Posted in Book Review, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

The Secrets – Jane Adams – 4* #Review @JoffeBooks @janeadamsauthor #Crime #Detective

WHAT DOES HE KNOW? Threatening phone calls, smashed windows, physical intimidation. Eric Pearson and his family have only just moved into a new home in a sleepy cul-de-sac, but they already have dangerous enemies.

How could a respectable family become the focus of such hatred? Detective Inspector Mike Croft knows the Pearson family well. Eric Pearson claims to own a journal which gives evidence of a horrifying ring of abusers. If true, it would be a high stakes case for DI Croft and expose awful secrets that the town has buried deep. But no one wants to believe the dark conspiracies of this friendless and bitter man. Then a body is found on the edge of Bright’s Wood, wrapped in a black bag. DI Croft must confront evil which threatens to rip apart everyone in the community.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

DI Mike Croft is a dedicated, likeable detective, with a tragic past, which makes him empathise with the crime victims he comes into contact with. Croft works with the other characters in his unofficial team to solve his latest investigation into a child abuse ring. This is a sensitive subject but handled well by the author. Corruption and a cover-up are suspected, but difficult to prove.

The plot is well written, with suspense and police procedural details. Set in the late 1990s, the retro element gives it another layer of authenticity and interest. There are many strands to the investigation, which all become connected as the story progresses, It deals with issues prevalent in the nineties, as they are today. The pacing is good and the story flows well, making it easy to read.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

A Summer to Remember – Sue Moorcroft – 5* #Review @AvonBooksUK @SueMoorcroft #Romance #Family #Coastal #Friendship

COME AND SPEND SUMMER BY THE SEA!

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…

GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘A Summer to Remember’ is romantic, full of angst with conflicts galore and a clever plot. It starts with a tragic event and this compounds six years later when Clancy finds her life and career in tatters, at the hands of those she trusted most. Serendipity draws her back to Norfolk, her only chance of sanctuary, but she is unsure of her welcome and once again is at the mercy of others for her happiness.

Clancy and Aaron are almost lovers, and so the tension between them is sizzling when they meet again, but it’s a slow burn, as events, the past, and most of the villagers get in the way of their chance of love. I like both characters, their only flaw is that they are so busy helping those closest to them they forget each other and their right to be happy.

There are lots of characters who I don’t like, because of their lack of insight into the needs of others. Having more than one antagonist character increases the opportunity for conflict and this a major theme of this story.

The village life is authentic and interesting and Harry and Rory’s story is particularly poignant and well written.

This story engages the reader from the first page and keeps your interest. An enjoyable read with refreshing originality.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Romance

The House at Hope Corner – Emma Davies @bookouture @EmDaviesAuthor #Romance #Farming #RuralLife #PublicationDay-5* #Review

The view across the valley takes her breath away; everywhere she looks tiny patches of colour – ochre, chestnut, lime and purple. The farmhouse behind her glows pink in the morning sun. It’s like stepping into a postcard, except that this magical place is real. It’s her new home.

With her beloved shop in danger of shutting down, meeting Ned, a gorgeous farmer with an irresistible twinkle in his eye, couldn’t have come at a better moment for a free-spirited florist, Flora Dunbar. But no one is more surprised than her when their whirlwind romance leads to the offer of a new life on Ned’s farm.

Arriving at Hope Corner, Flora sets about becoming the perfect farmer’s wife, but her creative, alternative thinking falls flat in a household built on tradition and strict routine. Even Ned is becoming more distant by the day…

Pulling up her signature striped socks and throwing herself into her chores, little by little Flora learns to love the order and patterns of life on the land. But the more she learns about her new home, the more she suspects it’s under threat, and worse, that Ned is hiding a heartbreaking secret from her.

But this time, Flora’s not going to run from her problems. Do Ned and his family trust her enough to let her stay and fight for love and the first house she’s ever truly called home? Does she trust herself?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Romance in a rural setting is always a pleasure to read, and the ‘House at Hope Corner’ is unashamedly poignant and romantic. It has a sentimental, old fashioned quality to it, that I love. A new beginning on a farm in beautiful Shropshire is just what Flora needs.

It turns out that it’s not quite the rural idyll it appears, and Flora has to learn to fit in but fight to retain her individuality. Her whirlwind romance with Ned didn’t prepare her for the battle ahead, but she is independent, optimistic and tenacious and determined her new life will succeed.

