#BlogTour #BookReview – Blood List by Ali Carter

Think the Lake District is a lovely place to visit? Think again.

A Psychological & Chilling Thriller set in and around the fictional town of Kirkdale in Cumbria.

One by one the young women of Kirkdale are being found grotesquely murdered, with no clues as to why.
Lying between the great lake Kirkwater and the base of Kirkby Pike, although beautiful, Kirkdale isn’t exactly the most exciting place on the planet. But after young reporter Jenny Flood moves into the relaxed Cumbrian town, it sets a catalogue of events in motion that brings this comfortable community to its knees.
When middle aged G.P. Charlotte Peterson discovers Jenny has followed her from Bradenthorpe, six years after a fling with her philandering doctor husband Miles, it stirs deeply buried mental health issues from her youth. In the run up to the Kirkdale country show, the arrival of this third and most recent adversary triggers the already edgy and emotionally scarred Charlotte into finally stepping over the edge. Her longing to destroy Jenny has been on a slow and very resentful burn for years, now the reality of achieving that presents itself as a genuine possibility
Can journalist Andrew Gale protect new colleague Jenny, girlfriend Gina and her best friend Molly from the psychotic GP’s insane agenda? How will sarcastic ex Met. Officer Harry Longbridge deal with Andrew’s continued interference?
Then there’s the unexpected arrival of an American mystery woman. And just who is on the Blood List? 

Published November 2018 by Troubadour (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

” Think The Lake District is a lovely place to visit?  Think again. ” – well, as I not only think it’s beautiful but live within a stones throw of the Lakes and spent a few years living in one of it’s most popular and scenic towns, this challenge is what attracted to me to reading Ali Carter’s debut – Blood List. I mean, I know what goes on behind the tourist scene – I lived-in as a waitress at a prominent lakeside hotel for a couple of years in my much younger days (remember that TV shows The Lakes – it was quite a lot like that!) and so I was keen to see it as the setting for a thriller.

Set in the fictional town of Kirkdale, Blood List is centered around the GP surgery, the pub and the local newspaper. This quiet, picturesque town, where everyone knows each others business, is in the grip of a murder inquiry. But then the body count keeps rising. No-one knows who’ll be next. Why is someone targeting this town – or worse, is the murderer already living among them? Blood List is a story of betrayal, secrets, jealousy, obsession and revenge.

It took me a while to get going initially. There’s a LOT of characters introduced very quickly and I had trouble keeping up with who was who in the first few chapters. however, once I’d got to grips with everyone I found this a really intriguing read, racing through the pages easily.

It has that quaint small town mystery feel about it with the collection of eccentric local characters and standard landmarks typically the linchpin of smaller communities, yet it also had an edge that makes it less cosy more thrilling. You know who the murderer is early on in the book, but working out why and who’s going to be next provides a compelling hook and kept my interest throughout. There’s also an occasional short chapter set in New York and I was really curious about how this fitted into the story. All is revealed at the end and it is quite a twist.

I really enjoyed Blood List. I loved the setting, the mix of characters with unique yet recognisable traits and the mystery which unfurled nicely over the pages. While it isn’t the most adrenaline pumping of books, it was tense enough to hold interest and the writers style was engaging and a pleasure to read. I think this is a book that would have broad appeal, especially to those who may be put off by more aggressive looking thrillers, and I enjoyed a sunny afternoon in the garden engrossed in it.

I read a paperback copy courtesy of Anne Cater at Random Things Tour and the publisher.

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WWW Wednesday – 15th May 2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Taking On A World Of Words to record and share our weekly reading.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?   

~ Currently Reading ~ 

lost daughterIf you think photos aren’t important… wait until they’re all you have left of your child.

Your life isn’t perfect, but you’re still happy. Your husband has stuck by you and he’s a good dad. Your daughter Becca makes your heart explode with love.

And then, in the time it takes to say ‘bad mother’, there’s no longer a place for you in your own family. Your right to see your child has disappeared.

Life goes on in your house – family dinners, missing socks and evening baths – but you aren’t there anymore. Becca may be tucked up in bed in Rose Cottage, but she is as lost to you as if she had been snatched from under your nose.

Everyone knows you deserve this, for you what you did. Except you’re starting to realize that things maybe aren’t how you thought they were, and your husband isn’t who you thought he was either. That the truths you’ve been so diligently punishing yourself for are built on sand, and the daughter you have lost has been unfairly taken from you. Wouldn’t that be more than any mother could bear?

