Archive | March 2021

Unsettled Ground – Claire Fuller ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? 

What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people.

At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down.

Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake. 

What I think :

Twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother Dot at the age of fifty one. The three of them live a secluded life in rundown cottage on the edge of the local landowner Mr Rawson’s estate. They really don’t have much, selling the vegetables that they grow to local businesses. Julius is a bob-a-job handyman.

So when their mother dies unexpectedly one morning of a stroke the twins are at a loss of what to do, Jeanie can barely read and write as she had so much time off school with rheumatic fever as child and Julius didn’t pass any of his exams at all. They don’t really know how to get a death certificate for their mother, so it’s a good job that their mothers best friend Bridget is on hand to help. None of them even have a bank account, Dot used to keep their money in a tin in the kitchen !

Just as the twins are getting their heads around the fact that Dot has gone, Secrets and lies start to emerge ….

It appears that Dot was quite ill before she died, she’d had a couple of mini strokes, but hadn’t told her children.

Why ?

Then Mrs Rawson, the landowners wife knocks on the door telling Jeanie that their mother owed them, the Rawson’s quite a lot of money for rent on the cottage. Money that Jeanie and Julius now have to pay, they have no money, so that’s another worry. The cottage that the twins thought they could live in rent free for life because of what happened to their father, it now appears not …

Did Dot lie about that too ?

Does she owe money to other people too ?

What other secrets did Dot have ?

This is quite a raw and dark read, I must admit I found myself feeling quite tense the whole time I was reading this family’s story and also if I’m honest quite uncomfortable that people could live in such seclusion that they were that naive.

I felt really felt sorry for the twins, they thought they’re living their life in a simple but effective way, a way that their mother taught them, but it was that same mother that had decieved them with secrets and sometimes lies.

I found it an interesting read.

I give this book 8/10 (5 Stars)

Published on 25/03/21 by Fig Tree (Penguin Random House )

The biggest Thank you to Hannah Sawyer at Penguin Random House for the review copy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Hiding Place – Jenny Quintana ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

Some houses have their secrets. But so do some people . . .

Abandoned as a baby in the hallway of a shared house in London, Marina has never known her parents, and the circumstances of her birth still remain a mystery.

Now an adult, Marina has returned to the house where it all started, determined to find out who she really is. But the walls of this house hold more than memories, and Marina’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by the other tenants.
Someone is watching Marina. Someone who knows the truth . . .

What I think :

The 1990’s

Marina was abandoned as a tiny baby in the hallway of an old block of flats in Harrington Gardens.

Marina, who was named for the nurse that looked after her when she was found, wants to find out about herself and who her parents were and why they left her. It’s very important to her that she finds out just exactly what happened to make her birth mother abandon her like that.

So she returns to the old rundown block of flats in Harrington Gardens, but she doesn’t want anyone to know why she there and who she is because some of the residents remember when it happened …

The 1960’s

Connie is very scared

Connie is only seventeen yet she feels very grown up right now, she thought she was loved by a man that she slept with but, sadly she wasn’t. He used her and now he has gone off to Paris to be an artist and Connie is left holding the baby, literally. She’s pregnant and alone and doesn’t know what to do. Her father would be devastated. There really is only one thing she can do …

With Marina looking for answers, soon the two era’s collide ….

The book is told over two timelines, 1990’s (Marina) and 1960’s (Connie) and is mainly set in the old run down block of flats in Harrington Gardens where marina was found.

Your heart really goes out to both the girls but I really did have a soft spot for Connie because I think that she had maybe the hardest time of it. She really thought she’d found someone to love and someone who loved her, but in the end she hadn’t and he ran off to Paris before she had a chance to tell him of her pregnancy. She then had all these difficult decisions to make on her own, not forgetting of course, that abortion was against the law still then.

Then in present day well, almost present day, the 1990’s we have Marina who is trying to find herself and where she came from.

The story does move quite slowly, it is quite a slow burner but that doesn’t detract from the fact that its an expertly written story with very believable and relatable characters.

This is a very sad, but sometimes very gripping story about love and loss. I would highly recommend this novel and give it 8/10 (5 Stars)

Published on 18/03/21 by Mantle books.

