Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

**Making a dent in my bookshelf** #MiniReviews #BookChallenge part 2

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Like every book blogger in the country I have numerous books sat on my book shelves I’ve been meaning to read for ages. So I decided to set myself a mini challenge and read as many books as I can from my own personal collection between now and the end of December (which December? I’m not sure yet😂🙈).

I have read six books in total from my own bookshelves (Mind you it helped that I had two weeks holiday this month)…whohoo go me, and the months not over yet only 1,56789 books to go😂📚📚📚📚📚

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

 

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In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. 

Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building. 

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

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Every now and then I do like to mix things up a bit and read something that’s different to my normal crime reads.   Victoria Hislop is one of the author’s I turn to I do enjoy historical fiction especially when it’s blended with true events.  The Island centres on the clashes between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which came to a head in 1974, resulting in a Greek coup and Turkey invading Cyprus, and Famagusta.

Although I knew little about the civil war I wasn’t aware of the Famagusta, which  is now a deserted town surrounded by barbed wire, within its walls  there must lie stories of devastation and heartbreak caused by a war where the citizens of the town were forced to flee, never to return. The author manages to capture the tone, atmosphere and the fear of a civil war perfectly, but then I would expect nothing less from an author’s whose research is impeccable.

I really enjoyed learning more about the history of Cyprus and the events that led up to the invasion. Victoria Hislop blends fact and fiction to create a compelling read, and her descriptions are so vivid it took look little imagination to conjure up images of Famagusta, before the days of cheap package tours, a town which was wealthy, visited by the most affluent, on the flip side it was horrifying to imagine the city devastated by war, a resort left barren. Although I enjoyed The Sunrise I can’t say I loved it, for me the book felt contrived in parts, and only partly fitting to the history of the people who lived there. I must admit I struggled to feel any connection to the characters, many of them appeared to superficial and  lacking in emotion. Although I read The Sunrise in a couple of sitting. I must admit  It’s not my favourite book by the author, but there again I think I compared it to The Island a very different story, but one I loved.

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (4 Jun. 2015)

I Found You by Lisa Jewell 

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Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (14 July 2016)

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I have read a couple of books by Lisa Jewell now and I’m impressed by her ability to produce a compelling plot, that drags you in from the first page and before you know it you are halfway through the book, not even stopping for a coffee break (unheard of!) I Found You made for a riveting read, full of misdirection, suspense. At first I Found You looked as if it would be a simple and straightforward story. A new husband disappears on his way home from work,  a man turns up on a Yorkshire beach and has lost his memory, man gets his memory back and all sorted! But that’s not the case here the story twists, turns, and intertwines creating a throughly nail biting read.

The characters all spring to life especially Alice, I do find a character far more likeable if they have credible flaws, no ones perfect after all! Alice is adorable, always looking to rescue people, animals and friends, and despite her tops turvy life style she still manages to be the best parent she can.  The plotting is incredibly complex with the author drip feeding  little details slowly and tantalisingly the reader. At one point, I thought I knew where it was all heading, but epic fail! When the author finally revealed all I couldn’t help but gasp, Lisa Jewell well and truly left me stunned. I Found You is my perfect kind of psychological thriller, fast paced, fascinating characters and misdirection at every turn.  

The Chain by Adam McKinty

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain. 

  • Print Length: 369 page
  • Publisher: Orion (9 July 2019)

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The Chain by Adam McKinty is one of the most talked about books on social media this year, bloggers, authors, publishers are raving about it, and then there’s me! The plots definitely an original one, based on Chain letters, the author takes this one step further,  your child gets kidnapped, so in turn you have to kidnap a child, if you break the chain your child will be murdered. I throughly enjoyed the first part of The Chain it’s fast paced, riveting and as the reader you live and breathe events as they unfold through the characters eyes. The chapters are short, and precise adding tension to the overall plot. 

The second part of the book is more about the beginning of The Chain , and it’s creators I didn’t enjoy this part as much, the pace slowed, the tension ramped down a couple of notches, and the plot became far more predictable. Don’t get me wrong this book has much to offer the thriller lover and I can see why readers are raving about The Chain. Personally I think because I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews for The Chain before reading the book so I may have set my expectations too high for this book, which left me more than a little disappointed.

I must admit as a mother I felt for the victims, but not enough to care about the outcome, for me the victims were to quick to pick out a victim, without thinking about the consequences, this made them appear cold hearted and not particularly likeable.  The Chain was a great first half, with plenty of promise but the second half was a let down, at this point I found I felt no sympathy for any of the characters or the predicament they found themselves in, and my interested waned to the point where I wasn’t particularly interested in the outcome.