A heart-wrenchingly emotional drama for fans of Lisa Wingate, Jill Childs, and Jodi Picoult.

Published May 14th 2019 by Bookouture (UK) 

~ Recently Finished Reading ~ 

those who are lovedThose Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.

Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice. 

Published May 30th 2019 by Headline (UK) 

~ Reading Next ~  

One of these beauties. I’m not sure which but at the minute The Hourglass is calling me after Rebecca @ The Book Whisperer told me I should read it (and she always has the very best taste in books!)

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So which do you recommend I read next? 

#BookReview – The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

DON’T MISS THE BRAND-NEW THRILLER FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF EVERYTHING BUT THE TRUTH AND ANYTHING YOU DO SAY

It’s the day her father will be released from jail. Izzy English has every reason to feel conflicted – he’s the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories. But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy’s father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial. But should she give him the benefit of the doubt? Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap?

Published April 18th by Penguin (UK)  

~ Review ~  

This was my second time reading a book by Gillian McAllister, Last year I read and loved Anything You Do Say and had had my eye on this book ever since I saw it in my Amazon recommends. So when I got my hands on an early copy, I dove in right away.

The Evidence Against You tells the story of Izzy, a thirty something year old living on the small Isle of Wight. With it’s small population, everyone knows each others business, and Izzy’s family are notorious. Because Izzy’s Father is a murderer. His victim – Izzy’s mother. And after seventeen years he’s just about to be let out on parole, determined to disprove to Izzy all the compelling evidence against him.

What makes Gillian McAllister’s books so utterly compelling and gripping is the conviction with which they are written. McAllister combines moral dilemmas, raw emotion and legal justice intricately making her novels  complex and convincing, filled with shade, doubt and question. I absolutely love how she makes her character’s actions believable, how she casts doubt, offers compassion and makes me question everything.

I was completely caught up in Izzy’s dilemma of wanting to believe in her father while at the same time hating him, especially in light of the huge amount of damning evidence against him. It was like going on a journey with this character, as a reader I felt the turmoil and emotion alongside her.

As well as the legal aspects, which are fascinating and thought provoking, The Evidence Against You also explores the effect of prison on an individual. I thought Izzy’s father, Gabriel, was incredibly well portrayed, and found the loss of potential, bitterness and anger he feels touchingly sad. Yet at the same time, I was suspicious. Gabriel is also an expert manipulator. He’s had a long time to perfect it.

Once again Gillian McAllister has written an edgy, thought provoking, compelling read full of complex layers. I managed to read it all on that lovely Easter Monday holiday, sitting in my garden and was completely glued. I found it difficult to tear myself away from it. It held my attention from beginning to end and gave me a lot to think about after. Wholeheartedly recommended.

I read an advance copy courtesy of the publisher.

Due to some unforseen, difficult circumstances this is a late addition to the currant blog tour. please do check out these other bloggers to find out what they thought.  

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#BookReview – My lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

“The twist at the end of the first chapter made me read through the night” Jane Corry

Introducing the next generation of domestic thriller…

Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again nor are you.

But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.

Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.

This is a thriller like nothing you’ve read before… 

Published May 2nd 2019 by Penguin Michael Joseph (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

I don’t usually include quotes when adding publisher blurb to my reviews – but look right there at the top. Jane Corry’s quote HAD to stay because it’s just so damn true and didn’t the exact same thing happen to me.

There I was, yesterday evening, picking up my kindle and looking for something to catch my somewhat distracted attention and I chose this book. And by the end of the first chapter I was so completely caught off guard and gobsmacked I just couldn’t stop reading. Until I fell asleep, Kindle still in hand, sometime in the early hours. This morning I had an excruciating hour getting the teen to school before I could finally devour the final 20% of this book.

I can’t talk about the plot. The characters. The twist. You gotta go into this one completely innocent like I did. But it is good. really good. It’s different, it’s crazy, it’s twisted, sometimes I wondered what the hell had been going on in the authors mind. But it was utterly gripping and I loved it.

