Category Archives: Authors M to O

Reviews by author surname M to O

Review – The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

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The Blurb

On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava.  Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life.  She just doesn’t know it yet…

My Thoughts

The Christmas Promise was, I have to say, a delightful surprise. I was expecting a fluffy romance, which don’t get me wrong is fine, however Sue Moorcroft has written a romantic winter tale that incorporates some serious issues which gives it a real depth.

Ava Blissham does not like Christmas and this year the festive period looks as though it is going to be more challenging than ever. Struggling to make a living from her hat-making business and being harassed by her awful ex-boyfriend, Harvey, Ava wishes she could ignore Christmas. However, this may unexpectedly turn out to be the best Christmas ever…

Sue has created a fantastic cast of characters. Ava is extremely likeable and she quickly felt like a friend, Sam is wonderful as the man to restore your faith in men and yet they are not perfect which makes you warm to them even more. The group of family and friends surrounding the main characters are equally enjoyable and add to the whole depth of the story. Along with wonderful descriptions that create the setting, The Christmas Promise quickly becomes a book that you become fully immersed in.

The story is completely absorbing with the main characters having to overcome their own difficulties and the right amount of ‘will they/won’t they’ romance. I got totally wrapped up in the story and had to know what the outcome would be for Ava and Sam.

Through her writing, Sue was able to evoke some strong emotions within me as she touches on subjects which can potentially effect everyone. The way in which she describes the character’s emotions provide moving moments in which I, as the reader, felt every bit of what they were going through.

Despite the serious subjects that make up part of the story line, The Christmas Promise is never maudlin and the touches of humour through characters such as Booby Ruby make this the perfect mix of moving and uplifting.

Hope, love and friendship with a touch of romance set against the backdrop of Christmas make The Christmas Promise a great festive read. Hats off to Sue Moorcroft for writing a wonderful Christmas novel!

Huge thanks to Sue Moorcroft and Helena Sheffield at Avon Books for the advance copy. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Published by Avon books The Christmas Promise is out now on ebook and paperback and you can purchase a copy HERE.

Review – A Man With One Of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

A Man With One Of those Faces

The Blurb

The first time somebody tried to kill him it was an accident.

The second time was deliberate.

Now Paul Mulchrone finds himself on the run with nobody to turn to except a nurse who has read one-too-many crime novels and a renegade copper with a penchant for violence.  Together, they must solve one of the most notorious crimes in Irish history…

…or else they’ll be history.

My Thoughts

A Man With One Of Those Faces is the debut novel by Caimh McDonnell, a stand up comedian. I was curious as to how a comic would create a crime novel and the answer is…uniquely and brilliantly!

Almost killed by accident then pursued by a notorious gangland criminal in a case of mistaken identity, Paul Mulchrone, the central character, has to be the unluckiest man alive! Along with Brigit Conroy, a nurse with a penchant for crime novels and Bunny McGarry, an over-zealous, not ‘always-by-the-book’ copper Paul must solve an historical, notorious crime in order not to be killed.

A Man With One Of Those Faces is not, however, your average crime novel. It comes with a wicked sense of Irish humour that has you laughing out loud whilst also keeping you gripped to the crime aspect of the story. I was immediately drawn into the first chapter and compelled to keep reading due to the perfect combination of wit and mystery. Used to crime and thrillers novels that are serious in tone, I loved this mix and Caimh pulls it off perfectly.

Full of fantastic characters – including an 83 year old influenced by programmes such as The Wire and Sons Of Anarchy – I felt a real affection for Paul, Brigit and Bunny and am pleased we will be seeing more from them in Caimh’s next novel. The humour certainly added to the affinity I felt for them and Paul‘s back story is intriguing.

Don’t be fooled though by all my talk of comedy, this is also a thrilling novel and I had no idea how it would turn out. A Man With One Of Those Faces hooked me in quickly and kept me guessing right to the very end. With chapters that are the perfect length and end at exactly the right moment and well paced prose this is also a great crime novel with perfect timing.

