#BookReview THE ANIMALS AT LOCKWOOD MANOR by JANE HEALEY

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

PUBLISHED BY MANTLE

PUBLICATION DAY – 5TH MARCH 2020

PRE-ORDER LINKS

hive.co.uk

Amazon

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition

MY REVIEW

What is it with these old houses that are full of secrets and mysterious goings on?! I love it!! And at Lockwood Manor the past is full of darkness, and as Hetty moves in to overlook the storage of the animal collection from the National History Museum during the start of the war, she is plunged into a world of family struggles whilst trying to keep track of her exhbits that keep going missing!!

Lockwood Manor is the home of Lord Lockwood and his daughter Lucy, along with a few members of staff and they’re not all pleased to be having Hetty and her collection moving in. She gets an uneasy feeling from the house from the moment she moves in and the nightmares she has are the least of her problems during her time there.

Along with the Hetty trying to settle, we also hear the story of Lucy Lockwood who has led a pretty tragic life since the death of her mother, alongside a father who seems to care very little for her. She has really bad anxiety and despite living a seemingly gilded life, you can’t help but feel enormous sympathy for her. In Hetty she finds someone she can connect with, and start to feel a little safer and it was extremely touching to see how their friendship was a real strength for them both.

As the unsettling feeling continues, there is more revealed from the past that was really shocking and I loved how the story centres around loneliness and the role that women were expected to play at that time. In Hetty and Lucy we get to see how different roles played out and it gave another dimension to the story.

A really touching and enjoyable read.

★★★★

#BookReview DEAR EDWARD by ANN NAPOLITANO

ABOUT THE BOOK

A heart-wrenching, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 187 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers aboard that flight as it hurtles toward its fateful end, and depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he tries to make sense of the loss of his family, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and the meaning of his survival. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront one of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given?’

PUBLISHED BY VIKING

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

An exquisite story about an extraordinary little boy who is dealing with being the only survivor on a plane crash that killed 191 others, including his mum, dad and brother. Just how do you pick yourself up aged 12 after something so tragic, and how do you make sense of a world around you that sees you as a miracle child.

The story is told in the present and past – we see the story unfold as everyone boards the plane and we get to know the other passengers as everyone goes about their business as normal. There’s those hiding secrets, those moving on to new lives – nothing really out of the ordinary, especially with Edward and his family who are heading to Los Angeles, and the bond between them all is clear for all to see. Which makes it even more heartbreaking when we read the ‘now’ story with Edward having to deal with now living with his Aunt and Uncle in a new town, and being the focus of media attention from around the world. He finds comfort in the next door neighbours – Besa and her daughter Shay – and with them he finds peace and feels safe. His life is still pretty traumatic as he is losing weight as the survivor guilt seems to have left him unable to stomach many foods and reading about his struggle is often heartbreaking. You just want to dive in the pages and give him a big hug!

As time goes by he speaks to a therapist and begins to find ways of accepting what happened and I love seeing his journey , especially the role that Shay plays in his life. She compares his journey to that of Harry Potter and the bond between them is very sweet. And as the drama plays out on the plane journey before the crash, it just shows how quickly life can change.

A lovely story beautifully told! Highly recommended! 

★★★★★

#BookReview THE UNSPOKEN NAME by A.K.LARKWOOD #TheUnspokenName

ABOUT THE BOOK

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

PUBLISHED BY  TOR BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon 

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

I’m always excited to discover a new fantasy world to disappear into, and this one delivers on all fronts of excitement, twists, diversity, drama, humour and a new superstar character in Csorwe who we follow as she is set on a new path She’s always been brought up knowing she was going to die on her 14th birthday and while that’s not the best kind of birthday present one can hope for, she’s offered a new fate on the day she’s due to be ‘sacrificed’ and boy is she in for a rollercoaster of a ride, as she becomes a wizard’s loyal sword-hand! Bring on the fights, the deception and the magic!

I often find with some fantasy novels that they can drag a little on the pace front – there’s a lot of world building and characters to explore, but that often slows the flow right down – but that doesn’t happen with the way the author writes this book. It zips along and covers the story over a few years and, although there’s lots going on, there’s always a chance to keep your bearings, so to speak, and that made for such a connection with this story and the characters within. There’s also a very helpful list of characters and how to pronounce their names at the beginning of the book – invaluable!!

Csorwe is on a real learning process alongside Sethennai as she visits places she’s only ever heard about after her incredibly sheltered life, but she soon finds out she’s more capable than she ever imagined as she faces all that is thrown her way. The story is told from a variety of POV’s which I really enjoyed and there’s a huge variety of personalities and it was good fun keeping track of who was there to help or hinder Csorwe and her progress! Just why did Sethennai choose her in the first place? And what consequences will there be for her not following her original destiny?! There’s so much to explore along her journey and I found myself doing the ‘just one more chapter’ thing as I couldn’t bear not knowing what was going to happen next!!

