blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama

Fresh Water For Flowers by Valérie Perrin – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of the hilarious and touching confidences of random visitors and her colleagues—three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest.

Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of police chief Julien Seul, wishing to deposit his mother’s ashes on the gravesite of a complete stranger.  Julien is not the only one to guard a painful secret: his mother’s story of clandestine love breaks through Violette’s carefully constructed defences to reveal the tragic loss of her daughter, and her steely determination to find out who is responsible. 

An unforgettable story of love and loss told through the life of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness. Touching on the deepest aspects of human life, Fresh Water for Flowers brings out the exceptional and the poetic in the ordinary and reminds us of the life affirming value of kindness.

MY REVIEW 

Fresh Water For Flowers is a tale of loss and grief, but also love and friendship.

Violette has been the caretaker of a cemetery for twenty years. She’s very quiet but she has friends in the shape of the gravediggers and she talks to the grieving mourners.

Violette is such a lovely character, so empathetic as dealing with her own grief she knows how others feel. 

There are lots of memories and stories of those buried in the cemetery and a little mystery too. This is so beautifully written (and translated) with a gentle, almost poetic insight into grief and how we deal with it and memories of the past. A charming melancholic read.

Thank you to Gaby at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and ARC of Fresh Water For Flowers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Valérie Perrin is a photographer and screenwriter who works with (and is married to) Claude Lelouch.  Her first novel, Les Oubliés du Dimanche, has won numerous prizes, including the 2016 Lire Élire and Poulet-Malassis prizes. Fresh Water for Flowers is her first novel to be translated into English and an international sensation.

Hildegarde Serle graduated in French from Oxford University. After working as a newspaper subeditor in London for many years, she obtained the Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation. She is the translator of A Winter’s Promise and The Missing of Clairdelune, atmospheric, absorbing tale.

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Mental Health

Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In the dying days of the old asylums, three paths intersect.

Henry was only a boy when he waved goodbye to his glamorous grown-up sister; approaching sixty, his life is still on hold as he awaits her return.

As a high-society hostess renowned for her recitals, Matty’s burden weighs heavily upon her, but she bears it with fortitude and grace.

Janice, a young social worker, wants to set the world to rights, but she needs to tackle challenges closer to home.

A brother and sister separated by decades of deceit. Will truth prevail over bigotry, or will the buried secret keep family apart?

In this, her third novel, Anne Goodwin has drawn on the language and landscapes of her native Cumbria and on the culture of long-stay psychiatric hospitals where she began her clinical psychology career.

MY REVIEW 

Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home is mainly set in a psychiatric hospital for long stay patients. Matilda has been here for decades, sent here as a young woman but now a young idealist social worker has arrived and she’s working to get people back to ‘normal’ lives outside.

This is a beautifully written tale of a world many of us have no idea exists, of a community within the community. I fell in love with Matty and her friends, the odd and peculiar who really just want to get on with life.

It’s also horrifying how people could be hospitalised for so many years just because people are scared of those with mental health problems. Out of sight out of mind seems to be the answer for many.

It is clear, from her writing, the author has strong feelings on this issue and this makes for an emotional and thought provoking read. 

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of Matilda Windsor is Coming Home 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Anne Goodwin grew up in the non-touristy part of Cumbria, where this novel is set. When she went to university ninety miles away, no-one could understand her accent. After nine years of studying, her first post on qualifying as a clinical psychologist was in a long-stay psychiatric hospital in the process of closing.

Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity, was published in November 2018. Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of prize-winning short stories.

Book reviews, Family drama

The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Warm, funny, life-affirming and true, The Best Things is the joyous debut novel from much-loved comedian, writer, actor and presenter Mel Giedroyc. 

It’s the story of a family who lose everything, only to find themselves, and each other, along the way.

Sally and Frank Parker have it all.

Then one day, because of Frank, they don’t.

As the bailiffs move in and the money runs out, Sally realises that she and her children don’t have a clue about how to survive.

Or do they?

The Parkers are about to discover that the best things in life aren’t things at all.

MY REVIEW 

Sally Parker is married to Frank, hedge fund manager and their three children, Stephen a bit of a glutton, Cleo a tv addict and Mike a budding entrepreneur. They are wealthy and have staff to look after their day to day lives and a housekeeper, Paloma.

But then disaster strikes, a market crash wipes out their money completely and life changes drastically, but they gradually find there is more to life than money.

