Category Archives: Authors G to I

Reviews by author surname G to I

Blog Tour – Reconciliation For The Dead by Paul E. Hardisty

I am delighted to be one of today’s blogs hosting on the Reconciliation For The Dead blog tour with Lorraine at The Book Review Cafe. Let me tell you this was not an easy review to write and it is an incredibly hard-hitting book but I am so glad I have read it!

The Blurb

Sequel to the critically acclaimed The Abrupt Physics of Dying and The Evolution of Fear.

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

My Thoughts

‘…this neighbourhood so like the one he grew up in, the presumption of superiority as much a part of the place as the large, fenced gardens and the pools and the little backyard shacks for the black help.’

How on earth do you even begin to review a book like Hardisty’s Reconciliation For The Dead? It is a nerve-jangling thriller that is intelligently written with political acuity but it is a difficult read due to its subject matter. It is intensely emotional and hard-hitting. I have always had a mild interest in South Africa as my grandmother was from Cape Town and my mum lived in Rhodesia for a short time as a child. Africa has always struck me as a beautiful country that has sadly been used and raped for it’s resources. Reconciliation For The Dead sadly confirmed my view and made me aware of atrocities I had no idea had happened … and happened so recently.

It has taken me some time to gather my thoughts after finishing this book, so much was its affect on me. So how to start? Reconciliation For The Dead crosses two timelines. We follow Claymore Straker during his time as a young soldier in South Africa in 1981, and in 1996 as a witness in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His time as a witness is told via the transcripts which punctuates throughout the story and it is perfectly constructed. I was completely transported to Africa as Hardisty superbly creates the sense of place. From the descriptions of the landscape to the Africaans colloquialisms, Hardisty ensures that you are fully immersed in the surroundings and, therefore, the novel. And this is not the only thing that stands out about his writing, which I will come on to later.

Claymore Straker is a fantastic protagonist. He is tough and gutsy, yet intelligent and able to consider what is going on around him with an open mind. I really felt for him and the positions he found himself in. This is the third book in the Claymore Straker series but it works incredibly well as a standalone, which is how I read it. If you read this as your first in the series I have no doubt that, like me, you will be buying the first two.

Reconciliation For The Dead is more than a thriller … so much more. Hardisty draws on historical facts and writes about them in such a way that the book becomes all engrossing … you cannot get it out of your head and it consumes you. It is clear that Hardisty has carefully researched his subject matter and every page brims with authenticity. As I said, this is more than a thriller, it is a devastating reminder of the potential barbarity of human beings. Unflinchingly raw in its depictions of genocide, Hardisty captures the brutality and horror of war and the indelible mark it leaves on those who partake in it. This is one of the things that makes Straker such a brilliant and, ultimately, real character.

Nothing is left out of Reconciliation For The Dead, from the propaganda used by those in their ivory towers to get others to do their bidding, to the motivations behind war (which is sadly far removed from the sense of keeping people safe as in WW2), and the prejudices which sadly still come down to something as rudimentary as the colour of your skin. Throughout Hardisty writes with emotional acuity and his use of language is beautiful despite the subject matter. It has its moments where it is philosophical in tone and it will make you question everything you ever thought or felt about humanity. Yes, it is bleak and distressing, but Hardisty later reminds us that there is still goodness out there and those who are being treated badly continue to have a great capacity for empathy, concern and care.

Although it is undoubtedly gripping, I had to take regular breaks from the book due to the emotional impact it had on me. This is a book to be read slowly in order to be able to gather your thoughts during various points and, quite frankly, pull yourself together again.

Shocking, raw, and devastating; much like Schindler’s List is a film that must be watched, Reconciliation For The Dead is a book that MUST be read to serve as a reminder that, at the end of the day, we are all made the same.

Published on eBook on 22 March 2017 and paperback on 30 May 2017 by Orenda Books.

I am still recovering from this book! A huge thank you to Paul E. Hardisty, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of Reconciliation For The Dead and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the tour…

 

 

Book Review – Fearne Fairy And The Landing Lesson by Sarah Hill

The Blurb

Will Fearne Fairy finally master the art of landing? Who will help her overcome her flying flaw? Find out in this 10th enchanting story from the award-winning Whimsy Wood Series.

