September Wrap Up 

Collage 2019-09-30 18_21_16

It’s the end of another month. Autumn is well and truly settling in here in England and it feels like the time for hot chocolate, cosy blankets and spooky reads. I admit I’m missing the sun already though. 

September has been a really busy for me. I’ve read 11 books, taken part in 12 blog tours, and have been to two book events.

First I’ll start with what I read this month:

  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Bad Place by MK Hill ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Postscript by Cecelia Ahern ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt ⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My favourite book this month was The Testaments, but I Wanted You To Know and Postscript were the two others I loved most of all. 

I’ve loved taking part in so many blog tours this month but realise that I took on too many for one month. I’m being stricter about how many I do each month now and in October I have blog tours for 6 books and one novella. So keep an eye out for those reviews. 

I went to two fantastic book events this month. The first was to hear Sara Collins speak about her book The Confessions of Frannie Langton at the Festival of Women’s Writing in Hawarth on September 21st. This was my second time hearing Sara speak and again she blew me away with how intelligent, interesting and friendly she was. I took my Mum along and it was her first book event. She loved every minute and went straight home with my copy of the book to read for herself. I’m hoping it’s the start of more events together. 

The second event was one I still can’t believe I’ve been too. On September 26th I went to the VIP Launch Party for The Foundling, the new novel by Stacey Halls, which is out early next year. The Familiars was my favourite book this year so to be able to not only meet the author, but go to the launch of her next book was incredible. The event took place at Brunswik House which is a beautiful Georgean setting that couldn’t have been more perfect for the book. Stacey was so lovely and spent time talking to every single person there. Hearing her talk about her inspiration for the new novel and read from it has me so excited to dive in, but I’m making myself wait until nearer publication. I attended this event with my blogger friend, Beth, and we met some other bloggers we talk to online and an author that we didn’t realise would be there. The staff from Zaffre were all so friendly and I had some great conversations with some of them. This was my first book launch and they gave whatever launch I attend next a lot to live up to. The Foundling is out February 6th 2020.

So as you can see, September has been a great month. I’ve got some great books I’m planning to read next month and am attending an event in Nottingham where I’ll see Jessie Burton and Laura Purcell – two of my favourite authors. 

Have you read any of the books I read this month or did you attend any book events? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my gifted books, and Tracey at Compulsive Readers, Anne at Random Things Blog Tours, Peyton at Agora books and Blogger HQ for the invitations to take part in the blog tours. A big thank you to Ellen at Zaffre for my invitation to The Foundling launch party.

Blog Tour Review: The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

QuotePhoto3b90180a.jpg

Thank you Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and to Bookoture and NetGalley for my copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

A SHOCKING DISAPPEARANCE. A VILLAGE FULL OF SECRETS.

Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murrary went missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after. But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return home to the village they grew up in when their mother is ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel disappeared, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could have ever imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

This twist-filled, page-turning psychological thriller from the million-copy bestselling author of Silent Child will keep you hooked until the final jaw-dropping pages. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and The Girl On The Train

The-Liars-Sister-Kindle

MY REVIEW:

I’ve enjoyed every one of this author’s books that I’ve read but this was the best yet! Addictive, fast-paced and heart-stopping, I devoured it in just a few hours. I was never really sure what would happen next and there were so many twists it made my head spin. I love a thriller where you don’t feel sure where it’s going and feel a bit bewildered when you’re reading it and this one did both of these things while keeping me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Moving flawlessly between dual timelines and told by two narrators, on the surface this is a mystery about what really happened the night Samuel Murray went missing. Heather has held suspicions about her sister Rosie’s involvement since that night but has never confronted her, instead allowing it to become a wedge between them and their relationship to drift apart. While that is a huge part of this story, this is also a book with many layers that also looks at the complicated relationships between sisters, family and friends, the damage caused by addiction and the grief of losing someone you love. 

The sisters each narrate a timeline so we get to know both of them pretty well. I liked that the author kept it to one sister per timeline as it created a greater sense of mystery about events in the present day as until we reached the climax we never knew what Rosie was thinking or what her involvement was the night Samuel went missing. There are numerous other characters in the story, some of whom are quite unnerving, some who seem to have an axe to grind, and all of them are well developed and well written. Of the sisters I felt most invested in the life of Heather. The author vividly conveys the agony of her complex feelings for both Rosie and Samuel and her torment over what to do for the best. While Rosie was the chaotic, troublesome child and seems to have a hard shell around herself, Heather was the good girl who always did the right thing and feels everything intensely. Not only is Heather’s world turned upside down after their mother’s death, but a lot of what she believes to be true begins to shatter when Rosie returns and she is left not knowing where to turn or what to think. Her pain was palpable and I found myself feeling everything along with her each step of the way.