Gangland criminals, mistaken identity, an unsolved mystery mixed with cracking Irish humour that reminded me of Father Ted make A Man With One Of Those Faces a fantastic novel. Simultaneously making you roar with laughter and bite your nails, Caimh’s debut is quite unlike anything I have read before and it’s a belter. Can’t wait for the second novel.

A huge thank you to Caimh McDonnell for a the copy of A Man With One Of Those Faces in exchange for my honest review.

Published on 27 August 2016 by McFori Ink.

You can purchase a copy from Amazon UK and Amazon.com

Review – Love You To Death by Caroline Mitchell

Love you to death

The Blurb

Twenty years ago you were forced to give your daughter up.  Now she’s back.  Or is she?

Women who’ve had to give up children for adoption are being killed.  A knock at their front door begins a nightmare from which they will never give up.

East London detective Ruby Preston and her team must hunt down a disturbed individual before someone else is taken.  But when bodies start turning up, staged in perfect, domestic scenes it carries the echo of a memory in Ruby’s mind.  The tinkling of a music box.  A mother and a child reunion…

Then just as Ruby thinks they’ve made a breakthrough, she receives a sinister email, and the case takes a terrifying personal twist.

Can Ruby catch the killer before they strike again? Or will her troubled past catch up with her first?

My Thoughts

In Love You To Death Caroline Mitchell introduces us to DS Ruby Preston in the first volume of her new crime series. A detective in the Shoreditch Serious Crime Squad, DS Ruby Preston and her team have to solve the ‘door-knocker’ murders following the death of a woman and her husband. As the bodies start to stack up, it is clear that a deranged and deluded killer is behind them and they must race to catch her.

These are not, however, straight forward killings. All of the victims are women who gave up a child for adoption and Lucy, the killer, is posing as their long lost daughter. But why is she targeting women who are not her mother? This is a deliciously twisted tale with a truly chilling perpetrator. Lucy is unnerving, has a totally skewed view of life and is very bitter. Caroline has created a creepy, totally deranged protagonist who sent shivers down my spine. I loved the way that the story did not just centre on the detective side of things and that we also get to follow the killer and get her point of view. I felt for her at times, she has been dealt a bad blow in life, and the revulsion I felt for her was interspersed at times with sympathy.

I really enjoyed getting to know a new character and Ruby is great. Caroline has created an interesting character in Ruby. She is not perfect and her life is littered with complications, some of which serve to complicate this murder inquiry, and I look forward to getting to know her better in future books. The back story Caroline has created for Ruby has definitely piqued my interest and I feel there is a lot more to come. Ruby’s situation added an extra element to the book and made the story even more interesting.

I don’t want to say too much about the story and the characters as you need to discover this cracking book for yourself but I will say it is fast paced, full of twists and turns and will give you the heebie-jeebies. It kept me on the edge of my seat, had me guessing right until the end and was impossible to put down. In I Love You To Death, Caroline has created the start of what promises to be a fantastic series. Roll on the next instalment!

A huge thank you to Caroline Mitchell, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy.

Published on 11 November 2016 by Bookouture.

You can buy a copy HERE.

Blog Tour – Blood Lines by Angela Marsons **Review**

Blood Lines Cover

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Angela Marsons’s latest book Blood Lines and jumped at the chance to be on board.  I’m delighted to share with you my review of the latest chapter in DI Kim Stone’s story today…

The Blurb

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong.  A caring mother and social worker lost to a senseless act of violence.  But for Detective Kim Stone something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer.  But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars.  And this time,  Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of her Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer.  But one of their own could be in mortal danger.  Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

My Review

 Blood Lines is the fifth instalment of the Detective Kim Stone series and I could not wait to read it. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the other four books as this works really well as a standalone, although you would love the other DI Kim Stone books too.

When the body of a social worker is found dead by a single stab wound. When the body of a drug addict is found, killed in the same way as the social worker, there appears to be little linking the two murders apart from the method of death, however Kim suspects this is the work of the same killer but who and why?

Once again Angela has written a totally gripping crime thriller that hooks you in from the very first page. I could not put this book down as the pace is perfect and Angela’s writing compels you to keep turning the page. Each chapter is expertly crafted in that there is always something happening and they stop at the exact right moment to leave you desperate to know what happens next.

