The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book



Zoey doesn’t remember anything about last night. But she knows something went badly wrong. For she is no longer in New York. She’s woken up in the desert, in a white building she doesn’t recognise, and she’s alone.

When she discovers she’s been admitted to The Sanctuary, a discreet, mysterious, isolated refuge from normal life, to avoid jail, she is stunned. She knows she has secrets, troubles, but she thought she had everything under control. But as she spends more time with other residents, she begins to open up about what she’s running from. Until she realises that not everyone in The Sanctuary has her best interests at heart, and someone might even be a killer . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoyed the author’s previous book The Dark but this one had a lot more of an impact on me. I had more liking for the characters and could see the pain and anxiety that they tried to hide. 

Anybody would be a little concerned and scared if they woke up in unfamiliar house

and then finding out that they were in a desert many miles from where they had been living. No belongings, no way of contacting friends, everyone a stranger and also extremely hungover. I had a lot of sympathy for Zoey.

When she first arrived at The Sanctuary she was resistant to any help it could give her, but gradually you could see a change, and even though you still didn’t know who had arranged for her to be sent there you could see the positive impact it had on her health and attitude, especially being able to admit that she might have a problem with addiction.

The more I read the more I liked her. It was obvious that her way of life was a coping mechanism and the full reason was slowly revealed. But the author showed that all of the people who were there had similar stories. Some were more likeable than others, in honesty there were none I detested. Probably because all of them I had a lot of sympathy for. She also showed that there was more than one type of addiction, not just alcohol or drugs. 

It’s surprising that a huge area could create a claustrophobic atmosphere, the only reason I could come up with was because it would be so easy to be in danger. Not just from someone within the sanctuary but also the environment. This became more evident towards the end when the small group of people realised what danger they were in.

A fantastic novel that I struggled to put down.

The Shadows of Rutherford House by CE Rose – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Darkness lies at the heart of this family…

In 1959 Milly starts her new life as a housemaid at Rutherford House, working for the aristocratic Rutherford-Percy clan. Entranced by her new mistress, Vivienne, she becomes deeply embroiled in the household and the keeper of dark secrets the family conceals beneath the mansion’s grand exterior.

In the present day, Christie is working as a psychiatric nurse when she meets troubled patient Lillian Percy, Vivienne’s granddaughter and heiress to Rutherford House. They soon bond over the loss of their mothers
– Lillian’s died when she was a child; Christie’s mysteriously disappeared over twenty years ago – and Christie finds herself increasingly fascinated by
Lillian’s family and their imposing ancestral home.

As Christie learns more about the Rutherford-Percys, she finds a shocking clue that could help her uncover what happened to her own mother. Desperate for answers, Christie puts her job, her family and even her very life on the line. But how much of the truth does she really want to know?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy a novel with more than one narrator, I find it adds to the intrigue and provides differing views of the same situation. And in this novel I found it worked really well, covering three generations where initially I couldn’t even begin to work out the connection. 

Christie was a character I adored. I had a lot of appreciation for her honesty, her approach to her career and the evident loss she felt concerning the disappearance of her mother. She crossed the line a little with building a friendship with Lilian but she did still have her best interests at heart and tried to maintain a professional relationship. You saw a lot more of her vulnerability with her relationship with OJ, a character who made me smile a lot.

But there wasn’t just her that the reader got to know well. There was Duncan during the 1980s, probably the one who I had the most sympathy for as the way he was manipulated was revealed and Milly from the 1960s, the more I read about her the less I liked. But strangely, there wasn’t really anything I could put my finger on. I just found her a little too controlling and too familiar for an employee.

The house itself was just like I imagined one that had run out of money to be. Areas gradually being closed adding to a claustrophobic and cold atmosphere. Nowhere that anybody would call home, I couldn’t imagine a less happy home. My feelings didn’t change as I got towards the end, if anything they increased as the truth was revealed.

The ending was a shock, just before everything was revealed I had decided that I knew what happened to Christie’s mother and those connected to her. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The real outcome was much more sinister and captivating than anything I imagined.

A fantastic novel with characters that felt real

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

About The Book

THEN

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a career for herself in the magazine industry, she meets, and agrees to marry, Ned Hawthorne.

