Book Review – The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (@Janecorryauthor @PenguinUKbooks #TheDeadEx #BookReview )

One man’s disappearance throws four women’s lives into chaos–and not all will survive. . .

Vicki works as an aromatherapist, healing her clients out of her home studio with her special blends of essential oils. She’s just finishing a session when the police arrive on her doorstep–her ex-husband David has gone missing. Vicki insists she last saw him years ago when they divorced, but the police clearly don’t believe her. And her memory’s hardly reliable–what if she didhave something to do with it?

Meanwhile, Scarlet and her mother Zelda are down on their luck, and at eight years old, Scarlet’s not old enough to know that the “game” her mother forces her to play is really just a twisted name for dealing drugs. Soon, Zelda is caught, and Scarlet is forced into years of foster care–an experience that will shape the rest of her life . . .

David’s new wife, Tanya, is the one who reported him missing, but what really happened on the night of David’s disappearance? And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself? The answer lies in the connection among these four women–and the one person they can’t escape. 

Published June 28th 2018 by Penguin UK  

~ Review ~

I absolutely loved Jane Corry’s previous novel, Blood Sisters (reviewed here) and was so looking forward to reading her 2018 release, The Dead Ex. But then life got in the way, reading unfortunately got pushed aside as I seemed to roll from one drama of my own to another and I didn’t get around to it. Well, aren’t I kicking myself now after finally picking it up this week? Once again, I was completely sucked in and held captive by Jane’s twisty, compulsive writing as I devoured this addictive book in a couple of days.

The Dead Ex begins with alternating chapters told from the perspective of Vicki, a reclusive, seemingly timid aromatherapist who definitely has something to hide in the present, and Scarlett, ten years previously, an eight year old child who’s caught up in her chaotic mother’s criminal activities. Both narrators where fascinating and gripping, but what really intrigued me was trying to work out just what connected the two of them together. There is absolutely no way I could have guessed, and loved the turn the book took!

There’s a LOT of theme’s running through this book – child neglect and family loyalty, Female relationships and bonds, a need for a sense of belonging, ambition, power, loss of identity…it goes on. Vicki is a fascinating character with so many layers that even by the end I’m not sure I’d seen them all. Jane Corry writes each aspect of her so convincingly, I completely believed in her. I also absolutely loved the references to aromatherapy oils and uses, which I find fascinating and felt really complimented the book.

I flew through this book, despite reading it over a couple of busy days, grabbing any moment I could to read a bit more. With fascinating and complex characters and a plot that left me second guessing at every turn, this is compulsive reading at it’s best. An absolute page turner that manages to surprise and shock over and over again.

(I read proof copy courtesy of the publishers and Netgally)

 

Mini Catch Up Reviews

Over the last few weeks my reading kind of went right out the window. A load of personal stuff got right in the way and to be honest, my life became eat, sleep, work and sort the daughter out. That’s all I could manage! Things are back on track and looking positive now. I did squeeze a few books in though – unfortunately I’m a review now or never kind of blogger so I thought a round up of mini “what I’ve been reading” reviews would be a good idea.

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst  

the foster childWhen child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger… 

Published November 16th 2017 by Headline 

 

WOW I was absolutely gripped to this book! I’ve really enjoyed Jenny’s previous books, but this is her best yet.  Creepy, twisty and unnerving – this is the only book I’ve read in one sitting for a while. I just couldn’t put it down!

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Warm Bodies by Jane Robins White Bodies

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered? 

Published 28th December 2017 by HQ 

Sisters have been huge in psychological thrillers this year, White Bodies takes it further with disturbingly unhinged twin sisters, Tilda and Callie. Man, was this twisted at times! I LOVED it, although it wasn’t as fast paced as I expected, the complexity of the relationship between these twins was gripping.

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The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan 

the doll houseYou never know who’s watching…

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…? 