#TheFive by Hallie Rubenhold @HallieRubenhold @DoubledayUK #thefivewomen #iamPollyAnnieElizabethKateMaryJane

Today I’m sharing my review for The Five, the untold lives of the woman killed by Jack The Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. I’ve recently started reading historical crime  novels and I must say I found this book to be a fascinating read. Read on for my thoughts…..

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Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.

Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London – the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper

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I have read many true crime books over the years, and they have always focused on infamous killers with little thought given to the victims. I’m sure you can all think of a list of infamous killers, but can you remember any of the victims’ names or their life stories? Probably not I know I can’t, which is desperately sad. This book provides the reader with an incredible insight into the five victims of Jack The Ripper, Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane. Yes, they were victims of the most atrocious crimes,  but Helen Rubenhold’s The Five finally gives these women a voice. Beautifully written the author brings 1888 London to life, but more importantly she brings to life the five women, giving them back their dignity, which for almost 150 years they have been cruelly denied.

As a reader of true crime I have read many books on Jack The Ripper and many of them describe the five victims as prostitutes, a fact that obscured the truth about the women’s real life’s, (only one of the five women sold her body for money). Even back in 1888 the victims of Jack The Ripper were blighted by ‘here say’ and speculation, they were shaped and embellished to make the crimes more newsworthy (sound familiar?).  As most of the victims had no permanent roof over their heads or a husband to protect them, they were seen to be outcasts and so considered to be corrupt and impure, they faced violence, abuse, lived day to day, hungry, cold and unloved, was it any wonder every single one of the woman had struggled with alcohol addiction.

Towards the end of their short life’s circumstances for each woman changed, either through bad choices or misfortune.  Perceived to be either “broken women” or  “fallen women” It’s at this point they were treated with contempt,  and even in death the rumour mill spewed false accusations and showed little sympathy for the Ripper’s victims. None of the women were treated as individual victims in death, but were banded together as victims of “an unfortunate class”, which made me angry and incredibly sad. For the first time ever someone has taken the time to share their stories, they are desperately sad and harrowing but at the same time we see them as wife’s, daughters, and mothers, who faced adversary, and poverty, where every day was a struggle for survival, sometimes wrong choices were made, but then the choices these women had were very limited by circumstances.

Helen Rubenhold’s descriptions of a London in 1888 are vividly described, the sounds, the smells, the doss houses, overcrowded slums, the pubs, transport you back to an age where poverty, malnutrition and disease were rife. It’s obvious the author has extensively researched her subject. Although some parts are speculative, she has incorporated as much factual detail where ever possible. I should mention, if you’re expecting gruesome details of the murders of these five women, or another theory to the ripper’s identity then this book won’t be for you. If you are looking for a powerful book, that blends true crime and one that’s rich in historical detail, that gives a voice to #FiveWoman, Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, then The Five is definitely a book I would recommend.

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (28 Feb. 2019)

Buying links :  Amazon UK 🇬🇧   Amazon US 🇺🇸

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The Girl In The Letter by Emily Gunnis #BookReview @EmilyGunnis @Phoebe_Swinburn @headlinepg

Today I’m sharing my review for The Girl In The Letter by Emily Gunnis. I  took a step away from Serial Killers, Murder and Crime before Christmas! As I wanted to read something slightly different. I read so many lovely reviews of this book I just knew it was one I had to read for myself. **Warning** this book should come with a box of tissues.

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A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.

Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late. 

Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…

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After I finished reading The Girl In The Letter by Emily Gunnis I was left with a heavy heart, not because I didn’t enjoy the book, in fact it was quite the opposite, it made for a highly emotional read, it’s a book that is based on disturbing historical facts and for me personally this made the read far more poignant, knowing that the terrible things that happened to unmarried mothers in the book actually occurred. It’s hard to imagine an unmarried mother being sent away by her family to give birth to her baby, a family more concerned about the stigma surrounding illegitimacy, than their own child’s well being.  A woman forced to live in the most awful conditions, abused, and then forced to hand their babies over for adoption. The Girl In The Letter certainly makes for a hard hitting and emotional  read.

Single mother journalist Sam Harper discovers  some heartbreaking letters from a girl called Ivy which are linked to a now derelict mother and baby home, St Margaret’s which was run by nuns. Sam like any good journalist realises there’s a story to be told, as she begins to investigate she doesn’t just see it as a job, she becomes emotionally involved and is determined to share Ivy’s story not only for Ivy and all the other mother condemned to St Margaret’s, but for the baby’s snatched from their mothers.

