Book Review – The River Home by Hannah Richell

The river can take you home. But the river can also drag you under…

‘It’s something she learned years ago – the hard way – and that she knows she will never forget: even the sweetest fruit will fall and rot into the earth, eventually. No matter how deep you bury the pain, the bones of it will rise up to haunt you … like the echoes of a summer’s night, like the river flowing relentlessly on its course.’

Margot Sorrell didn’t want to go home. She had spent all her adult life trying not to look behind. But a text from her sister Lucy brought her back to Somerset. ‘I need you.’

As Margot, Lucy and their eldest sister, Eve, reunite in the house they grew up in beside the river, the secrets they keep from each other, and from themselves, refuse to stay hidden. A wedding brings them together but long-simmering resentments threaten to tear the family apart. No one could imagine the way this gathering would change them all forever. And through the sorrow they are forced to confront, there is a chance that healing will also come. But only if the truth is told. 

Published 19th March 2019 by Orion (UK)

~ Review ~ 

As soon as I heard about The River Home, I wanted to read it. I’d read Secrets Of The Tides by Hannah Richell a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and stories that involve a large family home and dark secrets are absolutely my thing. I was most definitely in!

The River Home delivers on all counts for me. It’s got that wonderful, quintessentially English country home, a cast of interesting characters and a series of dark, deeply hidden secrets bubbling beneath the surface and ready to explode.

Hannah Richell’s writing is captivating and compelling. Very early on I was transported into this novel and the pages turned effortlessly. The three sisters, Eve, Lucy and Margot have distinct and individual personalities which made them very easy to relate to and become invested in, while their larger than life mother, Kit brims with eccentricity.

The book switches between the present, where Lucy is getting married in incredible haste and bringing the estranged family back together for the first time in years, and the past which reveals the events that lead to the fractures between them. I wasn’t expecting the turn it took, and felt incredibly moved at times by this story.

I flew through this book, finding large chunks of time passed easily while I was absorbed in this emotional and moving story. It’s a complex story of the betrayals and miscommunication that can tear a family apart, with the inspiring message that it’s never too late to put the pieces back together.

Many thanks to the publisher for my gifted copy

the river home blog tour

Book Review – Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger

Three extraordinary lives intertwine across oceans and centuries.

On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a heartbroken young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toymaker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada, where a journalist battling a terrible disease, drowning in her own lungs, risks everything for one last chance to live.

Moving effortlessly across time and space and taking inspiration from an incredible true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about love, loss, and the immeasurable impact of every human life.

Published 19th March 2020 by Doubleday/Transworld UK

Coming Up For Air is a book that I hadn’t heard of until just over a week ago. I’m surprised, because after reading it I genuinely think it’s a book that deserves more attention and needs shouting about more. I know some of my fellow book pals would adore it too.

Telling three different stories in three different time frames, they appear at first unconnected although water and drowning soon become an apparent theme. In 1899 Paris, an unknown and unidentified young woman – L’Inconnue – is pulled lifeless from the Seine. In 1950’s Norway, a grieving toy maker is on the verge of a lifesaving invention and in the present day Canada, forty year old Cystic Fibrosis sufferer, Anouk, awaits a life changing lung transplant.

I adored this book, the writing is lyrical and richly descriptive – particularly L’inconnue’s story which was my favourite. The individual stories are told in alternating chapters, and despite the apparent lack of connection, each one was easy enough to fall back into and there was no disjointedness to the book at all.

It’s towards the end where the connection is revealed and it both took me by surprise and moved me intensely. With some fact woven into the fictitious story, it was a revelation and incredibly interesting. I genuinely don’t think I will do a certain aspect of my jobs training again without thinking of this book. I often say that a book will stay with me, but this one absolutely will.

I feel I’ve had to be vague, because I really don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who reads it. I would urge anyone who enjoys entangled timelines, moving and poetic writing with a literary feel that will both engage, challenge and move you, to give this book a go. A unique, fascinating story – I recommend it highly

Thanks to the publisher for my gifted copy

Book Review – In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.

It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…

In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting.

Published March 10th 2020 by Quercus

~ Review ~

This is one of those books that I’d seen everywhere. It was making waves across book twitter and bookstagram and everyone was raving about it. Yes, I was completely sucked in by the hype and FOMO, desperately trying to get my hands on a copy by entering every competition going but it wasn’t until it popped up on Amazon Vine a couple of weeks ago that I finally got my mitts on it.

* The hype was 100% Justified *

I started this book almost immediately, and within seconds was completely and utterly captivated. Rebecca Serle’s writing is just stunning and with a magical little twist early on, where main protagonist Dannie catches a brief glimpse of a surprising future, I was caught – Hook, Line and sinker – and devoured this story in two wonderful sittings.

