Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance

Two Tides To Turn R.R.Gall 4*#Review #Guestpost #RRGall @rrgall1 @rararesources #historicalfiction #Mystery #LiteraryFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Scotland #BlogTour #BookReview

#RRGall

A family ripped asunder.
A terrible secret lurks in a thrilling novel of love, grief, and mystery.

Patrick thought his grandfather, John, died before he was born.
In later life, he finds out that it wasn’t true. For the first five years of Patrick’s life, they stayed in the same small village.
So why were they kept apart?

Patrick wishes to search the past to find the reason – but only if he can be united with his young daughter first.
And that means bringing her home to Scotland.
It means journeying to France to take her away from the care of her mother, Patrick’s ex-wife.

In 1915, with the war raging in Europe, John is a young man working on the family farm. Not yet old enough to enlist but aware of its looming threat, he meets Catherine. But his attempts at courtship end suddenly when an accident rips his life apart.

Told in alternate chapters, set, mainly, in South-West Scotland, this is the dramatic story of Patrick, interwoven with John’s traumatic life.

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#TwoTidesToTurn

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Two men, in two time periods, both battle against their demons and life’s injustices. Patrick and John are related, and Patrick is on a quest to explore the mystery surrounding his grandfather.

Patrick is confused and unhappy, his marriage to a younger woman ends badly, and he loses contact with his daughter. His plan to reunite with her is the focus of his story. His need to find out what happened to his Grandfather equates to his need to find parallels and assume some control in his own life.

John’ story is set in Scotland during the early twentieth century. The setting and historical details of this time period are interesting and bring John’s character to life. His story is poignant. The ominous presence of World War 1, is another claustrophobic element in this part of the story.

The stories are well written and the mystery is carefully revealed, in a plot that has many twists. The male characters are complex and realistic. The female characters are much more simply drawn, perhaps because they are seen from John and Patrick’s point of view, and they both lack an intrinsic understanding of what motivates them?

A deep, and sometimes dark story of two men’s lives, with a good mystery to solve and an overriding theme of sadness and loss.

Guest Post – RR Gall – Two Tides To Turn
How Stressed Are you?

The candle is wicked. The man is rugged. The dignitary is present to present the present to the present champion. It is the timekeeper’s job to record the latest record.

This has been bothering me for a while now – the lack of guidance. And I take my hat off to anyone trying to come to grips with the rather tricky, awkward language of English. It must be extremely difficult when given no direction on where to stress certain words. In some ways, it is amazing how this language has become so prevalent. At the moment, more people speak it than any other – approximately 2 billion – with native speakers by far in the minority.

A quick scan through other languages shows that many have steady rules on where the emphasis should be. In Spanish, unless indicated by an accent, the stress is on the penultimate syllable if the word ends in a vowel, or if there is a vowel followed by the letter ‘s’ or ‘n’. If not, the stress will be on the last syllable.

In Italian, again if there is no direction, the stress tends to be on the penultimate syllable.

And in Greek, it appears they take no chances, shovelling on more accents than coal on the Flying Scotsman, but with the rule that only the last three syllables are ripe, and can be picked, for stressing.

In English, we are left to fend for ourselves.

One bright aspect though, I hope I’m right in saying, is that our lack of rules makes English ideally suited for cryptic crosswords. Such crosswords do exist in other languages, but only in a handful of them – German, Hebrew, Italian, Hindi, and a few others.

Back to the start then. How did you get on with the sentences?

The candle has a wick. The candle is wicked(1) (one syllable, pronounce like tricked).

The man has a rug (or toupee, hairpiece). The man is rugged(1) (like hugged).

(Are there any rugged(2) men who are rugged(1)? Perhaps not – or maybe is a matter of taste. I’ll leave you to come to a conclusion on that.)

Is beloved always a (3) or can it go to (2)? What about crooked and aged? You might be able to come up with a few of your own. If you do, I wouldn’t mind hearing them as I am preparing a more extensive list.

Wait a minute! Oh, no. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back with my new aid to indicate pronunciation, up steps the next sentence, and my method falls flat on its face, no use to anyone. Why didn’t I just write: the dignitary is here to hand over the gift to the current champion? It would have saved any confusion. Never mind.