An exciting introduction to this duology and I’m eagerly counting down the days until we get to read more about Csorwe and the world she finds herself a part of!

★★★★

#PublicationDayPost NEW YEAR NEW GUY by ANGELA BRITNELL #guestpost @ChocLituk @AngelaBritnell

An absolute delight for me today to be able to post this Blog Post on behalf of the lovely Angela Britnell and Choc Lit on PUBLICATION DAY!!   So sit back and enjoy a few words from Angela, a little bit more about the book and, most importantly!, links to be able to get your mitts on a copy of the wonderful NEW YEAR, NEW GUY!

New Year New Guy: A Brief Break from Cornwall!

This story is a break from my usual Cornwall/Nashville romances because the setting ventures over the border into Devon and the city of Plymouth, with a few side trips I don’t want to give away here! It was interesting to change things up and I hope my readers will forgive me and hopefully enjoy visiting some different places along the way. To those who don’t know there has always been a touch of rivalry between Cornwall and Devon, in fact older Cornish people will talk about crossing the Tamar River border as though they are travelling to another country. And don’t even get them all started on the proper way to eat a cream tea. Whether to put jam or cream on the scones first is the source of endless debates. I purposely avoided going anywhere near that particular minefield in the book but anyone who knows that I’m Cornish born and bred will guess where I fall on that particular question…

‘Out with the old life, in with the new,’ sums the book up perfectly. When we first meet Laura she’s standing in the rain at the Plymouth bus station waiting to collect Hunter who her sister Polly has invited as a surprise for her fiancé Johnny at their pre-wedding party. Although Laura is cynical about the idea of lifelong love after escaping from her own brief, bad marriage to an arrogant surgeon she agreed to take care of this unknown American for a few days to please her sister. The minute Hunter sets foot on English soil again for the first time in twenty years he knows he’s made a mistake and would bet his last dollar that his old friend won’t be pleased to have the past dragged up. For a multitude of reasons, many of them tied to the time he and Johnny spent at school together, he’s also determined to stay single and no prickly English nurse will change his mind. Or will she? Could Laura come around to the idea that love doesn’t have to mean losing her sense of self?

It was a challenge to touch on a few darker themes in this story without losing the sense of fun and romance I always strive to bring to my books but I hope I’ve managed it, only reviews and sales will confirm that. Sending Laura and Hunter’s story out into the world today means that it’s time to get busy on my summer release!

About the book:

Out with the old life, in with the new …

When Laura’s bride-to-be sister, Polly, organises a surprise reunion for her fiancé and his long lost American friend, Laura grudgingly agrees to help keep the secret. And when the plain-spoken, larger-than-life Hunter McQueen steps off the bus in her rainy Devon town and only just squeezes into her tiny car, it confirms that Laura has made a big mistake in going along with her sister’s crazy plan.

But could the tall, handsome man with the Nashville drawl be just what reserved Laura Williams needs to shake up her life and start something new?

PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT

About the Author:

Angela grew up in Cornwall and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!

A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers.

If you’d like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (warning this may include references to wine, chocolate and the hunky Aidan Turner) check out www.angelabritnellromance.com or follow her on www.facebook.com/angelabritnell and www.twitter.com/angelabritnell

Buying Links: 

Kindle UK: https://amzn.to/38N23zv 

Kindle US: https://amzn.to/38MJsUz 

Kobo: https://apple.co/2wCu7aT 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2wCu7aT

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#BookReview THE TEMPLE HOUSE VANISHING by RACHEL DONOHUE #TheTempleHouseVanishing @ThePigeonHoleHQ

ABOUT THE BOOK

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and uneasy consequences.


PUBLISHED BY  CORVUS


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon  £12.99

hive.co.uk  £10.55

whsmith  £10.65

MY REVIEW


I read this via the Pigeonhole app.

This was a dark, unsettling slow burn of a read that really explores the complexities of obsessive love and teenage girls. How growing up can be so tangled and traumatic, and how the art of love can cloud the judgement of those involved.

The story centres around a school where a teacher and young student went missing 25 years ago and the scandal has never really died down. So when a journalist gets the chance to investigate the story a little deeper, even she isn’t prepared for what she’s about to find out.

The story is also told from the viewpoints of the girls from the elite Catholic boarding school – Louisa and Victoria – who were involved at the time with the art teacher Mr Lavelle and his influence on them and other girls under his ‘charge’. This was always the unsettling part of the story for me – a teacher taking advantage of his position, knowing full well that the young girls were battling with their own identities and feeling vunerable. The more you read into the story though, the more you understand just how vindictive and manipulative that teenage girls can be!!