It’s the letters that make this book such an emotionally charged read,  you get a sense of the stigma surrounding unmarried mothers, you feel Ivy’s pain, fear and her love for a baby she will never be allowed to keep. It’s difficult to believe that the very nuns who were there to support unmarried mothers were beyond cruel,  punishing them for their “sins”, both physically and mentally, but as historical documents show this was very much the case, and makes Ivy’s story all the more credible and one which is unbearably sad.  

Emily Gunnis writes with such conviction and emotion that it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction, the two blend  perfectly together resulting in an emotionally charged read. The letters, the harrowing and heart breaking scenes, and the overwhelming need to find out what happened to Ivy will keep you captivated until the last page. This is Emily Gunnis debut novel which really surprised me, as it’s a very accomplished debut, not only is it beautifully written, but it’s a book that sensitively looks at a subject that’s been buried for far to long. Highly recommended.

  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Review (1 Aug. 2018)

 Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

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My #TopReads of 2018 by the book review café #MustReads

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I know some people think it’s too early to be sharing a top reads post before the end of 2018, but I’m taking some time off from my blog until the new year so it’s now or never.

I have been blogging for just over three years now and yet I’ve never done a top reads post and now I know why😂  I have read some fabulous books this year and trying to narrow it down is nigh on impossible. If you read my book of the months post you will know I can’t even manage to choose ONE book of the month! So I set myself an impossible challenge or so I thought, but then I had a brainwave “why not share all the books I gave a gold star too” simple eh?

So my top read list consists of all the books I gave this award to, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that drew me in from the first page and kept me in its grips until I reached the very last page. So here are those books in no particular order.

Links to my reviews can be found under each set of books I’ve included

 

 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/02/02/unsub-by-meg-gardiner-bookreview-duttonbooks-meggardiner1-mustreads/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/01/06/blog-tour-hydra-by-matt-wesolowski-orendabooks-concretekraken/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/02/27/thehunger-by-alma-katsu-mustreads-almakatsu-poppystimpson-transworldbooks/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/04/09/blog-tour-keeper-by-johana-gustawsson-bookreview-

 

 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/04/23/the-key-to-deaths-door-by-mark-tilbury-bloodhoundbook-mtilburyauthor-mustreads/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/05/11/dying-truth-by-angela-marsons-bookreview-writeangie-bookouture-mustreads/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/05/25/dont-make-a-sound-by-david-jackson-bookreview-mustreads-author_dave-bonnierzaffre/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/05/30/thepuppetshow-by-m-w-craven-mwcravenuk-littlebrownuk-mustreads/

 

 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/05/15/cross-her-heart-by-sarah-pinborough-sarahpinborough-harpercollinsuk-mustreads-donttrustherbooks/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/06/07/blog-tour-th1rt3en-by-steve-cavanagh-sscav-orion_crime-lauren_bookspr-tr4cyf3nt0n-thatbookthathook/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/06/19/thislittlepiggy-by-rob-ashman-blogblitz-robashmanauthor-bloodhoundbook-mustreads/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/06/22/the-old-you-by-louise-voss-bookreview-mustreads-louisevoss1-     

 

 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/07/06/the-lion-tamer-who-lost-by-louise-beech-summermustreads-louisewriter-orendabooks/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/07/16/in-the-dark-by-cara-hunter-mustreads-carahunterbooks-penguinrandom-penguinukbooks/?preview=true&iframe=true

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/08/21/blog-tour-beforehereyes-by-jack-jordan-jackjordanbooks-corvusbooks-must-reads2018/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/09/10/blog-tour-the-hangmans-hold-by-michael-wood-michaelhwood-killerreads-harpercollinsuk-

 

 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/08/23/truthandlies-by-caroline-mitchell-caroline_writes-mustreads-newcrimeseries/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/10/04/blog-tour-the-murder-of-harriet-monckton-by-elizabeth-haynes-elizjhaynes-myriadeditions-harrietmonckton-

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2018/11/27/the-liars-wife-by-samantha-hayes-samhayes-bookouture-blogblitz-

And finally just when I thought I had completed my top reads  post I read Skin Deep by Liz Nugent which blew me away, and now it’s firmly one of my top reads of 2018. 

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#SkinDeep by Liz Nugent #BookReview #MustReads @lizzienugent #IrishBookAwards @PenguinBooks

And there you go my 19 top reads of 2018, are any of my choices included in your top reads of 2018? Do you want to share your top reads of 2018?  I would to love to know so please feel free to leave a comment in the post.

I’m ashamed to admit I only read 104 books in 2018 not as many as I hoped (Holds head in shame) but hey ho hopefully next year will be better, here are the books I read……..

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Some of the books I’m looking forward to reading in 2019….

