The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This was the first book I have read by Rowan Coleman so I had no idea how powerful her writing was. It is a while since I have felt so emotional throughout most of a novel. 

There are three stories of three women. Tru, Emily and Agnes. Emily was the one who featured the least but she was one of the more important characters, because without her there wouldn’t be a story. She is also the one who was a real person. She was a Bronte. The book takes place in the house where she spent a lot of her time, the family home of the Heaton’s, Tru’s home.

When Tru returns home after her husband is presumed dead after a plane crash it is the first time for sixteen years. She has always had a difficult relationship with her mother that they both have to try and repair, has to be a support to her young son Will, and make Ponden Hall more safe to live in. The life of Emily Bronte is always something she has been interested in and even more so when she starts to find letters written by her.

I have to admit that I know little about the Bronte family, I have never read Wuthering Heights and even though I visited Haworth and watched a programme on children’s TV many years ago I cannot remember much about it. Apart from strangely, images of an ailing Emily lying on a sofa.

Despite knowing little, I adored this novel. The tragic story of Agnes, researched many years later by Emily and still being prominent in the modern day story was one that affected me more than any other. The relationship between Tru and Ma and the way they realised that they did care for each other and the way Will helped bring them closer together. The ghostly happenings which made me feel chilled alongside the local legends.

I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. Emily’s and Agnes’s story appearing at the end of chapters so the reader could see what Tru found out at the same time. The way Tru met Abe was revealed the same way. I have never read a book this way before and I found it added to the emotion, devastation and at times outrage.

It was a book that had me looking at information and photographs on the internet to see of they were real or invention. I was very grateful for the author notes which provided the information I couldn’t find. 

An absolutely wonderful read. I don’t usually read novels twice now but I could make an exception for this. After I’ve revisited Haworth, obviously.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. 

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all. 

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. 

A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy a family drama, even more so if the novel covers a period of years and what happens to the whole family during that novel. This novel was one that I adored.

Two families, initially united through two characters being police officers. One is more successful than the other but they are friends and eventually neighbours. They both have families but never become  close friends. When the friendship that they have appears to be badly damaged after one suffers life changing injuries you would accept that they would drift apart but two of them are determined to be together.

I adored this novel. Everything was perfect, Irish immigrants hoping for a new life, and struggling to forget the past. The explanations for why events happened and the way they dealt with them. But most of all the relationship between Kate and Peter. The total devotion to each other and the determination to not let the past affect their lives. The way they handled high school and university apart but always thinking of each other and feeling that they needed to be with each other. And the way they connected again, convincing their families that there was a chance of happiness for all of them.

Pure joy. 

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson – Review.

About The Book

It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t. 

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away – if Amy plays by her rules. 

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I rarely read samplers but when I first saw the first chapter of this book was available I had just finished another book so I decided to read it. And what a fantastic opening chapter it was. Full of threat, manipulation and a small taste of what the rest of the book could bring. It is one of the better opening chapters I have read this year.

The small book group is not prepared for the havoc that Roux can cause but Amy is tough and is not prepared to give in without a fight. Even though much of the book focuses on the battle of wills between Amy and Roux, she doesn’t stop there. All of them have secrets they need to protect.

One of the stronger parts of the novel, disregarding the storyline was the relationships that Amy had with her husband Davis, step daughter Maddy, friends Char and Tig and of course Roux. Her childhood was a tough one and she was determined not to have her family suffer the way she did. She had a tough choice, risk Davis and Maddy find out what happened to her or do as Roux demands and have others suffer. There are plenty of twists. a lot of guilt but there is also humour. Especially from Davis and Maddy. I liked the nickname ‘Monster’ that Maddy had for Amy, a sign that she was far from being one.

A brilliant storyline, great characters and the parts that described life under water was visually beautiful.

Looker by Laura Sims – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn’t have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

The Actress lives a few doors down. She’s famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Looker was a novel that made me want to close all my curtains until I finished reading it. I don’t think I have ever felt as on edge before when reading.

The narrator and actress are unnamed throughout. At first this felt a little strange but it didn’t really matter. You just needed to know that the actress had everything the narrator wanted. Not possessions, a nice house and money as such, more a loving husband and children. Everything that could bring happiness to the very lonely narrator, who seems to get more isolated the more I read.

There were times I felt uncomfortable. The storyline regarding Cat, the students and the obsessive behaviour that became increasingly sinister and out of control. But, unusually I did have sympathy. Especially in the beginning when you read why her marriage collapsed.

It is only a short novel but I don’t think it would have had the same impact if it had been longer. It is intimidating, more so because I did struggle to separate reality from imagination towards the end. Was she really like she saw herself? And was the actress as happy as she imagined?

Read it and make up your own mind.

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everything changed the night Flora Powell disappeared.

Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.

Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather.

But now Heather is accused of an awful crime.

And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received, Then She Vanishes is the first book I have read by Claire Douglas. After reading it I am happy that there are a few I can read.

The prologue concerns the murder of a mother and son but then most of it concerns Jess and Margot, Heather’s mother. Jess is a journalist but was also a teenage friend of Heather and her sister Flora. She is being pressured into getting a story by her boss but also determined not to let her job damage her relationship with Margot.

I was surprised by how much I liked Jess, I usually dislike journalists in fiction but she was honest in the mistakes she had made in the past and was determined to handle the situation the right way. She has a steady working relationship with her colleagues, especially Jack and it is him she confides in about her past, before her partner Rory. He only really has a role in the latter stages of the novel. They have a great relationship but she has commitment problems, these are revealed in the flashbacks to 1994 when Flora disappeared. Margot was another character who I liked instantly. Never knowing what happened to Flora, wanting to help Heather, and despite her misgivings allowing Jess back into her life.

I enjoyed the flashbacks, the teenage girls are believable with emotions, first love, hurt and jealousy all shown. I also enjoyed listening again to Martha’s Harbour by All About Eve which was a favourite song of Flora’s.

There are plenty of twists but they are slow to come, taking you by surprise when you are least expecting them. Some of it I did work out earlier but I don’t think it was meant to be a huge surprise. Some are chilling, more so because you know that they concern events that have happened. And the final chapter had me lost for words. Brilliant characters, fantastic storyline.