The setting is authentic and full of farming facts that give the story depth and interest. The romance between Ned and Flora is full of good intentions and conflicts. Secrets and lies threaten Flora’s new start but you want her to succeed and find her happily ever after with Ned.

Great characters that you believe in, numerous seemingly insurmountable conflicts, a villainous antagonist in designer clothes, all in a rural setting to die for, what’s not to love?

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Humour

The Trouble with Rose – Amita Murray -4* #Review @HarperFiction @AmitaMurray #Family #Romance #Secrets

A missing sister. A broken heart. 
A whole lot of trouble…

Rilla is getting married. Except she isn’t. She’s running away – from her confused fiancé Simon, her big mad family, and the memories nipping at her heels.

Her sister Rose would know what to do in such times of crisis.

But the trouble is, Rose is the crisis. She disappeared years ago, and Rilla’s heart went missing too.

Where is Rose? And who is Rilla without Rose?

If she’s to rescue some happiness out of all this chaos, she needs to find out.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A charming story of culture, family, forgiveness and love, written with wonderful vivid imagery, and an insightful balance of humour and poignancy.

Rilla is in trouble, something that has plagued her throughout her young life. It’s as if she doesn’t believe she has a right to be happy, loved and successful. Her wedding day is the perfect example of this. She hides her insecurity and vulnerability behind a rebellious mask, always making fun of herself and her family. Failing at life, she finally confronts the root cause, her sister Rose, or rather her absence.

Rilla is a lovely character, complex, flawed and challenged by her family who always wants to know everything, constantly interfere and comment on her life. Well meant, or not she is frustrated by it and is forced on a journey of self-discovery to salvage her sanity. To stop being the one in the family, everyone has an opinion about. Rilla discovers a web of secrets and lies. but when she finds the truth, can she live with it?

The family are an intrinsic part of this book. their characters are believable, and so vividly written, you can see and hear them in your mind. They bring this story to life and make it such an enjoyable read. Easy to empathise you follow Rilla’s emotional journey with interest, wanting her to find the answers, but hoping she is strong enough to accept them.

The ending is satisfying, it brings resolution, love and hope for the future.

Paperback out 16th May 2019

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

The Porpoise – Mark Haddon @ChattoBooks @mark_haddon #LiteraryFiction 4* #Review #PublicationDay

‘I really am so very, very sorry about this,’ he says, in an oddly formal voice… They strike the side of a grain silo. They are travelling at seventy miles per hour.

A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash.

She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world.

When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail…

So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears. A novel that leaps from the modern era to ancient times; a novel that soars, and sails, and burns long and bright; a novel that almost drowns in grief yet swims ashore; in which pirates rampage, a princess wins a wrestler’s hand, and ghost women with lampreys’ teeth drag a man to hell – and in which the members of a shattered family, adrift in a violent world, journey towards a place called home.


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I received a copy of this book from Random House UK, Vintage Publishing – Chatto & Windus in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. I like literary fiction because if written well, it explores ordinary lives and finds the extraordinary. Characters have to be realistic and complex for this to work.

This is a different type of literary fiction, the characters are not ordinary, but rich, hedonistic and seemingly living outside the moral code ordinary mortals abide by. There is also large sections of the story where the characters are mythical, and you are unsure whether this an alternative reality, a story, or a journey back in time. These characters mirror many of the contemporary players.

The main focus of the story is an abused child, powerless with no voice, and no one to protect her, from her father, and his immorality. Reading what happens to Angelica evokes a myriad of emotions; anger, disgust, and sadness the most prevalent. This story is worthwhile reading because it gives her voice, and shows as she matures she attempts to take her life back into her control. Outsiders so-called heroes profess to help her escape but they don’t, she is ultimately the strength in this story.

There is an adventure, suspense and great storytelling in ‘The Porpoise’, it perhaps helps, to have some knowledge of the older stories that are weaved into the contemporary tale, but I didn’t, and I was still intrigued and motivated, to see what happens next.

Just dive in and let the stories absorb you. If you try to understand everything in this book, you will spoil the storytelling experience. Looking for something different to read? This is for you.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance

This Is Me- Shari Low – 5* #Review #GuestPost @Aria_Fiction @sharilow #FamilyDrama

This is… Denise.

