Sunday, 2 October 2016

Review: The Stranger in my Home by Adele Parks

The Stranger in my Home by Adele Parks
Publisher: Headline Review
Release date: 28 September 2016 - ebook only
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: What would YOU do if your child wasn't yours? Utterly compelling, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks's new contemporary novel The Stranger In My Home, is sure to move, grip and delight her fans, along with readers of Liane Moriarty, Jane Shemilt and Lisa Jewell. Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine - the absolute centre of Alison's world. Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it. Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison's baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable. The daughter she brought home doesn't belong to her. When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose.

I honestly didn't realise how much I had missed Adele Parks' contemporary writing until I picked up The Stranger in my Home.

This is a novel that I have been (im)patiently awaiting for some time. Although I love Adele's two previous historical fiction novels, it is good to have her back writing contemporary fiction - particularly when it is SO good.

Alison Mitchell is lucky, lucky to have the life she has, lucky to have Jeff, and lucky to have their daughter Katherine, a bright teenager destined for great things.

When a complete stranger in the form of the (very) handsome Tom Truby knocks on the door, and delivers some devastating news, the family's perfect world quickly begins to fall apart.

Everything they thought they knew about their daughter is thrown into turmoil.

As if that wasn't enough, Tom's visit delivers a second, equally as devastating blow, that makes the family question their future together as well as their past.

Alison has had to fight in the past to get what she wants, she is no stranger to the concept, she is just a little out of practice, but her motherly instinct tells her that she needs to protect Katherine, no matter what the consequences.

And so the fight begins...

I don't want to say much more, as I don't want to give anything away.

You MUST discover this absolute gem of a novel for yourself.

I'm pretty sure I say this after every Adele novel - but The Stranger in my Home, is definitely her best yet. It had me truly gripped from start to finish, and I know it is going to fly off the shelves.

The Stranger in my Home is available now via Amazon online and other e-book retailers.
The paperback is out January 2017 - you can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book sellers.

post signature

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Review: Holding by Graham Norton

Holding by Graham Norton
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 6 October 2016
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste. So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret. Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

Holding is Graham Norton's debut novel, something that I tried not to let bias my opinion. After reading the first page or so, I was quickly absorbed by his writing and his voice (familiar to many) inside my head disappeared.

Holding is a novel with the remote Irish village of Duneen at its heart. Like most remote villages everyone knows everyone in Duneen, and very little happens of any consequence.

That is until human remains are discovered on a old farm by building developers.

Duneen's Garda (Police) Sergeant PJ Collins has never been called upon to deal with such a serious matter before, and he truthfully has very little idea of what he needs to do.

The remains are thought to be those of missing local man Tommy Burke, the former fiancĂ©e of Brid O'Riordan and former love interest of Evelyn Ross. Naturally both women are suspected of having an involvement in the disappearance and/or death of Tommy.

That is of course, if the remains are his...

As PJ struggles to cope with both the investigation and the 'interference' of a Detective from outside of Duneen, the villagers begin to draw their own conclusions about what might have happened upon the farm. Both Brid and Evelyn have reason to suspect and accuse the other, and PJ doesn't know who to trust.

And then something happens that throws the investigation completely off course. PJ must start over, forget his ties with the village, and treat everyone with suspicion. it's the only way that he and his colleagues will ever discover the truth.

Holding is a solid debut, and I really look forward to reading more from Mr. Norton.

Holding is available from 6 October 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online.

post signature 
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Blog tour: (Guest Post) The Killer in me - Michael Robotham

Today I'm delighted to be hosting a guest post by Michael Robotham author of Close Your Eyes about;
The Killer in Me

So far I’ve killed about twenty-eight people, although it’s hard to be completely sure without digging up the bodies and doing a head count. I have shot, drowned, electrocuted, blown-up, beaten, stabbed, incinerated, strangled, smothered and tortured victims. Some were innocent, others got exactly what they deserved. 

Don’t think for a moment that my psychological thrillers are steeped in mayhem and violence. I don’t write about serial killers who bathe in gore, or who scoff body parts with fava beans and chianti.
Instead I write the sort of stories that make you jump when the phone rings, or check that you’ve locked the doors, or only read in the daylight. 
As a crime writer I’m under constant pressure to keep the bodies coming and normally only murders will suffice because no other crime is so final. You cannot make recompense for killing someone. There is no eye for an eye. There is no taking it back.