The biggest Thank you to Anne Cater at RandomThings Tours for the review copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Here for your reading pleasure is an extract from the book.

Extract : 

Marina 

November 1991 

The house is still, like a crypt. Only the maple tree moves, branches swaying in the night breeze, leaves trem- bling and then brightening as a light in the top window flicks on. 

Marina parks opposite and switches off the engine. Heart thudding, she opens the door and steps into the street. The midnight air whips her face. Her breath is wispy, like the remnants of a ghost. In the distance, traffic speeds along Streatham High Road. A siren wails. 

She has been in Tooting Bec visiting an author whose manuscript she’s editing. Agata is Polish and is writing her memoirs, focusing on the Second World War. Setting off for the drive home to Wiltshire, Marina has taken a detour, speeding through the network of suburban streets, along past the common and into Harrington Gardens. 

It’s an ordinary street in a nondescript part of London, with the air of a place battened down for winter. Hedges are scruffy, tendrils trail from the tops of hanging bas- kets. Rubbish nudges the lids of dustbins. On one path, a rusty pram stands discarded along with a broken cot. The houses are mostly semis but number 24 is different. Detached. It’s a double-fronted Victorian home with two gables topped with arrowed finials. Spiked iron railings, with gates either side, contain the front garden with its modest patch of earth, single maple tree and geometric path. Stone steps lead to a massive front door; metal stairs to the entrance to the basement. To the right, a public footpath separates it from the house next door. An estate agent’s fallen sign rests on the ground.

Flat 2. To Let. 

Automatically, Marina compares the reality before her to the photographs she’s seen in newspapers. But those grainy images were mere reproductions, while this building is solid and stamps its importance on the street. 

Marina crosses the road. The house is in darkness save for the light on the second floor and a cobwebbed lantern above the front door, but it’s enough to notice the crumbling cornices and cracked stained glass. The bricks need repointing, the ledges need repainting and the maple tree needs cutting back. 

Three floors and five windows and then the basement. The light in the top window is turned off. Marina shivers and buttons her faux-fur coat. Her hair hangs abundantly around her face rich and dark and warm. She wears thick clothes, boots and fingerless gloves, but still the chill of the night creeps inside her bones. Flexing her fingers, she moves beneath a street lamp as if it might give her heat. 

Above her, the sky is heavy. Stray snowflakes are fall- ing. She should go home. She should get into her Mini, turn the heating on full blast and speed away from London. 

But she does not. Warily, she steps forward and peers more closely at the house. Along with the set of doorbells – five, she counts, for five flats, there’s a separate bell for the basement – she takes in the original details: the lion-head door knocker with its gaping mouth; the metal bell pull that hangs like a noose; the guillotine blade of the boot scraper. 

She considers the people who have lifted the knocker, jangled the bell or scraped their shoes: tenants and visit- ors. She imagines the figure of a lonely woman, creeping like a spectre up the steps, pushing open the door and leaving her baby inside. 

Who would do that? 

A weight forms inside her chest. It’s an old question and yet Marina’s body bows beneath the hurt because she knows she was the baby and the woman was her mother.

Sleep Tight – C.S.Green ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

Even in your dreams you’re not safe…

The nightmare is only just beginning…

When DC Rose Gifford is called to investigate the death of a young woman suffocated in her bed, she can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to the crime than meets the eye.

It looks like a straightforward crime scene – but the police can’t find the killer. Enter DS Moony – an eccentric older detective who runs UCIT, a secret department of the Met set up to solve supernatural crimes. Moony wants Rose to help her out – but Rose doesn’t believe in any of that.

Does she?

As the killer prepares to strike again, Rose must pick a side – before a second woman dies.

What I think :

When D.C Rose Gifford is called to the death of a young woman, Hannah, who was killed form suffocation in her bed, Rose thinks that maybe this isn’t your usual run of the mill death. Hannah’s room mate told Rose that Hannah had been having nightmares and shouting out in her sleep. She was really scared and said that she thought that someone was in her bedroom. The bad dreams where always at 3am.

Then across town there is Kirsty.

Kirsty has been having sleeping problems too. She also wakes at 3am in the morning and she also has really bad dreams where there is someone in her bedroom. but lately her dreams have started to become very real. Is Kirsty in Danger ? Will Kirsty be next?

