The Rules of Seeing [review]

The Rules of Seeing

Title: The Rules of Seeing
Author: Joe Heap
Publisher: HarperCollins

[Synopsis]

The Rules of Seeing follows the lives of two women whose paths cross at a time when they need each other most.

Nova, an interpreter for the Metropolitan police, has been blind from birth. When she undergoes surgery to restore her sight her journey is just beginning – she now has to face a world in full colour for the first time.

Kate, a successful architect and wife to Tony, is in hospital after a blow to the head. There, she meets Nova and what starts as a beautiful friendship soon turns into something more.

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[My Review]

I didn’t know what to expect with this read, but ended up absolutely loving it! The charaters are so likable; I compeltely fell in love with both main characters Nova and Kate, but particularly Nova – I mean, who wouldn’t?

The main themes in this novel felt so different and fresh, yet somehow the story felt so relatable despite not being exeperiences that I’ve necessarily had myself. I loved reading about Nova’s journey from being blind (from birth, so she’s never known anything else) to being able to see again. It was so interesting reading about how she dealt with learning to see again, with all these hurdles that I’d never thought about. I also thought Kate’s experience, with her husband (I don’t want to give too much detail away) was so gripping and emotional to read about. The characters all felt like real people, with some really surprising me with their actions, and I loved reading about them.

The main theme of this novel – learning to see, not just literally for Nova but also metaphorically for other people – is so wonderful to read about and, although the story certainly isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I felt incredibly uplifted at the end. Brilliant reading!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to HarperCollins for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Craft Room by @daveholwill [blog tour review] @rararesources

NewCraftRoom

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Craft Room by Dave Holwill with a review!

Title: The Craft Room
Author: Dave Holwill

[Synopsis]

Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life.

The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth?

You can only push a grandmother so far…

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[My Review]

The Craft Room is funny, twisted and a really great read! It’s packed with entertaining characters (Sylvia is such fun to read about!) and ridiculous-but-amusing occurances.

The plot is perfect for when you just fancy something light hearted but at the same time pretty dark and twisted… it’s definitely packed with black humour and Dave Holwill threads some satisfyingly subtle, surprising moments into this wacky story.

In many ways it couldn’t be more normal – Sylvia is a grandmother whose life has become dull and uninspiring with her irritating husband and dependent adult son, and often she fantasises about what life would be like if she was free of the shackles of her husband. Until one day it all comes within her grasp… cue plenty of ”accidental deaths”, havoc and naughtiness, all delivered to the reader in a comical and unpredictable package! Definitely recommended.

I received a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Buy The Craft Room on Amazon here.

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[About the Author]

AuthorHeadShot

Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.

His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Follow Dave on social media:
Facebook
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Blog


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The Stranger Upstairs

The Stranger Upstairs [blog tour review]

Today I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Melanie Raabe’s new novel, The Stranger Upstairs!

The Stranger Upstairs

Title: The Stranger Upstairs
Author: Melanie Raabe
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

[Synopsis]

He calls himself your husband. But you’re the only one who knows the truth.

Several years ago, your husband, and the father of your young son, disappeared. Since then, you’ve dreamt of his return; railed against him for leaving you alone; grieved for your marriage; and, finally, vowed to move on.

One morning, the phone rings. When you answer, a voice at the other end tells you your husband’s on a plane bound for home, and that you’ll see him tomorrow. You’ve imagined this reunion countless times. Of course you have. But nothing has prepared you for the reality. For the moment you realise you don’t know this man.

Because he isn’t your husband; he’s a complete stranger — and he’s coming home with you. Even worse, he seems to know about something very bad you once did — something no one else could possibly know about . . . Could they?

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[My Review]

The Stranger Upstairs is an atmospheric psychological thriller which effectively builds the tension right from the first page; I was really intrigued by Sarah’s story and wanted to know what had really happened throughout the whole novel. There were so many interesting conflicts which made me think one way or another about Sarah’s long-lost husband ‘Philip’ – or the man who seems to be pretending to be him – and made me flit between various theories on why this person would behave that way (none of which ended up being right, I should say!)

