Tag Archives: #MakingADentInMyBookShelf

The Home by Sarah Stovell @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks #BookShelfReads #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my first review of 2020, it’s for The Home by Sarah Stovell, and what a fabulous, heartbreaking read it turned out to be. I’m not sure I have conveyed just how amazing this book is, but you can read on for my thoughts and apologies for my ramblings……

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One more little secret … one more little lie…

When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also an emotive drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

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I’m not sure I can convey just how much this book affected me, The Home by Sarah Stovell is a book that will swallow you up, and then spit you out, your heart will break, you will live and breathe the tragic and horrifying story of three young girls Hope, Lara and Annie. These characters will burrow their way into your heart and mind leaving you bereft as this haunting tale reaches its final pages. The Home is part mystery, part thriller, and yet it’s so much more, it’s an emotive, deeply moving, and tragic tale of those who live amid abuse and poverty. 

Hope, Laura and Annie first meet in The Home, three damaged girls who find themselves bound together by their shared horrifying and imaginable pasts. The story begins with the shocking death of pregnant fifteen-year-old Hope, but Hope’s death is only the beginning of the story, what lies beneath is the heart-breaking story of three girls failed by a flawed system, failed by budget cuts and staff shortages.  Although this is a fictional story, for me it’s felt like the heartbreaking story of thousands of children who have been placed in care through no fault of their own. They have grown up where love and nurturing have been replaced with violence and abuse, their young life’s shaped by abusive parents, family and friends. 

The authors almost lyrical prose could seem at odds with this harrowing tale, but the two fit perfectly together creating one of the most emotive stories I have ever read. Sarah Stovell has created three living, breathing characters, you feel their every emotion, anger, despair, fear and frustration. A small part of me kept wishing for that ‘happy ever after ending’, but is there such a thing for children who have been so badly damaged? It’s a story that’s brutal, disquieting, and uncomfortable and yet there are tender moments filled with ‘hope’, love and friendships.  

There’s no getting away from it Sarah Stovall has written a multi layered story that left me broken, as I reached the final pages I openly cried for Hope, Annie and Laura, and that’s a testament to the author’s superb writing. The author has bravely tackled some uncomfortable subjects, but in doing so she has created a beautiful, compelling read that will haunt me for a long time to come. If you are looking for a ‘warm fuzzy’ read then this book definitely isn’t one for you, but if you are looking for a book that has depth, with unforgettable characters, a book that will cause you to feel a spectrum of emotions then you should make The Home your next read. Highly recommended.  

It will come as no surprise but I’m giving The Home my first shiny Book hangover award of 2020, 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 reach the very last page.

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Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Orenda Books (22 Jan. 2020) kindle copy out now 

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**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.

**Making a dent in my book shelf** #MiniReviews #BookChallenge part 1

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One of my bookshelves

Like every book blogger in the country I have numerous books sat on my bookshelves 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😂🙈).

All the books mentioned were bought by myself in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

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Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. 

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. 

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. 

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wildfire (21 Feb. 2019)

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A disturbing story of toxic relationships, manipulation, desire and betrayal, I raced through Blood Orange by debut author Harriet Tyce. I genuinely enjoy a Psychological thriller that delves into the complexities of toxic relationships. I can genuinely say I loathed every character in this book. Alison appears to have it all, but it’s not enough, here’s a woman whose hell bent on pushing the ‘self destruct’ button. 

I’m afraid I lacked empathy for Alison, mostly because of her reckless behaviour, but such is the power of the author’s writing, I ended up hoping she would find a way to turn her life round and rid herself of the unhealthy relationship She had with her husband, and her lover. The men in Alison’s life are manipulative, bullies, and unpleasant,  any woman in control of her life would see the warning signs and run for the hills! And yet I really enjoyed this book, there’s an overwhelming sense of dread, as Alison’s life begins to unravel, and the all important tension increases all the way to the hugely satisfying finale. Highly recommended to those who enjoy unsettling, dark domestic noir. 

One Last Pray For The Rays by Wes Markin 

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School should be the safest place in the world. Not this winter.

Detective Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.

But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers change him forever?

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As anyone who follows my blog will know I do love a crime thriller that veers towards the dark side, and One Last Prayer by Wes Markin fitted the bill perfectly, it’s brutal, gritty with more than a touch of the macabre. One Last Prayer For The Rays opens with a hell of a bang, and from that moment on the author holds you in his clutches with a gripping story, that’s shocking, gory, and so deliciously twisted

The story centres on 12-year-old Paul Ray who disappears from school, from a distance the Ray family could be seen as a generation of pig farmers, and nothing more, but delve into their murky and flawed family tree and you will find generation upon generation of depraved psychopaths, the kind that emit evil from every pore, where violence is the norm, and remorse is a word that doesn’t feature in their vocabulary! Dysfunctional doesn’t even come close to describing this family, but one things for sure their a family you won’t forget in a hurry.  One Last Prayer For The Rays is a strong police procedure,  fast paced read that gets darker and more tangled with each turn of the page. which made for a compulsive and thrilling read.  

If you are looking for a cosy Murder mystery then this definitely isn’t the book for you, but if you’re a crime thriller whose not adverse the the occasional gory scene then this one’s definitely for you. An incredibly strong debut and one to read with the lights on. This is the first book I read by Wes Markin, but it definitely won’t be my last. 

My thanks to Shell Baker at http://bakersnotsosecret.blog for recommending One Last Prayer For The Rays to me. 

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (29 Jan. 2019)

The Holiday by T.M. Logan 

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Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence. 

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. 

One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined. 

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

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If you were thinking of going on holiday with your closest friends, you may want to think again! The Holiday by T. M. Logan serves as a warning that it’s just possible that your best friends could also be your worse enemies! As three families, four friends,  find out when they spend a week together in Provence. This book is very much character driven, no fast paced plot here, but it certainly made for an intriguing read, shrouded in subterfuge each member of the family has something to hide. As the author reveals secret after secret each character comes under close scrutiny, all the characters have their flaws some have very unpleasant traits, to be honest they are a pretty unlikable bunch, but never the less this also made them more intriguing.

You never quite know who to trust as Kate tries to uncover which of her friends is having affair with her husband,  and the author doesn’t help by tantalising the reader with red herrings along the way. As the temperatures in Provence increase so does the tension between the four friends, what first starts out as a simmering niggle  develops into boiling rage of emotions that ends in tragedy. The plot is an interesting one which explores themes such as secrets, parenting, loyalty and betrayal. The Holiday is the perfect summer read for those who enjoy a slow burning psychological thriller. 

  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Zaffre (25 July 2019)