Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A sudden tragedy pits neighbour against neighbour and puts one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of suburbia, Good Neighbours excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Gertie and Arlo move to Maple Street, Long Island, with their children Julia and Larry they are over the moon. A proper home with stairs and a garden. Admittedly Gertie isn’t the best at housework but Arlo is and tries to encourage the children to be like him. Gertie thinks she has found a friend in next door neighbour Rhea but she is mistaken. Rhea has many issues, and despite looking like a good mother, wife and teacher she is far from it. But she also has a lot of power in the area and many of the neighbours fall over themselves to impress her. When a sinkhole appears on Maple Street, and Shelley, Rhea’s daughter falls in Gertie and her family soon realise how unwelcome they are and that the vicious rumours that are being spread by Rhea could destroy them. 

The book takes place in 2027 with brief interviews and press reports from the 2030s and 2040s. Both worked perfectly, you could see how hysteria, paranoia and jealousy affected nearly all of the adults who feature in the novel. I found it interesting how their accounts changed, like they were trying to justify their actions. It is close to a miracle that their children, known as the ‘Rat Pack’ were on the whole decent people who could see that things weren’t quite like their parents insisted they were and were willing to risk their own lives to find  Shelley.

I loved the way the author played with the reader. I couldn’t guess at what each neighbour might say or do next. Some of them manipulated their children into tormenting Gertie and Arlo and ignored the guilt caused by their actions. I felt that it was the media reports that were published years after the event that showed what they were really capable of. There was little remorse and a lot of self pity. 

Many people have neighbours they  become best of friends with but some have ones that they go out of their way to avoid. If I lived anywhere like Maple Street,  I would have done everything I could to avoid most of the adults who were neighbours in this book. 

Mimic by Daniel Cole – Audiobook – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The stand-alone thriller from best-selling author of Ragdoll – soon to be a major TV series.

In life, she was his muse…. In death she’ll be his masterpiece….

1989: DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished. 

1996: Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated..

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the audiobook received. Listening to audiobooks is a relatively new thing for me so I jumped at the opportunity to listen to the new novel by this author. His Ragdoll series was one that I enjoyed a lot.

A dual time framed novel, the first part concerns a series of deaths. Chambers and Winters are convinced that they are linked but with lack of help from their superior officer, a somewhat unconvincing confession and finally a tragic accident the investigation is dropped.

Jump forward seven years and a young female officer, Marshall, who had known one of the victims, wants Chambers to look at the case again and find the killer. Despite misgivings and breaking a promise to his wonderful wife Eve he agrees. 

Life hasn’t been kind to any of them. All three have suffered during the seven years and I really hope that there are no members of our police who are like this trio. Not because I didn’t like them but because they have all been damaged by what happened. To the extent that I worried for their safety and sanity. Marshall was very much an open book, you knew immediately how she coped and some of the trauma she experienced. Winters was more reticent, in some ways I felt he suffered more than Chambers. 

But despite their issues they had a friendship that went beyond the job. Chambers was very much the father figure and managed to help both of them. In particular Marshall who he quite easily could have had removed from the investigation. Instead he showed encouragement and a belief in her abilities. 

Whilst the case was an interesting one, that sent me to the internet a few times to learn more it was the relationship dynamic they grabbed me. This felt like an honest example of a team. Working on their strengths and supporting their weaknesses. And there was also some dark humour, mainly caused by frustration.

This novel is described as a standalone but I feel that there could definitely be a follow up. There is certainly potential. 

In The Mirror, A Peacock Danced by Justine Bothwick – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Set against the lush backdrop of early 20th century India, In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced is the moving story of one woman’s journey back to herself.

Agra, 1938: Eighteen-year-old Florence Hunt has grown up riding horses past the Taj Mahal and chasing peacocks through her backyard under the critical gaze of her father. Increasingly enamoured with his work on the booming railway, Florence yearns to know more, but finds herself brushed away, encouraged only to perform the more ladylike hobbies of singing and entertaining guests. So when a dazzling young engineer walks into her life, she finds herself not only gripped by secret lessons in physics but swept entirely off her feet.