My Thoughts

Fearne Fairy and the Landing Lesson is book 10 in The Whimsey Wood Series and sees the return of Fearne Fairy and Mustard the Magpie Moth Caterpillar. It is May in Whimsey Wood and Fearne finally takes the plunge and has some landing lessons. Fearne has not mastered the art of landing resulting in bumps, bruises and broken objects. While this is the 10th book, it works equally as well as a standalone.

Fearne is not the perfect fairy – her flying skills and singing voice leave a lot to be desired – and this makes her all the more likeable as, let’s face it, none of us are perfect.

There is so much attention to detail in this book, with Sarah Hill beautifully creating the world around Fearne and her woodland friends. I loved the descriptions of the furniture within Fearne’s house and her clothing. Young imaginations are sure to be fired by this gorgeous tale.

Hill’s use of alliteration adds humour and children will have great fun saying these phrases aloud and parents will enjoying reading them out loud. A great way for kids to learn and remember words, Fearne Fairy and the Landing Lesson is both educational and a lot of fun.

The illustrations are gorgeous and fit with the story perfectly while providing much to look at and discuss.

A great book that both children and adults will enjoy. It’s ‘Bzz-illiant’ as Bristle Bumblebee would say. Highly recommended.

A huge thank you to Sarah Hill for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Published on 24 November 2016 by Abela Publishing.

Blog Tour – The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney *Book Review*

Thrilled to be taking part in The Missing Ones blog tour today alongside Shell at Chelle’s Book Reviews. I love discovering a new author and Patricia Gibney is one to look out for in the future. This is a cracking start to the DI Lottie Parker series!

The Blurb

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My Thoughts

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney is the first in a new crime series featuring DI Lottie Parker. I’m always excited to start a brand new detective serial, so really anticipated this debut novel.

I was hooked from the very start! The prologue, which is set in 1976, is chilling, creepy and unnerving—a great way to start a book—and draws you in immediately. It then switches to December 2014 and we are involved in the first murder. From there we are taken through the eight days of the investigation with Lottie and flashbacks to the past. The Missing Ones moves along at a fast pace with Gibney including teasers at the end of the chapters that leave you hanging and just having to read more.

I really liked DI Lottie Parker and she is character I look forward to seeing more of. She is a tenacious detective who is struggling to juggle her career with her role as a mother to three children. She has an intriguing background and has had her fair share of significant life events which still cause her issues. The relationship between her and fellow detective Mark Boyd is one that I will watch with interest. Gibney has set the ground for Lottie’s development through a series really well.

The Missing Ones is a dark novel that deals with corruption, the attempt to bury disturbing secrets and abuse. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to risk giving any of the plot away, but Gibney reaches into the disturbing echelons of Irish and Catholic history which is discomfiting and alarming.

Gibney is a talented writer and, weirdly, I found her description of the first victim’s death rather beautiful. She has created a wonderfully twisting tale that keeps you reading late into the night and the plot progression is flawless. She seamlessly weaves the tale together, combining past and present with great results. A very accomplished debut novel.

The Missing Ones heralds the start of a great new detective series. With a dark and twisting tale, an interesting lead character and wonderful writing this is a book not to be missed. Highly recommended for lovers of crime fiction.

A huge thank you to Patricia Gibney and Bookouture for the advance copy and for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

Published 16 March 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2i8lVTY
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2imcDD0

Be sure to catch the other stops on the blog tour!

 

 

Book Review – Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt

Devastation Road

The Blurb

Spring, 1945: A man wakes in a field in a country he does not know.  Injured and confused, he pulls himself up and starts to walk.

His name is Owen.  A war he has only a vague memory of joining is in it’s last throes, and as he tries to get back to England he becomes caught up in the flood of refugees pouring through Europe.  Among them is a teenage boy, Janek, and a troubled young woman, Irena, and together they form a fragile alliance on their way across battle-worn Germany.  Owen attempts to gather up the shattered pieces of his life, but nothing is as he remembers, not even himself – how can he return home when he hardly recalls what home is?