The novel is written in a way that encourages you to keep reading just one more chapter – the sentences are short, snappy and to the point (no long, flowing descriptions) and I generally like that when it comes to this genre; it keeps the book gripping and exciting. The chapters themselves are also fairly short, and we begin to see some chapters from the perspective of ‘the stranger’, not just Sarah, which adds even more confusion and sneakiness to the story’s many secrets and ‘hidden truths’.

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about the conclusion – in some ways I was hoping for something else, perhaps because – due to the long build-up – I thought it would end a certain way, but in many ways I feel it was just right: just the right level of surprise, just the right level of drama… and that very last page left me feeling really satisfied, which is all I can ask for in a psychological thriller!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


[About the author]

Melanie Raabe grew up in Thuringia, Germany, and attended the Ruhr University Bochum, where she specialized in media studies and literature. After graduating, she moved to Cologne to work as a journalist by day and secretly write books by night. Her novel, The Trap, won the Stuttgarter Krimipreis (Stuttgart Crime Prize) for best crime debut of the year.


[Follow the Tour]

The Stranger Upstairs tour cardv2new

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The Mystery of Three Quarters [review]

The Mystery of the Three Quarters

Title: The Mystery of Three Quarters
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: HarperCollins UK

[Synopsis]

The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket—returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London.

Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.

Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy…

Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?

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[My Review]

I eagerly await any new releases from Sophie Hannah, whatever series they may be, and her Hercule Poirot books are no different. This new offering feels very Christie-like, with its setting in the countryside, centred around the death of Barnabas Pandy, who drowned in the bath – but was it an accident, or in fact murder?

Poirot feels, to me, close to the original character in Agatha Christie’s novels – he’s entertaining, odd at times, and as excellent at sleuthing as ever – but with Sophie Hannah’s own excellent twist. The story is clever and intriguing (though you need to pay attention properly at the start, as there are lots of different characters and names across multiple families who are related in different ways). I’d definitely recommend this for anyone missing the original series – it doesn’t feel like a direct fit, as Sophie Hannah has injected her own style into these Poirot novels, but it strikes the perfect balance between intrigue and light-hearted entertainment, as Christie always did so well. Highly recommended!


Many thanks to HarperCollins UK for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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All The Hidden Truths [review]

All The Hidden Truths

Title: All The Hidden Truths
Author: Claire Askew
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton UK

[Synopsis]

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

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[My Review]

All The Hidden Truths is a stunning, emotional read which addresses some very difficult themes with sensitivity and realism. Although classed as a crime novel, this novel feels more like a portrait of the feelings and effects of such a horrible crime – a college shooting – on a community, and the way it’s dealt with by police, families of the victim and, most powerfully for me anyway, the family of the killer. There are still elements of your ‘typical’ crime novel, such as a police investigation and a narrative from the perspective of the detective, but because we know almost right from the start who is to blame, and that person is dead, it’s not about who did it but why and what happens afterwards. Without the ‘whodunnit’ element that I’m usually so interested in, I wondered if I’d be as engrossed – I definitely was! I raced through this novel and couldn’t put it down.

There’s so much grief and heartbreak within these pages, and I really felt for the people living through it; Claire Askew makes you really consider what this situation must be like for everyone. Some of the characters are truly horrible people (and it’s obvious who falls into this category once you start reading) but, for the most part, the people in this novel feel real, each with their own problems and flaws, and it really highlights the way that everyone deals with terrible situations differently. Askew’s portrayal of Moira, the mother of the gunsman Ryan, was incredibly powerful to read as she battled with her guilt at not having seen it all coming, as was Ishbel’s struggles to come to terms with the death of her daughter and the breakdown of her marriage. I also really liked DI Helen Birch, and hope to see more of her in the future – fingers crossed for a second book featuring Helen!

Claire Askew beautifully weaves together various stories and experiences, all around one central storyline – that of the college shooting – and creates a truly heart-breaking, gripping read.

[Rating: 5/5]


Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Vox [review]

VOX

Title: Vox
Author: Christina Dalcher
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end. 

