Keeper by Jessica Moore | @jessicammoor @VikingBooksUK @EllieeHud | #KeeperBook

Today, I join the blog tour for Keeper by Jessica Moore. My thanks to Ellie at Viking Books for the opportunity to join and for the wonderful review copy.

Author : Jessica Moor
Title : Keeper
Pages : 320
Publisher : Viking Books / Penguin UK
Publication date : March 19, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes. 
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside. 

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

| MY THOUGHTS |

He loves you.
He controls you.
He’ll never let you go.

It’s insanely hard to find the words to do this novel justice. Keeper is one of those books that requires time to process. One that made me feel so incredibly angry, it left me wanting to punch something. And even after giving myself that time to sit back and think … guess what. Still bloody angry!

When Katie Straw’s body is found in the river, detectives quickly rule her death a suicide. But not everyone is convinced. The women at the local refuge, where Katie worked, know that danger lurks in every corner and while they may be at what is considered a safe place, somehow death got inside.

Despite the fact that there is a mystery to solve surrounding the death of Katie Straw, this is not your typical crime fiction novel. Keeper is billed as a literary thriller and I’m slightly worried that the “thriller” part will be somewhat misleading to readers who decide to pick this one up. It’s not that kind of thriller, it’s not a fast-paced solve-a-crime sort of novel but more of a character-driven drama with a thriller-ish element to it. (I know what I’m trying to say here but I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of it.) Yet, it is equally compelling, tense and gripping.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but what I got is a dark and powerful story. Told in alternating chapters, we hear from Katie herself and learn about her past, we follow the detectives who are investigating Katie’s death and we are introduced to the women at the refuge. Manipulation and abuse comes in various shapes and sizes and these women’s stories really bring that to the fore. It doesn’t always come like a bolt of lightning, sometimes it’s just there from the beginning and it builds up gradually, so slowly that maybe you don’t even realise it’s happening.

Needless to say this isn’t a comfortable read. It is awfully sad and upsetting. It is unfortunately highly believable and realistic. It is incredibly frightening because it makes you realise this could happen to any one of us. It is chilling, hugely insightful and addictive. Did I mention it made me angry?

Keeper is an incredibly hard-hitting and thought-provoking debut from Jessica Moor and a novel that will undoubtedly stay with me forever. I definitely recommend you give this one a go. Brace yourself for the impact it will have and for the utterly heartbreaking conclusion.

Keeper is out tomorrow! Due to current circumstances, whenever you can, please support your local bookshops!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon UK | Goldsboro | Hive UK | Kobo | Waterstones

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Jessica Moor studied English at Cambridge before completing a Creative Writing MA at Manchester University. Prior to this she spent a year working in the violence against women and girls sector and this experience inspired her first novel, Keeper.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts | @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel | #recommended

Today is paperback publication day for the wonderful Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts so I thought I’d re-share my review from April last year. This is one of those novels that just captured my heart from the first page and unsurprisingly, it made my list of “books of the year”.

Author : Elizabeth Letts
Title : Finding Dorothy
Pages : 368
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : January 9, 2020 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Sometimes you pick up a book and like magic, everything seems to fall into place. For me, Finding Dorothy is one of those books. It’s extremely hard for me to put into words exactly why that is but I completely fell in love with everything about it. The era, the characters, the writing itself … it all came together and created such a wonderful reading experience.

1939, Hollywood. Filming has started on The Wizard of Oz, based on the book by L. Frank Baum. His seventy-eight year old widow, Maud, feels fiercely protective of her husband’s story. After all, she knows all its secrets and she’s determined to make the sure the film will do her husband’s story justice. But she soon realises she may need to protect the film’s star Judy Garland as well.

Maud’s story is a fascinating one. Growing up as the daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage, it seemed her life had been entirely planned out. Matilda was a fierce and determined woman who battled for women’s right to vote and for girls to be allowed a higher education. Maud ends up being one of the first female coeds at Cornell University. But her mother’s shadow follows her everywhere and Maud never really quite finds her place there. Then she meets Frank. An actor, a weaver of stories and words, a dreamer and he completely sweeps her off her feet. And me right alongside with it.

Both Maud and Frank captured my heart from the moment I met them. From traveling throughout the country with theatre shows, to living in the harsh prairies of the Dakota Territory where they struggled to make a living, to that moment where the stars align and Frank creates his masterpiece, I became utterly invested and engrossed. 