But don’t get me started on some other baffling pronunciations.

In 1875, the Punch Magazine highlighted the number of different ways the letters ‘ough’ could be said in English with this sentence: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode, coughing and hiccoughing, thoughtfully through the streets of Scarborough.”

So am I stressed about all this? A little. And I’ll say again, to anyone taking on my native language, I doff my hat to those learning or learned – now is that ‘learned’ with a (1) or a (2)?

#RRGall

RR Gall lives in Scotland and is the author of:
The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit,
The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts,
The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom
Two Tides To Turn,
A Different Place to Die,
Only the Living Can Die.

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#TwoTidesToTurn
Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

His Secret Family Ali Mercer 5*#Review @bookouture @AlisonLMercer #FamilyDrama #LiteraryFiction #Lies #Secrets #Control #Loss #BookReview #bookbloggers

#HisSecretFamily

It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.

I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.

They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.

So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…

A powerfully emotional novel with a dark secret at its heart. This family drama will keep you hooked until the very last page.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An enthralling family drama told from four female perspectives that reveals a story that is emotional, honest, poignant and shocking.

Beginning with a wedding and two uninvited guests, and a seemingly tragic event, you may be forgiven for thinking you know what this story is about before it begins, but you’re probably wrong.

The story begins with Paula and the wedding. Then the time frame slips into the past and Jenny (Mother,) Ava(Eldest Daughter), and Ellie(Youngest Daughter) begin to tell their stories. The plot reveals events that change their lives and shape their futures. The appearance of Mark gives hope to Jenny, but disruption for the daughters. Gradually you learn Mark’s secrets and his controlling personality traits. The major plot twist confirms my opinion of Mark.

The story’s pace, keeps the reader engaged. The twists are subtle but resonate. The complex plot, never loses its way, even as detail and layers are added.

The characters are complex and authentic. It is easy to empathise with all the female characters, excepting Ingrid(Mark’s Mother). Ellie’s character is particularly well written, and I enjoyed the added dimension she brings to the story.

The ending is satisfying, being both hopeful and realistic.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Girl at the Window Rowan Coleman 5* #Review @EburyPublishing @rowancoleman #thegirlatthewindow #familydrama #historicalfiction #gothicfiction #emilybronte #wutheringheights #yorkshiremoors #love #loss #grief #bookreview

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

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I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House – Ebury Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Reading this story is rather like opening a Pandora’s box, there are surprises, light and dark. love and hate, purity and evil, all intertwined into an epic story that keeps on giving, as you turn the pages.

I love, the clever fusion of genres, family drama, romance, timeslip, historical fact and fiction, paranormal, gothic fiction, are all part of this novel’s embroidery. Whilst, this will not be for everyone, there are many timelines to negotiate, it is compelling and worth the effort, to move out of the ease of contemporary reading into the more elaborate historical details and subterfuge.

This story works for me because of Trudy’s state of mind, she is heartbroken, without hope, and open to any experience that lessens the pain. Her maternal instinct keeps her on track, making sure Will gets the emotional and practical support he needs, but she needs more than this and discovering hidden secrets that the house gives up is part of this. She is a sensitive woman, a loner, her childhood was full of imagination and literature, and it gave her purpose and solace. Now, in her pain, she seeks the familiar and is prepared to accept whatever the house reveals, even if it sometimes defies explanation and is frightening.

This is an escapist novel, something to enthral and capture your imagination, full of emotion and a clever medley of fact and fiction, it makes you want to visit Ponden Hall, and find out if it’s as magical and troubled as it seems.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Medical Romance, Romance

A Return, A Reunion, A Wedding Annie O’Neil 4* #Review @MillsandBoon #Romance #MedicalRomance #SecondChanceRomance #Insiders #PublicationDay @AnnieONeilBooks

A second chance with her GP… 
Dare she follow her heart this time?

Jayne had been so happy! Engaged to gorgeous Sam Crenshaw, planning an idyllic life together as GPs in Whitticombe’s close-knit community. Until the day her twin sister died, compelling Jayne to leave the man she loved to fulfil her sister’s dreams. Now a paediatric cardiologist, Jayne’s hit crisis point—and coming home to heal reminds her that her own dream is still life with Sam!

