The Foundling by Stacey Halls – Review.

About The Book

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Pigeonhole. The Foundling is the first book I have read by Stacey Halls and after finishing it I need to read her debut The Familiars very soon. I read quite a lot of historical fiction but never anything like this, I had no idea that there was such a thing as a Foundling Hospital. It made me wonder how many children were reclaimed when life improved for their parents.

The relationship between Bess, Alexandra and Charlotte was extraordinary. You would expect to see hatred but despite a little resentment from Charlotte there was none. I also expected to dislike either of the women but I couldn’t. Instead all I felt was pity for both of them. If anything I had more sympathy for Alexandra because she was isolated. Proof that wealth and privilege didn’t mean that much if you were alone. 

It’s different to many other historical fiction book because  it doesn’t concentrate on the poverty experienced by Bess and her family. Yes, Ned, Bess’s brother  does have a hard time but it was purely his life choice. Probably the same as many at the time but neither Bess or Lyle let it beat them. 

Because I read this novel on Pigeonhole I had to read it over ten days, I could easily have  read it in one sitting, it was absolutely wonderful.

When The Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

In the first of the Burrowhead Mysteries, an atmospheric murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where no one is innocent. When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force of Georgie, Trish and Simon investigate. Leads take them from Alexiss recent clients to local bullies, exposing a maelstrom of racism, misogyny, abuse and homophobia that has been simmering beneath the surface of the village. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fred, Georgie starts to realise something bad is lurking under the soil in Burrowhead, while someone (or something) equally threatening is hiding in the strange and haunted cave beneath the cliffs.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I hadn’t read the authors previous books so had no idea what to expect. Almost straight away I was impressed by the description of the local area. The old superstitions, the poverty, unemployment. A town that still had a police station because it had been forgotten about. This town almost had a character of its own, it is that well described. I spent a lot of time when reading it trying to work out where it could be. I failed at placing it, but I imagine there are many communities like Burrowhead in the UK. 

The police team are the main characters. I feel that I will get to appreciate them more as I get to know them. I did discover quite a lot about Georgie, the senior officer, but the one I liked most was Trish. I liked her devotion to Uncle Walt and her willingness to help Andy. A tough childhood but she didn’t let it beat her. 

For me, the investigation wasn’t the main focus in the novel. Instead it was the different characters, their lives and how they dealt with living in a community that wasn’t always welcoming and the legends and superstitions that became increasingly fascinating.

An intriguing read by an author who I will read again. 

Haven't They Grown by Sophie Hannah – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

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.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Sophie Hannah is always an author I enjoy, mainly because you can always rely on her to deliver something a little different. I have never read a storyline like this before and I had no idea which way it would go. Every solution I came up with was wrong.

The characterisation is very strong, particularly Beth and my favourite of them all her daughter Zannah. I thought she was brilliant, the way she managed to convince her father that her mother had a point, there was something not quite right with the Braids. But more so, her takedown of the teacher, which made me smile all day.

When, finally, the truth was revealed I went cold, this was evil control and I really hope there is nobody who has had to deal with a situation like this in real life. It is difficult to review without spoilers but if you choose to read this you won’t be disappointed.

The Dilemma by B. A. Paris – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Dilemma was a book that I had to wait a few days before I tried to review it. I didn’t find it an easy book to get into, partly because I didn’t care for either of the characters at first but also because you find out very early what Adam is concerned about and you know that he is in for a very long night. I felt very tense at times, wondering how he would tell Livia and Josh about his fears.  But the way it started to develop was mesmerising and Adam was a character who I quickly changed my mind about. 

One of the strongest points of this novel were the differences between the characters. Some smarmy, most loyal, but there was an overwhelming feeling of true friendship from most. The relationship especially between Adam and his son Josh was one that showed a closeness that had been worked at over the years, rather than one that was instantaneous.

It was a novel where I couldn’t judge either for their actions. What would you do? If you faced with a similar dilemma to Livia and Adam. I honestly don’t know. 

The Home by Sarah Stovell – Review.

About The Book

One more little secret … one more little lie…

When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also an emotive drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

My Review

The Home is a crime novel, but instead of focusing on the suspicious death of a young girl in care it is more about the three girls who lived together, Hope, Annie and Lara, and what happened to them in their past.

They live in a beautiful and remote part of the country, near Langdale Pike. They should be safe from the past and be able to start rebuilding their lives. But as the story unfolds and you start to learn what each of them faced you saw how impossible it was. What happened to each of them was horrific, more so because you know that it happens. That there are children who experience the fear, neglect and violence that each of the characters faced.

It was impossible to decide who suffered the most but the one whose life story had the biggest impact on me was Hope. It wasn’t surprising that she coped the way that she did. And there was no way I could judge her, even though I did feel sorry for Annie who had to suffer the most from her occasional cruelty.

It was not just the three girls who suffered. The staff, underpaid, under appreciated and over worked. It’s not something I really thought about, how the dedicated staff neglect their own families to do their job and try and improve somebody else’s life.

A heartbreaking novel that has made me think more than any other about what some children experience and also the staff who try and pick up the pieces.