Which begs the question: Have you ever fantasised about killing someone? 
Be honest now. What about that speeding driver who cuts you off in traffic and almost causes an accident? Surely you wouldn’t mind seeing him go under a truck. What about your bullying boss, who makes you work ridiculous hours or claims the credit for your suggestions? Haven’t you ever pictured yourself slipping anti-freeze into his smoothie? What about when your husband or wife gets on your nerves, refusing to admit their wrong or belittling your efforts? Just for a moment, haven’t you thought about nudging them under a bus, or pushing them down the stairs?
In separate studies, two psychologists Douglas Kenrick and David Buss asked people if they have ever fantasised about killing someone. The demographic they chose (university students) had exceptionally low rates of violence, yet between 70 and 90 per cent of the men, and between 50 and 80 per cent of the women, admitted to having at least one homicidal fantasy in the preceding year.

These were just fantasies of course, but it does make you wonder. I have homicidal fantasies on a weekly basis. I get to kill people for a living, which is far more satisfying than squeezing a stress ball or twiddling worry beads. Before I married I would despatch my ex-girlfriends. Now I get rid of lanky teenage boys who take my daughters to the formal and dump them before the end of the night.

The brilliant Irish crime writer John Connolly has been known to kill off people who talk too loudly on their mobile phones, or who are rude to waitresses. I’ve killed bigots, sexists and homophobes, which can be particularly satisfying.

Sadly, some of my victims are blameless and my heart bleeds for them. In my newest novel CLOSE YOUR EYES a mother and her teenage daughter are found dead in a remote Somerset farmhouse - one of them eviscerated in a Ripper-like fashion on the sitting room floor, while the other is left lying like Sleeping Beauty in her bed, surrounded by stuffed toys. In the pages that follow, there are more victims – men and woman who are choked unconscious and have the letter ‘A’ is carved into their foreheads.

The question for my hero, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is whether these an acts of hatred or revenge. Are victims being targeted for what they’re done, or what they represent?
There will be bodies, there will be tears, there will be justice and there will be hope because the pen is mightier and deadlier than the sword.

‘I close my eyes and feel my heart begin racing Someone is coming They're going to find me’ -
A mother and her teenage daughter are found murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince. Reluctantly, clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, calling himself 'the Mindhunter', jeopardises the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger. With no shortage of suspects and tempers beginning to fray, Joe discover links between these murders and a series of brutal attacks where his victims have been choked unconscious and had the letter 'A' carved into their foreheads. As the case becomes ever more complex, nothing is quite what it seems and soon Joe's fate, and that of those closest to him, become intertwined with a merciless, unpredictable killer…

CLOSE YOUR EYES (Sphere) is available in paperback on September 22, 2016.
via Amazon online and all good book shops.

post signature 
Thank You to the publishers who kindly who invited me to take part in this blog tour and to Michael for giving up his time to write the guest post.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Blog tour: (Review) How to find love in a bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to find love in a book shop by Veronica Henry
Publisher: Orion
Release date: 22 September 2016
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: Nightingale Books, nestled on the high street in the idyllic Cotswold town of Peasebrook, is a dream come true for booklovers. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open. The temptation to sell up is proving enormous - but what about the promise she made to her father? Not to mention the loyalty she owes to her customers. Sarah Basildon, owner of stately pile Peasebrook Manor, has used the book shop as an escape from all her problems in the past few years. But is there more to her visits than meets the eye? Since messing up his marriage, Jackson asks Emilia for advice on books to read to the son he misses so much. But Jackson has a secret, and is not all he seems... And there's Thomasina, painfully shy, who runs a pop-up restaurant from her tiny cottage. She has a huge crush on a man she met and then lost in the cookery section, somewhere between Auguste Escoffier and Marco Pierre White. Can she find the courage to admit her true feelings? How to Find Love in a Book Shop is the delightful story of Emilia's fight to keep her book shop alive...
How to find love in a bookshop is a wonderful novel. It is the first of Veronica Henry's that I've read, but it certainly won't be my last.

Julius Nightingale is newly widowed when he buys a bookshop in the small but lovely Cotswold town of Peasebrook.

Some Thirty odd years later and Emilia Nightingale finds herself the owner of Nightingale Books after the tragic and untimely death of her Father. She has promised to keep the bookshop alive in his death, yet had no idea of the financial difficulty that the shop was in.

When a local property developer approaches Emilia she is quick to tell him to get lost, but then he sends in one of his lackeys to try a different approach, and suddenly Emilia sees a different side to the bookshop than she had previously.

Should she really prepare to let it go?

Or should she keep it on, if only to honour her Father?

Emilia has a difficult decision to face; Nightingale Books is at the heart of the Peasebrook community and its residents won't let it go without a fight.

How to find love in a bookshop, is a lovely heartwarming novel that will stay with me for a long time.

How to find love in a bookshop is available to buy now via Amazon online and all good bookshops.

Don't forget to catch up with the rest of the blog tour;

post signature 
Thank You to the publishers who sent me an advanced proof of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Review: Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop
Publisher: Headline Review
Release date: 22 October 2016
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A. With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself. On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man's odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A's tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Victoria Hislop's latest novel is an absolute beauty, in all senses. From its glorious cover to its inside picture postcards and photographs of a Greece that is nothing short of magnificent.

