Sunday 26 February 2017
Welcome to my stop on the Love Them And Leave Them blog tour.
After featuring author Sue Shepherd on my Isle of Wight Virtual Mini Book Festival last year I was delighted to be offered the chance to read Sue's latest novel and be on her blog tour.
Love Them And Leave Them is a clever combination of two books rolled into one. Confused? If you've ever watched the movie Sliding Doors then you'll know exactly what I mean. It's all about choices that we make in our day to day lives and how those decisions affect our future.
Ed is driving home one night when he makes a split second decision that means that his daughter Jessie's life takes one path meaning that she's stuck in a rut with a dead end job and unreliable boyfriend and the prospect of never fulfilling her dreams.
But what if Ed had made a different decision that fateful night whilst driving home? Jessica would have a successful career, a loving boyfriend and a great future ahead of her.
Six years after that night we, as the reader, follow Jessie/Jessica as she encounters the same people but in very different scenarios and we see the full affect of Ed's choice.
This type of story had the potential to be confusing for the reader but Sue Shephed has done a terrific job in making it very clear which story is which and at the same time ensuring that it flows seamlessly from one version to another. It's an easy and addictive read but it's one that's full of depth and I felt that the dual time frame aspect meant that you got a deeper insight into all of the characters.
Love Them And Leave Them is a book that will charm you and leave you wondering about your own life choices and pondering what you're up to in your own parallel universe.
With kind thanks to the author and Ian at Corazon Books for the review copy.
Saturday 25 February 2017
Having 'seen' author Faith Hogan around on Twitter and various bookish Facebook groups I was thrilled when she asked me to be a part of the blog tour for her latest novel Secrets We Keep. Not only have I got a review for you all but you can whet your appetite with an excerpt as well! So let's get to it!
It was nine o’clock before Kate set off walking towards the keep. It was hard to believe she had spent one precious week here already. Lyndon Tansey told her to take as long as she needed. Maybe he knew, maybe they all knew. Maybe everything she bottled up for the last decade had been blatantly obvious to the people around her while she remained blind to it. She had her heart broken long enough ago for her to have moved on. The public humiliation was harder to shake. Bad enough to be jilted at the last minute. It seemed to Kate that being reminded of it each time her ex-fiancé’s love life featured in the celebrity gossip columns made it into an ongoing nightmare from which there was no escape. Other people unfriended their exes on Facebook and cut their photos in half. That was not so easy when your ex was in the national newspaper every other week.
‘The important thing is that you come back safe and sound, old girl,’ Lyndon had said, patting her hand with sincerity. He had taken the helm of the law firm when he was almost fifty. He was old enough to have learned from the mistakes of others and he knew when someone was worth holding onto. Kate had raked in millions over the last decade for the practice. She had represented the spouses of rock stars, royalty and the ridiculously rich and managed to pull hefty and healthy settlements every time. People knew her in the divorce courts by reputation, and if they did not fear her exactly, they advised their clients that she was particularly adept in aspects of family law.
She looked around her now. This place with its vastness and intimacy cuckolded into the cold of the climate mixed with the warmth of the people, it was just what she needed. It was a five-mile round trip to the bathhouse and the keep, which would bring her along a track kept clean by a scurrilous pack of sheep and goats. She drank in the clean air greedily; the only sound here was the crashing of water to her right and the call of the gulls across the empty strand to her left. She walked slowly, surveying from her high middle ground the austere beauty of the place at this time of year. She stopped and sat on a rock that seemed to have moulded into her shape long before she ever knew she would be coming here. She knew now that she would come here again, it was as sure as the air she breathed. Perhaps this was the first step on that crossroads.
In the distance, she watched as a middle-aged woman made her way across the strand. Even from here, she recognized her. She saw her many times walk through the town, always with a shopping bag in her hand, sometimes wheeling one behind her. Today, she was making her way energetically with a yapping dog in her wake. Her face was puce despite the cold that must surely be biting into her. She rounded towards the ridge where Kate sat and stopped short as she neared her, surprised to see anyone out on such a cold day.
‘Hi.’ Kate did her best to smile, remembering that she was not in London now. It was okay to make eye contact; people here wanted you to talk to them.
‘Hi yourself.’ The woman panted and seemed to take the greeting as an invitation to join Kate on her rock. ‘I’m wrecked,’ she said and she plopped her considerable weight down awkwardly. ‘Hot flushes,’ she said and she fanned herself with gloved hands. ‘Phew, who knew, hah?’
‘Your dog doesn’t seem to mind,’ Kate watched as the little black and white terrier skipped out after the tide and then scudded back towards them as each new wave arrived. He was yapping happily, enjoying the chase of something he’d never catch.
‘Ah, Barry. Yes, I got him from the rescue – best thing I ever did. I wanted one for years, but you know, you need to put the time into a dog and my Duncan is allergic to anything with a coat, so…’ the woman smiled enigmatically as if his discomfort might actually please her in some odd way. The dog, as though he heard his mistress, came running across the beach towards them, digging up sand as he came.
‘You’re a super little fella,’ Kate said and she rubbed his head affectionately as Barry licked her fingers and danced a greeting frenzy up around them.
‘You’re lucky, he likes you,’ the woman said, reaching out to the little dog. ‘Not everyone he takes to, he’s nipped my Duncan more than once when he’s not expecting it. He had to have a tetanus jab, the works, didn’t he Barry?’ She nuzzled into the dog’s neck. ‘You’re such a good boy.’ She looked across at Kate. ‘You can’t beat a terrier to judge character, no fooling our Barry.’
