Blog Tour Review: The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the book that Hutchinson Books is calling their “Major break-out debut of the year”. Thank  you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blog tour, and to Hutchinson for my ARC copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

TWO FEMALE SPIES. A BANNED MASTERPIECE. A BOOK THAT CHANGED HISTORY.

1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it. 

But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation.

In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary.

It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.

Sold in twenty-five countries and poised to become a global literary sensation, Lara Prescott’s dazzling first novel is a sweeping page turner and the most hotly anticipated debut of the year.

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MY REVIEW:

An exciting read from the first few pages, I couldn’t put this book down. I’m a big history lover but didn’t know much about the Cold War. I relished the chance to learn and found that as well as a sensational book, this was also a fascinating history lesson. The evocative imagery drew me in and I was fully immersed in the world on the pages as I savoured every expertly written word. 

Secrets. Love, Betrayal, Espionage. War. Oppression. Darkness. Hope. Freedom. History. The author has woven all of these things into this beautiful, moving and spectacular debut novel. We learn the truth behind Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece, Doctor Zhivago; how the banned novel came to be smuggled out of, and then back into the Soviet Union as part of a propaganda war by the US. We follow the network of courageous people charged with tasks than enabled its completion and publication, and moved between their varying perspectives and timelines in locations of East and West. 

One thing that struck me about this book is the multitude of strong women. It was an era where the world was still seen to be very much run by men. Where women with degrees were destined for the typing pool whilst their sometimes lesser educated male counterparts were the boss and where the knowledge and power these women had often wasn’t seen. From the ladies in the typing pool, to Boris Pasternak’s lover, each has their own unique strengths. 

A favourite character of mine was Irina. I enjoyed watching her grow quietly in confidence as she’s taken from a meek immigrant’s daughter to a brave US spy aware of, and delighting in, her own power. Once she is being trained by veteran spy Sally, her self-assurance blossoms and she wants to be more like her mentor, a woman who seems to exude it in her every move. Another woman who’s strength stood out for me was Olga, Boris’ mistress and muse. I did feel like her strength came from a very different place and was more self-serving, such as how she went to any length to help Boris no matter the risk to her children, who should have come first. While I didn’t agree with her putting her lover before her children, I did admire how she wouldn’t crumble even in the most desperate of circumstances. She was pivotal in Boris’ life and the story of Doctor Zhivago in a myriad of ways. The chapter in which she writes a letter to her interrogator about her experiences in the gulag, was emotional, devastating and yet hopeful. It was a stand-out chapter in the book and the one that I will probably remember most of all long after reading. 

Like Doctor Zhivago, this is a story about love and war. And while it initially may seem that the story of the Cold War is most prominent, it was soon apparent that at the heart of this book is more than one love story. It is also a story about ordinary people doing remarkable things and trying to do their part to help change history. It’s easy to see why the film rights for this book have already been snapped up as it has all the ingredients needed to make a great movie.

The Secrets We Kept is a compelling, electrifying book that reads like a combination of literary fiction, historical fiction and thriller.  If you know nothing about the Cold War or Doctor Zhivago then don’t let that deter you picking this up as I was the same before reading this. Not only have I learned a lot, but I’m eager to find out more and to read the book at its centre. 

Out now to buy from your favourite bookseller. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lara Prescott was named after the heroine of Doctor Zhivago and first discovered the true story behind the novel after the CIA declassified 99 documents pertaining to its role in the book’s publication and covert dissemination. 

She travelled the world – from Moscow and Washington, to London and Paris – in the course of her research, becoming particularly interested in political repression in both the Soviet Union and United States and how, during the Cold War, both countries used literature as a weapon. 

Lara earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.

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Blog Tour Review: A Shadow on the Lens by Sam Hurcom ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this debut novel. Thank you to Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for my ARC copies of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me. He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed on his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.

Someone had been watching us.

1904 . Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worst still, the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs,  a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

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MY REVIEW:

“He never left, he still remains. The demon of this village.”

Murder mystery meets supernatural thriller and gothic fiction in this chilling tale. Thomas Bexley is writing his story a decade after the events take place, using his diary entries for reference and we see extracts at various points in the book. He begins with a note addressing the reader directly and I loved the promises of the chilling, dark and sinister things to come. This is the first time he’s really spoken about what happened during that strange case and he admits to feeling concerned about how he will be viewed once he reveals the truth of all that transpired. 