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

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[My Review]

I love (perhaps ‘love’ is the wrong word for something like this, but I’m very interested in) the concept of this book: women are limited to speaking 100 words a day, monitored by a bracelet which serves up electric shocks, increasingly more painful, the more words the women go over their limit by. It’s a bleak world for the female population, and Vox lays it all out – and, worryingly, a lot of it feels like a time that could be here not long after ‘today’. We’re not a million miles away from that kind of society right now, and the book points this out, with characters highlighting a need to ‘act now’, which many ignored until it was too late. It’s got plenty of interesting concepts, and so I was excited to see how it would all be executed. Though I did find it thought-provoking and entertaining, it was just missing something to elevate it from OK to good or great.

The characters, for me, could have been a bit more engaging, and a lot of the story felt too detailed in the wrong places: there was some parts which I felt could have focused more on the way the characters felt rather than the experiments and procedures. I know there’s plenty of people who feel completely different, but I found myself a little less engrossed by the story as it went on and I think I just wasn’t as enamoured by this as other people have been.

Saying that, I am a big fan of the plot and ideas that Christina Dalcher has come up with for this dystopian-style tale (which definitely feels like a cautionary tale too, in today’s political climate in the US and elsewhere), and it’s certainly a clever and debate-provoking read. Therefore I’d recommend giving it a go, it just didn’t wow me as much as it has done for others.

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to HQ for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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While I Was Sleeping [review]

While I Was Sleeping

Title: While I Was Sleeping
Author: Dani Atkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

[Synopsis]

I don’t remember what happened or what has changed.

I can still hear your voices but you can’t seem to hear me.

I was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.

Now I have to find a way back – to you, to our family, to us.

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[My Review]

I can just about see through puffed up eyes to write this review… While I Was Sleeping is a hugely emotional, cry-your-eyes-out type of novel – the sort I haven’t read for a while. Dani Atkins has managed to pull together some of the hardest, heartbreaking situations into an entertaining, thoughtful and at times (okay, almost all the time) incredibly sad novel.

I have read This Love, also by Dani Atkins [read my review], and hugely enjoyed it, plus heard brilliant things about Fractured, so I was expecting big things from this one, and it certainly lived up to my high expecations!

I started off reading While I Was Sleeping firmly on one ‘team’ (you’ll know what I mean when you read this, but as the synopsis is so vague I don’t want to give too much away here), but as time went on I found I felt empathy for pretty much every main character. I found it incredibly difficult to read about poor Maddie’s pain and anguish, and a few times thought I didn’t know if I wanted to continue reading because the horrible situation she’s in made me feel really sad ☹️ however I’m so glad I carried on!

Nothing is black and white about this novel; Atkins manages to make you almost experience, deeply, the way each character feels, before presenting a different side to the ‘story’, and each person has their own flaws and positives. The result is that I cared about everyone, even people I thought at the start I’d not be able to empathise with.

This book is very likely to make you cry, and think far too much about how you’d feel in each person’s situation (leading to more crying). The characters are all very relatable, and any slight cheesiness (of which there isn’t much, I’m pleased to say) is definitely allowed due to the subject matter!

I should also point out that there are some uplifting parts too, so it’s not all doom and gloom, and it offered me a welcome break from crime and thriller novels. While I Was Sleeping so full of heart and emotion that I couldn’t help being drawn in, and I’m sure most people will feel very similar.


Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Liar's Room

The Liar’s Room [blog tour review]

The Liar's Room

Today I’m VERY excited to bring you a review for The Liar’s Room, the new release from Simon Lelic!

Title: The Liar’s Room
Author: Simon Lelic
Publisher: Viking

[Synopsis]

ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT…

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong. 
She doesn’t know him. 
BUT HE KNOWS HER.
AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER…

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[My Review]

The bar was set very high by Simon Lelic’s first novel, The House [read my review here], and I’m very happy to report that The Liar’s Room, though a fairly different read, is just as gripping!