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Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

This story is driven by powerful emotions, grief, guilt and love. It is a second chance romance, my favourite kind, between two medics, whose fairytale ending was obliterated by a tragic accident.

The story begins with an intense medical drama, that reveals that Jayne is finally unable to run from her past. It should be the pinnacle of her career, so far, but rather than success, it forces her to confront her past, and what she believes is her failure.

Sam never really came to terms with Jayne’s ending of their engagement, he understood her grief, but not her wish to face it alone. The meeting between Sam and Jayne sets the scene for an awkward few weeks, as they recognise their mutual attraction still lives, but are not sure what if anything they can do about it.

There is plenty of authentic medical details, and an exceptionally poignant love story, which is fraught with internal conflict. Both of the main protagonists are likeable and relatable, the best friend Maggie and the villagers all give the story its authenticity, a snapshot of English village life.

An intensely emotional medical romance with a lovely hopeful happy ending.

Posted in Audiobook Review, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Mental Health, Romance

The Unfinished Garden – Barbara Claypole-White Narrated by Ana Clements, Paul Heitsch #OCD #MentalHealth #Grief #Family #Friends 5*#AudiobookReview #BlogTour @bclaypolewhite @rararesources @audibleuk @SpokenRealms #TheUnfinishedGarden

A love story about grief, OCD, and dirt 

Tilly Silverberg is rebuilding her life with her young son, Isaac, one potted-up plant at a time. Since her husband’s death, gardening has become her livelihood and her salvation. Hiding out in the North Carolina forest, she wants only to be left alone with Isaac and her greenhouse.

New to the area, successful software developer James Nealy needs a garden. On a solitary mission to reclaim his life from irrational obsessions and relentless compulsions, he has a plan: to conquer his greatest fear. Dirt. One glimpse—or two—of Tilly’s garden, and he knows she holds the key. But when he asks her to take him on as a client, she refuses.

After a family emergency pulls Tilly and Isaac back to her native England, she’s quietly happy, because nothing has changed in her childhood village. Or has it? Her first love is unexpectedly single, her mother is scheming, and her best friend is keeping secrets. Then James appears on her doorstep.

Tenuous at first, but gradually taking root, James and Tilly forge an unlikely bond. As they work together to rescue a garden choked by neglect, they unearth each other’s secrets, each other’s fears, each other’s hopes—and maybe, a shared second chance.

Media Reviews

“Claypole White does not merely write about people with mental illness—she inhabits them.”  Lee Smith, New York Times bestseller author

“Claypole White’s gift is her ability to put us into the troubled minds of her characters in a way that helps us not only understand them but fall in love with them as well. We discover that while their minds may be different from ours, their hearts are the same.” Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author

“A fabulous debut novel, The Unfinished Garden easily earns Romance Junkies’ highest rating of five blue ribbons and a recommended read status for its unpredictable originality! So good!” Romance Junkies

The Unfinished Garden is a powerful story of friendship and courage in the midst of frightening circumstances … I highly recommend this wonderful love story.” Bergers’ Book Reviews 

“Claypole White … conveys the condition of OCD, and how it creates havoc in one’s life and the lives of loved ones, with style and grace, never underplaying the seriousness of the disorder.” Romantic Times

Amazon UK

Amazon

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I enjoyed this audiobook, and it is interesting to review a narrated book.

The story’s main themes are Mental Health Issues, primarily Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), bereavement, grief and coping with loss. This is also partly a family drama, as Tilly has to return to England for a time to help her mother. Tilly experiences guilt over her husband’s death, this and her need to be both mother and father to her son, are common reactions to the death of a partner. Friendship and romance are also intrinsic to this varied, emotion-driven story.

James’ life is governed by OCD, he hopes to confront his fears, to lessen the condition. He associates gardens with loss, and the start of his compulsive behaviour, he wants Tilly to help him overcome his fear of dirt and all gardens represent to him.