In Five Years is exactly the type of love story I adore. It’s smart, surprising, tender, emotional, flawed and raw. I thought I had this book weighed up right from the start. Nope. While it might not have been the love story I expected, I utterly adored it and my heart both soared and shattered in tiny pieces through the duration of this book. Dannie is written with such clarity that, despite being the very antithesis of myself, I understood her wholeheartedly.

Love isn’t all hearts and rainbows, and isn’t always about the epic romance – and In Five Years reflects this beautifully. I know in five years, I’ll still remember this book and feel gratitude. Because that’s what this book is ultimately all about. Being grateful for the people who love you and living every moment.

I read a free proof copy courtesy of the publisher & the Amazon Vine program

Book Review – The Two Lives Of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Two Lives. Two Loves. One Impossible Choice.

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.

But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob ’til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.

But then something inexplicable happens, which gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened. But what if there’s someone in in her new life who wants her to stay?

Published March 5th 2020 by Viking – Penguin Uk

I read One Day In December a couple of years ago and knew Josie Silver was a master at beautiful love stories, hope and heartache and The Two Lives Of Lydia Bird didn’t disappoint in any way. I spent this book either sloppy smiling or bawling my eyes out, every page bursting with emotion that is impossible not to become completely involved in.

Lydia Bird is planning her wedding to her childhood sweetheart, Freddie, when he is tragically killed. Stricken with grief, Lydia looks for a way to ease her pain but instead finds a gateway to another life. One where the accident never happened and Freddie is very much alive and well – where Lydia finds herself torn between two lives.

The love story between Lydia and Freddie is epic. True childhood sweethearts, it’s tender and honest. Lydia’s grief at loosing him is profound – honestly, I physically felt her pain, it is so well written. Yet I also felt genuine hope and joy while reading this book, the relationships are exquisite – far from perfect but filled with warmth and depth. I loved the support system around Lydia, as her friends and family battle their own grief, concern and at times frustration with sometimes awkward but always sincere and heartwarming care and love.

I adored the ‘two lives’ element, which adds a little unexplainable magic to the story. I felt this was a beautiful way to allow the reader to really understand the dynamics of the relationship between Lydia, Freddie and also some of their close friends. This is a gorgeous book, I was completely engrossed in Lydia’s world (s) and felt like I travelled an emotional rollercoaster with her. It’s so damn romantic and genuinely heartwarming without being sickly sweet. I loved it and recommend it highly.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a gifted copy for review.

Book Review – My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher


Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher. She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student. Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many. Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age.

Published 31 March 2020 by @4thestatebooks

My Dark Vanessa has attracted a lot of interest around the book community, and the likelihood is you’ve heard about it. It’s right that it’s received so much exposure as this is absolutely a book that should be read.

Telling the story of Vanessa, who at fifteen is groomed by her teacher and struggles to come to terms later in life that this was not in fact a love story, but sexual abuse and she is a victim . It’s one of the most uncomfortable books I’ve read, yet the writing is so utterly compelling that it is hard to look away.

My Dark Vanessa will certainly push your boundaries as a reader. As the mother of a fifteen year old, it horrified me. . It’s a difficult book to find the words to review. It’s excellent, but it’s also harrowing. The depths of Vanessa’s vulnerability are shattering and the anger and disgust it provokes are intense. This is a book that needs to be read. It will challenge you, unnerve you and will have you thinking about it long after you finish the last word

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for my #gifted e-arc

Book Review – The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

Shocking, tense and sharply written, The Poison Garden is the gripping new novel from the international bestseller and Edgar award-winning Alex Marwood.

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now 22, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…

Published July 2019 by Alex Marwood

~ Review ~

I’ve just been lucky enough to take part in my first read along over on Instagram and what a great book to start with! There was lots of discussion material and some great questions posed by my fellow readalongers. You can check out some of my thoughts in my Instagram story highlights

I’m not really sure what I was expecting with this book and it certainly kept me guessing from beginning to end. Even 3/4 way through, I had no idea where it was going to go. It made for gripping reading!

I’m going to be vague about the plot, because part of the thrill of this book was the unexpected. I found the Cult aspect fascinating and at the same time sinister and uneasy. The characters are flawed and messy and their actions and responses gave me a lot to think about

The Poison Garden, despite appearances, isn’t your run of the mill thriller. In fact it’s more of a character study and exploration of manipulation, conditioning, vulnerability, power and obsession. It’s dark and at times harrowing but always compelling. It does leave some unanswered question and the ending was a little abrupt, however it’s certainly a book that I’ll remember with a chill. I recommend!

Thanks to Tandem Collective and Sphere/Little Brown UK for my gifted copy

Book Review – the Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…

In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.

Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and uneasy consequences

Published 20th February 2020 by Atlantic Books

A dark and brooding building, deep obsessions and a chilling mystery – The Temple House Vanishing was ticking all my boxes from the moment I unwrapped it and took in that gorgeous cover. Settling down to read it on a wild and stormy night, I was swiftly consumed by this deeply atmospheric and intense story.