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To all the fabulous publishers and authors who have sent me ARC’s, it’s an honour to get so many awesome books, but it’s not something I’ve come to expect or take for granted so a huge thank you to each and everyone of you x x 

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Finally I would like to wish my followers, those who constantly share my posts, book bloggers,  publishers, authors and readers a very merry Christmas and a very happy new year,  And thank you for all your support 😘

 

#TheKey by Katherine Hughes#BookReview @headlinepg


Today I’m sharing my review for The Key by Katherine Hughes, a book that’s very different to my usual reads, but one I found to a be a breath of fresh air, you can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description….

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1956 

It’s Ellen Crosby’s first day as a student nurse at Ambergate Hospital. When she meets a young woman admitted by her father, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change both their lives for ever…

2006

Sarah is drawn to the now abandoned Ambergate. Whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who entered Ambergate fifty years earlier. The shocking contents, untouched for half a century, will lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy and lost love, and the chance to make an old wrong right . . .

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Every once in a while I like to pick up a book thats outside my comfort zone, a book that takes me away from serial killers, murders and mayhem, and when I read the book description for The Key I knew it was one I had to read. I’ve always been intrigued by asylums, I put that down to spending so many years working as a psychiatric nurse. When I think of asylums I conjure up images of wrong doings, barbaric treatments and an environment that was definitely not therapeutic to those living within the walls of such a place. Despite this Katherine Hughes has written a book that’s beautifully told, with a moving and thought provoking storyline, it’s one that pulls at the most hardened heart strings.  

The Key has a dual timeline, alternating between the 1950s and present day. Sarah, historian, finds a stash of old suitcases whilst going through the ruins of the old asylum. She is drawn to one suitcase in particular that contains a 50-year-old secret about the tragic life of Amy, a former patient. Katherine Hughes  manages to convey the attitudes of the staff and the treatment of patients in Ambergate County Lunatic Asylum with such conviction that some readers may find this book an uncomfortable and upsetting read at times. There is no doubt  The Key makes for a heartbreaking read, and more so because of the cruelty of such asylums, the author also highlights  the shocking and unbelievable reasons patients found themselves incarcerated.

The author has done a magnificent job in creating characters that are so well drawn that you can’t help but invest in their story, especially Amy’s it’s a tragic one and all the more upsetting because it’s a very believable one. It’s easy to imagine Amy’s confusion, her feeling of helplessness, but mostly you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of injustice at the way Amy was treated in Ambergate. This could have been a depressing read, but  the author manages to add some heartwarming moments of friendship, hope and love within its pages. 

Katherine Hughes has written a novel that made for a   enthralling read, at times I found myself quite emotional which is a testament to the author’s writing skills, by the time I reached the last page I felt like I had been alongside Amy in her life journey, a path filled with heartbreak, fear and rejection. The Key is a wonderful told story of  pain, loss,  truth, and redemption. A disturbing yet captivating read that I would highly recommend to readers of historical fiction.  

  •  Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (6 Sept. 2018)

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Footnote: 

The Key was inspired by the real-life discovery of a room filled with suitcases in a derelict asylum in Willard, New York. I visited the Willard Suitcases website to read more, it’s a fascinating website but also extremely sad, but it does make you realise that The Key although a work of fiction is inspired by real people placed in the most awful situations. 

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**Blog tour** The Murder Of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes @Elizjhaynes @MyriadEditions #HarrietMonckton #MustReads

Today I’m over the moon to be on The Murder Of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes blog tour. From the award-winning and bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a delicious Victorian crime novel based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation. Before I share my review here’s the book description to pique your interest…..

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On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead.

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I’m convinced I have just read a book that’s definitely going to be on my list of “top reads of 2018”of the year. I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Haynes writing and I love a good crime thriller,  but until now I’ve always shied away from historical crime fiction I much prefer to read books written in the “here and now”. I’m thrilled that I decided to put my concerns to one side and pick up The Murder Of Harriet Monckton, what a fabulous book it turned out to be. I will never forget Harriet Monckton’s story as it’s based on fact. This novel is not only fascinating and beautifully written, it’s also one of the most compelling books I’ve read EVER.

Harriet was murdered in 1843 in Bromley, England. Elizabeth Haynes stumbled across some documents whilst researching another novel and this is Harriet’s enthralling story. I must applaud Elizabeth Haynes on her meticulous research into Harriet Monckton and Bromley as it was in 1843, as the reader you not only get a sense of time and place, but the claustrophobic feel of a town that has its fair share of narrow minded bigots.