Even though Frank, who’s incredibly fickle and apparently unable to settle down, got on my nerves sometimes; even though I sometimes felt Maud needed a bit more of a backbone; and even though at times I much more enjoyed the chapters about their lives than the ones set in 1939, I found this novel immensely immersive. At some points it even brought a lump to my throat and throughout it all there’s Maud, this energetic and passionate woman whom I absolutely adored.

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”

This quote sums up my reading experience entirely. I have tasted the sublime. This review doesn’t do this novel justice at all but I hope it does bring across how much I love it and that you decide to give it a go and hopefully have the same enchanting and magical experience I had.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (December 11)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. 

[I can’t believe it took me this long to finally read A Man Called Ove. Absolutely loved it and if it had been published this year, it undoubtedly would have made my list of top books.]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept…

[This is about as Christmassy as things will get at Casa Novel Deelights 😄]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town. Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.

Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.

Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.

Photographer Jerry, who’s determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.

And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own.

[I wouldn’t at all be surprised if I mentioned this one before. Every time I try to pick it up, some other book demands my immediate attention. We’ll see what happens but if I were you, I wouldn’t be too shocked if it’s not on the list next week 😂]

Still trying to reach my Goodreads challenge goal. Eight to go. Anyone want to place any bets? (No, Kelly! There are no prizes 😜)

What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. | @damppebbles

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. I have an extract to share with you today but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : N. Lombardi Jr
Title : Justice Gone
Pages : 336
Publisher : Roundfire Books
Publication date : February 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

| EXTRACT |

Another session was called to collate, coordinate, and brainstorm, but this one was held in the mayor’s office, at his honor’s insistence that he not be kept out of the loop. To say that he was distressed was like calling Mount Everest a molehill. The citizens were in nothing less than an uproar, and he was supposed to be the man in charge. When he had campaigned for mayor he hadn’t foreseen a challenge like this. Never knew that his blood pressure could rise so high that he had to consult his cardiologist, or that his ulcer would act up after all these years. And the pain in his gut only increased when he realized he was helpless to rescue the situation. This thing has fucking gone global now, worldwide coverage for heaven’s sake, he had decried to the city attorney Burns just hours before.

The same law enforcement officials that attended the first meeting were there at this one, except for Agent Crawford of the FBI, who was more than spoken for by his bare-headed partner. Everyone around the conference table looked glum, and this alarmed the mayor.“I would like Chief Peterson to give me the introductory summary… you know…the quick and dirty, and then I would like to hear from all of you.” The mayor turned his head. “Len?” “First of all, I would like to thank the FBI and the New Jersey State Police Investigations Branch, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office, for their assistance in this investigation.” Peterson cleared his throat. “On September 23 we received a 911 request to proceed to the home of Victor Fratollini, possible homicide. That was about five-fifteen. Then, some forty minutes later, there was another 911 call directing us to the home of John Fox…”

“Is this the quick and dirty, Len?” the mayor asked.
Peterson looked up, embarrassed. “Within two, two-and-a-half hours, three of the officers involved in the Felson incident were shot dead. The autopsy report was consistent with the crime scene assessment that only one fatal bullet was fired in each case, all of them exiting the bodies and recovered at each of the scenes. Caliber .308, most probably used with a Remington 700 model, which is consistent with military rifles of at least two branches of the armed services, the Army and the Marines. Marshal Felson was picked up for questioning…”

“Hold it right there. I’ve heard about that, more than I care to, and his lawyer contacted our lawyer, Burns, and threatened yet another civil suit, malicious prosecution. What the hell was that all about?”
Gerhard intervened. “We had a no-knock warrant, sir.” “So you just busted in? Is he a principal suspect?”
Peterson interjected. “We consider him a person of interest at this time. But he has an alibi. His sister claims she slept over that night and attests that Felson was home from the afternoon until the time of the killings.”
“Well, can we rule him out then?’ “She could be lying,” Gerhard stated.
“What makes you say that?’
Peterson answered. “She refuses to come down and make a statement without her lawyer, and the same for her commitment to testify in case of a trial.”
“Actually,” Detective Cavaluzzi broke in, “her exact words were”—he read from his notepad—”I would be reluctant to give any formal statement regarding my brother, let alone testify, without consulting my lawyer.”
“We should be applying more pressure on that woman!” Gerhard said loudly. “Forensics showed his gun was recently discharged, and ballistics show a significant amount of consistency with the recovered bullets.”