Enthralling, atmospheric, suspenseful, creepy and brilliant, this book held me hostage right up until its jaw-dropping conclusion. For anyone who enjoys mysteries and psychological thrillers, Ms. Denzil is an author I highly recommend and I would say that this book is a great place to start. 

Out now

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B07TWSDVC9Social

Apple Books:  https://apple.co/2Xy2xTM

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xxn9kM

Googleplay: http://bit.ly/2JeKVIH

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather.

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahadenzil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahdenzil

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marmiteandbooks/

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com/ 

The Liar's Secret - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: ‘The Woman Upstairs’ by Ruth Heald ⭐⭐⭐⭐

IMG_20190912_203006

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Ruth Heald’s new thriller and it’s a good one! This was my first read by this author but I can’t wait to read more after this. 

Thank you to Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and to NetGalley, Bookoture and Ruth Heald for my eBook ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

You’d be lost without her..

She’s the shoulder you cry on when the father of your children disappears.

She’s the person you turn to when he comes back, begging for forgiveness.

She’s by your side when you discover his guilty secrets.

She helps you rock your babies to sleep when they cry.

She’s your friend when you have no one else.

She’s the woman upstairs, whose feet you hear treading around as you drift off at night, thankful you aren’t alone.

But what if you’re about to lose everything because of her?

One of the most twisted, heart-stopping psychological thrillers you’ll ever read! Fans of K.L. Slater, The Wife Between Us and The Girl on the Train, prepared to be kept up past your bedtime as you race through this addictive page-turner.

1567862278232_The-Woman-Upstairs-Kindle

MY REVIEW:

I devoured this unputdownable novel in under a day. The author had me hooked and I was quickly invested in the lives of Katie and her twins. I was up until the early hours of the morning, unable to stop reading until I knew how things worked out for them.

This is a book full of twists and it seemed every time I caught my breath from one twist another was revealed. There was an undercurrent of danger and foreboding that had me on tenterhooks the whole time, and the unreliable characters meant I couldn’t trust anything I thought I knew. 

Katie is vulnerable, isolated, and her whole world is turning upside down. The upheaval and confusion of new motherhood, sleep deprivation and an unreliable partner mean it’s hard for her to know if she’s really seeing what is happening clearly, therefore making it easy to gaslight or manipulate her. At times I liked her but her dimwittedness did begin to grate after a while. I did find it hard to accept she could be so trusting of someone she didn’t really know even though her past gave clues as to how that could happen. To  me it was so obvious how unstable and shady Paula was that I wanted to scream at her for handing over her defenseless children to her. I would also feel frustrated at how she let everyone walk all over her and I was internally begging her to stand up for herself many times. She needed to find her mama bear and fight.

Paula was a great character. Though she seems kind and like she just wants to help, there is something a bit off about her from the start. She was clearly troubled and I Katie could someone like her so blindly, however desperate she is. It isn’t long before we see the extent of her calculated, controlling, manipulative and nefarious character. I feared for Katie and her children. 

The story is told in dual timelines and the flashbacks to a frightened, unknown child, were heartbreaking and chilling. My ideas about who this child was changed many times over the course of the book but it was written so well that I was always second guessing myself right up until the last moment.  

The Woman Upstairs is a crazy, disturbing and gripping psychological thriller. I was never sure who we could trust and completely unprepared for the shocking finale. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Available now.

RuthHeald297

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Heald is a psychological thriller writer from a suburban Buckinghamshire town. She studied Economics at Oxford and then worked in an eclectic mics of sections from nuclear decommissioning to management consulting. 

Seeking a more creative environment, she found a role at the BBC and worked there for nine years before leaving to write full time. Ruth is fascinated by psychology and finding out what drives people to violence, destruction and revenge. She’s married with one daughter and her novels explore our greatest fears in otherwise ordinary, domestic lives.

Social Media Links: 

Website:  www.rjheald.com

Twitter:  @RJ_Heald.   https://twitter.com/RJ_Heald

The Woman Upstairs - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: ‘The Sleepover’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

QuotePhotob922d24c

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Sleepover, the gripping fourth installment in the Detective Natalie Ward series. Thank you to Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour, and NetGalley, Bookoture and Carol Wyer for the eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

Roxy had a secret. Now she’s gone.

When fourteen-year-old Roxy says she’s going for a sleepover at her best friend Ellie’s house, Cathy sees no reason to check her daughter’s story. The two families are neighbours, and the girls  are in and out of each other’s homes every day.

It’s a decision she will regret. A day later, Roxy is found murdered in exclusive Linnet Lane, miles across town, in a house owned by two brothers with no apparent connection to Roxy. Detective Natalie Ward, called to lead the investigation, is determined to get to the bottom of why Roxy was in the basement of this grand Victorian mansion when she should have been eating chocolate in her pyjamas with her best friend. 

