Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah. Huge thanks to Jenny Platt for the blog tour invite and for my review copy of the book.

What’s the book about?

All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora Braid for twelve years. 

But she can’t resist. She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except…

There’s something terribly wrong. 

Flora looks the same, only older – just as Beth would have expected. It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.
They are no taller, no older.

Why haven’t they grown?

My review

I have a lot to thank Sophie Hannah for. Not only has she written another brilliantly complex and twisty plot that kept me guessing (wrongly!!!) throughout but she has introduced me to the pleasures of Rubis! At one point in the narrative one of the characters offers Beth and her daughter Zannah a glass of Rubis so, me being me, I had to check out what it was. And when I saw that it was a mix of the flavours of red wine and chocolate I just had to order some. So now I’m not only a huge Sophie Hannah fan, but I’m a Rubis lover too! A winning combination if ever there was one!

But back to Haven’t They Grown and the premise of this book captured my interest as soon as I heard about it. How the hell can someone’s children not have grown in 12 years?! They look the same, have the same names and are obviously the children that Flora, Beth’s Ex best friend, had from when they were close. But how?! And boy, did I have some weird and wonderful theories about how these two children had remained the same for the past 12 years but I was way off! And it’s not as if the plot uses a cop out to explain towards the end. Everything comes together flawlessly and the reasons behind the mystery are unraveled perfectly with a real punch of believability.

Sophie Hannah has been a huge favourite of mine since I read the first book in her Culver Valley series, Little Face, and she always manages to shock and surprise me with her brilliant characters and their twisty lives. I loved the relationship Beth had with her family especially her teenage daughter Zannah and that added a real depth of understanding of why she was like a dog with a bone after her encounter with Thomas and Emily. Her children have matured and are developing into the adults they will become so it’s no wonder she can’t leave it when her old friend hasn’t got that same connection to her children. Haven’t They Grown expertly builds the tension and suspense until the perfect denouement and I loved every single page! It’s a sophisticated and intelligent read from start to finish. And I defy anyone to actually guess the plot twists!

Highly recommended by me!

Meet the author

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer, translated into 49 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. Sophie is the author of the bestselling Poirot continuation mysteries. The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her family.

She by H.C. Warner #whoisshe @HQstories @HCWarnerauthor

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on She by H.C Warner to kick off the blog tour.

What’s this book about?

She’s everything he dreamed of. Isn’t she?

Ben can’t believe his luck when Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most. Sexy, impulsive and intelligent, Bella is everything he ever wanted. And Bella wants him. All to herself.

In fact, Bella decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them, making it harder for Ben’s friends and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden tragedy triggers a chain of events which throws Ben headlong into a nightmare.

Secrets, lies, vengeance and betrayal are at the heart of this utterly twisted story about a family that is destroyed when SHE becomes part of it…

What did I think?

This is the first book I’ve read by H.C Warner and after finishing She, I can guarantee that it won’t be the last! This book was right up my street with a compulsive storyline where secrets and lies hide in between the pages just waiting for the reader to uncover them. And OMG there were real corkers to discover here!

I loved the way in which the narrative was presented with part one of the book telling Bens story about how he meets and falls in love with Bella, a beautiful woman who always felt just a little too good to be true! And ofcourse in part two, where we hear the same story told from Bellas perspective, we find out just how right we were but wishing that Ben could know the same things that we do!

She is a real page turner that is impossible to put down once you start it. It’s a VERY dark read with a disturbing storyline that grabs hold of you so tightly, you will struggle to breath at times as you wonder how the hell the externally beautiful Bella can be so ugly inside. They say “marry in haste, repent in leisure” but poor old Ben was unfortunately sucked down so deeply that he was always going to struggle back to the surface of normality.

There is ofcourse a rather huge twist (it is a psychological thriller after all!) and I had thought I had it all figured out but it certainly wasn’t what I had expected! And as we see Bella in her true colours in part two, everything starts to feel very uncomfortable indeed for all the characters involved.

She is a gripping read from start to finish and I loved every single page! A well deserved five stars from me!

Meet the author

Helen Warner is a former Head of Daytime at both ITV & Channel 4, where she was responsible for a variety of TV shows including Come Dine With Me, Loose Women, Good Morning Britain and Judge Rinder. Helen writes her novels on the train to work in London from her home in Essex, which she shares with her husband and their two children.

Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott #randomthingsblogtours @annecater @RachelAbbott

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review with you of Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott as part of the big tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and for my review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?