This is a well written, warm hug of a read. Full of great characters and a gentle humour, pure escapism, something much needed in these days of doom and gloom. 

Purchase Link:  https://amzn.to/3sPDdt0

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Thriller

The Source by Sarah Sultoon – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…

2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier.

As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth… and justice.

A tense, startling and unforgettable thriller, The Source is a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience.

MY REVIEW 

The Source is told from two distinct perspectives, one from Carly who lives on an army base, she has an alcoholic mother and cares for her baby sister. She gets excited when invited to a ‘special’ party, but her excitement is short-lived.

The other is from a journalist who is investigating allegations of sex abuse at an army base many years ago and the police have reopened their Operation Andromed. As she investigates she has to deal with her own past.

This is not an easy read as it deals with child sexual abuse and trafficking, it’s not done in any sensational way, but shows the horrors of this vile trade in a sympathetic way……while this doesn’t make it any easier to read at times the story has you hooked from the very start.

It has a clever, engrossing plot and well developed character that you can’t help wanting to protect. A heartbreaking, eye opening and utterly compelling read. 

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour , for the promotional material and an eARC of The Source.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3ws16cq

ABOUT SARAH SULTOON

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters

of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if

blog tour, Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama

There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Danny Garvey was a sixteen-year old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs clamoured to sign him, and a glittering future beckoned. And yet, his early promise remained unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw to manage the struggling junior team he once played for. What’s more, he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives. There’s only one Danny Garvey, they once chanted … and that’s the problem.

A story of irrational hopes and fevered dreams – of unstoppable passion and unflinching commitment in the face of defeat – There’s Only One Danny Garvey is, above all, an unforgettable tale about finding hope and redemption in the most unexpected of places.

MY REVIEW

16 year old Danny Garvey had a promising career as a professional footballer ahead of him….but it ended too soon.

Years later he is drawn back to his small home village of Barshaw, to manage the struggling junior team…..he’s right back where he started.

This is a tale with the passion for football clearly evident, but that’s not all it is!.

It tells of violence, abuse, of poverty but also love, hopes, dreams and dark secrets too.

Narrated with the inner voice of Danny, who remembers events seemingly different to those around him, especially his big brother, Raymond.

Told in the Scottish dialect (it doesn’t take long to get used to it) it has a sense of tension, that somethings not quite right. The dark humour brings a little relief to this story of family, of life, loss and love, of football, a damaged man and a crime drama too. This is so beautifully written these fantastic characters bring a dark, gritty tale to an edgy life, they draw you in and break your heart. Utterly, utterly brilliant.

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of There’s Only One Danny Garvey.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3nZFDlF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

German Portraiture David F. Ross, architect and bookwriter from glasgow, scotland. shooting at the lovelace hotel in munich, may 24. 2018.

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Discowas shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespasand The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.

blog tour, Book reviews, Domestic noir, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

The Push by Ashley Audrain – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’ 

Blythe Connor doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

Violet is her first child and she will give her daughter all the love she deserves. All the love that her own mother withheld.

But firstborns are never easy. And Violet is demanding and fretful. She never smiles. Soon Blythe believes she can do no right – that something’s very wrong. Either with her daughter, or herself.

Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining it. But Violet’s different with him. And he can’t understand what Blythe suffered as a child. No one can.

Blythe wants to be a good mother. But what if that’s not enough for Violet? Or her marriage? What if she can’t see the darkness coming?

Mother and daughter. Angel or monster?

We don’t get to choose our inheritance – or who we are . . .

The Push is an addictive, gripping and compulsive read that asks what happens when women are not believed – and what if motherhood isn’t everything you hoped for but everything you always feared?

MY REVIEW 

Blythe worries about being a good mother to her new baby girl, Violet. Her own experiences at the abusive hands of her mother cloud her thoughts. 

Blythe does her best with Violet, but the little baby is difficult. Violet seems to only be difficult with Blythe and she begins to think there is something wrong. As time passes her thoughts deepen, but her husband doesn’t believe her.

When Blythe becomes pregnant again her fears grow……

The Push is a family drama that deals with the preconceived ideas of motherhood. It tells of a darker side to being a mother, the doubts and fears, and a troubled relationship between mother and daughter. 

This is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that is thought provoking and heartbreaking at times. A haunting thriller that will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you to Olivia at Penguin Books for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The Push.

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama

The Interpreter From Java by Alfred Birney – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Arto Nolan is the father’s name; his son Alan strives to overcome his loathing and comprehend the man who abused him and beat his mother.