Married to Ray, her first and only love, Denise has never for one moment regretted putting the husband she idolised on a pedestal above everyone and everything else. But, after forty years of marriage, he is gone, leaving Denise to discover that their perfect marriage was fatally flawed. Now she faces a future alone, but first, she must face the betrayals of the past.

This is… Claire.

The estranged daughter of Denise, the woman who put her husband before her children, Claire took the opposite path and devoted her life to raising her family, sacrificing her marriage along the way. With her teenage sons about to flee the nest, she realises she may have left it too late to find her own happy-ever-after.

This is the story of two women, both alone, both cautionary tales of one of motherhood’s biggest decisions.

Who is more important, your partner or your children? And what happens if you make the wrong choice?

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Guest Post – This Is Me- Shari Low – The Writer’s Soundtrack

Once upon a time there was a young teenager who would stay up all night reading Jackie Collins novels under her duvet, using the light of the electric blanket so she wouldn’t get caught. As she read those bonktastic tales of sexy stuff and scandals, she would dream of being a writer and imagine what that life would be like. In her fantasy future as an author, she’d lie by her kidney-shaped swimming pool in LA, sipping a mojito, while the strains of Bon Jovi blared in the background. Oh, and she’d be a size ten, perfectly groomed and the kind of woman who always wore knickers that matched her bra.

Cue sound of that big “uh-uh” buzzer that signifies a wrong answer on Family Fortunes.

The reality? That teenager somehow managed to survive electric-blanket heat-stroke and grew up to be a writer. Yay! But as for the rest of the fantasy? Nope, didn’t happen that way. There’s no kidney-shaped pool, no mojitos, her make up bag is somewhere at the bottom of the ironing pile and her underwear drawer is a riot.

And the soundtrack that plays while she writes her books? Forget rock music. In this house, it’s been a very different cacophony of noise. If it were an album, it would be called 18 Years Of Motherhood.

I’ve penned 24 books since I was pregnant with my first child.

In the early days, with two tiny sons (my second child came 16 months after his brother), I wrote my first few books while listening to the Teletubbies making unintelligible sounds that somehow kept the toddlers transfixed.

Next came a couple of years of, “Muuuuuuuuuuuum, he’s annoying me!”

Then “Muuuuuuuuuuuum, where’s my gym kit/school tie / packed lunch?” My kids did love an elongated vowel.

Thankfully, they soon discovered sports, so for a long time, I typed to the thud of a basketball being bounced outside my window.

Then the teenage years dawned and their dulcet tones dropped a few octaves as they bellowed, “Mum, can I get a lift to the gym / my pal’s house / a party, please?”

It wasn’t what I’d envisaged when I dreamt of being a writer but I wouldn’t change a single moment of it, because now? Silence.

One son has already left home at 16, off to follow his athletic dreams, and the other one is about to follow him out the door.

So what happens next?

That’s the dilemma facing Claire in This Is Me. She’s the daughter of a mother who always made her feel utterly unimportant, so she has dedicated her life to bringing up her children, sacrificing her marriage along the way. Now, she’s facing an empty nest and the prospect of building a new life.

Meanwhile, her mother, Denise, had just lost the husband she adored, and worse, she is discovering that she devoted forty years to a man who may have been living a lie. Two women, both alone, but can either of them find new happiness?

It’s a story of secrets, lies, and the choices that women make.

And as for the woman who wrote this book?

I just need to get used to the new soundtrack of my life. In the meantime, I’ll bung on some Bon Jovi and go find a matching bra and knickers.

This Is Me published by Aria May 2nd.

Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In December, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You and her latest release, Another Day In Winter. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. For all the latest news, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Website

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘This is Me’ is a story of ordinary people, who are forced to look back on their lives when a pinnacle person in the family dies, unexpectedly. Denise (the mother), is grief-stricken at the loss of her husband Ray. She has devoted her life to him, and now she has no direction. Claire(the daughter) despised her father, and because of him is estranged from her mother. She chose a different path with her children, but now they’re living their lives and she wonders if she should have done more to save her marriage.