Some doors should not be opened.
Some can never be closed.

Jo Palmer’s peaceful and happy life is about to end.

Ash – the man she loves – will be arrested by the police.
Millie – her precious daughter – will be taken from her.

She will lose her friends.
She will doubt her sanity.

Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing.

But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing.

It’s raining outside.

There’s a knock at the door. They are here.

My review

It’s always a highlight of my year when a new book by Rachel Abbott is published but even more of a thrill when it’s a new Tom Douglas book! This is the 8th books in the DCI Tom Douglas series and it’s just as brilliant as ever! I am probably a little bit in love with the Manchester detective but that doesn’t distract me from the twisty cases he has to solve, especially when they hit a little bit too close to home for Tom.

Jo Palmer lives an enviable lifestyle with Ash, her partner and her daughter Millie until one night the police come calling. They take away Ash, accusing him of a heinous crime and then social workers take Millie. But when Jo tries to find out more about when they will be home, her entire world falls apart.

Jo was a brilliant character who I took to immediately. Her increasing panic as she realised things weren’t quite as she had thought was perfectly delivered by the slow unraveling of the secrets that undermine her relationship with Ash and her confusion about why her best friend was so obviously lying to her. Jo felt realistic and her actions matched the personality that was portrayed throughout the narrative, even if I wanted to scream and shout at her not to do half the things she went ahead with! But a mothers determination can’t be shelved when her child is in danger and I knew she would do everything in her power to keep her child safe.

It was good to catch up with Tom (sigh!!!!!) and Louisa to find out how their relationship was developing and we get to find out a little more about another family member too. No spoilers here though!

I think you can read Right Behind You as a stand-alone as the main focus of the book is the case involving Jo and her family but you may want to catch up on previous books to get some of Toms backstory. And if you’ve not read the previous books then WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! Rachel Abbott has the much envied talent of being able to write complex plots with engaging characters that grab you from the very first page. Right Behind You was no exception and I absolutely loved it from start to finish.

Highly recommended by me!

Meet the author

Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure. This became her debut novel Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks. A true self-publishing pioneer, Right Behind You is Abbott’s eighth full-length novel in the DCI Tom Douglas series. All of her previous thrillers have hit no.1 in the Kindle charts. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Wartime For The Shop Girls today as part of the blog tour celebrations! It’s out in paperback this week on Thursday 23rd January so happy publication week to Joanna Toye!

What’s this book about?

It’s 1942 and as shortages of staff – and goods – begin to bite, young Lily Collins is thrilled to step up to sales junior in her job at Marlow’s department store.

But bombs are still falling and Lily and fellow shop girls Gladys and Beryl need a stiff upper lip to wave boyfriends, husbands and brothers goodbye, especially with a baby on the way and grim news on the wireless. When Jim, who works with Lily at the store, seems restless, things are bad enough, but nothing can prepare Lily for the secrets that come tumbling out when her favourite brother comes home on leave…

Somehow, she must keep smiling through. Community, family and friends rally round as her home town – and the whole country – is tested once again.

My review

This is the follow up to the fabulous A Store at War and continues the story of Lily Collins who has gone to work at Marlows department store in the Midlands during WW2. I don’t think you need to have read A Store at War to enjoy Wartime for the Shop Girls as lots of background information is there if you need it. The year is now 1942 and Lily is lucky enough to still be working at Marlows and her friendship with Jim is still developing but a trip back home for Jim may throw a spanner in the works. And there are a few more secrets about to unravel as Lily and her family and friends cope with life during these difficult times.

This is an engaging wartime family drama with a very likeable young heroine at its heart. Lily is a smart cookie, ahead of her years really but I think that shows an understanding of the era where young women had to grow up very quickly in times of great stress. Women were left behind whilst the menfolk were away from home and it became the women who stepped up and into roles that changed their lives forever. Lily and her friends Beryl and Gladys felt realistically portrayed and I enjoyed each one of their journeys as they worked to overcome the problems caused by a country at war. One plot thread was handled completely in keeping with the time period and, even though we may find the attitude towards it rather politically incorrect today, it’s a true representation of thoughts at the time.

Wartime for the Shop Girls is a well researched and written family drama that has an edge over other wartime fiction. Joanna Toye is brilliant at bringing this time period to life and immersing her readers into the lives and loves of the women left behind. And I’m now looking forward to the third book Heartache for the Shop Girls which is due out in May!

