wants to win it?

It was lovely to see Zachary gaining confidence as he progressed in the team.  I felt as if he grew up during the duration of the book as he can finally see everything that Autumn has done for him.  It's so hard for children of broken families but sport really helps in making them feel like an important part of team.  As the saying goes: it's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts.

From the Sideline is a really fun and heart-warming read; it's an amazing testament of a mother's love for her son.  Whether a child is from a single or two-parent family, I don't think it's ever really appreciated how much has been sacrificed or how much unconditional love has been given so freely.  From the Sideline isn't simply chick lit, it's empowering chick lit.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Henery Press, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am releasing my review as part of the blog tour and if you'd like the chance to win an e-book, I have a wonderful giveaway for you at the end of my post, courtesy of Amy Avanzino.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children. 

Visit her at

Amy is very kindly offering 2 e-books of Wake-Up Call and 2 e-books of From the Sideline.

For the chance to win one or both, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  Open internationally.  Good Luck!

Friday 22 July 2016

BLOG TOUR: Lying in Wait - Q&A with Liz Nugent

If you read my review from a few days ago, you will know that I absolutely loved Lying in Wait, the new deliciously dark novel from Liz Nugent.  It kept me riveted from start to finish and I devoured the whole book in just one day.  I was given the opportunity to put some questions to Liz Nugent and you can read what she had to say below.

Q: What inspired you to write Lying in Wait?

A: A man once told me that he strongly suspected his father had murdered a prostitute in the 1960s. He had no evidence or no way of proving it. He never had the courage to challenge his father and went to his grave wondering. He told me this story about 25 years ago and he is long dead now. I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where you suspect your father is a murderer.

Q: Lying in Wait has an amazing first line. Did you come up with that first and build the story around it or did you think of it as the story went on?

A: Originally, in the first draft, Laurence was the main character and the first line was ‘We were all liars in my family but Mammy was the best liar of all of us’. Then in the second draft when I had decided that Lydia was the main character, the first line was ‘Technically, it was manslaughter’ but it didn’t tell the reader enough about the character so I cut that first line and made the second line the first line ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ This way, the reader knows exactly what kind of person they are dealing with.

Q: As reviews often show that readers were 'hooked from the start', how important do you think first lines are?

A: I like to grab the reader from the get-go and I like to write first person narratives so that the reader is automatically in the head of the character. The first line should set the tone for the book and let the reader know immediately what kind of book they are reading. I’ve only written two books and the first lines of each are so often quoted that I have quite a challenge ahead of me now for how to start book 3!

Q: I had a mental picture of the fabulous Bette Davis as Lydia whilst reading Lying in Wait. If Lying in Wait is made into a film who would you like to see playing Lydia?

A: That’s a great suggestion! I think it does have that film noir feel about it. If they were to cast an Irish actress, I would suggest Cathy Belton who can do charm and menace equally well, but if we’re talking international, I think Julianne Moore would be great.

Q: If you only had one chance to sell Lying in Wait, what would you say to encourage people to read it?

A: The strap line on the front cover is designed exactly for that purpose and my editor and I came up with lots of suggestions but in the end they went with the opening line which I hope is a good selling point!

Q: Lying in Wait is often very dark; how does the mood of your book affect you when you're writing?

A: It really doesn’t at all. As soon as I close the laptop, I am back to my humdrum suburban life and my mood is completely unaffected. My friends are so surprised that I write such sinister stories because in real life, I am fairly light-hearted and up for a laugh.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?

A: Inhabiting another character’s head for a while can be very liberating particularly when they are really despicable. You get to say things you wouldn’t dream of even thinking!

Q: When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

A: I love going to the theatre and I love tv drama series. I just inhaled Peaky Blinders and I’m catching up on Line of Duty. So, so good.

Q: I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading Unravelling Oliver but which book did you enjoy writing the most and why?