As Natalie begins to look closely at Roxy’s stepfather and three brothers, she discovers that Roxy had recently been admitted to hospital with suspicious injuries. Her mother Cathy seems very jumpy, and Ellie refuses to talk. Who are the people that knew Roxy best in the world protecting?

Then Roxy’s mother Cathy disappears.

When Cathy’s body is discovered close to where her daughter was found, Natalie is forced to face the grim fact that the killer is just getting started. She is troubled by the reaction of Roxy’s brother Seth to the tragedies and when his alibi falls through she brings him in for questioning, certain she is making headway.

But while Seth is in custody, one of Roxy’s school friends is found murdered and Natalie knows she must cast her net wider. Things take a more sinister turn when Ellie vanishes, her mobile phone switched off. What is Ellie hiding about the night Roxy died that could put her in terrible danger? And can Natalie figure it out before another innocent life is taken?

The-Sleepover-Kindle
MY REVIEW:

Carol you’ve done it again! The Sleepover is an absorbing, riveting and twisty thriller that had me in it’s grip from the first page, was difficult to predict, and impossible to put down. 

Fourteen-year-old Roxy tells her Mum she’s going to her friend’s house for a sleepover but the next day her body is found in the charred remains of a house fire in an area nowhere near where she was supposed to be and owned by people she didn’t know. Detective Natalie Ward and her team are called to investigate the mystery but her devastated family and friends have no answers, neither do Gavin and Kirk Lang, the owners of the house she was found in. 

As they get deeper into the investigation they seem to find more questions than answers. There are numerous suspects in the arson but there is little in the way of evidence connecting anyone to the crime, or Roxy to the Lang brothers, and Natalie is left feeling angry and frustrated when she’s sure that everyone involved is lying to her and holding back important information. 

When Roxy’s mother Cathy is found murdered the investigation takes on a greater urgency as it seems whoever killed her daughter is targeting those who know about their actions. But everytime the team think they have a clear suspect, something else comes to light that seems to point in another direction. Can Natalie and her team find the killer before they strike again?

There were so many suspects that it was impossible to figure out who the killer was, which is something the author is a master at doing in her books. As soon as I’d made up my mind it was one person, I would change my mind and think someone else! There was one person I didn’t trust from the start and was the person I couldn’t shake my bad feelings about. I don’t want to name them or say if I was right because either one could spoil it for other readers. 

The Sleepover is the fourth book in the fantastic Detective Natalie Ward series and each book feels like connecting again with old friends for me. In this book, Natalie and her husband David are still barely speaking two months after their daughter, Leigh ran away from home. Natalie is increasingly unhappy in her marriage,  David is struggling with his gambling addiction and a lack of self confidence as he still can’t find work, their eldest child Josh is acting strangely and increasingly aloof, and they are still having difficulties with Leigh. All of this is distracting Natalie but at the same time she uses the case to try and take her mind off things and avoid spending time at home with her husband. In this installment we are teased with information as to why Natalie’s relationship with her estranged sister ended and why she finds it so hard to forgive David’s lies. I’m getting desperate to know the full story about Francis though. Please tell me we’ll find out soon Carol! 

This book was full of complex, morally ambiguous characters which I absolutely loved. None of us are one dimensional and finding the humanity and empathy in someone unlikeable or “evil” is fascinating to me. The Curtis family, who are the main focus of this book, were so well written and each of them were a mix of victim and villain in their own way. It is a testament to the author’s talent that despite all of this I never lost any sympathy for them in what they went through, and hoped that the surviving members would be proven blameless. I felt like the kids in particular were trapped in a toxic cycle and if they could just break free of it they’d have a chance to be better people. The Lang brothers were the perfect villains. Despite their house being burned down I never felt any real sympathy for them and actually wanted them to be proven guilty. They were such shady characters and I really liked that we were given these characters to dislike while the evidence didn’t always seem to point in their direction. 

So if you like police procedurals and crime fiction then this book, and series, are for you. The Sleepover is a gripping and readable thriller that keeps you guessing right until the sensational conclusion. Now I’ve just got to not-so-patiently wait for book 5….

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

35300548_10156550383109623_6437937805250265088_o

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping thrillers.

Her book, GRUMPY OLD MENOPAUSE won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.

Carol moved to the ‘dark side’ in 2017 with as series of thrillers. LITTLE GIRL LOST became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and a Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

The DI Robyn Carter and DI Natalie Ward series have sold over half a million copies, earning her acclaim as a crime writer.

2019 sees the release of two romantic comedies and three DI Natalie Ward novels, including the much anticipated THE DARE and THE SLEEPOVER.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndromeand Ageing Disgracefully and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

To learn more about Carol, go to www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer. 