Published September 14th 2017 by HQ Digital 

I remember reading a book about a creepy doll’s house as a child, and instantly becoming uneasy of the huge Sindy house looming in the corner of my bedroom. That memory has lasted. and to this day, the idea of Doll Houses make me shudder a little. So, i really loved the idea behind Phoebe Morgan’s chilling debut. Yes, this was full of twists and turns and impending unease, but what I really liked was how well drawn the character’s were, with complexities, hopes and flaws that made them and their actions completely believable. And the ending was jawdroppingly good!

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Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris  behind closed doors

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie? 

Published February 2016 by Mira 

Late to the B.A Paris party, I’m not going to lie. I was a bit disappointed in this one. I can see why it was so popular – the writing is compelling, it’s very, very readable and can be swallowed in one or two gulps. However, I had problems with some of the characters and how believable they were. I thought Grace acted pretty stupidly and felt frustrated by her, her husband was a bit pantomime villain and I felt uncomfortable at some of the portrayal of Millie, who has down syndrome. I’m still looking forward to reading more by this author, as I think they’re writing style really suits my taste – I just wasn’t a big fan of this plot.

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The Child by Fiona Barton 

32054078the child‘An engrossing, irresistible story about the coming to light of a long-buried secret.

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.  

Published July 2017 by Transworld 

Oh. My. God. This was GOOD. Switching narrative between four women to reveal the secret of a baby found buried after decades, this was not only taught and chilling, but emotionally fraught and involving as well. Throughout the book, I felt I got to know all the women – though I particularly liked Kate, a seasoned but ethical journalist. The first to pick up on the story, I liked how involved she became with the other women in this book, driving the narrative forward and allowing us to get to know them with empathy and sincerity. I kind of worked out the plot twist pages before it was revealed, but even then it came as a punch to the stomach and took my breath away. The Child isn’t just a thriller with a shocking secret, it’s about the long lasting effects of trauma on a person and their relationships. I thought it was fantastic.

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So there you go, some mini thought’s on recent books I’ve read. Apologies for the lack of posts recently – but you can be assured that normal service will now resume!

#BlogTour #BookReview Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae @AuthorightUKPR @Gilbster1000

dating daisyFinally liberated after decades of marriage, to a man she now refers to only as Voldemort, NHS sexual health doctor, Daisy Mae is ready to embark on a new life of adventure, dating and ‘protected’ fun. Unfortunately, the last time she was asked out on a date was in the 1980’s before Whatsapp, Tinder, Happn and Bumble existed, all meaningless words to her frankly middle-aged ears.

As a sexual health doctor Daisy Mae, more than most, has reason to be cautious about throwing herself head first into 21st century dating. With a little guidance, and encouragement, from her seventeen year old daughter Imogen, the ‘Amigos’ — her surrogate parents with a swanky house and swimming pool
— her friends Pinky and nonagenarian Jeannie, who sends her insightful romantic advice from their nursing homes, Daisy sets herself up on an online dating website in the hope that romance will soon follow.

But dating in the 21st century isn’t always easy and what begins as an innocent foray into the online world unravels in spectacular fashion. From decoding tech-language —did you know 531 meant sex?— to awkward first dates at Costa Coffee not to mention the odd, and unwelcome, explicit photo— Daisy is about to find out the exciting, cringeworthy and downright bizarre realities all too soon. Is the price of finding love online too high? Or can Daisy Mae swipe her way to success?

Join Daisy on her hilarious yet heartfelt adventure into modern dating for the middle-aged woman. Written as a personal diary Dating Daisy juxtaposes the mundane realities of getting older, and of the changing dynamics of relationships and marriage, with our never ending dreams of romance, affection and adventure. Having survived her own separation, the author brings a refreshing realism and depth to the character of Daisy, a woman who will delight fans of comedy and commercial fiction, making Dating Daisy the perfect companion this summer. 