The book is told in dual time line of alternating chapters. In the present, an unnamed journalist is on a quest to detangle and solve the mysterious disappearance of sixteen year old Louisa, who vanished 25 years ago along with her young, handsome and charismatic teacher while the past is revealed tantalisingly slowly, burning with emotional intensity and nothing is quite how it seems.

The writing is just breathtaking, evoking the heightened emotions of the teenage girls living in a rural boarding school run by nuns. Jealousy, infatuation, secrets and insecurity crackle through the pages, while the brooding and wild setting is vividly atmospheric, cloaking the reader in heavy tension. The present is just as chilling, with the journalist narrator remaining almost as mysterious and obsessive as the case itself.

I loved this book. Haunting and chilling, it both unnerved and unsettled me and tore my heart apart just a little. It’s one of those books that become all-consuming when you read them, leaving you slightly dazed and needing a moment to adjust to reality when you put it down. Beautifully written, this is a story I’ll remember for a long time to come.

Thank you to the publishers for my beautiful gifted copy

Book Review – The House On The Lake by Nuala Ellwood

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?Published 20th February 2020 by Penguin Uk

~ Review ~ Wow – What a griping story this is. It’s the type of book that you need to clear a few hours for, because once you start you won’t want to put it down.It starts with an unnamed person, holed up in a room and covered in someone else’s blood and the police breaking in to take them away, before splitting into the stories of Grace and Lisa, told in alternating chapters and timelines, both with secrets to hide.The House on The Lake is a pretty short book, at just 300 pages. Yet some pretty big themes are tackled extremely well – war and PTSD, emotional abuse and control. I wasn’t expecting such subjects and it really gave me something to think about. It’s interesting how the author highlights and connects the themes between Grace and Lisa, despite their very different lives. The author explores the effects of trauma and impulsive actions which set off a chain of events, adding shades of grey to the characters and giving the reader lots to reflect upon.I loved how the book switched so seemlessly between the two women and each chapter left me desperate to read a little bit more. I was intrigued by the secrets of Lisa and Grace and how, fifteen years apart, their stories would connect and collide. The story is incredibly fresh and I could never have predicted the explosive conclusion. The House on The Lake consumed me for a few hours:- it’s compelling and moving, with surprising twists which had me holding my breath as I turned the pages frantically. A highly recommended read!

Thanks to the publisher for my gifted paperback of this book


Book Review – Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid

Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

Poppy has a secret.

It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.

But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.

Drew says he has nothing to hide. Drew is lying.

Published 23 January 2020 by Transworld Uk

I hadn’t heard of this book or author until a couple of weeks ago, but promising secrets, lies and romance I was in!

26 year old nanny, Poppy, finds herself sacked after standing up to her awful employers while accompanying them on holiday to Ibiza. With nowhere to go and no money things are looking grim, until she bumps into rich, charming and handsome Drew Spencer. Despite the age gap, an intense romance quickly starts. Within weeks, Drew proposes and not believing her luck, Poppy accepts. But there’s a condition – neither will ask about the others past…

Seriously, this had all the ingredients of a cracking page turner. It was steamy and intense, the chemistry and tension between Poppy and Drew was electric. I loved the premise – I mean it’s obvious there’s a few big, juicy secrets lurking in both of their pasts, but I couldn’t have guessed what it would be

And there’s also a creepy house – and boy do I love a creepy house! Thursday House sounds spectacular but the eerie vibes were pulsing from the page. Rebecca Reid does an amazing job of bringing it to life with her descriptions … I can still see the hallway in my mind

Truth Hurts was exactly what I wanted it to be. Gripping, twisty and intense – full of dark secrets and deep obsession. This was an excellent read and an author I’ll definitely be looking out for in the future

Thanks to Becki at Transworld for my #gifted copy

Book Review – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Tiffy and Leon share a flat

Tiffy and Leon share a bed

Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window

Published In HB:- April 2019 /PB:- Coming March 2020 by Quercus

Man, was I late to the party with this one! Last Summer Beth O’Leary’s Debut novel, The Flatshare, was EVERYWHERE, receiving major love and glowing reviews that were hard to miss. But I only got around to reading my gorgeous copy recently, and oh my was the hype right. I fell completely in love with this quirky, funny and moving story

This is going to be a quick review because to be honest, a lot has already been said and I’m sure if you’ve yet to pick it up you’re already aware of it’s popularity. But if you’re still wondering about it, then I’d say go for it. Beth’s writing is warm, humorous, fresh and so engaging and her lead characters are beautifully endearing. The Flatshare is feel good fiction at its very best, and with the paperback out in March this year, essential holiday reading. I can’t wait to read the authors second novel, The Switch, coming April 2020

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