Relativity by Antonia Hayes #BlogTour @LittleBrownUK @antoniahayes

So today I am incredibly excited to be on the blog tour for the debut novel Relativity by Antonia Hayes 

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About this book…

“Help,” he said. “He’s not breathing.”

A tiny baby is rushed to hospital. Doctors suspect he was shaken by his father, who is later charged and convicted. The baby grows up in the care of his mother. Life goes on.

Twelve years later, Ethan is a singular young boy. Gifted with an innate affinity for physics and astronomy, Ethan sees the world in ways others simply can’t – through a prism of light, time, stars and space.

Ethan is the centre of his mother’s universe. Claire has tried to protect him from finding out what happened when he was a baby. But the older Ethan gets, the more questions he asks about his absent father.

A single handwritten letter is all it takes to set off a dramatic chain of events, pulling both parents back together again into Ethan’s orbit. As the years seem to warp and bend, the past is both relived and revealed anew for each of them.

Relativity is an irresistible story about love, unbreakable bonds and irreversible acts.

My review…

If you only buy one book this year then make it this one. It’s only January but this beautiful and intelligently written book has already reserved itself a place in my heart and in my top books of the year so far. It is stunning but what makes it even more incredible is that this breathtaking book is a debut novel!

If I could advise anything else then it would be not to read too many reviews of Relativity! Yes I know I should be supporting other reviewers but I went into this book pretty much blind and was glad afterwards that I had. The less you know the bigger the reaction you will have to Ethan. This young boy is such a wonderful character creation and I fell in love with him from the moment I met him. His relationship with his mother Claire has a touching honesty about it which seems a strange thing to say when you realise the secrets she has been keeping from her son once Mark comes back into their lives.

A very emotional and distressing subject is well handled by the author who has  well researched her subject matter with an obvious deep concern. The scientific thread running through the narrative was perfectly placed as a parallel to Ethans condition as it became part of who he was. I found it fascinating and a much needed aside to the very emotional plot details that emerged throughout. Ethan and Claires story moved me to tears many times and I sobbed throughout the last few pages. This is truly a very special book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Relativity is out in paperback on 19th January 2016 and many thanks Clara Diaz at Little Brown Books for my advanced copy that I chose to read and review.

Meet the author…

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Antonia Hayes, who grew up in Sydney and spent her twenties in Paris, lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. Relativity is her first novel.

The Dry by Jane Harper #TheDry @janeharperautho @LittleBrownUK

I was on the blog tour for this book back in January and it has now been released in paperback so what a good time to share my review again of this fantastic book!

About this book…

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

My review…

Well what an amazing start to 2017 with this absolutely brilliant debut by Jane Harper. As soon as I saw the cover I knew I needed to read it, the dark and stormy sky with that promise of rain and the tagline that draws you in immediately “Who Really killed the Hadler family?” As although it seems that Luke Hadler murdered his family then committed suicide, when his friend Aaron Falk starts digging the case doesn’t quite seem as clearcut as it first did.

Every little piece of information that is drip fed to the reader here draws you deeper into the mysteries of a small town in Australia that is suffering the effects of a major drought. The setting is practically another character here with its cruel grip on everyone’s life. I don’t think I’ve read another book in a very long time where I actually felt I was there within the pages with the townsfolk-hot, sweaty and depressed by the dry and dusty landscape.

I connected with all the characters here but weirdly the strongest connections I felt were with two characters that were both already dead at the start of the book-Karen Hadler and Ellie Deacon. Both women are shown in flashback throughout and their both their stories affected me but for different reasons. With Karen it was watching a strong woman fighting to keep the wolf from her family’s door due to a force of nature that no one could possibly hope to win against and knowing we were watching the last few hours of her life but powerless to prevent her fate. And the same with Ellie-except she was fighting a personal battle that she had a chance of winning.

Aaron was a closed book most of the way through. We don’t get too much background information on his time since he fled the remote township but it’s like he somehow comes back to life once he returns, unlike the rest of the dying landscape and hope, as little by little he uncovers the lies hidden by nearly everyone who lives there.

This is a deeply atmospheric and involving storyline that had me gripped far quicker than I had expected to be. It is an exquisite debut novel that will stay with me for quite some time. Definitely one of my favourite books of 2017 so far! I’ve heard the film rights have been acquired and I have to say it’s ripe for a big screen adaptation.

Very highly recommended by me!

The Dry was published by Little Brown Books UK in hardback on 12th January 2017 and is also available as an ebook from Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Jane Harper has worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK. She lives in Melbourne and currently writes for the Herald Sun. Jane is originally from the UK and moved to Australia in 2008. The Dry is her first novel.