His father spent his evenings typing on his Remington. Later, Alan discovers his father had been working on his memoirs. He reads about Arto’s ruthless work as an interpreter who not only translated but also led interrogations, tortured prisoners, and did not hesitate to murder.

Arto’s passages are chilling in their detachment. He first describes how he was abused as a child by his own father. He later became an assassin. At first his targets were Japanese; after the occupation ended, he murdered Indonesians in the service of the Dutch, without question. The source of his loyalty to his overlords, from a country he had never seen, remains a mystery.

In this unsparing family history, Birney exposes a crucial chapter in Dutch and European history that was deliberately concealed behind the ideological facade of postwar optimism. Readers of this superb novel will find that it reverberates long afterwards in their memory. 

MY REVIEW 

The Interpreter From Java is the tale mainly of the relationship between a father and son. It was a difficult relationship as the father terrorised the whole family.

From a childhood in the Netherlands, his father’s memories of fighting in the war and the horrors and atrocities that were committed against the Japanese and Indonesian people. It’s not an easy read as it is quite graphic at times but it tells the Dutch Colonial past and the effects of war on a family. 

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The a interpreter From Java. This is my honest and unbiased review.

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Under the scorching French sun, a tense homecoming unearths a long-buried family secret in this deliciously propulsive beach read of a mother’s greatest fear brought to life.

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was manipulative. Elodie is dead.

When Sylvie Durand receives a letter calling her back to her crumbling family home in the South of France, she knows she has to go. In the middle of a sweltering 1990’s summer marked by unusual fires across the countryside, she returns to La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma in tow, ignoring the deep sense of dread she feels for this place she’s long tried to forget.

As memories of the events that shattered their family a decade earlier threaten to come to the surface, Sylvie struggles to shield Emma from the truth of what really happened all those years ago. In every corner of the house, Sylvie can’t escape the specter of Elodie, her first child. Elodie, born amid the ’68 Paris riots with one blue eye and one brown, and mysteriously dead by fourteen. Elodie, who reminded the small village of one those Manson girls. Elodie who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. As the fires creep towards the villa, it’s clear to Sylvie that something isn’t quite right at La Reverie . . . And there is a much greater threat closer to home.

MY REVIEW 

The Heatwave is a family drama set in the South Of France.

Sylvie has returned to La Reverie with her daughter, Emma. Being back here brings back all the memories of her first daughter, Elodie. 

Elodie had not been an easy child to day the least and there is an ambiguity to how she died. Sylvie is still haunted by events of that time.

This is a story of grief and guilt, with a sultry, claustrophobic feel that really adds to the tension. A thoroughly engrossing read.

Thank you to Ella at Penguin Random House for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The Heatwave. This is my honest and unbiased review.

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Murder mystery

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

She would kill for her family

Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in Jakarta in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on only each other for support. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole clan.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this brutal act.

Journeying from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the spectacular shows of Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, The Majesties is a haunting and deeply suspenseful novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire – and also bring it crashing down.

‘Fresh, sharp, and thrilling… A darkly gorgeous read you won’t soon forget’ Tanen Jones, author of The Better Liar

‘The Majesties, although it rolls out easily, troubles deeply, haunting and even chilling its reader well beyond the final page’

New York Journal of Books

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MY REVIEW 

The Majesties is the story of a family. Of their money, power and also corruption. 

It is told by Gwendolyn (Doll) who is lying in a hospital bed, in a coma. She’s the only survivor of a mass poisoning that her sister, Estella (Stell) was responsible for.

As she struggles to wake up, she is reliving her memories to try to find out why Stell would do such a thing.

Doll and Stell were sisters, they were very close until Stell married Leonard. They had been born into a very wealthy family and lived a life of luxury and power. But, there is something rotten at the heart of it all.

As Doll remembers, her rose tinted glasses are ripped away as she begins to see the family’s true colours. Stell has made her see the darkness, the secrets that their wealth has been built on, and kept.

This is not a fast paced story, but is slow, immersive and beautifully written and had me gripped from start to finish. It’s not a thriller in the usual sense, but there is a tension throughout, as you wonder why Estella would kill her whole family.

It is full of luxury and opulence, but also domestic violence, murder and secrets.

Doll also runs a business, Bagatelle, where she creates living jewellery, made from living insects and butterflies that are controlled by a fungal parasite ( think zombie ant but beautiful). Just a creepy thought!!

