Tag Archives: New Author To Me

#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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#Resin by Ane Riel @AuthorAneRiel @alisonbarrow @TransworldBooks #MustReads

Today I am sharing my review for Resin by Ane Riel what a book this turned out to be, read on for my thoughts but first the book description….

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Liv died when she was just six years old. At least, that’s what the authorities think.

Her father knew he was the only one who could keep her safe in this world. So one evening he left the isolated house his little family called home, he pushed their boat out to sea and watched it ruin on the rocks. Then he walked the long way into town to report his only child missing.

But behind the boxes and the baskets crowding her Dad’s workshop, Liv was hiding. This way her Dad had said, she’d never have to go to school; this way, she’d never have to leave her parents.

This way, Liv would be safe.

  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (9 Aug. 2018)

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The first sentence of this book actually gives a glimpse into how dark and disturbing Resin actually is, it’s definitely not one for the faint hearted as it deals with some rather uncomfortable and horrifying subjects, but in the author’s defence there are only a few vivid scenes, the rest is left to the reader’s imagination. Translated from Danish, Ane Riel’s novel is traumatic, emotional and deeply disturbing but on the plus side it’s beautifully written, rich in atmosphere, haunting  and at times bone chilling creepy.  

Resin is told mostly through the eyes of Liv a six year old girl who lives with her parents Jens and Maria on a tiny peninsula. Liv died when she was just six years old. At least, that’s what the authorities thought. There was something hypnotically memorising about Liv’s story, her innocence and acceptance of events sent a deathly chill down my spine, as did her descriptions of her insular family, living in utter chaos.  As the reader the horror you feel for her increases ten fold as you realise the reality of her situation. 

Liv’s family are the definition of dysfunctional, but amid the chaos and their peculiar ways, are a family that are bound together. This is a story of a father who wants to preserve and keep things as they were, where extremes gradually become the norm, where being treasured and protected can become something far more damaging and harmful. Something I never expected was to feel compassion for everyone of Ane Riel’s  characters at some point however misplaced it felt at the time. 

The author has created a small cast of complex characters, but each one brings something different to the story, my feelings to each character ranged from anger, to pity, to a sadness that hung over me long after I reached the last page. Resin is a story that is very much character driven, at its heart are a family who are different, it’s shocking, haunting and emotive but at the same time Resin made for such a compelling read, Liv’s story is one which will haunt me for a long time to come. Highly recommended. 

 Link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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#TheLingering by SJI Holliday @OrendaBooks @SJIHolliday #MustReads #BookReview

 

Today I’m sharing my review for The Lingering by SJI Holliday, it’s a book that’s full of suprises and a book that’s certainly going to be on my top reads of 2018 list. Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……  

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Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

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When I pick up a novel I’m always looking for a read that will captivate my imagination, a novel that leaves me breathless, one that will unnerve me and one where I reach the last page I immediately want to read it again, novels that make me feel like this are a rare breed indeed, well up until now that is. I’m not going to beat about the bush I loved The Lingering by SJI Holliday, it was the perfect read for me, I found it to be creepy, and very, very dark. Part ghost story, part domestic thriller, the author  tantalises the reader with the mystery surrounding Rosalind House and its occupants, when you add to the mix odd occurrences and strange sightings well let’s just say “this novel made for a disquieting, but oh so thrilling read”.

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardner are seeking a fresh start and decide to move to  Rosalind House a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, but what dark secrets are the couple hiding? Once they arrive it’s not long before the couple experience ghostly happenings, and that’s when this novel gets bone chillingly creepy.  Rosalind House, an abandoned asylum is the perfect setting for this novel, it hides a tragic past, where secrets and passed misdoings are hidden in the very fabric of the building. It’s a building steeped in myths and legends where bad things happened, and as the author slowly reveals its dark and deadly secrets I found myself becoming more fearful at each turn of the page.    

The characters in The Lingering are fabulously depicted, rich in personality, and complex. Jack and Ali Gardner what a couple, their relationship is one based on coercion and control, a relationship that’s shrouded in lies and deceit. You know from the beginning the couple are hiding something BIG, and that alone adds an over whelming sense of uneasiness that intensifies as the Gardner’s dark secrets are slowly revealed.

I guess the spooky supernatural element might not suit all crime fiction fans, but if like me you read The Lingering with an open mind I’m sure you will end up loving it as much as I did. The Lingering explores the nature of true evil, the psychological aspect of this novel is dark in tone as the author delves into the minds of a very disturbed couple. This novel is exceptionally well plotted, original, creepy and very disturbing and yet it is one of the most compelling novels I’ve had the pleasure to read in a long time, and definitely a contender for my “book of the year”. Highly, highly recommended.

This is going to come as no surprise but I’m giving  The Lingering  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: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (30 Sept. 2018)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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