Forensic photography is still in its infancy and Bexley, known in the field for his eye for detail and his gift for putting the evidence together, is a specialised investigator who is sent to assist with serious crime cases across the country. When Betsan Tilny is brutally murdered in the isolated Welsh village of Dinas Powys, Bexley is called to help solve the crime. But on his arrival he’s dismayed to find that those in charge seem to resent his presence. They’ve made up their mind who committed the crime and see Thomas as an unnecessary complication stirring up trouble and not understanding how they do things. 

Soon after his arrival Bexley has a sense of being watched, which only increases over time. He also comes down with a fever that inhibits his ability to work and forces him to take to his bed. And is it this fever that is making him imagine seeing the ghost of Betsan Tilny? He’s a man of science and doesn’t believe in such nonsense and decides that it is a manifestation of his fever.  But he can’t shake the fear that what he’s seeing is all too real and the victim trying to tell him something. Impeding his investigation is the unwillingness of the villagers to assist in the investigation. They’re hiding something, maybe even harbouring a killer, and Bexley is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Bexley is a serious, focused man who has no time to make friends or laze about. He’s there to do an important job in a thorough manner and will not let anything get in his way, not even being so sick he can barely stand. He was a great protagonist and I liked that unlike most others he saw no correlation between Betsan’s rumoured promiscuity and her death, reminding people repeatedly that nothing gives anyone the right to rape or kill another and nothing someone does mean they deserve such things happening to them. I was glad she had Thomas in her corner, fighting to find the truth and bring her killer to justice when others were glad of an easy way out and eager to brush the whole thing under the carpet. 

Councilman Robert Cummings is a loathsome character. He is the polar opposite of Thomas and seems completely uninterested in solving the crime. He makes no secret of the fact that he doesn’t want Thomas there, his repulsion of the victim, or that he’s made up his mind about who killed Betsan no matter what the evidence shows. He goes out of his way to prevent a real investigation and Thomas wonders if Cummings is the reason everyone is reluctant to talk to him. Like Thomas I was suspicious of what he really knew and what he didn’t want him to unearth. 

As truths were slowly revealed and the secrets of the village begin to be brought to light, the book became increasingly hard to put down. I was gripped and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A brilliant debut that is a superb mix of some of my favourite genres and one I would recommend. The atmospheric prose made me feel fully immersed in the story and there was an eeriness throughout. This is one of those books you need to read with the lights on. 

Publication Date: September 5th.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing.

A Shadow on the Lens is Sam’s debut novel.

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August Wrap Up

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So the summer is at an end. August has been a great month for me. I read lots of great books, completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and celebrated on year on Bookstagram.  I was thrilled to take part in a number of blog tours and am excited for the many I have coming up the rest of this year.

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So here is what I’ve read in August:

  • The Girl at The Window by Rowan Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Take It Back by Kia Abdullah ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Where I Found You by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (now titled My Silent Child)
  • Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  • The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Roam by Erik Therme ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Sixth Wicked Child by JD Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Dear Child by Romy Haussmann (sampler)
  • The Familiars by Stacey Halls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Home Truths by Susan Lewis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • A Shadow on the Lens by Sam Hurcom ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In total I read 13 books and one sampler this month. As you can see they were all highly rated. It seems that each month the quality of what I read gets stronger and as such I’ve decided that instead of attempting the impossible task of choosing a favourite, I will instead highlight the ones that stood out and were my highest rated. My standout titles were The Girl at the Window, Take It Back, The Family Upstairs, The Familiars, The Sixth Wicked Child and Elevator Pitch.

The reviews for The Familiars, Elevator Pitch, Degrees of Guilt and A Shadow on the Lens will be available on the blog in the coming weeks as part of the blog tours and the reviews for most of the others are in past posts (I’m behind on some reviews so haven’t yet written my review for The Family Upstairs).

What did you read this month? Have you read any of these books or are they on your tbr? Let me know in the comments below.

*Thank you to the publishers and to NetGalley for the ARCs I read this month.

Blog Tour Review: ‘Here To Stay’ by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for the sensational new novel from Mark Edwards. Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for my invitation to take part and to Amazon Publishing, Thomas & Mercer and Mark Edwards for my copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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SYNOPSIS:

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle down into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for. 

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are scars on his wife’s body she won’t talk about.

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in their new home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of  welcoming strangers into your home.

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MY REVIEW:

Another nail-biting, chilling tale of domestic noir from the man that Jennifer Hillier has rightly crowned “The King of domestic horror”. 

Elliot Foster and Gemma Robinson meet one summer afternoon. She saves his life after a near-fatal bee sting and they fall hard and fast, marrying just two months later in Vegas. Elliot couldn’t be happier. 