This is a tale of family and love, but also incredible wealth, power and corruption and the lengths taken to keep it. It’s heartbreaking at times too.

If you like a family drama, with a dark edge then you are going to love The Majesties. Just a fantastic read that’s going to stay with me.

Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of The Majesties. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3gbmSaW

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator. She is the author of the Oddfits fantasy series; The Majesties is her debut adult novel. Her translations from Indonesian to English include Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus, Dee Lestari’s novel Paper Boats, and Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman’s Palate. Her translations of Norman’s poetry have won the English PEN Presents and English PEN Translates awards. Born in the US and of Chinese-Indonesian descent, Tiffany spent her formative years in Singapore and Indonesia before moving to the US for university. She now lives in Sydney with her spouse and two children

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Mystery

The Last To Know by Jo Furniss – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting and emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of All the Little Children.

American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.

Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.

When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.

As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?

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MY REVIEW 

Rose, her husband Dylan and their young son, Aled are moving to Dylan’s childhood home in an English village.

Rose and Dylan met while they were journalists in Africa and Rose is already finding it hard to be excited about the move.

Then there is Ellie, a local police sergeant, who is investigating the human remains found in an archaeological dig.

Village rumours run riot and the mystery of Dylan’s father’s whereabouts rears its head again too.

The Last To Know is part family drama and part mystery, it also deals with the emotive subject of dementia (a truly horrific and heartbreaking condition), as well as village life and how a rumour can cause terrible damage.

There are well developed characters, a thoughtful and deliberate pace with beautifully descriptive writing. Definitely a book to take your time over and enjoy.

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Last To Know. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/30OiMkw 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website: http://www.jofurniss.com/

 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama

Everyone Dies Famous by Len Joy – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

As a tornado threatens their town, a stubborn old man who has lost his son teams up with a troubled young soldier to deliver a jukebox to the wealthy developer having an affair with the soldier’s wife.

It’s July 2003 and the small town of Maple Springs, Missouri is suffering through a month-long drought. Dancer Stonemason, a long-forgotten hometown hero still grieving over the death of his oldest son, is moving into town to live with his more dependable younger son. He hires Wayne Mesirow, an Iraq war veteran, to help him liquidate his late son’s business.

The heat wave breaks and the skies darken. Dancer tries to settle an old score while Wyne discovers the true cost of his wife’s indifference and turns his thoughts to revenge. When the tornado hits Maple Springs, only one of the men will make it out alive.

“Everyone Dies Famous” is a story from the heartland about the uncommon lives of everyday people – the choices they make, how they live their lives, and how they die.

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MY REVIEW 

Everyone Dies Famous is the story of Dancer Stonemason, he is grieving the death of his son Clayton and is a bit distant with his other son.

A tornado is heading for the small town of Maple Spring, unknown to the inhabitants.

In this small town, everyone knows each other’s business, they remember your past, your mistakes and failures and they don’t let Dancer forget. But it’s also the tale of kindness, family, tragedy and redemption. It paints a picture of life in a small town with great characters and all their quirks. Beautifully written and full of emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you to Anna at FSB Associates for an eARC of Everyone Dies Famous. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/2Pq24RW

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

His first novel, AMERICAN PAST TIME was published in 2014. KIRKUS praised it as a “darkly nostalgic study of an American family through good times and bad, engagingly set against major events from the ‘50s to the ‘70s as issues of race simmer in the background…expertly written and well-crafted.”

His second novel, BETTER DAYS (2018) was described by FOREWORD Reviews as “a bighearted, wry, and tender novel that focuses on love and loyalty.” KIRKUS called it “a character-rich skillfully plotted Midwestern drama.”

 

AMERICAN PAST TIME and BETTER DAYS were awarded the Gold and Silver Medals respectively in the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Award Contest.

Today, Len is a nationally ranked triathlete and competes internationally representing the United States as part of TEAM USA.

His three kids (a son and two daughters) have grown up and moved away, although the daughters return frequently to Evanston to do their laundry and get legal advice from their mother.

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blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama, humour

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

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MY REVIEW 

#2 in the Skelf series…..it can be read as a stand-alone as events from book #1 A Dark Matter are mentioned as background to this story.

Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah are still trying to come to terms with events in A Dark Matter, as they try to carry on their lives as funeral directors and private investigators.

Dorothy is attending a funeral when a car crashes into an open grave, narrowly missing her. 