Published 27th July 2017 by Clink Street Publishing  

When I first heard about this book, it sounded like a lot of fun. Having dabbled very briefly into the world of internet dating a few years ago (under the influence of lots of wine and a helpful ‘pal’) and hearing stories from friends who’d also given it a go, I decided quickly it wasn’t for me! However, there’s many a funny story to be told from the online quest for love, and also some real fairy tales, so I was pretty much sold on giving this book a go.

Fifty something Daisy is newly divorced, mum to an older teenager and missing companionship. When she decides to give internet dating a go, she isn’t sure what to expect. But, over a couple of months and a steady stream of inappropriate suitors, Daisy begins to loose hope. Dating Daisy follows her journey through the strange world of internet dating sites and is funny, cringy, endearing, a little bit sad and ever hopeful.

I loved the chatty, conversational tone of this book. It reads like a good old gossip with friends a lot of the time. Written in the first person, there’s a very personal note to the writing, making it feel that Daisy is talking to the reader herself. This means I found myself really attached to Daisy, she’s very very likable and I wanted the best for her.

Her observations and experiences of the site itself and the men she meets up with are hilarious. There’s a real charm and wit to this book, having me snorting out loud with laughter regularly. Most of the men are the somewhat predictable, not how they look in their photo’s, older and disappointing in real life with an air of desperation about them. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for a couple of them – they were really only lonely themselves and a bit desperate! It kind of drove home to me how people these days are constantly trying to present themselves as someone they are not online, and it made me a bit sad. Daisy’s own expectations when she met some of the guys in real life were also a bit unrealistic I feel and it felt a bit superficial, yet very, very real and relevant to our currant attitudes.

I really loved Daisy’s stories from her work as a Sexual Health Doctor. They were hysterical. Working in healthcare for many years, this type of humour REALLY appeals to me, and she managed to get the mix of hilarity and compassion just right so it didn’t feel she was mocking people. It was just very honest and yes. Funny.

Dating Daisy is a fun book, ideal for holiday reading. The chatty style is engaging and easy. There were a couple of times when I thought the chattiness veered into rambling as Daisy flits off topic, but on the whole this was an enjoyable quick read with lots of laughs and an endearing character you’ll be cheering on throughout.

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Daisy-Mae-ebook/dp/B0734BFKZK/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499942815&sr=1-5&keywords=dating+daisy  

About the author: Living in the South of England Daisy_234 shares many similar professional, life, and dating, experiences as her protagonist; for this reason she has chosen to write under a pen name.  

Daiting Daisy bt

#BookReview – Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath @HQStories

give me the childAn unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own… 

Published 27th July 2017 by HQ (UK) 

Give Me The Child is certainly a gripping read! Is there anything quite as sinister as an evil child? I was intrigued by the synopsis and some fab reviews, so was looking forward to reading this book. And for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It starts when, in the middle of the night, there’s a knock at the door. The police and social services have brought an eleven year old child to the house, and claim she is Cat’s husband’s daughter. He admits to a one night stand many years ago, denying any knowledge of the strange and eerie looking Ruby Winter, who has just lost her mother in a terrible accident and needs a family to care for her. Cat tries to welcome the child into her home, but as her own daughter begins to turn against her and worrying things begin to happen, Cat is convinced there’s more to Ruby Winter than there seems. But is Cat right? Or is the psychosis which blighted her own pregnancy rearing its head again? Who exactly in this family is the dangerous one?

Mel McGrath paints a terrifyingly chilling portrait of Ruby through her tense and descriptive writing, right down to using her full title, Ruby Winter, whenever she’s mentioned – giving the reader an image of an aloof, otherworldly, cold and distant child who sent shivers up my spine. Mixing naivety and malice, innocence and darkness through the relationship between Ruby and Cat’s biological daughter Freya, there’s a real sinister edge seeping through the pages of this book and I had no idea where it was leading to.