Carol also blogs at www.carolwyer.com

The Sleepover - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: ‘Date Night’ by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

IMG_20190825_174241

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this gripping psychological thriller. 

SYNOPSIS:

Returning early from a disastrous date night with my husband, I know something is wrong the moment the wheels crunch the gravel of our home. Inside, the TV is on and a half-eaten meal waits on the table. My heart stops when I find out little girl alone in the house and our babysitter, Sasha, is missing…

Days later, when I’m arrested for Sasha’s murder and torn away from my perfect little family, I’ll wish I had told someone about the threatening note I received that morning.

I’ll hate myself for not finding out who the gift hidden inside my husband’s wardrobe was for.

I’ll scream from the rooftops that I’m innocent – but no one will listen.

I’ll realise I was completely wrong about everything that happened that night…

But will you believe me?

Twisted and absolutely unputdownable, Date Night exposes what goes on behind the closed doors of a happy home and the dangerous truths we ignore to protect the ones we love. Perfect reading for anyone totally gripped by The Wife Between Us, Friend Request or Gone Girl.

Date-Night-Kindle

MY REVIEW:

Never in a million years did I see the way this fast paced, taut and twisty whodunit would unfold or its shocking conclusion. 

It starts with a note on Libby Randell’s car one icy autumn morning, telling her that her husband Sean is having an affair. She doesn’t want to believe it and tries to put it out of her mind as a malicious note or a sick prank, but she can’t shake the unease and suspicion that’s been unearthed. After weeks of denials, arguments and mistrust the couple decide to have date night as a way to get back on track. But it’s a disaster and after having the same old argument the pair arrive home early finding the TV on and their babysitter, Sasha, missing. Sasha is dependable, she’s Libby’s employee and friend as well as their babysitter, and Libby knows she wouldn’t just up and leave their daughter Alice alone and all her things behind. Something is terribly wrong…

Libby is a mess. She can’t think straight, can’t work and can’t stop worrying about Sasha. She’s also still convinced that Sean is having an affair. Sean tells her she has to get back to normality, not to worry and to trust him like she’s always done and it will be ok. But then Libby is arrested for Sasha’s murder. She vehemently denies any knowledge of her death or whereabouts but the police seem convinced she’s holding something back. Is Libby hiding something? Could Sean be hiding more than another woman? Or could someone else be to blame? 

This addictive mystery kept me guessing from the first page until the last. I could never decide what I thought had happened to Sasha, who was to blame or if I thought Libby or Sean were involved. I had a number of theories and not one of them came close to any of the bombshells the author dropped. 

The story is told in dual timelines, both of which are narrated by Libby. Libby was an unreliable narrator and I often felt like she was leaving things out, though I didn’t think it was deliberate some of the time. These things, alongside opening with her arrest, meant I was never quite sure if I could trust her despite her proclamations of innocence. She is a woman who has everything she’s ever wanted and her world is rocked when she receives the note about Sean. After that she becomes almost obsessed with the idea that he’s cheating, and most of his responses to her are far from helpful or reassuring. I found her easy to empathise with and relate to, particularly as the true nature of Sean’s character became clearer. 

I hated Sean. From the start he seemed unconcerned with allaying Libby’s fears and instead is angry in a way that seems over the top and that’s used to divert from actually talking about the issues.Though initially you don’t imagine it, he does become a great villain as over time his abusive personality and the way he gaslights Libby becomes more apparent. I won’t say more about it as it would mean giving away spoilers, but I will say that I was definitely rooting the Libby to leave him or for him to be guilty and sent to jail. 

One of the best parts about this book was the quality of the writing. Her vivid and imaginative descriptions brought the scenery to life and made me feel like I was seeing and feeling what Libby did. The author created a tense atmosphere full of mystery that made me want to not put this book down. Even when I was near the end I still couldn’t decide what the outcome would be, which is something I love in a book.

 Date Night is a fantastic, tense thriller full of twists and turns and with a jaw-dropping finale that left me reeling. The more I read of Samantha Hayes work, the more I love her and she is definitely a must-read author for me now. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Samantha Hayes for the chance to read this novel in exchange for my honest review and to Noelle Holten for my invitation to take part in the blog tour.

NEW Samantha Hayes author photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Hayes grew up in Warwickshire, left school at sixteen, avoided university and took jobs ranging from private detective to barmaid to fruit picker and factory worker. She lived on a kibbutz, and spent time living in Australia and the USA, before finally becoming a crime-writer. 

Her writing career began when she won a short story competition in 2003. Her novels are family-based psychological thrillers, with the emphasis being on ‘real life fiction’. She focuses on current issues and sets out to make her readers ask, ‘What if this happened to me or my family?’ 