Jenny visits her ex-husband, Craig in prison and ends up on a charge of assault.

Hannah is seeing a therapist, due to the murder of her friend (by her dad) and is struggling, shutting out her partner, Indy.

But, they are still working and they try to find more about the unidentified driver killed in the car crash, there’s a missing drummer and a suspicious death to investigate.

This is the tale of the lives of the three Skelf women, their chaotic, troubled and sometimes dangerous lives. It deals with death, grief and fear, but also with love, acceptance and the importance of family. All told with a clear love of Edinburgh and a marvellous dark humour,

Full of realistic and relatable characters with all their quirks, a few mysteries and a compelling plot make this an emotion packed thriller. I was hooked from the very start and loved every minute.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/30BtKst

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Doug Johnstone is the author of more than ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been a writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh. 

Book reviews, Domestic noir, Family drama

The Man Behind Closed Doors by Maria Frankland – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

What could be so bad that a six-year-old stops talking?

Domestic violence isn’t only perpetrated by men. Ask Paul Jackson who is on remand, accused of stabbing his wife, Michelle. As he reveals his reality behind their troubled marriage, it seems that only his six-year-old knows what really happened. 

But she’s trapped in her own world of silence.

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MY REVIEW 

The Man Behind Closed Doors starts with Paul calling the emergency services as his wife, Michelle has been stabbed…..

 

He is arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

 

While in jail, he thinks about his life and marriage to Michelle and the story is told through flashbacks to the past. We hear of her jealousy and paranoia, her mood swings and violence when she’s been drinking, which is often. Michelle has her own issues she is dealing with but takes it out on Paul……all the while their young daughter Emily is in the middle.

This is a tale of domestic abuse, of controlling behaviour and it’s original as here the woman is the perpetrator of the abuse. You really never know what goes on behind closed doors! It deals with violence, guilt, love and self harm and all the emotional baggage in between. It’s also about the stabbing, the investigation and the courtroom drama. I found this to be a very emotional read, at times I was not sure who deserved my sympathy…..a thoughtful and engrossing read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/310256n

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshirewoman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

 

Twitter @writermaria_f http://www.mariastephenson.com/ 

Book reviews, Family drama, LGBTQ, Mental Health, Supernatural, Thriller

Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A war-damaged veteran on a mission to self- destruct…

… a controlling father pushing him ever closer to the edge…

… and a yachtswoman who gives all she has to hold him back.

And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.
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MY REVIEW

Old Eddie was fascinated by Viking culture and when he dies of cancer, his grandson, Jack,  decides to restore Eddie’s beloved boat, Draca. 

Jack is suffering from PTSD after his experiences in Afghanistan that left him damaged physically and psychologically. He is at odds with his father, Harry and his marriage to Charlotte is struggling too. He meets George, at the boatyard and she sees more than people know and has serious worries about Jack and Draca.

Will Jack give Eddie the send off he wanted, or is he on a different path?

This is a story of grief, not only that for lost family but of friends and the past. It deals with the stresses suffered by those in the armed forces, all set against the atmospheric sea and sailing. Beautifully descriptive, full of tension but with an emotional heart. A stunning read. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and my thanks to Geoffrey Gudgion for an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2Lm7207

Draca was released by Unbound on 14th May. Coronavirus logistics issues may result in Amazon being temporarily out of stock of paperback copies until early June. During this period Unbound will accept orders directly and will ship free of UK postage via https://unbound.com/books/draca/

PRAISE FOR DRACA

 

‘A terrific and compelling story which highlights mental and physical challenges that many who have served will recognise.’

General Sir Nick Parker Commander British Forces Afghanistan 2010

 

‘A cracking, believable yarn made even more authentic by the wonderfully descriptive sailing scenes – and by falling in love with the true heroine, the Bristol Channel pilot cutter Draca.’

Ewen Southby-Tailyour OBE, former Yachtsman of the Year

 

‘Tension release, tension release, fear, laughter, fear, lust, so you don’t notice the tightening of the noose … the story sucks you in and won’t let go.

Suzie Wilde, Author of Sea Paths and Obsidian

 

‘A really cracking read about a soldier who attacks his battlefield demons through his passion for sailing – and sadly still needs help’

Sir Peter Wall, President of Combat Stress

 

Author royalties from Draca are shared equally with the veterans’ charity Combat Stress.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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GEOFFREY GUDGION served for over 10 years in the armed forces, and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Amazon Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time. When not crafting words he is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist. 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama, Womens fiction

Like A House On Fire by Caroline Hulse – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Things Stella and Jack have had blazing rows about:

– Misquoting Jurassic Park.