Drawing on coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters. The Murder Of Harriett Monckton has a rich array of characters, that all draw suspicion, you have Harriet’s fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover, each one appears to have a very good reason for wanting her dead. Many are seen as upstanding pillars of the community but each and everyone comes under close scrutiny, vividly described by the author each character is brought to life. I found this novel fascinating especially the coroners investigation into Harriet’s death, everything about the investigation felt primitive but incredibly authentic.   

Harriet’s story made for an emotive read, here was a young girl naive in many ways who just happened to be led by her heart and the events that followed shaped her short and tragic life. Once I reached the afterword by the author I find myself becoming very emotional (ok I cried ugly tears), I had become so invested in Harriet’s story like Elizabeth Haynes I too wanted justice for her. To this day Harriet’s murder might remain unsolved, but the author’s gives a satisfying and entirely plausible explanation to her death.

Without a shadow of a doubt The Murder Of Harriet Monckton is a must read, the writing is sublime, the characters are wonderfully depicted, I’m sure Harriet’s story is one that will stay with me for a long time, it’s haunting and moving, and I would like to think Harriet is pleased her story has been told with such passion. In case you haven’t guessed I simply loved this book and I really can not recommend this novel highly enough.

This is going to come as no surprise but I’m giving  The Murder Of Harriet Monckton the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reached the very last page.

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  • Print Length: 437 pages
  • Publisher: Myriad Editions (28 Sept. 2018)

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Elizabeth Haynes worked for many years as a police analyst. Her debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, won Amazon’s Book of the Year in 2011 and Amazon’s Rising Star Award for debut novels.

Elizabeth grew up in Sussex and studied English, German and Art History at Leicester University. She is currently taking a career break having worked for the past seven years as a police intelligence analyst. Elizabeth now lives in Kent with her husband and son, and writes in coffee shops and a shed-office which takes up most of the garden. She is a regular participant in, and a Municipal Liaison for, National Novel Writing Month – an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

If my review hasn’t convinced you to buy the book, you may want to read my fellow book bloggers fabulous reviews….

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#TheHunger by Alma Katsu #MustReads @Almakatsu @PoppyStimpson @TransworldBooks

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As anyone who follows my blog will know I read and review mostly Crime and psychological thrillers, but once in a blue moon I like to step out of my comfort zone and read something completely different. When I saw the cover for The Hunger with “turn back or you will die” written all over it I knew it was a book I had to read even though I had no idea what it was about. So imagine my dismay when I read The Hunger book description and realised this book was part historical fiction, which is definitely a genre way out of my comfort zone. So I picked up this book with some, ok a lot of trepidation, did I regret it? Read my thoughts further down the post, but first the book description.

Book description

After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter.

Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.

Based on the true story of The Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

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The Hunger by Alma Katsu is part historical fiction and part supernatural/horror. Based on a true story the author has masterfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction, even the fictional parts seemed very credible which made this book even more chilling to read. Based on the Donner party’s tragic crossing of America in the 1840s, it follows a group of settlers who head across the unrelenting plains in search of new beginnings but find themselves hunted by an unknown prey.

The author has an extraordinary ability to describe her settings, and the difficulties faced by the Donner party with such conviction that I felt like I was there along side them, I felt their fear, despair, and paranoia growing as the ill fated party struggle to survive in a hostile environment. The first half of the book is slow but please don’t let that put you off, as the author builds tension into the plot through her characters, and the threat of the unknown as children start to go missing. Each pioneer has joined the journey for a very different reason and each one has something to hide, which brings an authenticity to the story so the reader feel as if they really know and understand the characters. As the book progresses the characters secrets are revealed fuelling the tension, mistrust and violence amongst the pioneers.

Alma Katsu’s writing is poetic at times as she describes a journey that causes hardship, hunger and madness. The writing is intense and steeped in atmosphere, as the reader the sense of foreboding grows. The Hunger is broken into months which I thought worked very well, it shows how relationships can fracture when faced with adversity and the lengths people will go to to survive.
As each month grows darker, the author describes the decline in the Pioneers,  hunger and fear begin to overwhelm them, with that comes discord within the party with themes of jealousy, lust, mistrust and the forefront.

As the pioneers find themselves stranded, starving and fighting for survival the horror/supernatural aspect of the novel takes over and that’s when The Hunger comes into its own. At this point the atmosphere becomes much darker, the sense of dread more palatable. The author has created a terrifying and deeply unsettling story, reminiscent of The Revenant with a hint of the supernatural, it’s a book that turned out to be a hell of a read considering I picked it up with reservations. Highly recommended.

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I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving The Hunger the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page and plus this one gave me a #Major #BookHangover something I don’t suffer with very often!

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Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 384 pages

Publisher: Transworld Digital (6 Mar. 2018)