The direction the conversation was going distressed Peterson, and he sought to divert it. “I think it’s time to give the results of the autopsy and ballistics reports, and our analysis based on these.” He shuffled some papers he had been keeping on the table before him, then read it verbatim using the coroner’s technical language, which more than annoyed the mayor.

“So what is all that anatomical jargon come to for Chrissake?”
“It means,” Gerhard announced from his end of the table, “that this killer is not only clever, calculating, and precise, but sadistic as well. With just one bullet, he inflicted the maximum amount of pain a single gunshot wound could inflict, aiming at the edges of bones to cause maximum deflection with minimum loss of kinetic energy. In other words he deliberately shot them in a way that would rip them apart. And he went so far as to modify the bullets to ensure this.”
“What do you mean, modify the bullets?” the mayor asked.

The bald FBI man, Agent Dirksen, explained. “There are indentations machined on the bullets. They didn’t come from the manufacturer that way. Increases the wobble to the spin.”
The mayor raised his eyebrows. “Wobble? Spin?”
“The reason rifles are called rifles,” Gerhard broke in, “is because there’s rifling inside the barrels, grooves that cause the bullet to spin for more accurate trajectories, like how a quarterback throws a football. In this case, with these custom- made bullets, the indentations we found on them are at right angles to the rifling, causing them to vibrate as well, and this vibration amplifies when they encounter soft tissue. Sick, yes, but that’s the kind of person we’re dealing with here.”

“But it’s not Felson!” Peterson insisted.
Agent Dirksen, spoke up again. “I don’t think so either. After a thorough search, a footprint has been found in the woods behind Puente’s house. It’s clear that the gunman started his killing binge at the most exposed place, Fratollini’s suburban neighborhood, then on to Fox’s dead end lane nearby, and finishing at a place that verges on forest. We think that was his escape route, and that’s why he wasn’t intercepted on any road. He might still be in the woods.”
“Don’t tell me…” the mayor protested.
But Agent Dirksen continued, “We recommend a full-scale manhunt in the wooded areas from the south of Asarn County up to the Delaware Water Gap to the north.”
The mayor threw up his hands. “Well, hell’s bells! What else is coming to put yet another nail on my goddamn cross! Hunting season has just opened!”
“Looks like it’ll have to be postponed for a while,” Gerhard said with a hint of gloating.

If this extract has left you wanting to find out more, then you can grab yourself a copy of Justice Gone now!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Waterstones

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This Week in Books (August 21)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more.

In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind–until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder–the only crime the DA could pin on him. As a former client of her father’s, Rory becomes reluctantly involved with the killer–though he continues to insist he didn’t murder Angela. Now he wants Rory to do what her father once promised: prove that Angela is, in fact, still alive.

As Rory begins reconstructing Angela’s last days, another killer emerges from the shadows, replicating those long-ago murders. With every startling discovery she makes, Rory becomes more deeply entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell–and in The Thief’s tormented mind. Drawing connections between past and present is the only way to stop the nightmare, but even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.

No tour commitments to fulfil and one book away from finishing my 20 Books of Summer challenge with time to spare! Guess who’s reading for fun? This girl!

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

This Week in Books (August 14)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body.

For Stella Harvey, the news is doubly shocking, as the body is found in the garden of her childhood home. The home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.

Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the Dorset island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets.

But one thing rings true…
You can’t bury the truth forever. 

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now.

They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed.

Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin. 

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Why yes, I am reading two books at the same time. Why no, I’m not making much progress on either one of them 😂

What are you reading this week? Do let me know in the comments! Happy reading! xx

Found by Erin Kinsley | @KinsleyErin @headlinepg @JenRHarlow | #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Found by Erin Kinsley! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

Author : Erin Kinsley
Title : Found
Pages : 368
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : July 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When 11 year old Evan vanishes without trace, his parents are plunged into their worst nightmare. 
Especially as the police, under massive pressure, have no answers.

But months later Evan is unexpectedly found, frightened and refusing to speak. His loving family realise life will never be the same again.