Multi-layered, there is so much more going on in Blood Lines than the main story line. Kim’s nemesis Dr Alexandra Thorne is back, a truly evil character and a master manipulator, which adds a whole new edge to this instalment. As the reader you are taken straight into the mind of a sociopath sending shivers down your spine. Angela has clearly carefully researched sociopathy, manipulation techniques and the art of reading body language giving Alexandra’s character an authenticity. The darker the character the more enjoyment I get (not sure what that says about me!) and boy Alexandra is deliciously dark!

As Alexandra’s plan is gradually revealed we learn more about Kim Stone – her background, the reasons why she is the way she is and her dogged commitment to her job. I really like Kim and Blood Lines has cemented the affection I feel for this character. Incredibly moving at times, I felt my heart breaking for Kim and all that she has been through. I certainly felt I had a deeper understanding of her.

The dynamics between Kim’s team is realistic and adds another edge to this novel. The problems the team face from higher management, the way individual team members view their position within the team and the camaraderie all give the reader a realistic experience.

I had no idea at all what the outcome of Blood Lines would be, Angela effectively throws curve balls along the way keeping you guessing until the very end. A clever plot which is pulled together beautifully, this is a unique story with a great premise.

All absorbing, compulsive and moving Blood Lines is criminally good. Angela has, in my opinion, written the best DI Kim Stone book yet and it ticks all the boxes for what you want in a crime thriller. Highly recommended, make sure you set some time aside to do nothing but read this book as you won’t want any distractions. Absolutely fantastic.

Huge thanks to Angela Marsons and Kim at Bookouture for the advanced copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on 4 November 2016 by Bookouture.

You can purchase a copy in the UK HERE and in the USA HERE.

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Blog Tour – A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone **Review**

Absolutely thrilled to be hosting my turn on the A Suitable Lie blog tour.  Michael J Malone has written a cracking book.  Read on to find out what I thought of it.

Cover

The Blurb

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive.  Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love.  Then he meets Anna.  Fiesty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match…and she loves his son like he is her own.  When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems.  Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it.  A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…

My Review

A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone is a gripping read that I found incredibly difficult to put down. Michael has twisted the domestic noir genre on it’s head and done it in an intelligent, sympathetic and moving way.

The story follows Andy a single father who meets Anna and after a whirlwind romance marries her. Anna, however, is not what she seems. What follows is an all absorbing story that keeps you reading late into the night and a moving tale about one man‘s experience of domestic abuse. It does not always make for comfortable reading however this is important to the story.

The characterisation in A Suitable Lie is fantastic. Using first person narrative and told through Andy’s perspective the reader really gets into Andy’s thoughts and feelings…you completely go on his journey with him. What I loved is that although Anna is essentially an un-likeable character who displays despicable behaviour Michael, later in the novel, shows her more human side. It is also a depiction of what the impact of childhood trauma can be and the wider impact it has in the future, as Philip Larkin once said ‘They f**k you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.‘ Towards the end of the novel I felt a degree of empathy towards Anna and will be interested to hear if other readers felt the same.

The mix of emotions that Michael portrays throughout the book are intelligently written and shows an acute understanding of the subject. He perfectly captures the difficulty of loving the aspects of the person that are good while struggling to make sense of their abusive behaviour and the lies you tell yourself that keep you involved in the relationship. The complexities of this situation are put across with empathy. Along with the gripping story line this is a very character driven book and this makes it all the more compelling.

A Suitable Lie is an accurate portrayal of how domestic abuse effects male victims – the emotional torment they go through and the impact on their self-esteem which takes a different form to the impact it has on a woman’s self-esteem. The reasons they cannot tell anybody about what is going on in their relationship are different to reasons a woman can’t and is very much wrapped up in their feelings of masculinity and the fact they won‘t be believed. The manipulation tactics used by Anna highlight the added difficulties a man has in seeking help as the authorities are not ready to accept that a man can be the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of a female. It certainly made me think about all the issues involved, an aspect I always love in a book.