As the police investigation continues with no real evidence, Rose comes across D.S Sheila Moody. D.S Moody runs a very secret department of the Met called UCIT. They investigate ‘Supernatural’ occurrences. Sheila wants Rose to help in her investigations because Sheila thinks she can see something in Rose that would be helpful to her and her colleagues. But Rose doesn’t believe in all that sort of thing does she ? (Try telling that to Rose’s Mum Adele who visits Rose quite frequently. Only Problem is Adele has been dead for least ten years !) And anyway she’s got enough going on with Hannah’s case. But could the two be related ?

Rose needs to decide what she’s going do before another person gets killed ….

What a book ! I have read all this authors other books and really enjoyed them so I was really looking forward to this one and let me tell you I wasn’t disappointed.

I love anything to do with ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

This book has plenty of spookiness and I loved how dark it was, I couldn’t put it down and got very annoyed when I fell asleep reading it because I really need to know how it would end.

I really liked the main character and thought she was really relatable to. Apart from seeing her dead mother a lot, she very much like me and you with the same work/home problems.

I very much enjoyed this first book in a series about D.C Rose Gifford and I’m really looking forward to the next one.

I give this book 9/10 (5 stars )

Published by Harper Collins on 04/03/21.

The biggest Thank you to Jen Harlow at Harper Collins for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.

*****************

Here for your reading pleasure is an extract from the book :

Sleep Tight ~ C.S. Green.

Kirsty

He’s no regular stalker.
There’s no shadow of a figure in her peripheral vision as she

goes about her day. No footsteps behind her in an alley as she comes home from work.

Instead, he visits her in the darkest part of the night, padding soft and deadly into her dreams at 3 a.m., when she is at her most defenceless. In her own bed.

The sleep rituals are the only weapons she has.

First, she makes herself turn off the iPad, even though she wants to watch another episode of her reality show. But the blue light scrambles your brain and keeps you awake. This is just basic advice. Next comes the bubble bath – not too warm, not too cool – with the meditation audiobook playing from the phone lying on the sink. She doesn’t really like baths; she always ends up getting sweaty or chilled, but all the ad- vice suggests that this is the right thing to do for A Good Night’s Sleep.

That’s how she thinks of it: in capitals. A destination. The Holy Grail.

She’s drunk the mug of hot chocolate – the best part of her routine – and eaten the banana. (They give you serotonin or something like that. She’s a bit hazy on the science.)

Now for the lavender oil, which she spritzes on the pillow, but not too much because someone told her that can have the opposite effect to the one desired.

Climbing into bed, she lifts up her thriller from the bedside table and looks at the picture on the cover. It shows a woman half-turning under a streetlamp, eyes wide and startled, like someone being followed.

With a small shudder, she puts it back on the nightstand. It’s quite good, but maybe not for bedtime reading.

Instead she twiddles with the dial on the clock radio until she finds Radio 4. It’s not her thing at all in the daytime, but droning, posh voices seeping into the room are comforting at night. Someone on there is talking about moving to a Scottish island for a year and doing something involving sheep. It’s incredibly boring, but isn’t that what you want at bedtime? Excitement is not what she needs right now.

Closing her eyes at last, she pulls the duvet with its freshly changed cover up to her chin and inhales its clean scent, breathing in and out very slowly. The lamp is still turned on and the orange glow bleeds through her eyelids, but she isn’t ready to turn it off yet.

She’s not ready for the darkness.

Her parents say she resisted the lights going off from when she was a little girl, even before the night terrors began. And it only got worse.

There was that time on holiday in Devon, when she was eight, and she screamed so ear-splittingly that someone in the next chalet called the police. Her parents, clad in dressing gowns and dozy from too much sun and wine, had to explain that the unearthly sound had been made by a sleepy little girl and not someone being brutally murdered.

Over the years there were various rituals she had made her long-suffering parents carry out before bed, checking everywhere for bogeymen.

But the bogeymen still somehow snuck in, if not physically, then covering her with their slick shadows until she woke up thrashing in panic.

Sleep paralysis they call it.
Lately, it always follows the same pattern.
First, coming to in the pearly light of her bedroom, the
familiar furniture appearing as dark, blocky shapes around her.

Awake.