DI Naylor knows that unless those who took Evan are caught, other children are in danger. And with Evan silent, she must race against time to find those responsible…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Claire and Matt are faced with every parent’s worst nightmare when their son, Evan, fails to return from school. Evan was taken from a bus stop in broad daylight. With no witnesses, zero leads and a reconstruction that doesn’t provide any answers, detectives fail to move forward in their investigation.

Months go by, until Evan is unexpectedly found and returned home to his parents. But the damage has been done. Evan won’t talk, will not venture outside and hides himself away in his bedroom. Detectives are desperate to hunt down Evan’s kidnappers for fear they might strike again and kidnap another child but without Evan’s help, they don’t even know where to start.

I must say, this didn’t at all turn out the way I expected it to. This is one of those books that doesn’t quite fit into just any category. There’s the police procedural angle as the reader follows detectives on their frustrating journey to answers. But there is also more of a family drama side to this story as Evan’s family first go through the horrible period of his disappearance and then later need to deal with his return and the changes he’s undergone.

These were the chapters that are still very much at the forefront of my mind. The relationship between Evan and his granddad, especially, really got to me. It was just so warm and genuine, full of love and patience and I adored every minute they spent together. I never really considered that Found would move me as much as it did.

As harrowing as Found’s topic may be, I feel the author really managed to get events across without bombarding the reader with disturbing scene upon disturbing scene. A lot is left up to the reader’s imagination, be that a good or a bad thing. The story is chilling enough on its own, it didn’t need any added shock value and I appreciate that Erin Kinsley shied away from that and dealt with things in an incredibly sensitive way.

Found is a compelling and often devastating read, beautifully written and extremely sympathetically done. A truly impressive debut by Erin Kinsley.

Found is published in paperback format tomorrow!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Erin Kinsley is a full-time writer. She grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in East Anglia. Now writing under a pseudonym, her previous books were published by Bloomsbury. Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot prize amongst other awards, her writing has received glowing reviews across the national press.

I Looked Away by Jane Corry | @JaneCorryAuthor @PenguinUKBooks @EllieeHud | #blogtour #ILookedAway

Absolutely delighted to join the blog tour for I Looked Away by Jane Corry today! My thanks to Ellie Hudson at Penguin for the invitation to join and for the wonderful review copy!

Author : Jane Corry
Title : I Looked Away
Pages : 490
Publisher : Penguin UK
Publication date : June 27, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anything else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swore it was over, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.

Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And for just a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. The accident that happens will change her life forever.

Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.

And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder…

| MY THOUGHTS |

I do so thoroughly enjoy a Jane Corry book! They are always full of incredibly brilliantly fleshed-out characters that get under your skin and drag you through a wide range of emotions. Her latest offering, I Looked Away, is no different.

Any parent can surely relate to that horrifying moment where you take your eyes off your child for that tiny split second and suddenly they are not where you left them. This is what happens to Ellie. While looking after her grandson Josh, her husband gets a call from his mistress. Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson and the accident that happens will change her life forever.

Ellie hides a massive secret and it’s one that might make people look somewhat differently at this accident. Short flashback chapters give the reader an insight into Ellie’s life and her story wasn’t always easy to read about. I often felt extremely angry and incredibly saddened as the events of her life played out in front of me.

The story is mainly told through alternating chapters from characters Ellie and Jo. I couldn’t at all figure out how the two were connected and Jane Corry kept me guessing until the reveal. Watching the two threads come together was hugely satisfying. At the end of it all, I was even left with a bit of lump in my throat.

I Looked Away deals with some hard-hitting topics, from mental abuse to PTSD to homelessness. I particularly liked how the author tackled the plight of homeless people. There is no unnecessary over-dramatisation, because let’s face it, the circumstances tend to be dramatic enough all on their own. But it is all incredibly realistic and believable, full of both the bad and the good.

Full of suspense and fascinating characters, I Looked Away pulled me in from the very first page and did not let go. Quite emotional at times but always utterly compelling, I think this one might be my favourite by Jane Corry so far. Definitely not one to miss and I can’t wait to read more by her.

I Looked Away is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist (Daily Telegraph and women’s magazines) who worked for three years as the writer in residence of a high security prison for men. This experience helped inspire her Sunday Times bestsellers ‘My Husband’s Wife’, ‘Blood Sisters’ and ‘The Dead Ex’. She also writes short stories as well as a weekly digital column about being a granny for My Weekly.