I thought Cat’s portrayal as a somewhat unreliable narrator was good. Is she being manipulated or is she in fact loosing a grip on reality again? Mel McGrath explores mental illness and the continuing stigma attached to a person – it’s all to easy for those around Cat to write her concerns off as delusional, and I felt her frustration as she struggled to make herself believed. I did feel that she perhaps allowed people to belittle and brush her aside a bit too easily at times, and thought a woman of Cat’s intelligence and experience wouldn’t have allowed herself to be manipulated quite so easily which made her a little less believable than she could have been.

On the whole though, Give Me The Child is a fast paced page turner, with multiple layers of emotional and domestic abuse, manipulation, fractured family dynamics, resentment, cover ups, ethics and the age old debate of nature vs nurture – asking Do we get the child we deserve? There’s a lot to think about and a lot of themes covered during this complex, intense thriller and apart from my niggle about Cat’s lack of fight to begin with, I was absolutely hooked by the second half, right up to the explosive climax which left me reeling. Mel McGrath is a writer who knows how to keep a reader gripped with intricate and original plotting, and I’ll certainly be looking out for more of her books in the future.

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)

 

Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

#BookReview – This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh @Marshisms @HodderBooks

this beautiful lifeThe addictive and emotive new novel from Katie Marsh, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

‘I lived over half my life before I met you both, and I hope with all my heart to live many years more. You two are the reason why. Always, always the reason why.’

Abi Cooper is living her happy ending. She’s in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance. But during Abi’s illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi’s survival playlist, This Beautiful Life is the moving and uplifting story of what happens as Abi tries to put her family back together – and of why life, and love, are worth fighting for. 

Published 10th August 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton (UK)  

Firstly- how gorgeous is that cover? It was those stunning colours that first caught my eye with this book – it’s just so damn pretty! But then, after reading the blurb I knew I really wanted to read it. I’m an emotional person and this book promised a moving journey with a story and characters whom readers will completely connect with.

This Beautiful Life’s emotional impact comes from it’s simplicity really. There’s no big twists or revelations designed to pack a punch. Abi has already suffered the devastating news she has cancer when we meet her, already fought the battle of her life. The emotional impact comes from the normality of life carrying on, the rawness and fragility of continuing ups and downs – especially downs for people who don’t deserve them. It’s the admiration of a woman who continues to find strength to face life’s hurdles head on despite not having the happy ever after she continues to hope for.  It’s emotional because it is so absolutely real.

The book is told over a year, with the chapters separated into months and then with alternating narratives from Abi herself and her seventeen year old son Seb. I loved the way this story was told. There’s a real sense of a passage of time and with Seb’s voice, a depth and added perspective which allows the reader to see the family dynamic as a whole. I think Katie Marsh’s characters are among some of the most real and relatable I’ve come across. But what I really liked was the bonds between this family which even when things become fractious, shine through and captured my heart.

This Beautiful Life is brutally honest as Abi faces her first year cancer free. People get ill and need support, but the reality is bills still have to be paid, children still have their own struggles with growing up and their identity, parents still get older. Life moves on relentlessly and there’s an unfairness to the impact of Abi’s illness on her family’s emotional and financial wellbeing. Yet this is an uplifting book, filled with optimism and love, and it’s the small, subtle and beautiful moments that really had me welling up.  Marsh’s writing is genuine and moving and I easily got caught up in Abi’s story. A honest, emotional and quietly powerful book which will stay with me for a long time.

(I read an advance copy courtesy of the publisher)

 

 

#BookReview – They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen @TransworldBooks

they all fall downShe knows there’s a killer on the loose.
But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking. Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying. Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?  

Published 13th July by Transworld (UK)  

I loved the sound of this book the second I heard about it. The old stereotypes of dangerous psychiatric patients being turned on their head and a book that shows them as the vulnerable victims – I was convinced. There was something unsettlingly sinister about this book and I wanted to know what it was!

