#quickbookreview MRS MARCH by Virginia Feito @4thEstateBooks @netgalley

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SYNOPSIS

George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.

A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of
olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book –
a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.

One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one
that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.

MY THOUGHTS

What a dark, unsettling yet totally engaging read. I found myself unable to put this book down.

Written in the third person, (you don’t know her first name until the very end), but reads in a way you feel totally inside her head, Mrs March tells the story of it’s character and her spiral towards a breakdown. Convince her husband’s new book’s main character, a sex worker, is based on her, we read as her daily interactions become smaller and smaller as she ‘imagines’ (or does she?) that people are talking about her.

Crippled by status, appearances and an already deep need to appear just so, her life and mental state start to fall apart. Along side this are her suspicions of her husband and his possible cheating, flash backs to her younger self and her ‘relationship’ with her young son all make for a read that is a mix of an intermit look at a women’s mental health, phycological thriller, and an engaging mystery. Sprinkled with dark humour, an utterly unreliable main character and an ambiguous time setting, I found it a totally absorbing read.

BOOK REVIEW FOR DEAR CHILD by Romy Hausmann

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dear child

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A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

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Wow!  Dark, immersive, intriguing, complex, and totally gripping.  A smart new take on a story of a person held captive.

This book has a very dark start, so much so, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a book for me. However, I continued, and was so glad I did.

Told from the viewpoint of a number of extremely well written characters, the story begins with Lena, abducted, she has been held captive, in a cabin in the woods, along with her two children Hannah and Johnathan and their father, her captor.  She has miraculously found a chance to escape, and running through the woods to the road, is hit by a car and badly injured.

The driver has called an ambulance. Lena is taken to hospital, along with her daughter. All they can get from Hannah are their names.  Running a trace the police find a resemblance to a Lena Beck who went missing, after walking home from a party 13 years ago, and the detective who lead the missing persons case and her parents are called.

That is a brief re-cap and I will stop there, as so much of the wonder of reading this book is from it’s structure and the way the author uses the perspectives from each character to build, continuously throughout the story, tracing out not only what is happening now, since her escape, but also during the time of her captivity.

There is an element of concentration needed for this but with such a well written book as this, and brilliantly translated I must add here, it is an extremely clever and gripping read.

The characters are so well thought out. Raw, vulnerable, sinister and the description of the chapters taking place within the cabin are frighteningly vivid.  The adults have that element of  being totally believable yet always , at the edge of my mind, wondering if they could be trusted. Hannah, who is particularly well written, is damaged and vulnerable but also slightly scary too!  This is a dark novel, but my investment in the characters and my need, to know how it ends, made me speed through this and I was utterly hooked.  When the part in the book that made me chuckle was the young girl deciding on which of her red crayons to use to draw the body on the kitchen floor, highlights the nature of this read but it is also much more than that. A great thriller and a great study of people.  Matthias’ obsessive and sometimes destructive hope in finding his daughter, after all these years.  Lena’s behaviour towards her captor and the damage captivity has had on the children, who know no different, is a real study to read.

An intense thriller that gallops along taking you on one hell of a ride!

Dear Child is out in paperback in December and can be purchased from BookShop.org https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1882/9781529401431

Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Child-Romy-Hausmann-ebook/dp/B07WHWH4CQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=C08ZLOZFR3DU&dchild=1&keywords=dear+child+romy+hausmann&qid=1604424639&s=books&sprefix=dear+child%2Cstripbooks%2C172&sr=1-1

and most independent book shops

#BLOGTOUR : #BOOKREVIEW : DARK WATERS BY G R HALLIDAY

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today, for Dark Waters by G R Halliday.  The second book in the Monica Kennedy series.

I really enjoyed reading From The Shadows ( my review can be found here: https://babbageandsweetcorn.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/book-review-for-from-the-shadows-by-g-r-halliday ) and meeting Monica and her team but wow! This new book was fantastic! Read on for my review.

 

Dark Waters Tour Poster final

 

Book Blurb

The haunting new novel from G. R. Halliday, author of FROM THE SHADOWS, shortlisted for THE MCILVANNEY DEBUT PRIZE

DARK WATERS is dark and disturbing from page one – in the best possible way. The plot is intricate and layered, and peppered with revelations that will keep you reading into the night’ Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .

Annabelle has come to the Scottish Highlands to escape. But as she speeds along a deserted mountain road, she is suddenly forced to swerve. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will be here soon’.

Scott is camping alone in the Scottish woodlands when he hears a scream. He starts to run in fear of his life. Scott is never seen again.

Meanwhile DI Monica Kennedy has been called to her first Serious Crimes case in six months – a dismembered body has been discovered, abandoned in a dam. Days later, when another victim surfaces, Monica knows she is on the hunt for a ruthless killer.