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra #BlogTour #BookReview @AnnaSnoekstra @CaraFrancess @HQstories

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So today I am delighted to bring you a review of the debut novel by Anna Snoekstra. Many thanks to Cara at @HQStories for inviting me to take part.

About this book…

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She’d been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen—blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched—though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.

Soon the imposter is living Bec’s life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends’ names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec’s welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter—and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

My review…

I absolutely raced through this book although I wasn’t too sure about it when I started. We meet a nameless girl who has just been picked up for shoplifting. She has obviously been through some difficult times as she’s desperately hungry but she doesn’t want to give her real name (in fact she remains nameless throughout the whole book) To avoid getting arrested she remembers a case she saw on tv where her boyfriend said she looked like a missing girl, and so tells the police when they arrive that her name is Rebecca Winters, and that she’s the missing girl. Now at this point I thought “What? How’s that going to work then?” But it has been 11 years since Bec disappeared after her shift at the local McDonald’s and I know there have been well documented cases where impostors have fooled grieving family members who are only too desperate to believe they have their loved one back. Yes, there were a few times I needed to suspend believe but ultimately this dark  and suspenseful debut grabbed hold of me and became a gripping page turner as I was desperate to find out what happened to Bec all those years ago.

I do hate comparing books to Gone Girl but there was definitely an essence of that here with its sinister secrets and characters that all seemed to have something to hide. There was a darkness that belied the fact that it was set during a heat wave-it felt gloomy and shadowy as we follow Bec through her last few days before her disappearance. And in the present imposter “Bec” starts to realise that something is very wrong and that whatever happened to the real Bec may also be about to happen to her. At this point I have to say that I enjoyed both timelines and didn’t rush through Bec in 2003 to find out more about “Bec” in 2014 or vice versa.It followed perfectly and I just loved the sense of foreboding throughout as the tension grows steadily towards the climax. And what an ending! I’m still feeling shocked and slightly grubby as I sit here now! I think it would transfer well to the big screen so hope someone snaps up the rights to it pretty soon or they will be kicking themselves!

I really enjoyed this and would quite happily pre order the next book written by Anna Snoekstra on the basis of this one. I received my advanced copy via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Only Daughter: A gripping thriller of deadly deceit is available to buy now from Amazon UK.

 

About the author…

Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia in 1988. She studied Creative Writing and Cinema at The University of Melbourne, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University.

She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and tabby cat.

The Wrong Hand by Jane Jago

About this book…

We all make mistakes. Moments that change us and the path we are on irrevocably.
For Rachel Allen it was the moment that she let her son’s hand slip from hers. For Danny Simpson and Graham Harris it was the moment one of them took it.

Seven years ago Danny and Graham were just children themselves, angry, marginalized and unguided. That was, until they committed a crime so heinous that three families were left devastated. They were no longer just boys. They were monsters.

Released from juvenile detention, it is time for the boys, now men, to start again; new names, new people. But they can never escape who they are or what they did. And their own families, now notorious; the Allens, destroyed with grief; and the country at large have never been able to forget.

They will always be running. They will always be hiding. But are some mistakes too large, the ripples to far reaching, to outrun forever?

My review…

I have to admit to struggling with this book but I’m not sure whether my own feelings about the subject matter tainted what I was reading. This is such a difficult and horrific fictional account of the murder of a 3 year old boy by two 11 year old boys but, despite it being set in Australia, it still followed far too close to a real life UK crime that it made me feel particularly squeamish and uncomfortable. Normally I do like this type of storyline, a particularly good example is The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood which I loved but I just didn’t get that feeling here.

This is the story of Danny and Graham who committed an awful crime at the age of 11. As the crime has had far reaching consequences it also follows Rachel who’s son was murdered and how she is dealing with her emotions as a mother to her other children. Benjamin’s dad just wants to find the boys now that they have been released from prison and it is an all consuming passion to work out where they are now and what they look like. We see the affects on the boys families as well. How do you cope as a parent if your child has murdered another? Do you have to take some of that blame on your own shoulders? We are back in my favourite territory here of “nurture vs nature” and how 2 individuals can spark off something in the other that is dormant, waiting for that other person, that “reflection in the mirror” to complete a match made in hell.

Jane Jago is a fantastic writer who can spark an emotional response in her readers and I would love to read more of her work. This one just bothered me a little bit purely because of that connection, it made me feel uncomfortable as it was just a little bit too close to home for my liking.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

The Wrong Hand is out in e-book on 30th June and is available to buy here at Amazon UK