‘No, I suppose not,’ Kate said, thinking of the unfortunate allergic husband upon whom he’d been foisted.
She turned to study Kate now. ‘You’re not from around here?’
‘No. I’m just… taking a little break.’
* * * *
Kate is a very successful divorce lawyer living in London who has become disenchanted with her life for various reasons. Meeting her Great Aunt Iris at a family funeral gives Kate the perfect opportunity to get away from her lonely life in London and take stock in the quiet village of Ballytokeep in Ireland.
Staying with Iris and Archie in their guest house Kate falls in love with the nearby abandoned Bath House and decides that Ballytokeep is somewhere she could relocate to and start a new more relaxed life and put her past well and truly behind her.
But Kate isn't the only one who is trying to forget the past, Iris also has skeletons in her cupboard but are they as hidden as she thinks they are?
I'm a huge fan of dual time-frame novels and Secrets We Keep is no exception. I loved the way that the story hopped from Kate's to Iris' stories seamlessly, without detracting from the story and keeping my interest right from the very start. I usually find that when I read this type of book I find myself leaning towards one time frame over the other, but it's a testament to Faith Hogan's writing that I was completely engaged by both in this book.
Iris and Archie's story was so beautifully told, from when they first met back in the 1950's, their highs and lows but it was the present day that brought a tear to my eye as we realise that Archie is suffering from memory loss and Iris is reluctant to face the truth.
Kate was a delightful change to the usually downtrodden heroines of this type of novel. She's such a strong character who knows her own mind and what I wouldn't have given to have sat with her as she watched the sun go down outside the Bath House.
The other thing that I enjoyed about this book was the descriptions of Ballytokeep itself. Right by the sea with rugged cliffs, quaint tea shops and friendly locals I was disappointed to find out that it was a fictional place but I've heard that there are real places just like this in Ireland so I think one of them could be a future holiday destination for me.
Secrets We Keep is a wonderful tale of family, friendship,hope, love and second chances and one that will warm your heart.
About Faith Hogan
|Photo courtesy of publishers Aria (Head of Zeus)
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published by Aria, (Head of Zeus) in 2016. ‘Secrets We Keep,’ is her second novel.
You can find our more about Faith and her books by using the links below:
With kind thanks to the publishers Aria for the review copy.
Saturday 18 February 2017
Megan Cooper is involved in a car accident that leaves her trapped in her burning car. Luckily for Megan someone comes to her rescue and gets her out before it bursts into flames.
Waking up in the hospital and lucky to be alive she has a vague recollection of a tall man carrying her in his arms but she soon finds out that no-one knows who he is as he left the scene once help had arrived.
After a few days in hospital and a couple of visits from the police who are investigating the accident, she's packing her bag when she finds an unfamiliar jacket in her locker. Realising that it must belong to her rescuer she decides that she's going to try and track the man down to say thank you for saving her life in person.
The police uncover some worrying information about a well-known criminal and Megan is forced to revisit her past.
The Wrong Turn is another cracking psychological thriller from author NC Marshall that skillfully combines crime and mystery with a light sprinkling of romance thrown in. Although the prologue was a little longer than most, I think that it needed to be to enable the reader to experience every aspect of the whole terrifying event. Once again this author has created a strong cast of believable characters within a story that is well written and kept me absorbed from start to finish.
This is NC Marshall's third novel and in my opinion her writing is going from strength to strength with each novel she writes and I would highly recommend that you give The Wrong Turn a go.
With kind thanks to author NC Marshall for the review copy.
Saturday 11 February 2017
Tara's debut novel In The Shadows was a cracker of a read so I was thrilled to be asked to review No Safe Home and be a part of the blog tour.
I made the mistake of starting this book late one night when I was in bed. Why was that a mistake? Well for two reasons, firstly it was already late and after reading the prologue and the first few chapters I didn't want to put it down and the second reason. . . . it freaked me the hell out! Sleep wasn't going to come easy once I put my kindle down that was for sure.
DI Denis Hamilton is investigating the case of a young girl's suspected overdose but her parents don't believe that their daughter would commit suicide and they're certain that she was murdered. This is something that's too close to home for Hamilton to deal with and he finds himself being haunted by his past, something which he has tried to keep hidden from his colleagues.
Katy is a single mother with a young son, Frankie, and it's evident that she's scared of something or someone. Her home should be her sanctuary but she doesn't really feel safe and she trusts no-one. Working as a barmaid in a local pub gives her a small sense normality but she rarely lets her guard down.
This is a worthy and assured second novel from Tara, who in my opinion is going from strength to strength with her writing. I think that DI Hamilton is a great character and I enjoyed finding more about his back story and finding out a little about what makes him tick. All of the characters are believable and the introduction of rookie cop Rocky, who has quickly made a big impression on the team, seems like he could be an interesting addition to the team.
All in all No Safe Home is a fast-paced, at times breathtaking novel, which although is the second book in the series could very easily be read as a standalone. With short, punchy chapters, it's definitely one of those books where you constantly find yourself muttering 'just one more chapter' and I'm already filled with anticipation for the next book in the series!
You can follow the rest of the blog tour on these great blogs:
With kind thanks to Helen Claire at Bloodhound books for the review copy.