Michael has written an evocative, dark and emotional novel that also works as a compelling psychological thriller. I really liked hearing the man’s perspective in this issue. It is unflinching at times in it’s descriptions of the abuse and I sat reading with my jaw wide open. Michael took me into a realm I hadn’t before even begun to imagine. Well written, with great pace and a shocking yet moving story, A Suitable Lie is a fantastic book that needs to be added to your TBR list. Although a work of fiction, I would hope that this book goes somewhere to highlight the issues in this unfortunately unseen area of domestic abuse.

A huge thank you to Michael J Malone and Karen at Orenda Books for my copy.
Published 15 September 2016 by Orenda Books.

You can purchase your copy HERE.

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Book Review – Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky

The Blurb

Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember.

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake Hotel.  She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland.  So why is her heart so heavy this festive season?

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything.  With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back.  She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance.  Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?

Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heart-warming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island.

My Review

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is the second book in Holly Martin’s Town Called Christmas series. Like the first book, Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky, it has all the festive charm that Holly is so good at evoking. It would work perfectly as a stand alone novel, however, I would definitely urge you to the read the first book as it is gorgeous.

The story picks up where the last finished with Neve’s ex-partner, Oakley, landing in Juniper Island in his helicopter and this book concentrates on the couple and whether or not they can salvage their relationship. We also get to know the assistant manager of the Stardust Lake Hotel, Adam, and follow him as he settles into life on Juniper Island.

Holly has again created rich, likeable characters (I adored Adam!) and it was lovely to see old favourites from the pervious book too. I found myself rooting for the characters and desperately hoped that everything would work out well for Neve, Oakley and Adam. You really get to know them individually as Holly ensures that she includes their histories which gave me, as the reader, an understanding and empathy for them. This works effectively in totally immersing you into their lives while reading the book.

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky had me fully absorbed from the first page. It is a great read with plenty of dramatic moments along the way as we wait to find out if love can run smoothly. The setting of the utterly gorgeous Juniper Island at the height of Christmas adds to the enjoyment of this book.

Holly Martin is the queen of festive writing in my humble opinion and I loved being back on the remote Scottish island with the Whitaker family and all the other residents. It’s festive, romantic writing at it’s best and Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is the perfect escape from the madness that can be Christmas.

Thank you to Holly Martin, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy.

Published 19 October 2016 by Bookouture.

Purchase a copy of Christmas Under a Starlit Sky HERE.

You can read my review of Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky HERE.

Review – Christmas Under A Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky

This year there’s a bit of a Bookouture Christmas going on here at Bloomin’ Brilliant Books and this is the second Christmas book of theirs  I am reviewing in the run up to the festive period. 

The Blurb

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels.  She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it.  For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak.  Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper Island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

My Review

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is the first book in the A Town Called Christmas series and it is just divine. Lost love, the longing for a family and a place to call home against the backdrop of Juniper Island at Christmas all make for a gorgeous read!

I’m not a particularly romantic girl but I adored the tale of Pip and Gabe, childhood sweethearts who haven’t seen each other for 12 years, finding each other and falling in love again. Holly has created wonderful characters and I adored Pip, Gabe and Gabe’s daughter Wren. I really felt for both Pip and Gabe as they were separated due to a misunderstanding and both find it difficult to trust again. Gabe is an all round lovely man and I found the relationship between him and his daughter really heart-warming.

Leo the gang leader, reprobate Shetland pony is bloomin’ brilliant and I could just see him strutting about leading his gangster ponies and he put a huge smile on my face.

The descriptions of Juniper Island make for an enchanting read. With ice castles, reindeer, husky puppies, glass igloos, the Northern Lights and lashings of snow it really is magical and I got totally drawn into the setting and the story. It is total and utter escapism and I loved been transported into their world every time I sat down to read. I really wish I could visit the wonderful place Holly has created! Holly has captured the essence of all that is wonderful about Christmas and her writing style draws you into the book immediately.

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is the epitome of Christmas. It is sparkling, delightful and quite simply the perfect festive read. If you need an escape from it all during the madness that is Christmas, spend some time reading this book.