This story centers around one location really, in that it’s all about counsellor Susanna and her client Adam, who seems to know too much about Susanna’s ‘previous life’ that she’s tried so hard to keep a secret. Adam bring a level of threat to Susanna’s daughter, Emily, and she’s desperate to stop the awful events that Adam has already put in motion, seemingly to punish her – but why?

Part of the enjoyment of this story is that you don’t really know what’s going on but, through flashbacks from Susanna’s past, as well as extracts from her daughter’s diaries, we slowly begin to find out more and more about what happened with Susanna’s son Jake. I found myself really wanting to find out what had happened with Jake, and the awful occurances that took place many years ago – this is the main storyline really, as everything taking place in the present day (in Susanna’s office) is all about finding out what happened before, what Adam has done to Emily, and why Adam is so angry. This one main setting creates a surprisingly claustrophobic atmopshere.

There are twists and surprises in this novel which I really enjoyed reading, and it made me really think about how I’d feel in a similar situation. Themes of responsibility and guilt are prevalent, as well as some shocking and disturbing parts which are difficult to read but made me even more invested in the story.

I liked the way Simon Lelic crafted the characters, making them believable enough but also incredibly interesting and flawed; they felt like they could be real people, and in addition to this the storyline itself felt fresh and different to others in this genre. I would really recommend this gripping read.


Many thanks to Penguin Books for providing an arc of this novel on which I wrote an honest and unbiased review.

[About the Author]

Simon Lelic

Simon Lelic was born in 1976 and has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Simon’s latest novel, The Liar’s Room, is available now in the UK, and will be released soon in the US. His previous novel, The House, was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice.

[Follow the Tour]

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In The Dark [review]

In The Dark

Title: In The Dark
Author: Cara Hunter
Series: DI Adam Fawley
Publisher: Viking

[Synopsis]

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive…

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. And the elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock – how could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem…

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[My Review]

I loved the first in this series, Close To Home, so had high hopes for the second, In The Dark – and it certainly didn’t let me down!

What started out as a powerful and well-written series has only been reinforced with In The Dark – this novel builds on some great characters and offers up an exciting, complex-but-not-too-complex plot. It’s bloody brilliant!

Firstly, as I mentioned, the characters are just great. I enjoyed reading more about Fawley, Quinn, Somer – everyone! There are some flawed characters, including less-than-perfect police officers, so they felt like real people. I really felt for Adam Fawley at times, and am glad we get to see a good portion of the book through his own eyes.

The plot completely sucked me in and kept me intrigued at just the right pace. There’s mystery, character-building, and tension in spades, and some truly messed up occurences!

With plenty of twists peppered into a plot that slowly reveals more and more, this is addictive reading and bound to be high on the list for any seasoned (or new) crime fan. Give it a go (but if you haven’t read Close To Home, I say start there and relish having not one but two novels in this series to read!)

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Viking for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Something In The Water [review]

Something In The Water

Title: Something In The Water
Author: Catherine Steadman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

[Synopsis]

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you? 

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

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[My Review]

Something In The Water is a fun, action-packed read which is a little predictable at times, but remains a novel that kept me wanting to turn the pages and find out what would happen to out-of-their-depth newlyweds, Erin and Mark.

Told mostly from the perespective of Erin, the story jumps around slightly as she relays how they met and how they got into the mess they’re in. It’s pretty clear which storyline is the present day and which is set in the past without getting confusing, and the story doesn’t focus too much on the past storyline but instead just offers enough insight into Mark and Erin’s relationship without straying too far from the main story.

The characters themselves are, on the whole, likable enough though at points I wanted to shake Erin for being so bloody naive/ foolish, and I was really intrigued as to how – or if – some of Erin’s documentary subjects would affect the plot. The storyline itself is pretty ridiculous in parts, but it’s also really fun to read! If you like your thrillers to be super realistic then this might not be the read for you (and you probably have trouble finding many books that fit the criteria in this genre, to be honest!) but otherwise I’d recommend setting aside a few hours for this (if you’re anything like me you’ll smash through it in no time), suspending your disblief and just enjoy! It’s a really easy, absorbing read.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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