Portsmouth, 1953: Fifteen years later, Florence finds herself pregnant and alone in post-war England – a far cry from her sun-drenched existence in India. Struggling to cope with the bleakness of everyday life in a male-dominated world, Florence is desperate to find the woman she used to be. But when someone from her past reaches out, Florence might just have a chance to start over.

Soaring from the shimmering heights of the big top to the depths of heartbreak, can Florence find the happiness, independence, and passion she once had in order to start living again?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. In The Mirror, A Peacock Danced is a  historical novel that only covers a short period in time, between 1938 and 1953. It is however a very important time in India, where much of this novel takes place. During that time India gained independence from England and there was also the partition from Pakistan. I have read about both before but never anything that shows the level of anger, fear and worry from all affected. 

Florence lives with her widowed father in Agra. She loves her life, apart from her father trying to live his dream of being an entertainer through her. Her passion is engineering, but with attitudes to women at the time she is discouraged. I have to admit that the engineering terminology went way over my head but thankfully they are only a small part of this novel. Instead we got to know Florence, her friends, her family and witness her unhappy marriages. 

I found it fascinating that Florence had more freedom in India than she did in England. I thought she was listened to more, less patronised and was a lot happier. She didn’t want to be sent to a finishing school and married off. She wanted to be in a country with people she loved. Her relationship with Sita and Ravi was one that meant a lot to her, probably more than the one she had with her father. 

I found this novel to be original and an extremely accurate account of an important time in history. Different to many that are set at the same time, the war only plays a small part, but when it did it highlighted the differences in attitude to the English armies compared to the Indian. It was hardly surprising that it caused a lot of upset.

I would definitely be interested in reading more by this author and also more about Indian history.

Fragile by Sarah Hilary – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperately trying to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easily they can be to break . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series is one of the few that I am up to date with and I am a huge fan of her writing and her characters so was looking forward to reading Fragile which is a standalone novel. A few days after finishing it I am still trying to understand my feelings regarding the characters. All of them have given me something to think about. The title of the novel is the best way I have of describing all of them.

There aren’t many characters in the novel but all of them had an impact, especially the women. Nell featured more than Meaghan and Carolyn but I found that every time each of them appeared I found myself analysing them and trying to work out what damage they had caused but also how they had suffered due to others. I tried not to judge but with at least one of the characters it was difficult.

There was an often overwhelming sense of pain and loneliness evident from all of them. This doesn’t make it a depressing novel, but it did make me think about how many in our ‘care’ system are damaged by the ones who have the power to make a difference. Unfortunately much of the storyline is sadly believable and I dread to think what some children in care go through and the reasons why they are there. 

Fragile isn’t a quick read but it is a mesmerising one and the author has proven that she is just as good as writing standalone fiction as well as her series. This reader is certainly looking forward to what will be next.

The Cookbook Of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When Gill and Gabe’s elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth. 

A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down – and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I wanted to read this book as soon as I read the synopsis, it sounded so different to the books I usually read. I know, after finishing it, that it will be one of those books that I will be thinking about for a long time.

A family who are grieving, where each family member is grieving  in their own way. Gabe is in England, where Dougie died, trying to understand why. He spends hours on the internet looking at equipment, the rescuers,similar cases and drinking heavily with Rosa who was Dougie’s girlfriend and who was rescued from the cave where Dougie died. Gill is trying to convince herself and her desperately ill daughter Sylvie that Dougie is still alive by writing him letters. And she is cooking some unusual dishes and making them extremely personal. Teddy is grieving alone. Trying to support his mother and sister, missing his father and brother and convincing an oblivious PapaBee to help him. 

Whilst I had a lot of sympathy for all of them it was Teddy who touched my heart. Always having to fight a lot more for attention when life was normal it was even harder for him with a brother dead and a sister who would prefer to be. He is determined to find out why Sylvie was refusing to eat and whilst he seems to be failing she is listening and it is evident that she was a lot stronger than her parents think. 

I also had a lot of appreciation of the storyline involving PapaBee. It was easy to see his confusion and the chaos it caused but I felt that his situation was handled with a lot of honesty and I could visualise clearly the sometimes humorous, sometimes worrying scenes.

It could have been depressing but it wasn’t. Instead it felt like an honest approach to grief with the memories, acceptance and guilt at occasionally being able to laugh or for a few minutes have what seems to be a normal day.

Absolutely wonderful, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to everybody.