Tilly is torn between her feelings for her first love, who turns up in her village when she returns, and a new relationship with James. The story is written with insight and sensitivity. Tilly is courageous and kind, even when life throws another curve ball her way, she is easy to root for. James is lovely, he understands his current limitations but hates himself for them. He is attracted to Tilly and senses, she is keeping secrets and hiding her vulnerability through her reclusive behaviour.

The pacing is gentle, the emotional insight of the main characters, particularly Tilly and James, complex and intensive. You experience James’ OCD and explore how it constrains his life. His point of view is sometimes exhausting to read but is authentic and enthralling, and James is easy to like.

The characters and setting are vividly described, and the character flaws and motivations easy to understand. The story flows well, and the conflicts are both external and internal. Narration brings out the internal musings of James and Tilly, more directly than just reading the book. The narration is good, however, I would have preferred James’ dialogue to be spoken by the male narrator who reads his point of view.

This is an emotional read, James’ attachment to Tilly and Issac, seems to occur quickly, but this is because she holds the key to his aversion therapy, on one hand, and Tilly and Issac represent the family he wants to complete his life but doesn’t think he deserves.

A well-written thought-provoking, story that holds your interest, despite the complexity intensity and length of the novel.

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Born in England, she works and gardens in the forests of North Carolina, where she lives with her family. Her novels include The Unfinished Garden, which won the Golden Quill for Best First Book; The In-Between Hour, a SIBA Okra Pick; The Perfect Son, a Goodreads Choice Awards Semi-finalist; Echoes of Family, aWFWA Star Award Finalist; and The Promise Between Us, a 2018 Nautilus Award Winner.

Barbara is an OCD advocate for the nonprofit A2A Alliance, which promotes advocacy over adversity. To connect with her, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com 

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery

4* #Review The First Time Lauren Pailing Died – Alyson Rudd @HQStories @allyrudd_times #LiteraryFiction #timeslip #love #grief #family #friends #mystery

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties and a child of the seventies. She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to finally being found…

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

This story may not appeal to everyone. You have to be willing to accept the concept of parallel lives that exist but only come to your notice, if you act in a certain way. Lauren Paling as a young girl, sees snapshots of her other possible lives, she learns not to share these insights with others who don’t understand, but then she dies and the emotional rollercoaster journey begins.

In each life she is different, and although surrounded by those who love her, they may relate to her, in different ways. The stories explore, love friendship, relationships loss and grief in a poignant way.

Lauren is searching for a mystery man in each life, without knowing his significance to her, if any. This is a story that can be read more than once, and perhaps needs to be, to fully grasp everything it is about, but that might just be me?

The historical scene-setting is well done, I grew up in this time frame, and I enjoyed the mid to late 20th Century references. Each life has subtle differences to authenticate it to Lauren, as part of her struggles to accept her new present and forget what has gone before.

The plot is detailed and the characters are likeable and believable, despite the extraordinariness of the storyline. This has a uniqueness, because of its emotional content and characterisation, even though the parallel lives concept is often used in science- fiction literature.

If you enjoy variety in your reading and enjoy a lovely, out worldly story this is for you.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

The Whisper Man -Alex North- 5* #Review @MichaelJBooks @writer_north #Thriller. #Crime #TheWhisperMan #Supernatural

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle into their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books – Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A curious medley of a creepy, suspenseful thriller and poignant sadness are my impressions of this complex, multi-layered story.

A little boy is missing, and the disapperance has echoes of serial killings years before, but ‘The Whisper Man was caught, so who has taken the little boy?

There are so many facets to this story, a crime to be investigated, a little boy who hears voices and talks to imaginary people. A troubled father and son relationship, in the wake of a family tragedy, and a policeman haunted by his past both personal and work.

The plot slips effortlessly between points of view and different genres. The police procedural is authentic and helps you keep past events and what is currently known in mind. The sadness experienced by Tom and Jake is profound and you empathise with their grief and loss. The killer is damaged and dangerous and the level of menace pervades the entire story. Finally, there is a supernatural element, hinted at, leaving the reader to decide if it is really there or not.

Everything is fused together cleverly, making this a suspenseful, shocking and often sad story. The ending is fast-paced and breathtaking and written packed with vivid imagery. You can see the events unfolding in your mind as you read.

A page-turning, absorbing read that makes this thriller stand out above the rest.