To find out more, visit her website www.samanthahayes.co.uk

Or connect with Samantha on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaHayesAuthor

And she’s on Twitter @samhayes

Date Night - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: ‘Where I Found You’ by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

QuotePhotobad5ea3b

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this emotional novel. Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Emma Robinson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Your daughter will not speak…But can she teach you how to live?

Ever since Ruby was tiny, she has been unique. Her smiles are magically rare, and she likes things done in a very particular way – her blocks are always colour-coded and her toy animals stand in regimented lines. She is also the daughter of Sara’s dreams – even on days when being a mother to a three-year-old is exhausting.

Not everyone understands Ruby like Sara does though. Not Sara’s husband Mike, and certainly not her disapproving mother-in-law, Barbara. So when circumstances force their family to move in with Barbara, Sara knows it’s going to make motherhood even harder.

Then Ruby’s pre-school suggests that her behaviour and refusal to speak might be the first signs of a bigger issue, in the same week that Mike walks out on them. And Sara’s world is blown apart.

Facing life as a single parent and trying to work out Ruby’s needs is more than Sara can face alone. There’s only one person she can turn to for help – Barbara.

But Barbara knows something Sara doesn’t. She knows what can go wrong if you don’t look after your children right. And she’s determined not to let Sara make the same mistakes she did.

An emotional page-turner about motherhood, friendship and family. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of A Boy Made of Blocks, Jodi Picoult and JoJo Moyes.

MY REVIEW:

A beautiful, moving and compelling story about a mother’s love and how she’d do anything for her child. It’s also a story of family, friendship, letting go and about how there is often so much more going on underneath the surface than we know. This book will break your heart, make you angry and challenge you. Can you paint a different picture and see all the different shades of colour that are waiting to be found?

This was my first time reading this author’s work but it won’t be my last. I’ll admit, part of my interest in this book was the comparison to my favourite author, Jodi Picoult, and I think that is an accurate description of Emma’s beautiful writing style. I was quickly immersed in the story and characters and felt invested in Sara and Ruby.

Sara loves her daughter and loves being a mother. She didn’t have a great upbringing so she’s determined to give Ruby everything she didn’t – which is mostly love and security. She as a difficult time making friends, feels anxious and like everyone is judging both Ruby and her as a mother and is very defensive. She hopes to finally make friends after the move and I enjoyed seeing her find her confidence in herself and her abilities as a mother as she found some lovely friendships over the course of the book. I particularly loved her friendship with Leonard from the art gallery and the positive effect this had on their lives and Ruby’s too.

Reading how Sara felt as she realised something might really be wrong with Ruby and how helpless she felt was heartbreaking. As a mother I could relate to some of what she was feeling.Though I’ve not ever had to go through the trauma of battling to get a diagnosis for my child’s autism – my stepson is autistic and had an easier journey to diagnosis – I do know the helplessness of not knowing how to help them when they’re struggling to deal with their illness and that feeling of loving who they are while aso wishing they weren’t born with something that makes their life harder. I also know the pain of their being something wrong with your child that  you can’t fix. My son was diagnosed with a hole in his heart at a few days old and I’ll never forget coming home from the hospital with a list of what to do if he turned blue or grey and sitting in tears watching him sleep in his moses basket convinced I’d lose the baby I’d struggled to conceive and carry. Thankfully he is fine now but you don’t ever forget those feelings or lose the desire to protect you children.

I didn’t like either Mike or Barbara from the start. Mike is a useless, selfish deadbeat dad. His refusal to ever really parent Ruby was sadly familiar and while I hated him for abandoning his wife and child, I also think the are better without him so I was rooting for Sara to find her strength and realise she’s a better mother without having to walk on eggshells and essential parent him too. Barbara was the typical disapproving mother-in-law who can’t let go of her adult child. My heart went out to Sara having to deal with all her judgments and sly shenanigans, how she ignored Ruby’s problems and wanted to control everything. There was a lot of deja vu for me in her character and I’ll be honest in saying I know that made me dislike her more than I would have otherwise. Even so, I did begin to warm to her after Mike left and I hoped that she would support Sara how she needed.

The characters in this book were multilayered and the author reminds us that there can be reasons for a person’s behaviour, however bad it may seem, by showing us what’s behind the mask. While I liked that this is a reminder that no-one is dimensional or just good or bad, I must admit that I did think that giving Sara the answers to almost everyone’s behaviour difficult to accept. Not everything gets tied up in neat bows and we are often left without closure or an answer for the wrongs others do to us or the reason they aren’t good people. Not everyone will see a problem with their behaviour and make amends, and while we did see this in the book too it was to a lesser extent.

Where I Found You is a wonderfully written book that will stay with me. Though I wouldn’t describe this as a twisty book, it did contain some surprising twists. I thought these were fantastically written and helped create an even greater depth to the book. I loved how it reminds us that life doesn’t work out how we planned or pictured it but that’s okay, we just need to paint a new picture and make the most of the life in front of us. I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have some tissues handy when you read it.