My Thoughts

 ‘”The war might as well still be raging for all the good the peace is doing us”’

A moving story about the catastrophic impact of war told through three different perspectives, Devastation Road is poignant, wonderfully written and a stark reminder that peace does not necessarily bring with it an end to suffering.

When Owen wakes in a field in Germany in 1945 with no memory of where or who he is, he has to make his way across the country in order to get home. Along the way, he meets Janek and Irena and this unlikely group of disparate people, each with their own unique and moving experience of the war, forge together to make their way home and rebuild their lives.

Devastation Road has an air of mystery about it as we are drip fed information about Owen when parts of his memory slowly come back to him. Hewitt’s portrayal of Owen’s memory loss is incredibly effective, giving the reader the experience of how it would really feel to lose this function, the confusion it causes and its impact which goes way beyond anything I could have imagined. The vague snippets of memories that come back to him that he can’t fully make sense of and then forgetting them again the next day, make piecing his life back together incredibly difficult.

Each of the three characters has their own story to tell and their own methods of survival. While not always liking the decisions they have made and the action they have taken, you cannot help but feel for them and understand their behaviour in this most extreme of times when survival becomes everything. They are all victims of the war and in many senses peace time will be just as dangerous for them.

The real beauty of this book, for me, is its exploration of the impact of war. Although historical fiction, Devastation Road has an authenticity about it showing that Hewitt has clearly researched his subject. His descriptions give a real sense of place and surrounding, with the reader being transported to Germany during this tumultuous time. Peace time has arrived and yet lives are still in turmoil and danger is not over. While our views and ideas of the end of the Second World War are often one of jubilation and celebration, this was not the reality for the majority of people. Lives and homes devastated, displacement and the uncertainty about the safety of loved ones are all explored and portrayed gently and sensitively. Hewitt accurately describes how human lives become worthless during war time making this an emotional read.

Heart-breaking, gripping and wonderfully written, Devastation Road is a gorgeous novel and a fantastic piece of historical fiction. A tale of unlikely friendships, loss and the lengths people go to in order to stay alive that will move you deeply. Highly recommended.

A huge thank you to Jason Hewitt and Scribner for my copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 14 July 2016 by Scribner.

 

 

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour – The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto *Review*

I’m chuffed to be hosting today’s post for The Finnish Invasion blog tour and am sharing with you my review of The Mine by Kati Hiekkapelto…

Cover

The Blurb

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday.  But when her bag is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case.  Her investigation leads straight to her own family and to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all.  As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading across Europe.  How long before everything explodes?

Chilling, tense and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My Thoughts

When Anna Fekete returns to her home town of Kanizsa in Serbia for a holiday and has her bag stolen by a thief who is later found dead her investigation takes her on journey she never expected.

This is the third book in the Detective Anna Fekete series, however it works perfectly as a standalone novel as I have not read the previous two. The first chapter immediately drew me in with it’s stunning prose and the need to know what has led to that situation as Kati gives you a glimpse of what’s to come while effectively leaving you hanging on to find out more. The following chapters take you back to events leading up to the first chapter. The structure of this book is well constructed and works extremely well as you follow Anna each day with occasional flashbacks to the past and to other characters.

The tension is built throughout the book with chapters ending at just the right moment leaving questions in the readers mind. The prose is stunning with a subtlety that adds to the atmosphere of the setting and the events that unfold. This fits perfectly with difficult subject matter that runs throughout the book.

Kati has spun a story of corruption set against the backdrop of a tenuous political climate. Current topical issues play a part in The Exiled with the current refugee crisis and the subsequent rise in the far right playing an important role in the story. Kati has covered this with an understanding and insight and yet does not force her views down your throat. She acknowledges the plight of refugees but also acknowledges the concerns of those who lives have been touched by it inadvertently.

Anna is a central component to the story, beyond being the detective who is trying to uncover the truth. Feeling rootless and struggling with her sense of identity and belonging, her experiences and feelings mirror, in some ways, those of the refugees around her. I really empathised with Anna and she is a character I look forward to finding out more about. 

The Exiled unfolds with the gradual peeling away of layers where secret upon secret is slowly unravelled. Anna’s personal journey and the social situation add to the depth of the novel, making this much more than your average thriller.