Hannah is a patient in a private psychiatric hospital. Something happened with her baby, Emily, but the reader is left in the dark for a lot of the book. However, when two of her fellow patients apparently commit suicide, Hannah is convinced that there’s something murderous going on, not believing they’ve both took their own lives. Hannah’s mum, Corrine, is at first dismayed that she seems to have taken a backwards step into delusion after making good progress. But what if Hannah is telling the truth? Could there really be danger where Hannah should be safest?

They All Fall Down is told in alternating chapters from Hannah and Corrine mainly, with a couple of chapters told from other characters. I absolutely loved how Hannah and Corrine’s narratives complimented each other, drawing the reader ever further into the mystery of the hospital, as secrets are exposed and suspicions aroused at every turn. I think the relationship between mother and daughter was beautifully crafted and it’s strength radiated from from the page, I could feel Corrine’s uncertainty and fear for her daughter and Hannah’s desperation to be believed, and the connection they had spilled from chapter to chapter as the narrative alternated.

This is more of an unfurling story, rather than a fast paced twist and turning thriller, and encapsulates the intensity and uncertainty of a good psychological thriller. Subtle hints and tricks shed light and detract attention, meaning the reader can never be sure that people are what they seem as they rely on an unreliable cast of characters to paint a picture. I did guess some of what was going on – I recognised very early  on the who but had no idea why or how.  Yet right at the very end, Tammy Cohen chucks in a massive bombshell of a reveal that I would never have seen coming, which made me think how cleverly intricate this story actually is.

They All Fall Down is a compelling, tense read with a cast of complex characters who aren’t what or who they seem. The pace is perfect, sucking the reader into the suspense and never dipping once. I haven’t read any of Tammy Cohen’s books before – though I won’t be missing out in future! If you enjoy a real psychologically twisted book, then this one’s definitely for you.

(I read an advanced proof courtesy of the publisher)

#Blogtour – Mothering Sunday by Rosie Goodwin – An Extract @BonnierZaffre

I’m hosting the final stop on the blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of Mothering Sunday by Rosie Goodwin. Sadly the book didn’t make it to me in time (thanks to wandering parcels!) and so I’ll be reviewing it later, and I’m really looking forward to it – is sounds like such a charming, cosy afternoon read! But for now, here’s an extract for you to enjoy – and if you’ve already read this one, then I’d love to hear what you thought!

mothering sunday.jpgIf you love Dilly Court, you’ll love Rosie Goodwin.

ALL SHE WANTS IS SOMEONE TO CALL HER OWN

1884, Nuneaton.

Fourteen-year-old Sunday Small has never lived outside the Nuneaton workhouse. The regime is cruel, and if it weren’t for Miss Beau – who comes in every week to teach the children their letters – and her young friend Daisy, Sunday’s life wouldn’t be worth living. And now she’s attracted the unwelcome attention of the workhouse master.

With no choice but to leave behind everything she knows, Sunday strikes out on her own to make her fortune and to fulfil her promise to come back for Daisy. And, secretly she dreams of finding the long-lost mother who gave her away.

But she’s about to discover that, try as she might to escape, the brutal world of the workhouse will not let her go without a fight

Published in paperback 27th July 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre (UK)

After scouting around for a while Sunday found all she needed. A bucket and a somewhat grimy mop, some soda crystals and lye soap and a number of old rags. Annie was already seated at the kitchen table shelling peas by then so she silently made her way back to her room. She was breathless by the time she got there. It had been no easy task balancing the bucket up two flights of stairs but she was eager to make a start. So much so that she forgot all about going to say goodbye and thank you to Lady Huntley. First of all, she gathered up the rugs that were scattered about the floor and placed them by the door. Later on she would take them outside and give them a good beating. She then opened the window as wide as it would go and set to with a vengeance, coughing and spluttering as the dust swirled around her in clouds. She was so absorbed in what she was doing that she started when Annie appeared in the doorway some two hours later.