As a MASSIVE fan of the domestic thriller, even I become a little meh with the endless supply of “twists you won’t see coming” or “standout thriller’s of the year” books occasionally. But for me, My Lovely Wife was a reminder of what i love about this genre and why I’ll continue to read it enthusiastically. Samantha Downing has wrote something fresh, different and definitely a book to talk about. When I come to think about my books of the year post in December, this is one which will spring to mind immediately. If you like a dark edge to your holiday reading then this book is for you! Bloody brilliant!

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

#Blogtour #Bookreview- Swallowtail Summer by Erica James

A captivating story about friendship, making changes, and learning to live life to the fullest from SUNDAY TIMES bestseller Erica James.

They thought they were friends for life – until one summer, everything changed . . . 

Linston End on the Norfolk Broads has been the holiday home to three families for many years. The memories of their time there are ingrained in their hearts: picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the pavilion at dusk, hours spent seeking out the local swallowtail butterflies. Everyone together.

But widower Alastair has been faced with a few of life’s surprises recently. Now, he is about to shock his circle of friends with the decisions he has made – and the changes it will mean for them all. For some, it feels like the end. For others, it might just be the beginning . . .   

Published April 2019 by Orion

~Review~ 

A good few years ago I’d read an enjoyed thoroughly a book by Erica James and always meant to read more, so when the opportunity to read her latest release, Swallowtail Summer, came up I was in!

Alaister spent his childhood summers at Linston End, then when he inherits it, it became the happy holiday home for his own and his friends families. Linston End became an important place to them all. But when his wife dies and he quickly meets someone else and decides to sell, his friends are not happy.

I think I expected a lighter read than this actually was. Swallowtail Summer examines complex relationships, secrets, resentments and lies. Erica James doesn’t shy away from the darker side of human nature and her characters are flawed and not always likable. I really like this, it’s extremely honest and raw.

The book is quite slow to begin with, where a lot of characters are introduced. However the pace picks up and I quickly found myself engrossed. I loved the setting, Linston End being a character itself and loved reading about the idyllic summers past. Erica James’ writing is rich, with complex characters and shades of the light and dark emotions all humans experience. I think Swallowtail Summer would be a perfect holiday book and can recommend it!

I read an early ecopy courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

 

#BookReview – A dangerous Act Of Kindness by L.P Fergusson ( @Canelo_co )

What would you risk for a complete stranger?

When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.

On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.

As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore 

Published March 28th 2019 by Canelo  

~ Review ~  

In my teens I had a bit of an obsession for the book, The Summer Of My German Soldier, reading it over and over. I still have that battered copy.  As soon as I read the description for A Dangerous Act Of Kindness I was reminded of it, and had to read it.

Millie is a grieving widow, single handedly running her farm in the rural countryside during World War 2. When she discovers an injured German pilot sheltering in her barn she has a choice – turn him in or help him, risking her own safety.

I’m fascinated by these choices – what would I do? I’m always drawn to these characters who help and risk there own safety and I always want to see the good in people. And there’s also something so enticing about an illicit love affair – which of course developes between Millie and Lukas.  I adored the romantic tension that prickled between the two. I was completely caught up in it, hoping for a happy outcome.

The book covers several years of the war and gives a lot of detail, clearly extremely well researched. It was interesting to read about Lukas life as a British prisoner and to read the perspective of young German man, caught up in a war he didn’t want, conflicted with his nationality. I also liked reading about rural life during the war and how Millie’s community were involved.

There were quite a lot of subplots – at times I thought a little too much which diverted my attention from the main story I wanted – that of Millie and Lukas. I thoroughly enjoyed their story and hoped against hope they could be together someday. With some fascinating descriptions, clearly well researched, and a lacing of a gorgeous romance, this was a good read and will appeal strongly to those who enjoy reading about this period in our history.

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

**Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this is a late contribution to the blog tour that took place earlier this month. Please do check out these other brilliant bloggers to see what they made of it!

a dangerous act of kindness

#BookReview – A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas ( @FaberBooks )

The hardest lies to spot are the ones we tell ourselves.

Dr Ruth Hartland rises to difficult tasks. She is the director of a highly respected trauma therapy unit. She is confident, capable and excellent at her job. Today she is preoccupied by her son Tom’s disappearance.

So when a new patient arrives at the unit – a young man who looks shockingly like Tom – she is floored.

As a therapist, Ruth knows exactly what she should do in the best interests of her client, but as a mother she makes a very different choice – a decision that will have profound consequences.