Intelligently and beautifully written, The Exiled is a tense read perfectly mixing gripping thriller with social and political commentary.

Thank you to Kati Heikkapelto and Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the copy in exchange for my review and for including me on the blog tour.

Published on 10 October 2016 by Orenda. You can purchase a copy HERE.

Author Pic

About Kati Hiekkapelto

Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland.  She wrote her first stories at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes.  Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyvaskyla.  The Subject of her final thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools.  She went on to work as a special-needs teacher for immigrant children.  Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist.  Her books The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into ten languages.  The Hummingbird was shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the UK in 2015 and The Defenceless won the best Finnish Crime Novel of the year 2014, and ha been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key.  She lives and writes in her 200-year-old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland.  In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushrooms, and gardens.  During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis.  Writing seems fairly easy, after all that.  Follow her on Twitter @HiekkapeltoKati or visit www.katihiekkapelto.com.

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour

Review – Duplicity by Sibel Hodge

Duplicity

The Blurb

There are three sides to every story: Yours. Mine. And the truth…

Max and Alissa have a fairy-tale life – newly-wed, madly in love and enviously rich. Then Max is stabbed to death at their home and Alissa, miraculously, escapes with her life. But why was she spared?

The hunt for the killer begins, uncovering a number of leads – was Max’s incredible wealth the motive? Had his shady business practices finally caught up with him? Or was it a stalker with a dangerous obsession?

Devoted friends rally around gentle, sweet Alissa as she is left to mourn the loss of her husband and pick up her life. But not everyone is who they seem…deep-rooted jealousies, secrets and twisted love lie just beneath the surface, and not all fairy tales have a happy ending.

Duplicity is a suspenseful thriller from the best-selling author of Look Behind You and Where The Memories Lie.

My Thoughts

‘Love was a blessing and a curse. Love could destroy you. If you let it.’

Sibel Hodge has done it again with another fantastic thriller. I had planned to read Duplicity slowly over the course of a few days but I ended up devouring it and reading it really quickly.

I don’t want to give away any of the plot so I’m not going to touch on it at all as I want you to experience the book as I did, but Sibel has created a dark and twisted tale which takes you where you never expected. Revolving around the murkier, negative emotions that human beings experience – jealousy, obsession, arrogance – but taken to the absolute extreme, Duplicity is an enthralling read.

When reading a thriller I love to get inside the head of the ’bad guy’ and understand them. Sibel has achieved this perfectly in Duplicity creating a well rounded character for whom I felt a degree of understanding and empathy for despite their horrendous behaviour. This is important to me as, after all, humans are influenced by their experiences and behaviour is not often the result of merely being ’mad or bad’. Duplicity got me thinking about the whole ’nature – nurture’ debate and I love a book that makes me think beyond it’s pages.

‘…if you grow up without love, you don’t know what it is. I don’t have the same kinds of feelings as other people. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel much, most of the time. Not about humans, anyway.’

Sibel has created the epitome of the sociopath and charted the rise in their tendencies with an intelligence and understanding.

The novel switches between two narrators, both of who tell their stories in the first person and Sibel has carefully made their individual voices easy to differentiate and given each their own character. Detective Warren Carter was easy to warm to with enough of a back story, and his own unique views to make him a believable character.

The first chapter drew me in immediately, urging me to read on to find out more about the narrator, whose identity is kept from the reader until later in the book. This works so well as it keeps the reader intrigued and desperate to know more. The pace is perfect throughout with a momentum that never stops. Duplicity is responsible for a couple of very late nights and the twists and turns will leave you holding your breath while muttering ‘oh my God‘.

Utterly compelling with keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense and characters who leave you wondering who to trust, Duplicity is the perfect psychological thriller. You need to read it! Just be sure to have time set aside for it as you will not want to put it down until you reach the end of that final page!

A huge thank you to Sibel Hodge for the advance copy. This is my unbiased and honest review.

Published on 27 December 2016 by Thomas and Mercer.

You can purchase a copy of Duplicity HERE.