Thank you to Holly Martin, Bookouture and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

Published on 22 September 2016 by Bookouture.

Review – Buy Buy Baby by Helen MacKinven

Buy Buy Baby

The Blurb

What Price tag would you put on a baby?

Set in and around Glasgow, Buy Buy Baby is a moving and funny story of life, loss and longing.

Packed full of bitchy banter, it follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby.

Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive Ebay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.

Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all.  But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.

In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems.

But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…

My Review

‘For every woman who is unhappy with her stretch marks, there is another woman who wishes she had them.’

I’m so pleased I had the opportunity to read Buy Buy Baby for review as I just loved it. This is the first novel I have read by Helen and she is now firmly on my list of go to authors. Buy Buy Baby is refreshingly different and I could not put it down.

Carol and Julia are two very different characters, yet I could relate easily to both of them. They are both wanting the same thing – a baby – and yet it effects them in such different ways. Carol has been a mother, but motherhood was taken from her following the death of her son. Her marriage has broken down and her chances of having another child seem impossible. Julia has spent most of her adult life concentrating on her career and is now pushing on forty. Discovering her long term partner did not want children, she finds herself single and the chance of motherhood seems to be slipping from her grasp.

As the women’s stories gradually unfold, you find your views on their predicament change and evolve, but despite this I had a great affection for both of them. Helen touches on some difficult issues and yet she manages to mix this with wicked humour and this book had me both laughing and feeling sad. The first line is fantastically funny and immediately drew me into the book and the lives of Carol and Julia.

Dan appears charming on first appearance but as the book progressed I did not know how I felt about him, and I still find myself pondering over this. The issues he raises really makes you think – how far would you go to get something you are desperate for and what are the repercussions of this? This is a cracking read for a reading group as I found myself pondering it for days afterwards!

I had no idea how this book would end and was compelled to keep reading to discover the fates of the women and the decisions they made. It is totally gripping and all absorbing.

Buy Buy Baby is a fantastic book that has the perfect blend of serious issues with fantastic humour. Helen’s writing will strike a chord with any woman (or man) whose dreams of having a child has been taken away from them. It made me think and contemplate issues that I hadn’t thought about before yet it never felt maudlin. Absolutely brilliant!

A huge thank you to Helen MacKinven and Cranachan for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Published 7 July 2016 by Cranachan Publishing.

 

Review – The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

The Perfect Girl

The Blurb

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – is perfect.  Yet several years ago Zoe caused the death of three teenagers.  She served her time, and now she’s free. 

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead. 

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance, and a past she cannot leave behind.

My Review

An unexplained, sudden death, a family full of secrets and a tragic event all add up to the compelling read that is The Perfect Girl.

Zoe is a gifted teenager who unfortunately, in the past, was involved in a tragic event when the car she was driving crashed, killing three of her ’friends’. At the start of the book, we discover that Zoe’s mother has died, we don’t know how or why. Through the narration of Zoe, her Aunt Tessa, solicitor Sam and later her Uncle Richard, we learn of the events leading up to her mother’s death and also the story of Zoe’s past.

Told over a twenty-four hour time period, we find out a lot about the family through close scrutiny and their thoughts and all is definitely not as it seems.

I felt an increasing unease about Zoe’s immediate family that slowly unfolded as the story progressed. They have created a façade to mask a controlling, unnatural environment. I really felt for Zoe and Lucas, who are unable to be ‘normal’ teenagers. The aftermath of Zoe’s crime has resulted in her mother hiding her true self to create a perfect life and gain back the security she lost. I didn’t know who could be trusted throughout as the secrets and lies prevail.

As well as been a cracking psychological thriller, The Perfect Girl raises issues such as the impact of pushy parents, bullying over social media, trying to fit in and the wide impact of a single, horrific event. It highlights that things are never black and white and the crime that Zoe committed certainly isn‘t. The moral issues that arise throughout the book certainly make you think. I was left feeling a sense of loss at the end of the novel over how we make decisions within our lives to ensure the wellbeing of others rather than what would be best for ourselves.