This is a story of regret, hindsight and the possibility of a more positive life for both women, but first, they relive and hopefully learn from the important milestones in their lives’ to date. The retro flashbacks in this book are evocative for anyone who lived through them. Youth clubs and David Soul in the late 1970s and Take That and 1999 in the late 1990s and the millennium.

The cast of characters, some of which have appeared before, add depth and interest to the plot. There is a notable disparity between the network of support Claire has, compared to her mother.

Life choices are the key theme to this story, and ones every woman who has a partner and children has to make. Denise and Claire’s choices are husband or children, most people’s choices are less defined and make accommodations to facilitate different times in the child’s life cycle. However, the scenario’s and the characters are believable and realistic. 

‘This Is Me’ is a story of family, friends and the dynamics that are part of every family. Claire is determined to be the antithesis of her mother, but in doing so fails to find a balance in her family life. The importance of nurturing in childhood is explored in this story because it shapes the adults we become.

A dramatic interpretation of ordinary lives and relationships filled with emotion, guilt, hate, humour and love, demonstrated through believable, flawed characters. It is both emotional and engaging to read.

Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

Little Darlings -Melanie Golding – 5* #Review – #Author #Interview @HQStories @HQDigital @mk_golding #Thriller #MentalHealth #Folklore #WednesdayWisdom #WednesdayThoughts

THE TWINS ARE CRYING. 
THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.

LAUREN IS CRYING. 
LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.

Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .

Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.

When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.

Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?

Amazon UK

 Little Darlings –  Blog Tour – Interview Questions – Melanie Golding

What inspired you to write this story?

I began with a re-telling of an obscure folktale which features in the book, A Brewery of Eggshells. After a while, I started thinking about who thought it up in the first place and why. I thought maybe it was actually about postpartum depression and psychosis. Either that or fairies were real….

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

Characters begin as amalgamations of people I know; maybe they have one or two opinions in common with someone in real life. After a while, they become real people that live in my head, with no connection to anyone outside of it apart from the few seeds I might have used to create them. Often they are or contain aspects of myself, extrapolated.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

The story comes first, and the characters are part of that; the story wouldn’t be happening to anyone else, it’s always because of something the characters are or are involved in. The setting is very important, but it tends to grow up around the story.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I think writing for many people is unavoidable. However, I did make a conscious choice to switch from writing lyrics and music to writing novels, as performing never seemed to fit around my personal life. I’m so glad I did because it turns out I’m a lot more successful, for whatever reason, at writing novels than being a singer/songwriter.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

All books! I will read anything, everything, always. If there is text in front of my eyes it gets read. In the shower, I have to turn the shampoo bottle away or I’ll keep reading the back of it, over and over.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

Best thing: solitude

Worst thing: loneliness

I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Where to start with this unusual thriller. It is a curious mix of folklore and medicine, seen from Lauren’s point of view, she is acting sanely to ensure her babies are safe. Seen from a medical perspective she has mental health issues, most likely puerperal psychosis. The question is what do you believe, and even at the end of the story, I’m not sure.

This story resonates. In Victorian times any non-conformist behaviour was considered a mental aberration, many young women incarcerated in mental institutions, just because they had children out of wedlock, So perhaps, in this case, the truth lies somewhere in between the folklore and the medicine?

Intense and suspenseful, you are torn between Lauren’s anxiety and need to find her children, and the prospect that if she isn’t stopped innocents will suffer. It’s an intelligent thriller, with many layers and possibilities and a poignant ending that makes you wonder what if.

Lauren is an unreliable protagonist, but she is easy to empathise, even though part of you believes she may be dangerous. Harper is a complex character, a police detective, who is drawn to the case by her own history, and even though she finds answers she is still not sure she’s discovered the truth. The cast of supporting characters are essential and give the story depth and diversion.

Prefacing each chapter with folklore concerning Changelings, .the reader compare them with what is happening in the story, adding to its complexity.

This is a creepy, unsettling thriller, exploring the grey areas of mental health and the power of folklore, why did it originate, was it to explain why some mothers seemed to endanger their children, or is there a twisted truth, we don’t understand?

‘Little Darlings’ is disturbingly different.

Posted in Book Review, Holiday Romance, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Probably the Best Kiss in the World- Pernille Hughes @HarperImpulse @pernillehughes #RomCom #Romance #Holiday #Travel-4* #Review

Jen Attison likes her life Just So. But being fished out of a canal in Copenhagen by her knickers is definitely NOT on her to do list.