Jane speaks at literary festivals all over the world.

Many of her ideas strike during morning dog-jogs along the beach followed by a dip in the sea – no matter how cold it is!

After The End by Clare Mackintosh | @claremackint0sh @LittleBrownUK @millieseward | #bookreview #AfterTheEnd

Author : Clare Mackintosh
Title : After The End
Pages : 384
Publisher : Sphere / Little Brown UK
Publication date : June 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

What if they could have both?

| MY THOUGHTS |

This is such a hard review to write but I imagine not nearly as hard as it must have been to write this novel.

Max and Pip face one of the toughest decisions any parent could possibly face. Their three year old son, Dylan, is brain damaged due to complications from a tumour. Max and Pip are one of the strongest couples you’re bound to meet but now, they find themselves on opposite sides as each tries to decide for themselves what’s best for Dylan.

After The End is a novel I had to read in bits and pieces, for fear of choking on the huge lump in my throat. The author deals with a highly emotional topic and it all feels incredibly realistic, moving and extremely heartbreaking. The story is split into two parts, the before and after. The reader is offered an insight into Dylan’s circumstances and the many long days Pip spends at his bedside. The tiny slivers of hope and the plummeting realisations when things go downhill felt like a rollercoaster. There are also the wonderful friendships parents form with each other on the ward, the support they give each other and yet it must be so incredibly hard to watch another child make a recovery and ultimately leave for home when your own child lies unmoving in their bed.

The “after” in the story is split in two. The reader follows both Pip and Max but in alternative storylines. Each has to deal with the decision they made regarding Dylan’s future. Was it the right one? How can you ever know? Will their marriage survive when so many do not?

I must admit that my feelings for this novel were also split in two. I thought the first part of the story was exceedingly compelling and I was right there with the characters on the ward, trying to figure out what I would do in that situation. But the second half of the story started to lose me somewhat. It seemed a bit repetitive at times and while I was still rooting for the characters to come through it all, I didn’t find this second half as gripping as the first half.

Nevertheless, After The End is a beautifully written story about a marriage put under strain in the most difficult of circumstances and facing an impossible choice. A remarkable departure for Clare Mackintosh, who you may know from some excellent psychological thrillers. This was quite obviously a story that she needed to tell and she did it in the most wonderful way possible. Not an easy story to read, yet one that will remain with me forever.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy!

After The Lie is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary | @QuercusBooks | #20BooksofSummer

Author : Beth O’Leary
Title : The Flatshare
Pages : 390
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : April 10, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

| MY THOUGHTS |

During one of those weeks where numerous books found their way back onto the bookshelf after just a few pages, I thought to myself “Self, why don’t you just pick up something completely different? Why not step away from the crime and the psychological thrillers?”. And so I did, because Self is often wise. This is how I ended up reading up-lit. As you do.

Tiffy needs a new place to live after being dumped by her cheating boyfriend. Leon needs money to pay for his brother’s solicitor and Leon has a flat, which he only uses between 9am and 5pm and never at the weekends. So during the hours when he’s not around, why not let someone else enjoy the flat? This is the start of a most unusual arrangement.

Now, I was prepared for this story to be predictable and in some parts it absolutely was. Yet, there are also some deeper issues running through the storyline that I wasn’t expecting at all. Tiffy’s relationship with the ex-boyfriend isn’t as straightforward as it looks and Leon’s job as a nurse on a palliative ward made me feel rather emotional at times. What won me over more than anything though, were the incredibly delightful characters. Quirky Tiffy is absolutely fabulous and often made me chuckle and her network of friends were a true delight to get to know as well. Both Tiffy and Leon, and also Leon’s brother, are characters you root for from start to finish.

The Flatshare is an uplifting story about love and friendship but also one about letting go, making changes and finding yourself. To my surprise (because this isn’t normally something I’d read), I actually thoroughly enjoyed this one and I read it one sitting. My only niggle was the way Leon’s chapters were written, which I found rather annoying. But ultimately, this book does exactly what it says on the tin. Sometimes moving, often funny; it left me with a huge smile on my face.

The Flatshare is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 3 from my 20 Books of Summer list