Out now

Where-I-Found-You-Kindle

WHERE TO BUY:

AMZ: https://geni.us/B07SQRSP1XSocial

Apple Books: https://buff.ly/2Kvr4ph

Kobo: https://buff.ly/33tz9lT

Googleplay: https://buff.ly/2yX4nUl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

emmarobinson

Emma Robinson is the author of three novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.

Her fourth novel  – Where I Found You – is available to preorder now and will be released on the 16th August 2019.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

Website: http://www.motherhoodforslackers.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/motherhoodforslackers

Twitter: @emmarobinsonuk

Instagram: emmarobinsonuk

wifublogtour

June Wrap Up

QuotePhoto1693abc6

Another month has passed and it’s wrap up time again. Though it’s crazy to realise that half the year has already gone. I’m seeing loads of posts on Instagram of people’s halfway top ten but haven’t got around to doing mine yet as I’m still trying to whittle it down!

June has been a great month of reading for me. I’ve finished fourteen books and got part way into Notes On A Nervous Planet, which I’m sure I’ll finish in July.  All but one book were between four and five stars and all but one were ones I enjoyed. Thirteen of the books were from NetGalley and one was a completely unplanned mood read, which was exactly what I needed.

So here’s what I read in June…

cover155678-medium

1. ‘A Nearly Normal Family’ by M. T. Edvardsson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Told in three parts, each from the perspective of a different family member, each of our narrators are unreliable and leave us wondering which parts of their versions are true. Part two, narrated by the daughter, Stella, was where this book became impossible to put down. A captivating, ambiguous and twisting story about family, secrets, and the lengths we’ll go to for those we love. As we head towards the end of the book the bombshells are dropped in spectacular style and left me reeling. The author pulled off an amazing coupe de grâce with the way he ended this book. I loved how he pulled everything together and kept the reader on tenterhooks until the very end.

Out now on kindle, July 11th in hardcover. Published by Pan Macmillan. E-book ARC via NetGalley. 

cover162817-medium

2. ‘Favourite Daughter’ by Kaira Rouda ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Told from the perspective of Jane, a twisted and delusional Orange County housewife, this book is like going inside the mind of the epitome of a narcissist and sociopath. Controlling, manipulative, condescending, demanding and crazy Jane  is one of the most unapologetically awful people I’ve ever read and, in a strange way, I adored her as much as I despised her. A delicious delight to read, but a toxic nightmare to those around her, I loved every second inside Jane’s mind. The author has written what I think is one of the most addictive thrillers of the year. Favourite Daughter is a definite page-tuner and I couldn’t tear myself away once I began reading. I loved how the author had Jane talk directly to the reader, almost as if we’re friends. It was a great tool in showing the extent of her delusion and connecting us with her.  It is a testament to this author’s talent that she was able to create someone who encompasses such narcissistic and sociopathic traits but still manages to evoke sympathy from the reader. Ms Rouda has found herself a new fan. 

Out now. Published by HQ. E-book ARC via NetGalley.              

cover166145-medium

3. ‘The Liar’s House’ by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Carla Kovach has done it again. DI Gina Harte and her team are back for the fourth book in this fantastic series. There are multiple suspects but the team are mostly working with hunches and circumstantial evidence as real clues to the culprit evade them. At the same time Gina’s personal life is causing problems and her past and present are entangled in her latest case, threatening the reputation she’s spent years building. Themes of domestic abuse and stalking are handled with raw honesty. We see the way these men control their partners through fear and are shown the long-lasting psychological damage of abuse. The author is skilled at writing domestic abuse, in all its forms, in a way that helps the reader understand these women, why they stay, why they take desperate courses of action and do the various things we see them do to protect their abusers. The Liar’s House is what we’ve come to expect and love from this series: complex characters, brutal, gruesome murder scenes and great writing. This novel was particularly skillfully written and ingeniously plotted. I can’t wait for book five. 

Out July 2nd.  Published by Bookoture. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover160251-medium

4. ‘The Van Apfel Girl’s Are Gone’ by Felicity McLean ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A beautifully haunting mystery about childhood, adolescence, secrets and regrets, that takes place over the course of one transformative and unforgettable summer. I loved this mesmerising novel. Atmospheric, delightful, captivating, nuanced and nostalgic but also somber, sinister and dire, it had me hooked from the first page. It explores how tragedy can shape our future and how we see things differently with an adult perspective versus a child’s eye. Will we find out what happened to the Van Apfel sisters? I will leave you to find out for yourself when you read it. 