From cinnamon swirls to a spontaneous night of laughter and fireworks, Jen’s city break with the girls takes a turn for the unexpected because of her gorgeous, mystery rescuer.

Back home, Jen faces a choice. A surprise proposal from her boyfriend, ‘boring’ Robert has offered Jen the safety net she always thought she wanted. But with the memories of her Danish adventure proving hard to forget, maybe it’s time for Jen to stop listening to her head and start following her heart…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Fun, original, romantic, with so many ‘laugh-out-loud moments this is the ideal book for your holiday.

You escape into Jen and Lydia’s world, which has a wonderful sister dynamic, a whole crew of work colleagues, who are so bizarre, you are smiling before you read about their latest escapade or idea, and a chance of romance for Jen, who likes control and lists, and naively thought her life was all mapped out, much to her younger sister Lydia’s despair.

Jen feels responsible for Lydia’s happiness and all her life choices are driven by this. She doesn’t believe in romance, so what will she do when it unexpectedly finds her and turns her world upside down?

Meeting an attractive stranger in Copenhagen, in the most hilarious and serendipitous of ways, lets Jen experience a lighter side of life and she realises she has choices, her emotional journey is lovely and you want her to realise with a little courage she can make her life full of laughter, passion and romance rather than duty, lists and security.

A lovely romantic comedy, with a uniquely crafted main protagonist, a cast of quirky supporting characters who make this a story worth reading and you learn, probably all there is to know, about craft beer.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Noir

The Heart Keeper #BlogTour -Alex Dahl @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @alexdahlauthor #Extract #FamilyDrama -3*#Review

How do you mend a broken heart?

It’s been three months since Alison Miller-Juul’s world fell apart when her six-year-old daughter, Amalie, died in an accident. Three months of sympathy cards, grief counselling and gritting her teeth, but it’s still only the vodka and pills that seem to help.

Across town, Iselin Berg’s life is finally looking up. Her seven-year-old daughter, Kaia, has survived a life-changing operation. After years of doctors, medication and hope, they can now start thinking about the future.

When Alison uncovers a dangerous secret, she is left in turmoil. She can now see a way to heal her broken heart, but will she risk everything to do so?

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Extract from The heart Keeper -Alex Dahl

Chapter One

Alison

I wake all the time, that is if I sleep at all. The alarm clock projects the time onto the wall on Sindre’s side of the bed and I lie staring at the pulsating dots separating the numbers. It’s just after two o’clock in the morning and Sindre isn’t here. He was here when I fell asleep. At least I think he was. I pull my hand out from underneath the warm duvet and stroke the cool, empty space where my husband should be.

A few nights ago, the same thing happened. I woke, suddenly, bursting from a dream I couldn’t remember into this black, silent room. I blinked repeatedly, trying to make out the bulky shape of Sindre in the dark – I didn’t want to reach for him in case he’d think I wanted something; I wouldn’t have been able to bear his warm, careful hands on my skin. It took me several moments to realize he wasn’t there. I got out of bed and sat on the windowsill, looking out at the forest and beyond, to the lights of the city rising up the hillsides to meet the stars. It was a very cold night for early October, and an orange moon hung low over Tryvann. I felt glad Sindre wasn’t there – it was good to not have to pretend to sleep, even if only for a while.

I was about to return to bed when I spotted something moving in between the trees directly opposite the house, off the gravel path. I moved slightly back from the window as Sindre came out of the forest, dressed in a light-blue shirt, half tucked into his trousers and his expensive leather loafers. His shirt was smeared with a streak of dirt across his chest and he stood a while in the narrow stretch in between the house and the car, as though he couldn’t decide whether to come back inside or drive away. He turned toward where I stood on the first floor, and only then could I clearly see his face, which was twisted into an uncensored, almost unrecognizable grimace. If the man standing outside our house hadn’t been wearing my husband’s clothes, I’m not sure I’d have recognized him.