Review – Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour

Isolation Junction[408608]

The Blurb

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband.  While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘isolation junction’.  She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house.  Through this she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.  It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.  After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand.  Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children.  With 100 reasons to leave and a 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?  Will Tim help her?  Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves?  Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

My Review

Isolation Junction is the debut novel by Jennifer Gilmour. It tells the story of Rose and her relationship with her husband Darren which has ended following years of domestic abuse. As a former social worker I have worked within a system that routinely deals with abusive relationships as a child protection issue and, therefore, had a particular interest in reading this book for review. Domestic abuse is a huge issue within the UK and one that, unfortunately tends not to be dealt with particularly well at times.

Written in two narrative styles the reader follows Rose in the present as she finally makes the break from her relationship and makes a new life for herself and her children and we get glimpses into the past via Rose’s memories. With the present written in the third person and the past in the first person it is clearly marked out for the reader and makes you really get into her head, so to speak. With her memories interspersed with the present it also highlights how her current experiences bring back the painful memories of her relationship with Darren. You can’t help but empathise with Rose and go through the myriad of emotions with her.

Jennifer has done a great job of portraying the realities of domestic abuse and you can tell that she has used real life experiences in writing Isolation Junction. Quite often the view of domestic abuse is a simplistic one that concentrates on the physical side and assumes that it is easy to leave the perpetrator, Jennifer has highlighted the insidious nature of domestic abuse and all the different methods used to control partners and control is essentially, in my humble opinion, what domestic abuse is about. Isolation Junction shows the way this control is built up slowly during the relationship and all the ways the partner undermines the other by eroding their self-esteem and support network. Sleep deprivation, gaslighting, isolating from friends and family and using the children are some of the methods Jennifer highlights which are not often at the forefront of people’s minds.

As Rose unfortunately discovers leaving is not as straight forward as it may appear. With little help from housing associations and perpetrators using the Court system to hit at that most vulnerable part of a woman – her children – leaving is extremely difficult. The failure of adequate laws to protect those subjected to a Court process are also described in Isolation Junction. However, it can be done and Rose’s story offers that hope.

I think Isolation Junction will be of great help to those who find themselves in a similar situation in helping them realise their experiences are not unique to them and that the methods their partner is using is not of their doing or in their heads. It also gives a realistic portrayal of the some of the barriers that will be faced when trying to leave.

I did find that some aspects of the story were a little unrealistic for some women who may be in a similar situation, Rose is very lucky with her new partner and the help her family are able to offer, but I also get that this book has been written to offer a sense of hope to those who find themselves in a similar situation when it may seem that all hope is lost.

Jennifer has done a great job at bringing the true experiences of domestic abuse, the difficulties of leaving,  the failure of services and within the law to life. I certainly think that Isolation Junction will be of value to those in a similar situation as Rose, enabling to them to see they are not alone, and those working with people subjected to domestic abuse in helping them to understand their experiences.  Isolation Junction is both a moving and uplifting read.

I wish Jennifer every success with Isolation Junction and huge credit to her for writing this book in order to try and assist others.

A huge thank you to Jennifer Gilmour for the copy in exchange for my review.

Published 22 September 2016 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and launched on 1 October 2016.

Connect with Jennifer at www.jennifergilmour.com

You can purchase a copy of Isolation Junction HERE

block the road Image[408607]

Book Review – A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

A Cornish Christmas

The Blurb

Nestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic…

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas.  She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out onto the Atlantic Ocean.  She’s pregnant with their much longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead.  It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever.  When Ivy stumbles across a letter from her mother in an old writing desk, secrets from the past come hurtling into the present.  But could her mother’s words help Ivy in her time of need?  Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember.

This Christmas warm your heart and escape to the Cornish coast for an uplifting story of love, secrets and new beginnings that you will remember for many Christmases to come.

My Review

A Cornish Christmas was so much more than I was expecting! It is a story about the love between a mother and daughter and hope. It is a moving tale that reduced me to tears.

Ivy lost her mother five years ago and when she puts her mother’s old writing desk in her cottage she finds a mysterious postcard within the desk that is addressed to her by her mother but is not completed. That is all I want to say as I do not want to spoil the story for those who have not read it. It was originally called The Postcard and I do think this was a more apt title. The title and the blurb did not prepare me for the beauty that is inside this book, but that is also a good thing.