Out now. Published by Oneworld Publications. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover164264-medium

5. ‘We Were Killers Once’ by Becky Masterman ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have been fascinated with the Clutter murders ever since I read In Cold Blood over twenty years ago. So when I saw that this novel offered an alternative look at that case and one that was linked to it I couldn’t wait to read it. The author has created a perfect amalgamation of true crime and crime fiction with this gripping and believable novel. I love both genres and loved how she brought them together. I admit that part of my enjoyment of this book came from my fascination with the Clutter murders. Both main characters are connected to the infamous case in different ways and I loved the alternative version that was explored in this novel. There was one drawback which was both of the main characters aren’t likeable. Beaufort is unlikable in the right ways, we aren’t supposed to like the bad guy, but Brigid could have been likeable if not for her tiresome obsession and jealousy over his husband’s late wife which made her appear whiny. It is good for a character to be flawed but I felt this flaw went a little too far. We Were Killers Once is an intriguing, absorbing thriller. A mix of fascinating fiction with tantalising fact reimagined and woven through the pages, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves crime fiction and true crime. 

Out now. Published by Orion Publishing Group. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover161780-medium

6. ‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jaw-dropping and addictive, I absolutely loved this book and knew I was in for a great read as soon as I read the prologue. Ms Frear has a new fan in this reader after this tantilising thriller. I loved her writing style, particularly the banter between Cat and her colleagues and the wit that had me laughing out loud on many occasions. Cat Kinsella is a unique, flawed and complex protagonist. She breaks the rules, keeps secrets, has told many lies, has a shady family, is dating someone she shouldn’t, and yet she is someone we root for. One of the things I enjoyed about this novel was the array of unreliable and morally ambiguous characters, including almost every witness. Information trickles slowly, frustrating the police but making for an electrifying read. Is Joseph their man? The final part of this twisty thriller had me on tenterhooks and reeling from each bombshell. After the shocking concluding sentences I am now impatiently waiting for book 3. 

Out now. Published by Bonnier Zaffre. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover160090-medium

7. ‘Here To Stay’ by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another nail-biting, chilling tale of domestic noir from the man that Jennifer Hillier has rightly crowned “The King of domestic horror”.  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.  I don’t want to give any details away as the shocks add to the escalating horror and brilliance of this book. I was extremely lucky to get an early ARC of this book from the author himself. and 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…              

Out September 1st. Published by Amazon Publishing UK. E-book ARC via Mark Edwards and NetGalley.

cover162722-medium

8. ‘Evvie Drake Starts Over’ by Linda Holmes ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

When I started this book I felt like I needed something lighter and a bit different. I couldn’t have chosen more perfectly. Reminiscent of Eleanor Oliphant Is Just Fine, I fell in love with this quirky, warm, lighthearted and witty book and it’s delightful protagonist. This is one of those books you find yourself reading with a smile on your face. Evvie, oh wonderful Evvie. I love this character so much! She is sympathetic, relatable, timid, kind, quirky, amiable, lacks confidence and is stronger than she realises. Surviving and walking away from an abusive relationship takes strength. She always wants to do the right thing but like everyone she makes mistakes and can be unlikeable. These flaws added to the realism and I enjoyed seeing her learn and grow from them. I hadn’t seen any reviews for this novel or read anything by the author before so I was unprepared for how much I’d love this enchanting story. Evvie Drake Starts Over is like a breath of fresh air on a warm day and is the perfect summer read.                                                         

Out now. Published by Hodder & Stoughton. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover166896-medium

9. ‘Someone We Know’ by Shari Lapena ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Everybody has their secrets. And in the wealthy New York suburb of Aylesford the secrets of some neighbours are about to collide when one of them is found dead in her car in the lake. Was it her husband who was sleeping with one of the neighbours? Was it her own secret lover? And did the teenage boy who’s been breaking into neighbours homes see something that could be the key to solving the crime? Once again Shari Lapena takes you on a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns in this surprising thriller. The author masterfully weaves the puzzle pieces together, the secrets began to escalate, and there is one twist after another until we reach the dramatic final reveal showing that she knows how to grip and entertain her audience, building the tension slowly before ramping it up to a point where I was so hooked that I stayed up until ridiculous o’clock to finish it. 

Out July 25th. Published by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

51mss8QcM8L

10. ‘Sister of Mine’ by Laurie Petrou ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Two girls and a match, but a world of differences in what it looked like after that. A forest fire of debt”

Secrets. Lies. Violence. Desperation. Fire. Smoke. Murder.  This is a claustrophobic story of two sisters both held together and torn apart by a terrible secret and explores how the ripple effect of one decision lasts for decades, impacting both sister’s lives in ways they never imagined. I was quickly drawn into the dark world of sisters Penny and Hattie Grayson, two very different sister’s who’s lives have been far from easy.  It was shocking to me how much they had been through by the time they were 18 and 21, which is their ages at the time of the fire. This compelling, sinister, raw and heartwrenching story is a skillfully written and gripping from the first page. It is full of twists and turns and will surprise you right until the end. It is a magnificent psychological thriller that I highly recommend. 