– Leaving a Coke can on the side of the bath.

– Fitting car seats for their hypothetical kids.

In other news, they’re getting divorced.

But first, Stella’s mum is throwing a murder mystery party and – with her dad losing his job, her mum’s recent diagnosis, and some very odd behaviour from her sister – now is not the time to tell everyone.

All Stella and George have to do is make it through the day without their break-up being discovered – though it will soon turn out that having secrets runs in the family…

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MY REVIEW 

Margaret has been diagnosed with cancer, so she arranges a Murder Mystery party for all family and friends to attend, before she’s expected to start treatment. 

Stella and George have separated, but haven’t told anyone in the family yet. Due to her mother’s health, Stella persuades George to attend with her and pretend nothing is wrong.

Helen, Nathan, Isobel and Charlie also go, but Helen, the dependable, organised and cheerful daughter, is late…..

This is a tale of family, of secrets and how the public face we project sometimes isn’t who we really are, hiding emotions and fears. It is a wonderfully written insight into life in all its messy glory. Caroline Hulse’s writing is so beautifully observant and totally spot on, full of humour, family bickering and farce at times, but with some sad moments too . This is a thoughtful, funny and compelling read. I loved every minute. 

Thank you to Alex at Orion Books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for an eARC of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Caroline Hulse spends most of her days writing, having fulfilled her dream of having a job she could do in pyjamas. She also works in Human Resources sometimes.

She is openly competitive and loves playing board and card games. She can often be found in casino poker rooms, and wishes other people would want to play Cluedo for money.

She lives with her husband in Manchester, UK, where the two are captive to the whims of a small, controlling dog 

Audiobook, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama

What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott – Audiobook Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.

When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. 

While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
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MY REVIEW 

Sumiko is telling the story of her mother’s life.

Sumiko’s father, Satō, used the services of an wakaresaseya, to seduce his wife, Rina, so he could then divorce her for adultery. But his plan goes awry with consequences that echo through all their lives and lead to a tragic crime.

Sumiko had been unaware of this history until a phone call brings these secrets to light. She decides to find the truth of what happened to her mother.

This is an incredible and beautifully written tale of love and betrayal, of loss and grief all set in the stunning backdrop of Japan and its unique culture.

I listened to this as an audiobook and found the narration by Hanako Footman to be mesmerising, she has such a soothing voice and the emotions come across so perfectly. A stunning, tragic love story beautifully told. Haunting and unforgettable.

Thank you to Kate at Orion Books for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook from Audible for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Available from Audible.co.uk :  

Book reviews, Family drama, Womens fiction

The Carer by Deborah Moggach – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

‘Moggach is at the height of her powers with this book, which moves from a beautifully observed comedy of middle-class life to an immensely moving celebration of two imperfect marriages’ The Sunday Times

 

‘A cracking, crackling social comedy, with some brilliant observations about ageing and a devilish plot twist’

The Times.

 

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns:

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss.

Then something extraordinary happens which throws everything into new relief, changing all the stories of their childhood – and the father – that they thought they knew so well.

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MY REVIEW 

The Carer is a tale of life, of siblings dealing with the stresses of caring for an elderly, infirm parent. Phoebe is single and childless with a hippy, off grid ‘boyfriend’, Torren. Richard is married to Farida, a TV news reader, he’s jobless and working on a novel in the shed.

Both feel the other sibling doesn’t understand the stresses of worrying about their dad, James, they feel the other doesn’t spend enough time or effort with him. But then along comes Mandy, a live in carer. She’s brash, her politics are at odds with theirs and she’s not ‘like’ them at all. But she’s perfect, James loves her company and they have a hoot.

Then Phoebe and Richard begin to suspect Mandy is not all she appears to be and they have suspicions she is after James’ money.

Oh my, I love this book, it’s poignant, full of humour and honesty. From the stress of looking after an elderly, infirm parent to the sibling bickering, the general messiness of life , childhood feelings of neglect and coming to terms with the fact that parents are just human after all.

It really touched a nerve with me as I cared for my mother for several years (she’s now in a care home due to dementia) and my brother and I have very similar arguments as Phoebe and Richard. It’s so true to life.

