Tag Archives: New Author To Me

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

 

I thought I had my top reads of 2018 post finally sorted, but then along came Skin Deep by Liz Nugent who has well and truly put a spanner in the works. Read on for my thoughts but as always here’s the book description first…..

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It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else. I could probably have been an actress. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

                                                 My review 

Liz Nugent has been on my “must read authors” list for a while now, and after reading the book description for Skin Deep I knew I had to read it “sooner rather than later” and I’m so glad I did, what an utterly compelling and thrilling read it turned out to be. This has to be one of the darkest and most chilling psychological thrillers I’ve read this year, and I mean it. There’s so much to love about this book, with themes of dishonesty and abandonment at its core, it’s a story that shocks and yet compels the reader onwards.  

beauty is only skindeep”, while someone may be beautiful on the outside, when you scratch below the surface, there lies an ugliness that far outshines a beautiful face, and this sums up Cordelia’s character perfectly. Cordelia has to be one of the most damaged, chilling and unlikable characters I have ever come across in the pages of a book, and yet I was mesmerised  by her story. The author has done a magnificent job in creating such a character, she’s memorable (for all the wrong reasons), intriguing and yet there’s something so chilling about her whilst reading this book I had a constant feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. 

Skin deep is set between the desolate Irish Island of Iniscran surrounded in myths and legends and the French Riviera with all its glamour and wealth. From Cordelia’s childhood on the island to adulthood  there is one constant in her life, her ability to leave a trail of destruction, heartbreak and misery in her wake. As the reader you learn more about Cordelia’s childhood and her dysfunctional family,  her father particularly is a very troubled soul to say the least. Cordelia has so many layers, her character is complex beyond belief, the lengths she will go to for her own gain make her a character I won’t forget anytime soon.

The chapters told from her “victims” POV were the ones I found the most intriguing, Cordelia is able to move forward without a second thought, but her victims are left devastated, some unable to put their fractured life’s back together, It’s these chapters that make any sympathy for Cordelia disappear in a flash. Liz Nugent has written a superb psychological thriller, the settings, the characters, the pace and the style of writing are perfectly balanced,  and Skin Deep sits firmly one of my top reads of 2018. Highly recommended 

This is going to come as no surprise but I’m giving Skin Deep 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 kept me in its grips until I reached the very last page.

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Ireland (5 April 2018)

Buying links :   Amazon 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

#CoverReveal #DeadInside by Noelle Holten @nholten40 @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK #TeamHolten

Today I’m so excited to be one of the many book bloggers taking part in the cover reveal for fellow book blogger (aka Crime Book Junkie) debut novel Dead Inside.  I was lucky enough to read a copy when it was in its infancy and readers let me tell you “you’re in for a real treat” this is a lady who certainly knows how to write a gritty crime thriller. Before I share the cover here’s the book description…….

An excellent read’ Martina Cole

A dark and gripping debut crime novel – the first in a stunning new series – from a huge new talent.

‘Kept me hooked … excellent pace and a very satisfying ending’ Angela Marsons

When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?

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I love this cover and look at the endorsements from a couple of the best authors a round, high praise indeed.  You can pre-order a copy Of Dead Inside (publication date: 31st May 2019) here ⬇️

*none of the buy links are affiliate links*
Universal Buy Link:  mybook.to/DeadInside

 

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk/ She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering cases of domestic violence and abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the #booklove via her blog. Dying in the Dark is her debut novel and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:
Twitter: (@nholten40) https://twitter.com/nholten40

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelleholtenauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Noelle-Holten/e/B07HZ685TL 

Blog FB page: https://www.facebook.com/crimebookjunkie/
Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

#TheRumour by Lesley Kara #BookReview @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks #MustReads2018

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Rumour, the debut novel from Lesley Kara. This is definitely one of those books that’s going to be a huge hit with readers. You can read on for my thoughts but first the book description…………

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When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she’s unleashed?

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OMG what a twisted and devious read The Rumour by Lesley Kara turned out to be, this maybe the author’s debut novel but it’s written like a pro.  There are so many novels that are written in the psychological thriller genre that I sometimes find they lack that element of surprise. If I read a psychological thriller I need to read one that stands out, a novel that leaves me thinking “what the frigging hell did I just read?” One I want everyone to read so I can discuss the devious plot, the characters, and the writing and The Rumour is one of those books! It’s a tale shrouded in suspicion, paranoia and accusations. 

The Rumour has an intriguing premise rumour has it that Sally McGowan a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in the sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea. one casual remark, one whispered confidence that’s all it takes and rumours spread like wild fire in the small insular town. As the reader you feel like you are one of the  towns people living there, amid the rumours and the speculation, which immediately makes you wary of every character you are introduced to,  which adds a high level of tension to the read.  Lesley Kara misdirects the reader at every possible turn, which was personally the reason I enjoyed this novel so much, I do love to be outwitted by an author. 

There’s something really disconcerting about this book I think it’s because you feel uncomfortable being privy to the rumours, you make assumptions and very much like the paranoid people of the town you find yourself putting each character under the microscope, looking for that clue will uncover infamous Sally McGowan. The sense of disgust and outrage from the towns people is evident, and it seems more so because this was a murder committed by a child.

As with many rumours, once whispered they take on a life of there own and things quickly began to escalate. Joanna tries to shy away from the gossip but she finds her self drawn into it, and on occasion, she’s even responsible for it. Joanne comes to realise she may have opened a can of worms, whilst placing her son in danger.  The author highlights the damage rumours and gossip can inflict on innocent individuals, but she also explores the privacy of someone in witness protection, and the feelings and emotions of someone hiding in plain sight. There’s an intensity within The Rumours pages,  it doesn’t come from a fast plot or dramatic scenes it comes from “the not knowing” the constant shifting of suspicion from one character to another.

The Rumour made for an intense and unfortunately a far to credible read, it’s one that will cause wide debate amongst its readers, I found myself contemplating the rights and wrongs of this complex story and whether someone who commits murder at a young age deserves anonymity. I’m really excited by Lesley Kara’s writing and considering this is her debut she has written an outstanding psychological thriller, that should stand proud on the book shelf next to the more established authors of this genre.  In case you haven’t already guessed I will definitely be recommending this novel to anyone  who love a psychological thriller that really does keep you guessing to the end. 

  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (10 Dec. 2018)

Buying link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rumour-Lesley-Kara-ebook/dp/B07D313CT9/ 🇬🇧

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#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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