With the mystery into the whereabouts of the teacher and student being told slowly, we get to hear how the events affected everyone then and now – how they were seduced by personalities, probably in rebellion to the strict rules imposed on their day to day life at the school. This art teacher gave them the chance to express themselves more – some may have just taken that a little too literally!

I did find the ‘to and fro’ way of story telling a little confusing at times, and that may have affected my ability to connect more with these characters. They came across as quite heartless and that made it difficult to bond with them, but maybe that was their age showing and it was all just a front to save themselves from hurt. They were quick to put up walls to protect themselves when needed and that was how they dealt with the world around them. None of them wanted to appear vunerable as others would have taken advantage of that fact.

The viewpoint of the journalist was an interesting aspect – she had a vague connection with one of the girls and the area so that helped her delve a little deeper than others had gone, and she often seemed shocked by what she found out. Looking back at life at the school between the girls just goes to show how vicious young women can be – girls are evil!!! But they thought they were in love! They were deluded and their powers of rational thought had long gone so the consequences often proved to be more brutal than they should have been.

An interesting study of characters and a brooding read!


★★★

#BookReview WON’T YOU SAVE ME by WENDY DRANFIELD @RubyFiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Detective Dean Matheson has returned to his hometown to begin his new job and put the traumatic events of his past behind him – but his fresh start won’t last long when the local area is hit by a series of strange disappearances and twisted killings …
A nameless girl badly beaten and dumped in front of the mysterious new church. A shocking murder scene discovered in the apartment over the diner. A child missing without a trace.
These are the crimes Dean Matheson is confronted with in his first week as detective. Are they isolated events, or is something altogether more disturbing happening in Maple 
Valley now that Dean’s back in town?

PUBLISHED BY RUBY FICTION

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

Nook

MY REVIEW

Detective Dean Matheson is back and what a return!! He’s gone back to his hometown, Maple Valley, for his new job, joining forces with Eva once more, and if he’s looking for a quiet life then it won’t be here!! From the opening few pages the action hits hard – and scary!- from the get go and doesn’t let up! I’m still just about recovering from it all!

With a ‘body’ waking up in the morgue, to a missing child, to gruesome murders and the return of some old and crazy characters, this is a story that has a little bit of everything – and a little bit more!! The past never seems to let go of Dean and Eva and in this book they’re both having to deal with issues that have plagued them both for many a year.

There’s a relaxed feel to the relationship between Eva and Dean and that’s why I love reading about them. Always looking out for one another, they’re happy to let one another take the lead when necessary and the dynamic between them just works. Eva is a woman who doesn’t take any crap from anyone so Dean is always aware of not pushing any boundaries – unlike others they may work with!

I also loved how the author doesn’t rush the goings on in this book – there’s so many sub plots that there could have been a need to speed things up a little, but each character and each storyline is allowed to breathe a little to really get you engrossed in the action!

It’s pulsating, it’s chilling and creepy and left me holding my breath on many occasions throughout! I had great fun trying to work out all the links and with that ending I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!!! Crime drama written to perfection!! Wonderful!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by CHRISTY LEFTERI @ZaffreBooks @christy_lefteri @Tr4cyF3nt0n

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by CHRISTY LEFTERI. My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy Fenton  of Compulsive Readers for letting me be part of the tour.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling. 

published by Bonnier Zaffre

PURCHASE LINKS – paperback release 20th February 2020

WHSmith  £7.37

hive.co.uk  £6.59

amazon  £6.99

MY REVIEW

This is a story of hope and of love, the bond between a husband and wife and the determination of the human spirit to succeed despite the horrors that the world throws their way – and I loved every single minute of it.  Yes it made me cry, but it also filled my heart with so much love and all the warm feelings you get when you find ‘good’ people trying to make the world a better place.

Nuri and Afri are a devoted husband and wife looking for a new life away from the horrors of Syria. They’ve lost a child, Afri has lost her sight, but they know that there must be a better way for them out there so they make the decision to travel to the UK where Nuri’s cousin already lives.  Their journey is anything but easy and we get to follow them along the way and the people they meet, all with their own stories of horror to tell, and all the obstacles placed in their way – how the life of a refugee is plagued with nightmares. Can you ever really escape the horror and destruction you’ve witnessed at first hand?

What struck me most about this book was the beautiful way it was written – the harshness and brutality of war was softened by the exquisite descriptions and language used.  And how quickly their quiet and simple life in Syria was changed beyond recognition due to war and the actions of others.

The story switches between their journey away from Syria, to their time when they reach the UK and the process they have to go through in trying to move on and start new lives in a foreign country. It was brilliantly portrayed without feeling too ‘preachy’ or ‘political’ and gave these characters the time you needed to share their pain and empathise with their plight.

Humbling and touching.

★★★★★