Has he gone back out there tonight? I get up and stand a while by the window. Tonight is stormy, with gray, dripping clouds and a brisk breeze hustling leaves in the garden. The forest stands solid at the far end of our lawn, mist seeping from it and joining the wind in translucent coils. It might feel good to walk into that forest, listening to the whip of the wind cracking branches, to let the cold night inside me, to breathe its moist air all the way into my stomach. It might lessen the burning, even if only for a moment. I sharpen my eyes and focus on the spot from where Sindre emerged the other night, but without the light of the moon, I can’t separate the shape of a man from that of a tree, even if he were standing right there. He could be standing directly in front of me, looking at me, and I wouldn’t see him.

I walk over to the door and stand listening before opening it a crack. This house is rarely silent – it’s as though a faint hum reverberates from within its walls, the bass to every other sound our family layers on top of it – but it’s quiet tonight. I stand on the landing, my eyes smarting in the bright light from the overhead spotlights, listening for that comforting murmur, or for the reassuring signs of some of its occupants, but I hear nothing. I glance over at the door to Amalie’s room and am struck by a wild terror at the thought of what lies behind it. The burning flares up in my gut, as though live flames were shooting around the myriad, dark corridors inside me. I clutch my stomach and force my eyes away from Amalie’s room. I try to think of something to count, anything, and can only think of the steps. Seventeen. Seventeen steps, I can do it. I can go downstairs and get some water and then I can go back upstairs, past Oliver’s room, past Amalie’s room, just like that; I can do it, I’ve done it before, it’s just a bad night, that’s all, and when I get back upstairs I can take a pill from the bedside table and even if it won’t give me real sleep, it will give me dense, dreamless rest.

In the kitchen, I stand by the sink in the dark. I hear it now, that humming sound. My hands are still holding my abdomen, as though only they stop my insides from spilling out. The burning sensation is fading, and now it feels more like corrosion – as if I’d chewed through a battery.

Severe anxiety, says the doctor.

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. Her first thriller, The Boy at the Door, was a Sunday Times Crime Club star pick. Twitter Facebook


I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I like the originality of this story, it is realistic and makes you appreciate why organ donations should be anonymous, with neither the donor family nor the recipients having knowledge of the other.

This is an intense family drama, rather than a Nordic noir thriller. It is slow-paced, and deep, dealing with the darkest and rawest of human emotions. Parents will relate to the grief the donor’s family feels. Although the mother’s action is extreme, so is losing a child, and her actions are believable.

Told from two viewpoints both mothers, their stories start off separate then become dramatically connected. The characters are complex and strange but mostly authentic. Understandably this is an emotional story, and whilst I admire its characterisation, delivery and the simplicity of the plot that resonates, I found it exhausting to read.

One to read if you like intense drama.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

The Olive Garden Choir – Leah Fleming – 3*#Review #Friendship #Family #Secrets #Romance #GreekIslands @HoZ_Books @LeahleFleming

On the beautiful island of Santaniki, close to Crete, it’s not all white sands and sunshine. When retired bookseller Ariadne Blunt suggests the English residents form a choir, there are groans of resistance. After a little persuasion, the group gather in Ariadne’s olive garden to rehearse, but each member of this choir has their own anxieties and secrets.

Ariadne’s partner, Hebe, is in failing health. Clive struggles to accept the loss of his wife while Della, the Pilates teacher, drinks too much and Chloe, Queen Bee of the village society, faces a family dilemma. Then there is Mel, the real songbird amongst them, English wife of a taverna owner who hides her talent until the choir inspires her to raise her voice once more.

In this tiny community, the choir brings the residents together like never before in a bittersweet tale of love and loss – and how life can begin again when you let go of the past.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The setting for this story is sublime and beautifully described, making it the perfect holiday read. The themes are popular at the moment, a group of people drawn together by necessity, in this case, they are Ex-Pats on a small Greek Island, who need a distraction and are intrigued by the creation of an island choir.

There are lots of characters, and through short chapters, the reader shares their stories, finding out why they are on the island, what motivates them, their emotional state, and what they are hiding from the others. I like following the fortunes of many characters, but for some readers, this can be off-putting.

This is an emotional story and you empathise with the characters, not all are likeable, but their flaws make them realistic and relatable. The choir is a good medium for bringing the community together, and whilst not a new theme, it is used to good effect in this book.

The book also explores contemporary issues, focusing on the humanity angle and shows how small communities react.

A nice mix of characters and a well-told story, in a vividly described setting, something for those who read to escape.