Are yer deaf or what?” she grumbled. “I’ve been bawlin’ me lungs out fer you to come an’ ‘ave something to eat from the bottom o’ the stairs.” She looked around in amazement then. The floorboards were gleaming damply in the light from the window that Sunday had cleaned, the whole room was spick and span, and the furniture smelled of beeswax polish.

Well I’ll be,” she said greatly impressed. “You’ve certainly transformed this room, lass.”

Sunday sat back on her heels and grinned. She was in the process of washing down the chest of drawers now.

I’ve almost finished. I hung the flock mattress out of the window and gave it a good shake but I forgot to ask you where I might find some bedding. I want to give the rugs a good beating then and once that’s done you can tell me where else you want me to start.”

I’ll show yer where the linen cupboard is an’ yer can help yerself to whatever yer need. But leave this fer now an’ come n’ get somethin’ inside yer. We only ‘ave a light snack mid-day but it’ll keep yer goin’ till yer dinner tonight.”

Sunday stood up and wiped her hands on her apron before following Annie downstairs.

I’ve taken a tray in to the missus,” Annie informed her, “but she’ll eat in the dinin’ room wi’ the lodgers this evenin’. You’ll eat in the kitchen wi’ me.”

As they entered the kitchen the smell of new baked bread reached Sunday and her stomach growled ominously. She suddenly realised that she hadn’t eaten at all that day, she had been too nervous at breakfast, not that she had missed much. The greasy porridge that was served to them in the workhouse always left a nasty after taste and often made her feel nauseous.

Now she gazed in amazement at the two loaves that were cooling on a rack on the table. They looked nothing at all like the dry grey bread that she was used to and her mouth watered at the sight of them.

I do me own bakin’ at least three times a week,” Annie informed her proudly. “There’s one thing I’ll say fer the missus, she don’t skimp when it comes to feedin’ her lodgers an’ though I say it meself I’m a fair old cook.” She chuckled then. “I’ve ‘ad to be. I ‘ad eleven nippers see to an’ they was always hungry so I ‘ad to make me money go a long way. They’ve all long since grown up an’ flown the nest now but I still pride meself on keepin’ a good table. Now sit yerself down an’ stick in, lass.”

Sunday plonked herself down on one of the kitchen chairs and stared at the food spread out before her.

That’s the last o’ the leg o’ pork left over from last night’s dinner,” Annie informed her. “An’ there’s some pickled onions an’ cheese there along wi’ the butter. That should keep yer goin’ till later.”  

Mothering Sunday bt

About The Author

rosie goodwin

Rosie Goodwin is the author of over twenty bestselling novels, selling more than 300k paperbacks. She is the first author in the world to be allowed to follow three of Catherine Cookson’s trilogies with her own sequels. Having worked in the social services sector for many years, then fostering a number of children, she is now a full-time novelist. She is one of the top 50 most borrowed authors from UK libraries and regularly appears in the Heatseeker charts.

 

www.rosiegoodwin.co.uk

@RosieGoodwin

 

#BookReview – The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne @PicadorBooks #TheUpstairsRoom

the upstairs roomEleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London.

But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners—including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room. 

Published 27th July 2017 by Picador Books 

 

I was really looking forward to this book – it looks and sounds like a creepy ghost story, exactly what I was hoping for when I picked it up. And it started off really well. After just a few pages I was convinced I was going to love this book – enticed by the mysterious house and engaging writing style.

It begins with Richard and Eleanor viewing a spooky, dated and badly in need of renovation, old Victorian house. Eleanor isn’t keen – there’s an eeriness about the house that makes her uncomfortable. Richard on the other hand, partly swayed by the surprisingly low price tag and the idea of a project convinces her and they move in with there young daughters. But old houses don’t come cheap and to boost their income, they take in a lodger Zoe, who rents the basement part of the house. As three adults settle into their new home, it becomes clear something isn’t quite right. Why is Eleanor so violently ill when in the house but ok when she leaves? What’s causing Zoe to sleepwalk and giving her nightmares? And who exactly is the little girl, Emily, whose name appears scrawled all over the house?