A: That’s like asking me to choose between my children! But I have to admit that writing isn’t always enjoyable. It is work and like any job, you can have good days and bad days. I wrote Unravelling Oliver over the course of about six years while I held down a fulltime job, whereas Lying in Wait was written in two years when I had no other commitments.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what we can look forward to from you in the future?

A: I’m 48 years old, married, no children. I live in Dublin. My background is in theatre and television production. I am number 5 of nine children. I am an atheist. I don’t like cats or coffee. I am more comfortable in jeans than dresses. I love roast chicken dinners. I read across all genres. I hate ironing but I don’t mind supermarket shopping. I am very tidy. I love sunshine and wish we got more of it in Dublin. I love France. I love going to the theatre. I’d like to live closer to the sea. I have seventeen nieces and nephews and I adore them all.

Hopefully, I will keep writing books with a sinister edge though sometime in the future, I’d like to write a stage play.

Thanks so much Michelle for the great questions and for taking part in this blog tour!

Follow the rest of the tour:

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Lying in Wait - Liz Nugent

From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, Unravelling Oliver
'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'
Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must - because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants ...
This is a dark, twisty and utterly gripping domestic noir that you won't be able to put down from the author hailed as Ireland's answer to Gillian Flynn.

What did I think?

Lying in Wait must have the best opening line EVER!  It is on the cover and in the blurb so I'm not releasing any spoilers by stating it again here:

'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'

I had little doubt from this most excellent first sentence, that this book was going to be slightly on the dark side, but I could never have guessed how deliciously dark it was going to be.  Talk about a dysfunctional family - Lydia reminded me of the fabulous Bette Davis in one of my favourite films, The Anniversary.  A cruel and clever matriarch ruling her family without them even realising they are being ruled.  Tremendous!

Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons are doing very well for themselves.  They live in a huge house with their son, Laurence, but beneath the perfect facade lies THE most dysfunctional family I have ever read about.  Lydia is absolutely crazy as a coconut and Andrew and Laurence do everything they can to please her.  Just how far they go on behalf of Lydia is enough to make your hair curl, and does she appreciate it?  Not one little bit.

When Andrew kills Annie Doyle, Annie's family register her as a missing person and her sister, Karen, never gives up hope of finding out what happened to Annie.  Annie was estranged from her family so when she sends mysterious letters reassuring her family that she's ok, they breathe a sigh of relief.  Wait a moment, wasn't she killed in the first sentence?  Aha!  I told you this book was dark.

There is so much I could say about this book but I fear I may spoil some of the story if I continue, needless to say a brilliant opening line deserves an outstanding ending and Liz Nugent doesn't fail to deliver.  I have read so many fabulous reviews of Liz Nugent's debut, Unravelling Oliver, but I have not yet had the chance to read it; if it's half as good as Lying in Wait, it will be money well spent.  

Lying in Wait is a deliciously dark and constantly surprising story.  Never has the well used line 'hooked from the start' fitted so well; you can't fail to be hooked from the start with this one and Liz Nugent definitely reeled me in.  A fabulous book - I loved it.

I received this book from the publisher, Penguin Ireland, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Look out for the blog tour coming my way on Friday with a Liz Nugent Q&A.

Monday 18 July 2016

All Is Not Forgotten - Wendy Walker

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.
Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.
That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.

Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.

And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

What did I think?

Oh my word, this was a very unique read.  We are plunged straight into the moments following the rape of Jenny Kramer and the pace of the book does not relent until the final page has been turned.  It's an absolutely magnetic read that I'm sure people will have no problem reading in one or two sittings.  I was so completely engrossed from start to finish that I felt like a new born bunny at the end, blinking furiously to take in my surroundings as if I couldn't quite believe that I was sitting in Gateshead, UK and not in Connecticut, USA.

It's not an easy read by any means; there are some very dark moments as the details of Jenny's rape are revealed.  Wendy Walker has been very clever in examining what would happen if we could erase from our memory the very worst thing that has ever happened to us.  It sounds great, not being able to remember such a devastating event but the event itself can't be erased from history.  It still happened even though you can't remember it and that is a form of mental torture in itself.