Meet the author

Joanna Toye joined the production team of The Archers after reading English at Cambridge University, and became a scriptwriter for the programme for over twenty years. She has also written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio drama. On television she has written for Crossroads, Family Affairs, Doctors and EastEnders.

Criminal Actions by M.A. Comley #blogtour @BOTBSPublicity

I’m super excited to be sharing my review today as part of the blog tour for Criminal Actions, the fifth book in M.A Comley’s Hero series. Many thanks to Sarah Hardy for my invite onto the tour and my review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?

In a position of trust…

What happens when that trust is broken?

Jacinda Meredith follows her boyfriend south from Scotland. After a few weeks she finds a dream job working as a nanny for Sadie and Leonard Knox. However, all is not as it seems.

DI Nelson and his partner are called to a murder scene which turns out to be both horrifying and perplexing.

Other cases soon come to light.

Does this mean Nelson has yet another serial Killer on his patch?

Other books in this series are:
Torn Apart
End Result
In Plain Sight
Double Jeopardy
Criminal Actions
  

What did I think?

Don’t let the cosy start to this book fool you! Two children are returning home from playing in the park with their lovely nanny Jacinda, a sweet natured and maternal young woman who really cares for the young children she is looking after. But on returning home, the vibes start to change and you realise that behind closed doors there is a very disturbing set up. I don’t really want to say any more than that though because what happens next is both shocking and sickening and wasn’t at all what I had been expecting after those first few pages had killed me into a false sense of security.

True crime aficionados may recognise similarities to a couple of real life cases that shocked the UK and it’s no less distressing reading this fictionalised case. Hero is such a lovely character, a real family man, so it was a spine chilling contrast to the people he meets whilst investigating this horrific case. It was very difficult to read at times due to some graphic scenes and that’s probably because it felt so realistically descriptive in it’s distressing detail.

A dark and disturbing case for Hero that I devoured in one sitting!

Who’s the author?

M A Comley is a KINDLE UNLIMITED ALL-STAR author as well as being a New York Times, USA Today, Amazon Top 20 bestselling author, she has topped the book charts on iBooks as a top 5 bestselling and reached #2 bestselling author on Barnes and Noble. Over two and a half million copies sold world wide. She’s a British author who moved to France in 2002, and that’s when she turned her hobby into a career. 

When she’s not writing crime novels as well as caring for her elderly mother, she’s either reading or going on long walks with her rescue pup Labrador, Dex.

Here is a list of her books, Cruel Justice, Impeding Justice, Final Justice, Foul Justice, Guaranteed Justice, Ultimate Justice, Virtual Justice, Hostile Justice, Tortured Justice, Rough Justice, Dubious Justice, Calculated Justice, Twisted Justice, Prime Justice, Heroic Justice, Shameful Justice, Immoral Justice and Overdue Justice. There are several novellas and short stories in the series too.

No Right To Kill, Killer Blow, The Dead Can’t Speak, Deluded and The Murder Pact in the DI Sara Ramsey series. 

Her other successful series are: The DI Sally Parker thriller series, which includes WRONG PLACE, NO HIDING PLACE, COLD CASE, Deadly encounter and Lost Innocence

The DI Kayli Bright Trilogy – The Missing Children, Killer on the Run, Hidden Agenda, Murderous Betrayal and Dying Breath. 

The Hero series, TORN APART, END RESULT, IN PLAIN SIGHT, DOUBLE JEOPARDY and CRIMINAL ACTIONS.

There are three books in the Intention series, Sole Intention, Grave Intention and Devious Intention.

Plus a couple of standalone novels – EVIL IN DISGUISE and FOREVER WATCHING YOU.
I’ve also penned a cozy mystery Private Investigator series – Murder at the Wedding, Murder at the Hotel and Murder by the Sea.

As well as co-authoring the Deception Series co-authored by fellow NY Times bestselling author, Linda S Prather Clever Deception, Tragic Deception and Sinful Deception.
You can follow M A Comley via:-

Twitter @Melcom1

Blog

http://melcomley.blogspot.com

Facebook

http://smarturl.it/sps7jh

Newsletter

http://smarturl.it/8jtcvv

BookBub

www.bookbub.com/authors/m-a-comley

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell #blogtour @BOTBSPublicity

Today it is my turn to share my review of The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell. Many thanks to Sarah Hardy from BOTBS Publicity for my spot on the tour and my review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?