The characters are wonderful. I adored Ivy and her husband Stuart, who are expecting their first child after failed IVF attempts and miscarriages, and love the relationship between them that Lily has portrayed. She has really brought the village community to life with fantastic characters that you cannot help but like. It draws you in to the book completely and I had to keep reading as I cared so deeply for all the characters.

This book has a depth to it that took me by surprise. It is incredibly moving, touching and for me is a story about hope and enduring bonds. Ivy has struggled with the grief of losing her mother but the postcard she finds brings a new sense of well-being and gives her what she needs to move on with her life with Stuart and their baby. It is very emotional and Lily has written A Cornish Christmas with empathy and gentleness.

It has a magical element that even got to me and that is a testament to Lily’s writing as I am pretty cynical! I really don’t want to talk to much about the book as I want new readers to be as surprised and delighted as I was by this beautiful book.

Utterly gorgeous, poignant and beautifully written I adored A Cornish Christmas and have fallen a little in love with this book. Make sure you read this book but have a box of tissues handy!

Thank you to Lily Graham, Bookouture and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my honest review.

Published 30 September 2016 by Bookouture.

Review – Untouchable by Sibel Hodge

Untouchable

The Blurb

A conspiracy.  A cover up.  And a whistle-blower who knows too much.  You think you know who to trust? You’re wrong.  And the truth may kill you…Untouchable is a chillingly dark psychological thriller from the no.1 bestselling author of Look Behind You.

-Inspired by real UK police investigations, this book contains scenes which some readers may find disturbing –

It’s Maya and Jamie’s anniversary, and she waits with excitement for him to return home for a celebratory dinner.  There’s a knock at the door.  It’s the police.  Jamie has been found hanging in a local wood.

His death is ruled a suicide, but Maya doesn’t believe Jamie would take his own life.  Something isn’t right.  Someone has broken into her house.  Someone is watching her.  And someone has gone to great lengths to cover up what Jamie was doing before he died.

Maya’s grief turns to suspicion, and as she begins to investigate the weeks leading up to Jamie’s death, her trail leads her to a place known as “The Big House” and the horrific secrets within.  Secrets people will stop at nothing to keep hidden.  People linked to the heart of the Establishment who think they’re Untouchable.

Now Maya has a dangerous decision to make.  How far is she prepared to go to reveal the truth?

My Review

 ‘It’s what the Establishment – the System – has become. It’s not there for the people’s need, rather to serve the elite.’

It has taken me a few days to be able to write this review as I needed some time to consider Untouchable and process what I had read and how it made me feel. This is, for me, always the sign of a great book. Untouchable is part fast-paced psychological thriller and part political and social commentary.

It all starts when Jamie does not return home after work on the evening of his and partner Maya’s anniversary. When the police arrive and inform Maya that Jamie’s body has been found and he has committed suicide, Maya knows that this can’t be true. What follows is her uncovering of the disturbing truth and been drawn into a world she never imagined existed that will totally shatter all her beliefs about the society we live in.

Told in first person narrative, in the first part by Maya and Jamie, the second part by Maya and the third part by Mitchell, you get totally drawn into the characters, their thoughts and feelings. The first part is interesting as Jamie is deceased and his narrated chapters take us back to the past, it is kind of like we are being spoken to from beyond the grave, however, in part two it all becomes clear.

Maya is dealing with her grief and her frustration that nobody believes that something has happened to Jamie as she knows he would not have taken his own life. Sibel writes with acute understanding of how grief affects you and you cannot fail to be moved by Maya’s emotions –

‘Everything seemed impossible – breathing, walking, standing – and yet somehow I put one foot in front of the other, even though my world crumbled a little more with each step.

I got completely wrapped up in Maya’s journey and all that she was going through. Maya is stuck in a situation in which she is grappling with so much more than just grief, her very life is at risk, and there is very little that can help her. I got incredibly emotionally involved with Maya and desperately wanted a positive outcome for her, I felt all of her frustration about not being believed and her need for vengeance.

Jamie’s story is difficult to read, heart-breaking, moving, disturbing and sadly a reality for many children. Sibel has clearly researched the subject that effects him meticulously and she writes with an understanding and empathy which this issue needs.