The Perfect Girl is well written with beautiful descriptions such as;

‘…and that those jaws were lined with stiletto-sharp teeth’

and I loved the butterfly analogies, which were stunning and wonderfully written.

Written in first person narrative, I found it a little difficult to differentiate between the characters narrating. Zoe does not come across as a teenager, however, given her experiences and the image she has to live up to she seems, in some respects, older than her years and then at other times immature. This didn’t, however, effect my enjoyment of the book and I was totally wrapped up in the story.

I really enjoyed The Perfect Girl, it has all the right ingredients of a compelling psychological thriller with the added bonus of giving you food for thought which makes you examine your moral compass. It would make a great book for a reading group.

Thank you to Gilly MacMillan, Little, Brown Book Group and Netaglley for the advance copy in exchange for a review.

Published on ebook 3 March 2016 by Little, Brown Book Group and paperback on 6 September 2016.

Review – Dear Mother by Angela Marsons

Dear Mother

The Blurb

Three Sisters.  Three childhoods ruined.  One chance to heal the scars of the past. 

After the death of their cruel and abusive mother, estranged sisters Alex, Catherine and Beth reunite once again. 

Alex, the youngest, is a bitter, unhappy woman who refuses to face the horrors of her childhood.  Finding solace in a bottle, her life is spiralling dangerously out of control. 

Eldest child, Catherine, has strived for success, despite her difficult upbringing.  But behind the carefully constructed façade lies a secret that could shatter her world forever. 

Beth, the middle child, bore the greatest burden.  But having blocked out the cruelty they suffered, she remained with their mother until her death.  Now she must confront the devastating reality of her past. 

Brought together as strangers, the sisters embark on a painful journey to heal themselves and each other.  Can they finally put their terrible childhoods to rest and start over?  an emotional, heart-breaking and compelling novel for readers of  Diane Chamberlain, Amanda Prowse and Kelly Rimmer.   

My Review

Angela is known for her crime novels, which she writes brilliantly, so I was interested as to how she would write a women’s literary fiction novel, especially one with such emotive subject matter. The verdict…brilliantly!

The story centres around three sisters, Catherine, Beth and Alex, each of whom suffered physical and the resulting emotional abuse by their mother. After a period of estrangement, the sister’s are brought together again following the death of their mother. Told in third person narrative but from the perspectives of Catherine and Alex we see the impact their childhood had on each of them.

As a former child protection social worker, I wondered if Angela would be able to write with depth and understanding about the devastating consequences a childhood marred with abuse can have on an adult. I’m pleased to say Angela nails it! She writes with empathy and an acute understanding of the potential aftermath of an abusive childhood; from alcohol as a coping mechanism to the impact on future parenting skills and all that comes in between.

All three sisters have developed a different coping strategy and the consequences are heartbreaking. It is the middle child, Beth, who I worried about the most throughout this book. Her voice is not as clear during the telling of the story, yet she still comes across as a pivotal character and is the one who brings the sisters back together again. I wanted to bring Beth home and give her the mothering she had never experienced. You cannot help but get emotionally involved with all of the characters.

Interspersed with memories of abusive events during their childhood, this is not always a comfortable read and is, quite frankly, heartbreaking. I consider myself quite hardened due to my past job, however Angela broke me. The legacy that their mother left them bares on the future generations and makes for incredibly powerful reading. I felt an intense sadness on completion of this book, and it made me feel that pit of your stomach ache that only intense sorrow can make you feel. I left it a couple of days before writing this review to try and get over it, however, in writing it those same feelings have come back.

It comes across that Angela has done a lot of research as she writes about therapy sessions with realism and accuracy.

This is a well written, acutely observed portrayal of the aftermath of a childhood filled with abuse. It showcases Angela’s talent as a writer and demonstrates how she can seamlessly move from one genre to another. It is not an easy read but one worth undertaking. I highly recommend it but warn you to have a box of tissues handy.

Thank you to Angela Marsons, Bookouture and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Published 11 July 2016 by Bookouture. Previously published as The Middle Child.