Cartes Postales from Greece begins with Ellie, who week after week receives postcards to her address. They are beautiful cards featuring bright blue skies and inviting seas, and soon Ellie has a montage of them.

They are clearly not meant for her, instead they are addressed to an 'S. Ibbotson' and signed only from 'A', presumably 'S. Ibbotson' was the last person to live in the flat before Ellie. When the postcards suddenly stop, Ellie is left bereft, but the montage she has created over the weeks cause her to act spontaneously and organise her own trip to Greece.

On the morning she is due to leave, a notebook arrives, Ellie is late having overslept and so hastily stuffs it into her bag. Upon her arrival in Greece, Ellie finally gets change to open the notebook, and its contents are even more magical than the postcards that came before it.

Soon Ellie is transported into the life of 'A' as he travels around Greece with the little blue notebook an discovers a wonderful world of tradition, folklore, love and betrayal. Each story is set with accompanying photographs in glorious colour.

Not only does this novel tell a wonderful tale, it also illustrates Greece beautifully and takes the reader on a unique journey to its heart.

This is a very special book, and definitely a collectors piece for years to come.
Cartes Postales from Greece is available from 22 September 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

post signature 

Thank You to the publisher who sent me an advanced proof of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Review: The Secret by Kathryn Hughes

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes
Headline Review
Release date:
8 September 2016
Rating: ****
and a half
Back cover blurb: Mary has been nursing a secret. Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear. Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

The Secret is a wonderfully engaging novel with some beautifully flawed characters and a heartwarming story to be told.

In the present day, Beth is desperately searching for answers after the death of her Mother Mary. She never knew her Father, and up until now had been content with that. She isn't one to dwell on the past.

However, since her Mother's death discovering her Father's identity could prove to be crucial in helping her little boy, Jake's fight for survival as he awaits a kidney transplant. Neither Beth or her husband Michael are a match, so they need to find a living relative who is, and quickly.

Beth gets a little more than she bargained for when she discovers a hidden historical newspaper cutting and letter amongst her Mother's things. Determined to discover the truth of her parentage once and for all, Beth digs deeper into the past, and in doing so unlocks a world she never even knew existed.

Travelling back in time to the 1970s we begin to learn exactly the chain of events that led to Beth's parentage and subsequent upbringing and meet a whole host of wonderful characters, some of whom we recognise in Beth's present day narrative.

I don't want to give too much away, but The Secret is a novel that will keep on surprising you until its conclusion, and even then you may be left wondering what the future holds, as you won't want to let its characters out of your life.
The Secret is available now via Amazon online and all good bookshops.
 post signature 
Thank You to the publishers who sent me an advanced proof copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Review: The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: 22 September 2016
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: THE DAY I LOST YOU WAS THE DAY I DISCOVERED I NEVER REALLY KNEW YOU. When Jess’s daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche, everything changes. Jess’s first instinct is to protect Rose, Anna’s five-year-old daughter. But then she starts to uncover Anna’s other life - unearthing a secret that alters their whole world irrevocably . . . THE DAY I LOST YOU WAS THE DAY YOU TORE OUR FAMILY APART. The perfect emotional and absorbing story for fans of Jojo Moyes and David Nicholls.

You, Me and Other People, Fionnuala Kearney's debut novel, was one of my favourite reads of last year, so I've been looking forward to the Day I Lost You for quite a while.

And she has done it again...!

Written a glorious novel full of wonderful characters (some loveable, some not so) that will keep you gripped throughout and really care what happens to them.

When Jess's Twenty-Five year old daughter, Anna is reported missing from a skiing trip, presumed to be caught up in an avalanche, her world is shattered. Not wanting to believe that her daughter is dead she throws herself into taking care of Anna's daughter and her beloved Granddaughter Rose.

Just when Jess thinks thing couldn't possibly get any worse, Anna's disappearance begins to throw up questions, subtle things at first, which grow bigger and bigger, until soon Jess is questioning whether she ever really knew her daughter at all.

As those around Jess come forward to help and Jess slowly uncovers more about Anna's seemingly secret life, Jess begins to question just who she can trust. Because if she didn't even know her own daughter, then she's hardly the best judge of character.

As she begins to push away those who love her, one final truth is uncovered about Anna. One that will have devastating consequences for all concerned. Can Jess rally around her those who will love, help and protect her. or has she already pushed them too far away?

The Day I Lost You is a fantastic novel, and I really cannot wait for Fionnuala's next!

The Day I Lost You is available from 22 September 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online.
post signature 
Thank You to lovereading the publishers who approved my request in exchange for an honest review.