But as she begins to close in on the murderer, her own dark past isn’t far behind …

 

My Thoughts

If you like your thrillers a little dark, full of twists and turns, with fantastic characters giving the story new leads and information at every turn then grab a copy of this book!!  A fantastic read where I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, ever eager to find out what would happen next.  The pace and drama are totally engrossing and the narrative given by the main victim along with our protagonist DI Monica Kennedy was superb.

Following the end results of book one, Monica has cut back on her work by temporarily joining the traffic department, allowing herself time to heal and to spend more time with her young daughter Lucy.  However whilst out on a trip to the cinema, Monica receives her first call in months from her old boss back in MIT.  She is needed back!  After the discovery of a dismembered body in the more remote parts of the Scottish Highlands Monica joins back up with Crawford, Fisher and new team member Khan, on what turns out to be a major murder and abduction investigation.

Yet again the Highlands and their landscape and weather are wonderfully evoked and it was great to meet back up with the team and we learn a little more about them in this new book.  They also seem a little closer after the events of book one.  I loved the way each chapter was told mainly from the point of view of each of the two main characters and how they overlapped within the time frame of the investigation, plus a few back stories and earlier events which gave the story insights into the crimes taking place.  There are a number of characters but the author introduces them well, as you read about their involvement and learn of yet another lead for Monica and her team to follow up.

The chapters told by Annabelle are quite graphic and scary but boy did I found my heart pumping at each of her attempts to escape. Towards the end of the book the story line from Annabelle and Monica are full of such tense drama and adrenaline, and I loved the way their actions are told, one after another, so that you can follow them getting closer and closer but will it all be too late???

This second book can easily be read as a standalone but I’ve so enjoyed reading these two books that I can’t wait for book three and further enjoyment from this new series.

Thanks so much to Mia from Vintage, for my place on the tour and bringing this new series to my attention.

 

The Lizard by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart

I am delighted to host the blog tour today, on the date of the books virtual launch party over on Facebook tonight at 7pm.  The Lizard is out now and is the debut novel of actor,writer and director Dugald Bruce-Lockhart.

 

the lizard blog tour

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

I went to Greece to embrace the binary code, to get off the sidelines and become a player. To live in the moment. Or, as Ellie put it, to become my own man. Was I accountable for the horror, that fateful summer? Looking back, it’s easy enough to pinpoint the sliding-door moments where I went wrong. But then, what use is hindsight? As Kierkegaard wrote: ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’. Cold comfort when you’ve taken another man’s life.

‘A terrific, atmospheric thriller. Taut, compelling, masterfully constructed. Outstanding.’ William Boyd.

 

MY THOUGHTS

This debut novel caught my eye when I saw it had an endorsement from one of my most favourite authors, William Boyd, so I knew I had to go check it out! After requesting it on Netgally I was contacted by Fiona on behalf of the publisher Muswell Press asking if I would like to take part in the blog tour. Fantastic!  So, with the book’s synopsis, the fab endorsement and a blog tour spot, I couldn’t wait to get reading!

Wow!  What a roller coaster of a ride this book took me on!

We meet Alistar Haston, a young university student, as he sets out for the Greek Islands, after being dumped by his girlfriend Ellie.  He’s determined to show her that he has spontaneity and a bit of ‘get-up-and-go’ and sets off into the sun in the hope that she may take him back.  Travelling light he hopes to take each day at a time, working his way across the islands to earn enough for a place to stay and an enjoyable few weeks.

However, very early on, after a somewhat drunken encounter with some other young people on a ferry, he realises he has had not only most of his cash but also his passport stolen. Determined not to give in at the first hurdle, and be sent back home, he stays and finds himself sleeping out in the open air and in need of work a little sooner than anticipated.

Bumping back into Ricky, one of the guys from the ferry, Alistar is offered the opportunity of making some cash, quite a lot of cash, working with Ricky for a German artist.  Even though he’s at first not sure about the offer, he soon decides to throw caution to the wind and off he goes.  These first few chapters of the book are quite racy.  Full of parties, sex, drugs and alcohol the book begins it’s sinister story and the character of Alistair starts to get drawn into it’s dark world.

I truly wasn’t expecting an opening of this kind to the novel, but for me, the book then begins to be a thoroughly tense, pacey and gripping thriller that I simply couldn’t put down.  At every turn Alistair’s situation becomes more and more nightmarish as he discovers just how much trouble he has found himself in.  The other characters in the book add great interest and believablity to the story and the pace gets faster and faster as we find our protagonist on the run and in fear of his life.

I loved the ebb and flow of this book, slowing down to introduce new characters and to be allowed the time in the novel to evoke the vibrant setting.  I was taken away, in my minds eye, to the heat and dryness of the island and to swimming in the gorgeous blue sea, only to be whisked back to the story line when another twist is presented taking me even further into this nightmare of Alistair’s holiday.  I also thought there was a clever use of the book’s setting in 1988, to explain why Alistair perhaps doesn’t do some of the things to help himself out of a situation that would be available to him now.