Then, the creeping figure. There’s a flare of white panic in her mind before the sweet relief of realization comes.

No, wait, it’s just that thing again. It’s just the sleep paralysis. It’s not real. None of this is real. I’ll wake up soon.
Except . . . the face doesn’t go away. Instead, it becomes
more defined, more corporeal, until it is visible in high-definition detail, hovering above her as she lies there, powerless and unable to move a single muscle.

The faces used to vary. Sometimes it would be an old man or woman with leathery, crinkled skin and cruel, glittery eyes. But lately, it’s always a man, features hidden, eyes staring down at her through slits in a balaclava.

And that’s when she realizes this time is different. She’s not dreaming. This isn’t sleep paralysis. This is happening.

The surge of horror at this realization is always the tipping point. She breaks free from the sleep-state and finds herself shivering, gasping, out of her bed, carpet under her curled toes, back slick with sweat.

But lately, that moment is taking longer to come.

Friends and family have never understood that it’s worse than a ‘bad dream’. That’s OK. She’s used to being a freak. But what makes her feel really lonely – and really scared – is the people who should know, her fellow parasomniacs.

They don’t believe her when she tells them there’s something different about this.

It’s as if he, whoever he is, is somehow . . . breaking through

whatever barrier exists between the waking world and the nightmare one.

But she’s driving herself mad with thoughts like these. That’s not even possible. Is it?

Don’t they say we only use 10 per cent of our brain or something, and the rest is a mystery? It’s only her silly brain playing tricks.

Tonight, she is going to sleep peacefully all the way through. He won’t come this time. She is quite determined.

She lies still and breathes slowly through her nose, eyes closed. The bedside clock ticks. Radio 4 burbles on . . .

The scream of a car alarm outside. Eyes snapping open, insides cold with acid shock, heart punching her ribs. She must have been dozing but she’s wide awake again.

Annoyed at having this promising start compromised, she makes herself switch off the lamp. The shipping forecast is a low drone in the background, and she lets the words soothe her, repeating them slowly in her mind.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight.

Bight Utsire, German Dogger, Fisher Price . . .
Jerking awake. Focusing once more.
Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Dogger, Fisher, German
Bight.
Dogger, Dogger, Alfie and Annie Rose and picnics, picnics
and cider and when Tim Watts stuck his tongue in my mouth in the rec and fried chicken on his breath . . . Viking, North Utsire, South German . . . South . . .

Finally she sleeps. But at 3 a.m., her eyes snap open. He’s back.

Behind Closed Doors – Catherine Alliott ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.

But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.

As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London – and the stories it hides – for a rural escape to her parents’ farmhouse in the Chilterns.

But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home, especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.

Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she’s been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .
_______

What I think :

Any one looking in at author Lucy’s life they would think that she had it all, married to charming husband, Michael who is a theatre critic, beautiful children Ned and Imo and a lovely home. But that isn’t the case, things are very different behind those closed doors. So when her marriage to the ‘charming’ Micheal comes to an sudden end, (well, Michael actually dies) and her life is turned inside out, she’s at a loss at what to do. Especially as the truth about what her marriage is actually like is threatening to come out. Then she has a chance to swap all of that for the rural Chilterns at her parents farm, she jumps at it. However her parents aren’t your standard sensible elderly couple, they’re more like a couple of delinquents with a drink problem !! So then the fun begins !

Whilst grieving, trying to keep her parents under control and sort out what’s left of her own life she runs into an old flame.

Lucy is also hiding a big secret of her own, so what will Lucy do ?

I really enjoyed this book as I always do with this authors other books, they are emotional, funny but always true to life. Her characters are ones you can really relate to. I really liked Lucy’s character and really felt for her in places.

The story goes back and forth between now and past times with the family at home. It’s very much about what family life is like and touches on some really relevant subjects like domestic abuse and starting over and of course parents that refuse to grow old gracefully !!

As I said at the start, I thought this book was a brilliant, heartwarming tale. It was a quite nice change from the crime thrillers I tend to read these days !!

I give it a very well earned 9/10. (5 Stars )

Published on 04/03/21 by Micheal Joseph. (Penguin Random House)

The biggest thank you as always to Sriya Varadharajan from Michael Joseph for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.