A few weeks after their wedding Gemma tells Elliot that her parents are moving back to the UK and asks if they can stay with them for a few weeks?  Wanting to make his new wife happy, and to meet his new in-laws, Elliot agrees. It will be the biggest mistake he ever makes.

This book is AMAZING! It started off slowly and while I was enjoying it, I didn’t foresee just how horrifying, mind-blowing and simply incredible it would become. Though, this being Mark Edwards I am also not surprised. Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of this author. Ever since I first read The Retreat last summer , which I loved the nod to in this novel, I haven’t been able to get enough of his books. The Magpies trilogy is considered his greatest work, and it’s antagonist, Lucy Newton, is one of the greatest villains I’ve read. But this story and it’s villains give them both a run for their money.  

Do you think you’ve got the in-laws from hell? Well Elliot’s are probably worse. I know I’d happily take my awful ex-mother-in-law over them any day! Jeff and Lizzy Robinson are two of the most despicable, repulsive, noxious, contemptible, foul and vile people I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading about. They turn Elliot’s world upside down and inside out. They seem determined to not only take his home but destroy his entire life. It got me so angry reading how they behaved. Do you remember how in Roald Dahl’s The Twits it says that if a person has ugly thoughts it begins to show on their face, and they become uglier and uglier until you can no longer stand to look at them? Well that quote sprang to mind while reading about this couple and I imagined them getting uglier as the book went on. They’re such terrible people it seems like it would have to leak out from the inside and show on their faces. 

Elliot is the all-round nice guy. He’s worked hard and made a good life for himself, runs a non-profit working with underprivileged kids, thinks of others, is kind-hearted, and has finally met the woman of his dreams. Then the Robinsons threaten to take it all away. He gives them the benefit of the doubt over again, tell himself his suspicions are crazy and finds rational explanations for things. And every time they do something even worse. I didn’t judge Elliot for some of his fantasies about what he’d like to do to them. I understood. How could you not loathe such toxic people.

The Robinson siblings are the mysterious characters, especially Chloe who is deathly ill and locks herself away when they first move in. They all seem frightened of their parents are secretive about their childhood and what exactly has happened to make them all so scared. Though Gemma and Elliot are married it was all so fast he barely knows her, or her past, and as the story unfolds he realises just how little he knew before making such a big commitment and inviting her family to stay with them.

I don’t want to give any details away as the shocks add to the escalating horror and brilliance of this book. I highly recommend this edge-of-your-seat thriller; just be warned that it’s a turbulent ride. And another thing…be careful who you invite to stay in your house. They just might never leave… 

Publication Date: September 1st. Available to buy from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people.

He has sold more than 2 million books and topped the UK bestseller list eight times.

His titles include The Magpies, Follow You Home and The Retreat. His next book, Here to Stay, will be published on 1 September 2019.

Website: https://www.markedwardsauthor.com/

Facebook: Mark Edwards Books, Instagram:@markedwardsauthor and Twitter: @mredwards

 

Review: ‘Nobody’s Wife’ by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Of the four of them, only three remained. And there was no going back wards from there.’

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends . It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is prepared to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

From the best-selling author of Missing Pieces comes a heart-wrenching story about family, loyalty and obsession that will have you racing to the finish.

MY REVIEW:

A well written story that explores the bonds of sisterhood and how far we would go for love. 

I enjoyed this book but I did find it difficult to read at times because I didn’t ever get on board with the love story at its heart. I found that instead of being carried along with the passion between the two who have an affair and understanding why they risk everything, I just felt angry with them and sad for the others involved. But I think the author meant it to be that way. She doesn’t  try to circumvent the harsh, painful consequences of the characters’ decisions and I see this as more of a cautionary tale of the cost that comes from following our desires no matter the cost.

The relationship between the clandestine lovers was written with a fierce passion that borders on obsession. They just can’t help themselves and the undeniable magnetic force of the love between them was overwhelming. I understood how it started.The guilt that ate away radiated from the page but the actions they chose to continue taking made me angry. I couldn’t fathom how and why one of them in particular would be so selfish and heartless. 

I really liked the relationship between the sisters at the start and thought the author did a fantastic job of portraying how it slowly breaks down amid a haze of confusion and heartbreak. Their relationship with each other is the most important one in their lives, even more so since they became estranged from their mother, and it was painful to watch that fall apart. 

A heartbreaking story without any real winners, this was an emotional read. I would find myself angry one minute then feeling sick to my stomach the next. I loved how honest and raw this book was and am looking forward to reading more of her work. 