All in all I found this a dark, sinister but also highly entertaining and pacey thriller and as the story gets faster and faster, it concludes with a dynamite of an ending with a really great twist at the very end which may offer up a chance of another book??  If not I still really look forward to reading more from this author.

Hop over to Facebook tonight at 7PM for the book’s virtual launch!

The Lizard launch invitation

 

Dugald Bruce-Lockhart was born in Fiji and went to school at Sedbergh in Cumbria while his parents worked abroad. After St Andrews University he trained as an actor at RADA. He has worked extensively on stage and on TV and received many accolades including a Best Actor nomination from The Stage.

He recently directed a new production of The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson by Jonathan Maitland. He appeared as Michael Gove in the original production at the Park Theatre, London.  He lives in South East London

 

 

BOOK REVIEW – THE MIST – By RAGNAR JÓNASSON

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SYNOPSIS

Just before Christmas a winter blizzard sweeps across Iceland. In their remote farmhouse, Erla and Einar are hunkering down for the night – when there’s a knock at the door.

It’s a stranger, desperate for shelter. They take him in – but they’ll wish they hadn’t. Because this man is not who he says he is. And, when the power cuts out, it’s the beginning of a terrifying ordeal . . .

Later, Detective Hulda Hermannsdottir – recovering from a family tragedy – is called to an isolated farmhouse. Bodies await her and a haunting mystery . . .

The final instalment in Ragnar Jonasson’s acclaimed Hidden Iceland series completes the story of Detective Hulda Hermannsdottir.

 

MY THOUGHTS

The Mist is the third and final book in the wonderfully evocative, Nordic noir, Hidden Iceland series.  The trilogy started with our main character Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir about to retire and working on what could be her last case.  The books then travel back in time to the 1990’s and further back again to the 1980’s.  A great device, allowing the reader to slowly understand some of Hulda’s personality and the troubles that she carries on her shoulders.

I’ve read another book recently that borrows the Kierkegaard quote,

‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’.

I thought this was very appropriate here too!

This book is set in a very remote location in the Christmas of 1987.  Snow has cut off a farm house, even from a walk to the local village and the weather and dark, dark days are superbly described.  A stranger knocks on the door, claiming he is lost in the storm and the couple who live at the farm offer him shelter, the done thing, but the wife soon becomes suspicious.

We also follow the backstory to Hulda’s home life and ‘meet’ her husband, daughter and mother, and read as Hulda becomes more and more impatient and concerned with their behaviour.  With work taking up a lot of her time, she is called in to a case of a discovery at a remote farmhouse……….. thus, as in book 2, the two threads of the story come together.

I found this quite a slow moving and subtle read, but at the same time still full of the author’s dark, chilling and remote setting, atmosphere and events.  I thought it gave a quieter conclusion to the series which for me felt fitting, with something more shocking ending the first book and this book confirming answers to questions that I had built up over reading the other 2 books.

I enjoyed this series very much and found reading them backwards was a clever idea.  They can be read as standalone and I guess in the other direction. But I would recommend you read them as the author intended.  If you like Nordic Noir you should definitely give these a try.

The Mist was released this week and is available to buy now!

 

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

 

 

The Family Upstairs – by Lisa Jewell – Book Review

the family

 

Having read and enjoyed Watching You and Then She Was Gone, I was pleased to receive a copy of this new novel via Netgalley.

 

SYNOPSIS

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.
A compulsive new thriller from Lisa Jewell.

 

MY THOUGHTS

I found this quite different to the other two books, which is good. Not because I preferred this, I didn’t, just that, although it’s nice to know what to expect from an author you’ve read before in terms of likeability, it’s good to mix things up a little. This is a much darker read to the other two I felt.

After another family moves into the home of Henry, Lucy and their parents, a sinister feeling starts to spread throughout the house. Seemingly going from a relatively normal family situation, it soon turns into a cult like setup, with the parents becoming increasingly dependent on the new comers.

Jump 24 years or so and Libby receives a very large, if run down, house in Chelsea as an inheritance. Libby knew she was adopted by her parents but knows little of her birth family. The novel that follows is a very mysterious story told through three of the main characters, and flipping from past to present day.

I thought this novel had a very very sinister edge to it and was a dark but engaging read. I thought the characters worked well within the story, and even though the older part of the tale happens mainly within the confines of the house, there was still an atmosphere of time and place.
There are a lot of very different characters within this story, some you like, some you don’t. But they are all very complex and complicated people.  This isn’t dealt with in great depth but almost by doing not doing so it adds to the suspense and danger.  I enjoyed reading the parts of Lucy the most, for me she was the most interesting character and seemed to be the one with her ‘head screwed on’. I found Henry a very creepy character indeed and this came through very well in the writing.

I part read/part listened to this this book via my ebook copy and a download from BorrowBox.  The narration of Bea Holland, Dominic Thorburn and Tamaryn Payne worked very well together and really brought the book to life.

If you like your books dark, mysterious and that little bit creepy, I’d recommend you give this one a go.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my copy of this book.  Out now in paperback and EBook.