The book is written as if narrated by Jenny's psychiatrist, Dr. Alan Forrester.  After Jenny has treatment to erase her memory of the rape, she struggles with the physical scars that remained.  Dr. Forrester agrees to help her with memory recovery to see if she can remember what happened that night.  It is only through remembering what happened that Jenny can deal with it and move on, but Dr. Forrester has to ensure that it is real memories that Jenny remembers and not suggested memories.  Although sometimes suggested memories may have their advantages for someone who wants to pervert the course of justice...

It really does make you think about the power of the human mind.  How open we are to suggestions and how the brain protects us from harmful events.  It actually became secondary to me, finding out who actually raped Jenny, as I was so intrigued by the memory recovery process and the sessions that Dr. Forrester had with Jenny's family.  

All Is Not Forgotten is a gripping, addictive, compulsive, highly intelligent and simply brilliant psychological thriller.  I can't praise it highly enough!  I really felt as if my brain had been given an intense workout and I can't stop thinking or talking about this book since I finished it; I'll certainly be recommending it for many years to come.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Harlequin, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday 17 July 2016

Her Turn to Cry - Chris Curran

Twelve years ago Joycie Todd’s mother abandoned her. But what if she never really left? A tautly written psychological suspense novel, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Alex Lake.
London, 1965. Top model Joycie Todd lives a glittering life with photographer Marcus Blake. But her childhood tells a different story…
When she was eleven, Joycie’s mother disappeared. Run away with another man, so everyone says. But Joycie can’t forget the thumps she heard in the night, or the bloodstained rug hidden under the bed. A rug that was gone the next day.
Twelve years later, Joycie has left her past behind. But when an old friend dies, Joycie is left a letter beseeching her to find out the truth. Unable to keep the door locked any longer, Joycie sets out to discover why her mother left her – if she ever really did.
As she travels to the shabby seaside towns of her childhood, Joycie soon finds that it’s not just her mother who vanished all those years ago. Joycie knows the disappearances are connected, she just doesn’t know how. But there’s someone out there who does – and they will do anything to keep it buried.

What did I think?

This was a really enjoyable, well-written novel and I'm not sure what genre I would put it in; it is so multi-faceted.  I didn't find it as gripping as I expected but it was certainly an addictive read as the story slowly unfolds and Joycie uncovers all of her family secrets.

In 1965, Joycie appears to have it all - she's a well known model, living with her photographer boyfriend, Marcus.  Behind the scenes though, Joycie is a damaged individual, scarred by events that happened over 12 years ago.  Joycie is part of a theatre family in the 1950's.  Her Dad, Charlie Todd, and obnoxious Sid Sergeant are a popular theatre act who have no end of admirers waiting at the stage door.  When Joycie's Mum suddenly disappears, the rumour mill claims that she has run away with one of her many fancy-men. Joycie isn't so sure as none of her Mum's clothes have been taken and she found a bloodstained rug hidden under the bed...or did she imagine it as the next day it had gone?

Without giving away any of the story, I found it really interesting and disturbing to see how events from Joycie's childhood had moulded her into the person she has become.  From reading her story, it's no surprise to see that she hides behind the facade of model 'Orchid'. To the outside world, Orchid is confident and beautiful but behind closed doors Joycie is afraid to let Marcus get close to her.  I felt as if she was a cracked vase that had been superglued together but at risk of being broken into a million pieces if she's hugged too hard.

Joycie does turn out to be tougher that I thought as she uncovers all of the skeletons in her family's closet.  Skeletons that Chris Curran has revealed with tact and sensitivity, whilst being true to the era when such skeletons, through fear, remained firmly in the closet.

Her Turn to Cry is a very addictive read; the thread throughout the story is the disappearance of Joycie's Mum but there's so much more going on.  I felt that stones were being overturned that could have absolutely anything underneath them and as the story went on, I felt Joycie getting stronger and really evolving into the woman she was always destined to be.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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