It also deals with grief and there are some surprises along the way. A truly emotional and engaging read. One that will stay with me.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Carer. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3de9aD3

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Deborah Moggach, OBE is an English novelist and an award-winning screenwriter. She has written nineteen novels, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, These Foolish Thing, Heartbreak Hotel and Something to Hide. She lives in London.

 

THE CARER

 

Paperback published 14th May 2020 by Tinder Press, £8.99

Also available in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Mystery

The Girl In The White Dress by Paul Barrell – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The Girl in the White Dress is quite simply unforgettable and unputdownable. It is based on a true story . Every Family has secrets. Imagine discovering you were guilty of something you can’t remember. 

1974 A family from London take a trip of a lifetime to the Caribbean aboard the cruise liner Oriana. 2005 The Peak District. Following the death of his wife , Paul finds a menu card from the Oriana covered in personal messages from the ghosts of his childhood.

One particular address catches his eye , and memories are stirred as he begins to dream about a girl in a white dress.Gradually with his mothers help he starts to unravel the identity of a long forgotten childhood sweetheart, and the disturbing truth about an incident that took place in their cabin.Something that would implicate his whole family, a Pandoras box of lies and deceit. Paul never saw the girl again after the cruise.

Their shared guilt had remained hidden for 30 years. That was until today… It is a remarkable true story about loss and grief, and one person’s quest for the truth. 

Sometimes in life things happen to us that are beyond our control; you don’t need to believe in ghosts or the supernatural, just believe in the Universe and the threads of random chance that link us all together.

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MY REVIEW

The Girl In The White Dress is a tale of guilt.

Paul had been on a cruise with his family when he was 13 years old, he remembers very little about the trip though, until he finds an old signed dinner menu from the ship, The Oriana.

He begins to have nightmares about a young woman and water, and with his mother’s help he decides to try to find one of the guests.

Here secrets long forgotten are unearthed. Can Paul make amends and put things right?

A well written, fast paced tale that keeps you engrossed from start to finish. Beautifully descriptive and has a real sense of time and place too. An entertaining read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Paul Barrell is a keen sportsman and has skied all over the world. He is a serial entrepreneur and has owned restaurants, wine companies and is passionate about food and wine. He came to writing later than most and writes about people and events that have shaped his life. 

His first book, Postcards From Pimlico is currently being turned into a screenplay for TV. He now lives in the Surrey Hills with his wife and rescue dog, Lottie.

 

Twitter @paulbarrell

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Historical fiction

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers – a century apart – must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.

Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he’s turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they ‘make men out of boys.’ Guaranteed.

The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.

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MY REVIEW 

You Will Be Safe Here is a tale of South Africa and parts of its troubled history. Told in two distinct timelines, the 1900’s and more recently, 2010. 

There’s Sarah, a Boer woman whose husband has left to fight the British, leaving her, her son and servants at home. The British milithen arrive, take all their possessions, set fire to the home and take them all to a concentration camp. The conditions were horrific with sickness and starvation rife among the prisoners.

Then there is Willem, in 2010, his mother and stepfather leave him at the New Dawn camp to ‘make a man’ of him.

Both tales are brutal and heartbreaking. This is beautifully written and packed with emotion and a little hope.  It’s shocking and utterly compelling and will stay with me for a long time. A stunning, haunting read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2XpLdUE

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Maggie & Me’ is my memoir and ‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is my first novel. You can follow me on twitter @damian_barr and insta @mrdamianbarr. I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy: http://www.theliterarysalon.co.uk

‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is set in South Africa in 1901 and now. It explores legacies of abuse, redemption and the strength of the human spirit – there is always, light even in our very darkest moments. I didn’t imagine it would feel so urgent when it was published.

‘South Africa, 1901, the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp where, the English promise: they will be safe.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog. Worried he’s not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp. Here they ‘make men out of boys’. Guaranteed.’

Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness. Here’s what some writers I admire are saying:

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

Mine by Clare Empson – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…

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MY REVIEW 

This is a psychological thriller with an emotional edge.

Luke had been adopted when very young and he now has a family of his own. He has a young son, Samuel with his partner Hannah.

He is newly reunited with his birth mother, Alice who helps take care of Samuel so Hannah can go back to work.

Told in two distinct times lines, Alice’s from the past and Luke’s in the present and set in the world of art and music.

Without spoiling the plot, this is a beautifully written story with a slowly building tension, a family drama with a twist that’s gripping as you watch someone fall apart.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.