She thought they wanted her baby. But they won’t stop there.

Roz is young, penniless and pregnant. All she wants is to be the perfect mother to her child, but the more she thinks about her own chaotic upbringing, the more certain she is that the best life for her baby is as far away as possible from her hometown in Ireland.

Determined to do the right thing, Roz joins an elite adoption service and can’t believe her luck. Within days she is jetting to New York to meet a celebrity power couple desperate for a child of their own. Sheridan and Daniel are wealthy and glamorous—everything Roz isn’t. Her baby will never go hungry, and will have every opportunity for the perfect life. But soon after Roz moves into their plush basement suite, she starts to suspect that something darker lurks beneath the glossy surface of their home.

When Roz discovers she isn’t the first person to move in with the couple, and that the previous woman has never been seen since, alarm bells start ringing. As the clock ticks down to her due date, Roz realises her unborn baby may be the only thing keeping her alive, and that despite her best intentions, she has walked them both into the perfect nightmare…

What did I think?

Wow!! This is an entertaining and twisty read that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout! It’s a stand-alone psychological thriller from the fabulous Caroline Mitchell that had me hooked from the very first chapter. A pregnant woman in danger?! What could be more terrifying than that? Well, throw in a celebrity couple who aren’t what everyone thinks they are and a mysterious disappearance and you’ve got one of the most sinister pregnancies since Rosemarys Baby!

Roz is a good catholic girl who, at the age of 24, has lost her job and is unexpectedly pregnant. Discovering a website where she can have her child adopted, she is overwhelmed when a celebrity couple get in touch and she jets off to New York to meet them. Yes, I know you have to suspend belief at some of the plot twists and turns but this is fiction and it’s highly addictive entertainment at its best! You won’t be the only one mentally screaming at Roz “what the hell are you doing?!” as she makes decisions that you and I know are going to lead to very bad consequences indeed. But Roz is a plucky heroine of the best kind and she’s determined not to be a victim but the closer she gets to her due date the worse her fears for herself and her unborn child become…because her baby’s birth may be the death of her dreams of a new life or worse.

Caroline Mitchell has written a fabulous rollercoaster ride of a book with characters you will love to hate and twists you just won’t see coming (well, some of them I did but others really shocked the hell out of me!). The Perfect Mother is compelling from start to finish and just a bloody good read! Loved it!

Who’s the author?

An international #1 and New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time, with over a million books sold.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached the Amazon number 1 spot in the UK, US and Australia and won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards. Her previous thriller, Witness, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York. She has also been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies recently became a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV. Her works have been translated worldwide and her book, The Silent Twin, has been converted as an interactive app in the Chapters Interactive game. 

www.Caroline-Writes.com

F: www.facebook.com/CMitchellauthor

T: www.twitter.com/caroline_writes

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/IxsTj

Pine by Francine Toon #blogtour @annecater

Today I’m on the blog tour for Pine by Francine Toon with my review. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my invite onto the tour and my review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. 

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. 

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. 

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust. 

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

What did I think?

Pine truly is a remarkable debut. I was actually taken aback by just how good it was and it certainly exceeded my expectations. It read like a gothic ghost story with an ethereal atmosphere that immediately transported me back to the Scotland of my childhood. Lauren was a strange child, oblivious to the adult world around her but strangely drawn to the world of Tarot cards as she looks for answers to the mystery of her mothers disappearance. Her relationship with her father is a difficult one due to his own struggle to come to terms with being on his own with a child young to bring up. I often wanted to shake some sense into him so that he would give more of himself to this strange and lonely little girl.

Pine has a beautifully written uniqueness about it that is almost poetic in its descriptions of the world that Lauren lives in. The Highland forest became claustrophobic and almost magical as its dark and mysterious setting wrapped itself around this small village mentality and I instantly felt a shiver run down my spine when another girl went missing. The last few pages led to a perfectly pitched denouement that felt satisfying and true to the narrative. This is no ordinary mystery and the way in which it developed became as important to me as finding out the truth about what had happened to Christine in the past and Anne Marie in the present day.

Pine is a remarkable achievement as a debut novel and I will look forward to more from Francine Toon in the future.

Who is the author?

Francine Toon grew up in Sutherland and Fife, Scotland. Her poetry, written as Francine Elena, has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Best British Poetry 2013 and 2015 anthologies (Salt) and Poetry London, among other places. Pine was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. She lives in London and works in publishing.