As I stated earlier, this is also a political commentary and highlights how if you have enough money and power you can get away with literally anything. Those in power are able to use their position to abuse and use the vulnerable members of society and institutions will close ranks in order to protect themselves amongst a justice system that is essentially flawed. Untouchable, for me, is a kind of modern day 1984. Although a work of fiction, Sibel has written about issues that for many are a reality.

Untouchable kept me gripped throughout with twists and turns, likeable characters and an incredibly moving storyline. It is written with intelligence and empathy and highlights the sad realities of the society we live in. It is disturbing, not easy to read at times and will shake you to your core, but, in my opinion the story line is an important one to get out there.

A huge thank you to Sibel Hodge for the copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Published on ebook on 18 July 2016 by Wonder Women Publishing Limited.

Published in paperback on 17 September 2016 by CreateSpace.

Blog Tour – Good Girl Bad Girl by Ann Girdharry

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I’m thrilled today to be the next stop on the Good Girl Bad Girl Blog Tour.  You can find out about Ann Girdharry’s debut novel, find out what I thought about it and a bit more about Ann.

The Blurb

Mother missing, the discovery of a powerful and corrupt syndicate and dark secrets about her father revealed leaves 28-year old Kal determined to pursue her own investigations, no matter what sinister truths she uncovers, in this intense psychological thriller.

Kal is convinced her investigative journalist mother must have been working on a controversial, and top level, news story, it is the only explanation for her sudden and suspicious disappearance. Although mistrustful of the police, Kal allows Detective Inspector Spinks, the officer assigned to her mother’s case, to accompany her when she visits her grandmother to break the news. What they don’t expect is to uncover a file of shocking research cataloguing the deviant activities of seven members of London’s political and business elite. Back on the streets of London, the survival instincts and specialist expertise she learned from her late father, kick into overdrive, as Kal resolves to not only find her mother but continue her work and unveil the conspiracy hidden amongst those in power.

My Review

From the very start I was hooked. Ann effectively opens Good Girl Bad Girl with a first chapter that leaves a lot of questions in the mind of the reader that you just have to find the answers to. What has happened to her mother? Why have the family been receiving threatening notes? What was the main character’s father teaching her as a child that was so unusual?

Kal, a photojournalist, is dragged into a seedy underworld following the sudden disappearance of her mother. Taken on a journey she didn’t expect to be a part of, the reader follows her every step of the way. The intrigue and action does not let up, eventually resulting in the climatic conclusion.

Kal Medi is a great character. She is independent, intelligent, single-minded and strong and yet I was able to empathise with her as you get glimpses into her vulnerabilities which make her all the more human and relatable to. The relationship she had with her father is an interesting one and adds another layer to both the character and the story. This is the first in what is going to be a series of books and I really look forward to meeting Kal again.
Good Girl Bad Girl has a cleverly woven plot, with what initially feels like three disparate storylines coming together perfectly. The psychological element was something I loved. It is clear that Ann knows a lot about psychology and Kal’s observations of and descriptions of the other characters add an extra layer to this book. The way Ann describes the nuances of how the emotions effected Kal physically really made me go through what Kal was going through.

An intelligently written, multi-layered psychological thriller, I really enjoyed Good Girl Bad Girl and look forward to reading the next Kal Medi book.

Published on 23 August 2016 by Create Space and Kindle Direct.

About the Author

Born and educated in the UK, Ann Girdharry is a trained psychotherapist and has worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years for agencies working with: carers, vulnerable older people and those with dementia, survivors of abuse, and victims of racism and racial attacks. Today she lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children. As well as her passion for writing, Ann enjoys gardening and is a member of her local roller blading club.

Ann has previously published a series of short stories called Tales of the Unexpected (2015-2016). Her debut novel, and the first in the Kal Medi series, Good Girl Bad Girl by Ann Girdharry (published by CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing 23rd August 2016 RRP £8.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.

You can connect with Ann via her website www.girdharry.com and on Twitter @GirdharryAnn

A huge thank you to Ann and Authoright for the advance copy of Good Girl Bad Girl and for inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour.  Be sure to catch the rest of the stops!