Out now.

Review: ‘The Girl at the Window’ by Rowen Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

A house full of history is bound to have secrets…

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead. 

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of  lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things.

MY REVIEW:

Rowan Coleman blends fact and fiction to create a breathtaking novel that captivated my soul. A story that is part non fiction, part gothic fiction, part historical fiction and part family saga, the writing is atmospheric, eloquent, lyrical and poetic with just the right amount of goosebump-inducing terror.

Told by multiple narrators over three timelines, this is the story of Ponden Hall and some of the many people who have occupied its walls. Built by the Heatons in 1540, the family have lived there ever since. It is also the place that Emily Bronte would come to use the library and where she wrote her classic novel, Wuthering Heights. The infamous house felt like a character in its own right, and it when it spoke it gave me chills. 

Trudy has always been fascinated with her ancestral home and with the Brontes – Emily in particular. As a young girl she would whisper her secrets to her, imagining her walking the halls as she did. Though Trudy is reluctant to live with her estranged mother Mariah, she is happy to be back at Ponden Hall as its always been home. She immediately feels a peace upon returning and, once again, speaks to it like an old friend. One day, Trudy makes a startling discovery – two pages of writing bound in leather, one of which she instantly recognises as being written by none other than Emily Bronte. The other was written by a girl named Agnes who says she used to live in the house two hundred years before Emily visited. What is Agnes’ story? And could this lead Trudy to the infamous and elusive second manuscript of Emily Bronte? 

This is the second novel I’ve read by this author. I fell in love with Rowan’s writing style when I read The Summer of Impossible things last year and after reading this book I know that it wasn’t a one off. Her prose is a joy to lose myself in every page is filled with heart and emotion. In this book there was the addition of the stunning scene setting – everything from the descriptions of the house and landscape to her mother’s appearance was vivid and immersive. 

The author’s love of Ponden Hall, Wuthering Heights, and the Brontes shines through every page of this novel. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never got around to reading Wuthering Heights but have since bought it, as well as another based on Heathcliff, and can’t wait to read them and learn more. Her passion is contagious.

Having three narrators from different timeline was a choice I loved. I really liked each of them and thought each woman brought something important to the story. Though each was born hundreds of years apart and lived very different lives, they were also similar in many ways. Both of the older timelines were well researched and felt authentic. I felt like I was actually reading things that Emily Bronte and a girl from the 1600s had written and experienced. The supporting characters were all just as well written as the narrators. I loved young Will particularly and enjoyed the honesty he brought to the story in a way that only a child of that age can. He was unafraid to ask difficult questions or say things adults avoided and never doubted that the things he saw and experienced were real. He gave Trudy a reason to carry on after Abe’s death and a reason to return to Ponden Hall. Without these things she may never have made her discoveries.

I also really enjoyed the flashbacks that told Trudy and Abe’s love story. I liked the fact that Abe was a real character we got to know and not just Trudy’s late husband or Will’s late father. Those stories also gave us greater insight into who Trudy is, why she hadn’t returned to Ponden Hall in so many years, and why she and her mother are estranged. I have wondered about the author’s inspiration for how they fell in love as it was so romantic, wistful and funny. 

In The Girl at the Window the author has blended fact with fiction to create a haunting and enchanting story. It was a book where I relished every word and never wanted it to end. I don’t think I can do more to describe how much I love this book or how exquisitely written it is, so I’m going to finish by saying that you should go read this book now! Just be prepared to fall in love. 

Thank you to Ebury Press and Penguin UK for my gifted copy of this book.

Out now.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. She longs to live at Ponden Hall.

She is the bestselling author of THE MEMORY BOOK, WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS and the critically acclaimed THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS. 

Find out more about Rowan at http://www.rowancoleman.co.uk, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter: @rowancoleman.

Blog Tour Review: ‘Home Truths’ by Susan Lewis ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Thank you to HQ for the chance to read and review this novel as part of the blog tour.

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SYNOPSIS:

How far would you go to keep your family safe?

Angie Watts had the perfect ordinary family. A new home. A beloved husband. Three adored children.

But Angie’s happy life is shattered when her son Liam falls in with the wrong crowd. And when her son’s bad choices lead to the murder of her husband, it’s up to Angie to hold what’s left of her famly together.

Her son is missing. Her daughter is looking for help in dangerous places. And Angie is fighting to keep a roof over their head.

But Angie is a mother. And a mother does anything to protect her children – even when the world is falling apart…

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MY REVIEW :

This book surprised me. Instead of a more gritty book about a family dealing with the initial aftermath of a murder, it is a timely social commentary about poverty and the working poor as well as a story about family. I went through a rainbow of emotions while reading and couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading.