A gripping and deeply intelligent psychological thriller for fans of Apple Tree Yard, A Good Enough Mother promises to be as big as Lullaby.

Published April 4th by Faber and Faber (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

Wow! This was one of those books where once you start reading you have to clear the rest of your day, put your phone on silent and keep on going. There’s no looking away. You can sense the increasing tension and know it’s leading to something huge. It’s utterly gripping.

Ruth is a therapist working with people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dealing with those who have the most harrowing of backgrounds. But Ruth is also hiding a secret of her own- her troubled son Dan disappeared more than a year ago and she hasn’t shared this with any of her colleagues. When she’s allocated a new patient, Dan, she is struck by his resemblance to her own son and as she becomes more involved in helping him, the lines between therapist and patient blur in a way that can only lead to danger.

I absolutely loved the writing style in this book. There’s little dialogue, it mainly being told from Ruth’s internal thoughts. You know how she’s feeling and why she’s feeling it with astonishing clarity meaning it’s almost like being in her head. The whole story is so compelling, as we see Ruth make bad choices and know it’s isn’t going to end well. Yet despite knowing her choices are bad, you get it and understand it. Her feelings of grief, bewilderment and pain are incredibly raw and emotional.

The tension throughout this book is subtle, yet intense all at once. Dan brings a sense of danger and threat that has the reader on edge. He’s difficult to work out, there’s an uneasy feeling from him but I could see why Ruth was so drawn to him. It was also fascinating to see Ruth as a therapist with her own flaws and troubles. We see people in this field as stable, without conflict or worry – they know how to deal with or avoid it surely? Of course this isn’t true, but why Ruth shields her own trauma and anxieties from colleagues.

This is not a lighthearted book, there’s an overwhelming feeling of impeding tragedy throughout, however it is thought provoking and shocking with a glimpse of hope at the end. It’s raw, emotional, tense and incredibly believable.  An exceptional book from a fascinating perspective and I couldn’t put it down.

(I read an hardback edition courtesy of the publisher)

**Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this is a late contribution to the blog tour that took place earlier this month. Please do check out these other brilliant bloggers to see what they made of it!

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#BookReview – When I Was Yours by Lizzie Page (@Bookouture)

We stand in the back of the hall as the children troop in. Big ones, little ones. Straggly hair, cropped hair, curls… the adults surge forward to choose and soon there is just one child left, a little girl sitting on the floor. She is thin as a string bean and her sleeve is ragged and damp – like she’s been chewing it. 

1939. War has broken out – hundreds of children are evacuated to the countryside to keep them safe from the bombs raining down on the cities. Wrenched from her family in the East End and sent more than a hundred miles away, seven-year-old Pearl Posner must adapt to a new life away from everything familiar. 

Vivienne didn’t ask for an evacuee child. In fact, she’s not sure her heart can take it. So many years, so many disappointments… Vivi’s ability to feel love left her the day she learned the truth about her husband Edmund, and when she made the worst decision of her life and left her cherished sister to her fate. But like it or not, Pearl is here to stay, and what with the rumours about what’s happening to children in mainland Europe, it might be the last safe place for her. 

As Pearl and Vivi learn how to live together, they discover that they have a connection that runs more deeply than they could ever have guessed – from before Pearl was born, and deep into Vivienne’s past. And will it be Pearl – the little girl who says so little and sees so much – who forces Vivi to finally confront what happened in her marriage… and to the long-lost sister she loved so dearly and let fall so far, just when she needed Vivi most?

Published April 16th 2019 by Bookouture (UK) 

~ Review ~  

It had been quite some time since I’d read an historical saga set during one the world wars, yet here I am reading two back to back this week. At one time I read a lot of these types of books, and after this week I really won’t be leaving it so long – I’ve really appreciated the change from thriller after thriller and am reminded how much I do like historical fiction – especially that set in the late 19th and early 20th Century.

When I Was Yours has a somewhat unique approach – at least one I have never come across before – with a dual narrative set in both WW1 and WW2. I thought this was brilliant, not only in demonstrating the differences in the periods through the eyes of main character, Vivienne, but also in seeing the impact the wars had on those who lived through them both.

