A Place To Lie by Rebecca Griffiths – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

In a dark, dark wood

In Summer 1990, Caroline and Joanna are sent to stay with their great aunt, Dora, to spend their holidays in a sunlit village near the Forest of Dean. The countryside is a welcome change from the trauma they know back home in the city; a chance to make the world a joyful playground again. But in the shadowy woods at the edge of the forest hide secrets that will bring their innocence to a distressing end and make this a summer they will never forget.

There was a dark, dark house

Years later, a shocking act of violence sends Joanna back to Witchwood. In her great aunt’s lonely and dilapidating cottage, she will attempt to unearth the secrets of that terrifying summer and come to terms with the haunting effects it has left on her life. But in her quest to find answers, who can she trust? And will she be able to survive the impending danger from those trying to bury the truth?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A Place To Lie contains everything I love in fiction. A dual time frame with the same characters where events that have happened in the past can cause heartache and tragedy years later.

This book has put me off living in a village for life. There was the violent death of the young girl but there was also the gossiping villagers who were betrayed brilliantly, the sense of being watched by just about every character and the too quick to judge attitude of all of them.

I expected to find the wooded areas spooky but found that what was more intimidating were the hints of the young children being watched and photographed.

The one who was the main suspect, despite being the local bad boy was the one I suspected least, and he was probably the one I had the most sympathy for. But there were many others who I did have my doubts about. 

Throughout a lot of this book is an almost overwhelming sense of loneliness and guilt. Not just from Caroline but also Cecilia, Liz in her later years and Dora with her dreams about the younger men in the village and hints of a tragic past.

It’s a strange original novel that had me feeling uneasy a number of times. 

Ike And Kay by James MacManus – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

From the fogbound streets of London reeling from the Blitz, acclaimed author James MacManus, conjures a compelling historical novel based on the true story of the secret love affair at the heart of the Second World War.

It is 1942, and war-battered London plays host to the imposing figure of General Ike Eisenhower on a vital mission for the US army. Kay Summersby, an ambulance driver who survived the horrors of the Blitz, is chosen to be his aide, a role that will change her life forever. Charmed by Ike s affable and disarming nature so different from the stiffness of British military convention she accompanies him during the North African campaign against Rommel and the war in Europe against Nazi Germany. Amid the carnage a secret affair unfolds between the General and his attractive aide. Rumours of Ike s infidelity reach across the ocean to Washington and worse yet, to his wife. In a time where scandal and war threaten to break them apart, can Kay hold on to the man she loves?

Ike and Kay is a thrilling tale of wartime romance, brimming with love, duty, sacrifice and heartbreak, set against the backdrop of the most tumultuous period of the twentieth century.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Ike And Kay was a novel that appealed to me when I read the synopsis despite knowing little about Eisenhower and nothing at all about Kay Summersby. They were though, characters I struggled to like, despite having sympathy for both at times. I preferred Charlotte, Kay’s extremely honest friend and Mamie, Ike’s wife. I felt for her, having little contact with her husband throughout the war and reading a lot about him in newspaper gossip columns.

The account of the devastation caused by the war, the descriptions of war dead left in villages and on the side of roads, the fear felt by the soldiers and the poverty during and after the war was the part of the novel that I found the most interesting. It was evident how much research the author had done, much of it felt like a first hand account. One scene more than any other was the one where Eisenhower had to convince a terrified soldier that he needed to return to duty.

I always enjoy learning from fiction. Whenever I read a novel like this I’m eager to find out more about the characters concerned. I spent quite a bit of time looking on the internet finding out more as I read.

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. 

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.