Out now. Published by Oldcastle Books, NoExit Press. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover163858-medium

11. ‘And Then She Vanishes’ by Claire Douglas ⭐⭐⭐⭐

An exciting, twisty thriller full of suspense about secrets kept for almost two decades that merge with the shocking, and seemingly motiveless, murder of an elderly woman and her son in a sleepy seaside town. Told from multiple points of view we follow the story of  Heather, a woman accused of two seemingly motiveless and cold-blooded murders, and Jess, her best friend in school who is now a journalist and is given the task of reporting on the crime. The book also flashes back to August 1994 when Heather’s older sister, Flora, went missing and the girls’ friendship fell apart. But is Heather guilty? Both Jess and Margot, Heather’s mother, insist that the murders are out of character for the gentle, kind and loving woman they knew. But both secretly wonder and allude to there being another side to Heather. Something lurking beneath the surface that they’ve tried to ignore…  They didn’t lie when they said the final chapter was even more shocking than the first – Wow! The dramatic prologue was chilling, the whole book had me on the edge of my seat, but the final chapter was sensational and startling. The author cleverly keeps you on tenterhooks playing a guessing game right until the end and the payoff is totally worth it. You won’t be able to put this book down. 

Out now. Published by Penguin UK – Michael Joseph. E-book ARC via NetGalley. Thank you to the publisher for inviting me to read and review this book. 

cover156063-medium

12. ‘The Missing Wife’ by Sam Carrington  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Louisa is about to turn 40 & isn’t handling it well, especially as she’s found herself unexpectedly dealing with sleepless nights and nappies again. Her husband Brian and best friend Tiff are keeping secrets and her teenage daughter Emily is sullen and distant. When she discovers that Brian and Tiff’s secret was a surprise 40th birthday party she’s far from happy. There’s one particular person there that she never wanted to see again, Oliver Dunmore, her first love who broke her heart. She wakes hungover and unable to remember the night clearly. When Oliver then turns up the saying his wife Melissa is missing and was last seen at the part, her memories become more important than ever. But she can’t retrieve them and as she searches for answers, she feels her life is spiraling out of control. I loved that this book was filled with morally ambiguous characters you couldn’t trust, including Louisa. A riveting, mesmerising and sinister tale, this story will make you question even your own memories. I devoured it within a day as I needed the answers to my questions and the tense and dramatic final twist had me on the edge of my seat.

Out now. Published by Avon Books UK. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

cover159270-small

13. ‘Whisper Network’ by Chandler Baker ⭐⭐⭐

I had high hopes for this book and was excited to read it so I’m disappointed to have found that it wasn’t for me.  I didn’t finish this book. I really tried. I’d considered giving up from early on but pushed through until almost 75% when I decided I had better things to read. I found it slow, lacking in depth, the characters felt shallow and I couldn’t connect with them at all. It also felt preachy about women’s issues and while I think I saw what the author was trying to achieve, it just wasn’t executed in the right way. I didn’t feel at all interested in who was dead, if anyone had killed them or what happened in any way for most of the book.  That being said, this wasn’t all bad. I did relate to and recognise the “everyday sexism” that women are often subjected to and how we can be treated if we report it. Also, as I said earlier, the book did have some tension at times and I was initially drawn into wanting to know who had died and what had happened. It just unfortunately didn’t last for the length of the book. I haven’t seen any reviews for this book and it could be a case of #blacksheepofbookstagram so I encourage you to still pick this up if the synopsis appeals to you. 

Out July 4th. Published by Little, Brown Book Group UK. E-book ARC via NetGalley.

51CR-SBdS5L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

14. ‘The Woman Who Wanted More’ by Vicky Zimmerman  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I started this book on a day I was feeling down, moody and in need of something lighthearted that would cheer me up. I’d heard great things about this book and the cover alone makes me feel warm, so I decided to give it a go. I am so glad that I did. It was a joy to read and was an uplifting, delightful and magical book that made me both cry and smile as it ended. I fell in love with both main characters, but particularly had a soft spot for cantankerous Cecily. I finished this book this afternoon and it was the perfect way to end my reading month and my full review will be posted in the next few days. I highly recommend this refreshing summer read, especially if you’re looking for something that will make you smile.

Out now. Published by Bonnier Zaffre.

You can find the full reviews for all of these books on this blog.

I struggled to pick a favourite this month with so many strong and entertaining books but The Woman Who Wanted More has to take the title for being so uplifting and refreshing, how it made me feel while reading and because I loved the author’s writing style.

Have you read any of the books in my list? Are they on your tbr list? Let me know below. And also tell me what you think of the new format.