I enjoyed both time frames, which are told in alternating chapters. I was intrigued by Vivienne’s story – as a brave ambulance driver during WW1 and an anxious and reluctant evacuee host during WW2 and wanted to know what had happened in the intervening years to change her so much? I loved the characterisation of her vivacious sister, Olive, in particular and found her tragic story both inspiring and heartbreaking. Having grown up on my own grandmother’s stories of her time as an evacuee, I fell head over heels for Pearl Posner and the impact her arrival had on Vivienne. I still find it staggering that children were sent away to live with what could be anyone!

There’s a strong theme of intolerance running through this book. Not just between warring countries, but also at home where expectations and attitudes are slowly shifting. It’s interesting and quite poignant to see the shift played out between both WW1 and WW2, both within the community but individually as Vivienne developes and grows as a fully formed character.

When I Was Yours was an emotional and thought provoking read with the fascinating perspective of both wars. It brought tears to my eyes several times and yet also managed to make me smile. Well worth a read!

I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher

 

#BlogTour #Bookreview – The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

The compelling new novel from the author of the bestselling Chocolat.

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder… 

Published April 4th 2019 by Orion (UK)

~ Review ~ 

I have to admit to having never read anything by Joanne Harris before. I’ve heard of Chocolat of course, but The Strawberry Thief would be my first novel by this author. I can honestly say that not having read the previous books did not affect my enjoyment and I adored this beautiful book.

I went in with no expectations, but I guess I wasn’t expecting such a magical story. The book is filled with mysticism and hints of magic, light and dark, the setting so richly described and the writing exquisitely lyrical. Each time I sat down to read a bit more, it was almost like slipping into a dreamlike state and I enjoyed every moment.

I also loved the unique cast of characters, falling in love with Rosette – Vianne’s “special child” who doesn’t talk or act like other children. I loved her innocent take on the world. I also really liked reading the story of her benefactor, told posthumously through a confessional document to the local priest, who is also carrying a dark secret of his own.

I don’t know what else I can say without spoiling it for others, but one thing is certain – I’ll be ordering the three previous books to The Strawberry Thief ASAP. Joanne Harris’s writing is everything I love – rich, poetic and with hints of magic. I absolutely adored it.

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the publisher)

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#BookReview – The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds (@amandareynoldsj @Wildfirebks)

WHAT HAPPENED TO JULIA BLAKE?

She was young and beautiful, married to a famous author. They were celebrating their anniversary at their stunning country estate. So why did Julia Blake walk out of her perfect life, apparently leaving no trace?

Seren, a junior reporter for the local paper, can’t believe her luck when she lands an exclusive with Julia’s husband, Max. But as Seren spends more time at the couple’s remote mansion, probing ever deeper into the case, dark questions await.

What was Julia really like, behind closed doors? Was her marriage to this brooding, secretive man as perfect as it seemed? And did she really mean to disappear that night – or was she murdered?

Published March 2019 (E-Book) / July 2019 (Paperback) by Wildfire Books (UK)  

~ Review ~ 

Having really enjoyed Amanda Reynold’s previous books, Close To Me and Lying To You, I couldn’t wait to get started on her latest release, The Hidden Wife. As always, I found myself engrossed in this author’s incredibly compelling writing almost immediately and I was pleasantly surprised by the different feel and mood of this book.

In her previous two books, Amanda Reynolds has used the unreliable narrator to great effect. The Hidden Wife switches things up though, and this time we are firmly on Seren’s side as she attempts to untangle the mystery of famous author, Max Blake’s beautiful and much younger wife while interviewing him for her local newspaper.

There are three main characters in this book – Seren, a somewhat naive and eager to please junior reporter driven by her own tragic loss, Max – a brooding, charming but weirdly creepy and manipulative author (kind of reminiscent of Edward Monkford in J.P Delaney’s The Girl Before in many ways). And Brooke House, Max’s sprawling and remote mansion which was so atmospheric and eerie, lending a gothic hint which I absolutely loved.

I flew through this book, but that doesn’t surprise me – it’s what I’ve come to expect from Amanda’s novels. She really knows how to hook the reader, throwing twists and turns skillfully to keep you on the edge of your seat. I adored the uncertainty cast over missing Julia – had she disappeared of her own accord, or was something more sinister really at play? Mixed with such a well depicted setting which sent chills down my spine, The Hidden Wife has all the ingredients of a fantastic psychological thriller and I loved every second of it.

(I read an advance e-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)