So I was pulled into this book pretty quickly. The setting is tense, the atmosphere eerie and foreboding and the writing is of the style that absorbs the reader causing pages to speed by without even noticing. I was all curled up, shivering with anticipation and ready to be spooked by a deliciously sinister ghost – only it never quite happened. I felt this book didn’t quite get to where it was going, or perhaps where I was expecting it to be going.

However, that’s not to say I didn’t like it, because actually, when I got past the fact it wasn’t the bump in the night ghost story I was expecting, I could actually appreciate how subtly sinister this book actually is. There’s a lot of heavy, oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere to The Upstairs Room, and not all of it is supernatural. The three adults of the house are all flawed, somewhat unlikeable and clearly unsatisfied with their lives. I think there’s some subliminal message about the emotional effects of adult unhappiness on children, and wondered if the ‘monster’ was actually the adults own despair at themselves. The meaning or story behind the ‘ghost’ is never fully resolved and very open to interpretation – which some readers might dislike. However I quite like a book that leaves me sitting thinking afterwards, and The Upstairs Room certainly did.

It did dip a bit in the middle, and I became a little bit frustrated as the book flits back and forwards to Richard, Eleanor and Zoe’s past – it just didn’t interest me as much as the present story and what was happening in the house. But then the pace picked up again, things began to unravel and I enjoyed the final chapters very much. I have mixed feelings about this one – on the one hand I was disappointed that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations in the chills and thrills department, and thought it lost it’s way a bit in the middle. However, I loved the author’s use of atmosphere and subtle eeriness and thought her writing was very easy to read. I also liked the ambiguity of the ghost and enjoyed pondering my own theories regarding its meaning. Overall, a good book and definitely an author I’ll watch out for in future.

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

 

#BookReview – Friend Request by Laura Marshall @LittleBrownUK @Laurajm8 #friendrequestbook

frfiend requestWhen Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria’s disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?  

Published 27th July by Sphere (Little Brown UK) 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall was one of my top anticipated reads of 2017. We all use social media right? And I guess we all know there can be a dark side – not hidden away in murky corners of the web, but right there in front of us every day. Facebook, quite honestly, gives me the chills at times, with the airing of dirty laundry, contrived impressions people present to the world and just the stalkerish nature of it all. Who hasn’t scrolled through an old school pals or work colleagues profile at some point out of curiosity?

So for this very reason I knew Friend Request had the potential to be a creepy, tense and relevant read. I was right! The minute I sat down to read this book I was hooked. Imagine getting a friend request from someone who died long ago? That would be terrifying, but there are some sick people about and it’s quite believable someone would create an account to cause distress and upset. However, what if you were somehow complicit in that death, and had been keeping a secret for a very long time? Cue an intense, thrilling and emotional unraveling of Louise’s past as buried secrets are revealed, old resentments resurfaced and doubt and mistrust lurks at every corner.

Laura Marshall sets the pace just right, delivering short chapters which switch deftly between past and present and urge the reader on to ‘just one more’. I really liked how she crafted Louise to be complex yet relatable. The book tackles the issue of teen bullying, and while the situation she gets herself into is deplorable, I was able to sympathise with her and see how it could happen, how a desire to fit in with the crowd can lead to a loss of control and reason. Yes, it’s extreme, but I imagine smaller scale situations play out every day in every school.

There is also an unknown narrator who crops up every few chapters with short italicised passages adding intrigue and suspense. I was pretty shocked when I found out who this is, yet it made total sense. Friend Request is a chilling book, particularly as it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine this actually happening, and with a fast flowing, page turning narrative, kept me gripped from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, then I recommend Friend Request thoroughly – however, you may think twice before looking up those long lost school friends on Facebook in the future!

(I read an advance E-copy courtesy of the publishers and netgalley)