The story starts with the brutal murder of Steve Watts. He’s in the wrong part of town furiously searching for his wayward teenage son Liam after finding his five year old with a discarded syringe. He no longer cares about the consequences, this was the line in the sand and he’s going to do something about the trouble Liam is bringing to their door. We then jump forward a few years to where Angie Watts is trying, and failing, to keep her family afloat in a sea of debt and desperation. We then follow as Angie searches for a solution and tries to keep her family together while looking for her missing son and trying to find answers to her husband’s death.

“…the sun slipped its cover of cloud, dazzling him, throwing a rich golden glow over the street, as though to paint this purgatory into something glorious.”

This was the first time I’d read a book by this author and I was struck by the beauty of her writing. Even when describing the most awful things she manages to insert something alluring. For instance in the prologue, amongst the tension is striking scene setting that is at odds with the surrounding degradation. She captures anguish in a way that is raw yet beautiful and each character and storyline is full of depth.

Angie was a well written character who was easy to like and relate to. She’s described by those who know her as a beautiful person inside and out. She’s a dedicated mother to her three children and despite the mistake she feels she made with Liam immediately after Steve’s death, she’s never given up on him through the many years of trouble he’s brought to their door. She’s the kind of mother who will really do anything for her children and loves them unconditionally. She and her younger sister Emma are so close that they even work together running an organisation called Bridging the Gap, which works to help those who’ve run into hardship enter back into society. Even though Angie has seen through her work that anyone can fall on hard times, she is still embarrassed and reluctant to let anyone know how much she’s struggling or ask them for help. It was heartwarming to read how so many people from all walks of life banded together to help a person in need.

“They’d had no idea until it was already too late just how cruelly Liam was being exploited, manipulated and brainwashed by forces so evil that neither Angie nor Steve knew how to combat them…By the time he was fourteen they’d lost all contact with the sweet, innocent boy he’d been. He’d behaved as though he despised them.”

Throughout the book there are flashbacks to before Steve’s death and we learn more about Liam and how he ended up getting in with the wrong crowd. Having your eleven-year-old be brought home by the police must be awful and as a parent of two teenagers my heart broke for Angie as I read her heartbreak and helplessness as she watched the kind, loving son she knew disappear and someone else take his place. Her refusal to give up on him endeared her to me even more and I was rooting for Liam to be found safe and the family to be reconciled in the end.

“There are no safeguards against things changing in your life”

Home Truths is a sobering and important book. It is a reminder that poverty, debt and homelessness can happen to anyone at any time. Anyone can have unforeseen events occur that start them on a downward spiral that they just can’t seem to pull themselves out of. It is a commentary on social issues such as poverty, benefits and how the government relies on food banks and charities to help those in need instead of tackling the problems that lead them to need that assistance. While it focuses on many different kinds of people that are struggling to make ends meet, it’s main focus is on people like Angie who are part of the so-called working poor. Even people working more than one job can find themselves unable to pay all the bills and feed their family. The sociological and moral questions raised in this book are important ones that need to be answered.

Reading this brought back memories of my own experiences with this issue. I’ve been the working poor and also been on the side of waiting for benefits for months after illness forced me to stop working. In both situations when I asked for help paying bills and buying food I was told to borrow from family and friends and go to a food bank and was only saved from crippling debt and homelessness by being blessed with parents who lived nearby and were in a position to help me out. Not everyone has that. But I’ll never forget the humiliation of not being able to pay for my bus fare or my son’s food and worrying about unpaid bills while I waited for my benefits to come through. At the same time I was dealing with the stress of having to fight for those benefits and prove my illness, which is also humiliating. It was about four years before things were sorted and I could stand on my own two feet. You don’t forget that feeling and even years later I’m enraged how this is still happening and that people are still forced to live this way.

I would recommend this book if you want something beautifully written and emotive that also makes you think. There were a few times I found the story predictable such as the love story, how a certain person became her guardian angel and what happens to Grace when she tries to help her mother. But none of these times took away from the enjoyment or quality of the story or felt like it was superfluous to the plot. I’m sure I will be reading more of this author’s work in the future.

Available to buy from your favourite book seller.

International best selling author Susan Lewis - 9th of August 2018.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Following periods of living in Los Angeles and the South of France, she currently lives in Gloucestershire with her husband James, stepsons Michael and Luke, and mischievous dogs Coco and Lulu.

To find out more about Susan Lewis:

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