NOW

Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I knew that I would be in for an edge of my seat read, having read books by this author before. After having nothing, including somewhere to live, Amelie was given a chance after meeting Carolyn in a coffee shop. She formed a close friendship with Carolyn and two other friends and had a job she enjoyed. But a trip to Las Vegas with her boss changed everything and she regretted almost immediately agreeing to his offer of helping her with her career.

There are two parts to the novel, part one shows Amelie recalling what happened in her past and how she was dealing with being locked in a dark room in the present. You could appreciate her character and how strong she was. Unlike Ned, also imprisoned, who resorted to tantrums, threats and betrayal. The second part shows what  led to the kidnapping, who was genuine and Amelie’s  attempts to rebuild her life.

The storyline in part one was the one I liked much more. I really liked Amelie, the way she adapted to the situation that she was in and her attempts to escape. She didn’t let the realisation that Ned was prepared to put her at more risk affect her, just used it to her advantage the best way she could. But parts of part one were also present in part two. In particular the way she only felt safe in the dark, her sense of smell and knowing that the only person she could really depend on was herself. 

I felt that despite the book having quite a few characters the only one I got to know was Amelie. Nearly all of the others were just in the background. This isn’t a criticism, I just felt that it showed her determination to survive on her own. I loved everything about her.

I found this novel entertaining and quick to read

Deceit by Jónína Leósdóttir – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Reykjavík detective Soffía finds herself struggling to cope with a single-handed investigation into a spate of malicious acts taking place across the city, and enlists help from an unexpected direction.

Her psychologist ex-husband Adam has advised the police before, but with Covid raging in the city, would prefer to stay holed up in his basement flat as he deals with challenges in both his working and private life.

He grudgingly agrees to work with Soffía, as the stakes in the investigation are continually raised.

Working out who bears a grudge that goes deep enough to lead to murder, they unravel complex family ties, lingering enmities and a dark past that the victims would prefer to keep secret, while Adam encounters a young woman in a race against the clock to find the father she has never seen, but for what purpose?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read books set in Iceland before but thought that they concentrated more on the area they were set than its inhabitants. One of the strongest points of this novel was its characters. 

Soffía is the only detective who is assigned to the case concerning needles that have been used to cause harm and she enlists the help of Adam, ex husband and ex pat psychologist. Throughout the entire novel I couldn’t work out how they were ever married, they had absolutely nothing in common. Their relationship showed the differences between the  British and the Icelanders. Adam was a little more uptight than many Brits but I found him believable. I thought Soffía was wonderful, impatient and tactless, at times ruthless but I also could see her humour and determination to get a result despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic. Another prominent character was Jenní, you didn’t see that much of her, but she was definitely one who I wanted to know more about.

I always told myself I wouldn’t read a book that concerned the pandemic but in hindsight nobody can pretend that it didn’t happen. The author used it to show its impact on the police force, in the number of officers available, how interviews had to be conducted with social distancing etc. She also showed the differing views : Adam was very strict, Soffía more inclined to take chances both professionally and in her personal life.

This was an interesting case involving a mostly awful family with a completely unexpected ending, but for me the strongest part of the novel were the characters. I see huge potential for further novels.

Good Taste by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

England, 1932, and the country is in the grip of the Great Depression. To lift the spirits of the nation, Stella Douglas is tasked with writing a history of food in England. It’s to be quintessentially English and will remind English housewives of the old ways, and English men of the glory of their country. The only problem is –much of English food is really from, well, elsewhere . . . 

So, Stella sets about unearthing recipes from all corners of the country, in the hope of finding a hidden culinary gem. But what she discovers is rissoles, gravy, stewed prunes and lots of oatcakes. 

Longing for something more thrilling, she heads off to speak to the nation’s housewives. But when her car breaks down and the dashing and charismatic Freddie springs to her rescue, she is led in a very different direction . . . 

Full of wit and vim, Good Taste is a story of discovery, of English nostalgia, change and challenge, and one woman’s desire to make her own way as a modern woman.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Stella is a novelist and loves her work, her first book, although well received, hasn’t brought her much income. She is thrilled and excited when her publisher has an idea for a follow up alongside a very generous advance. This is the third book I have read by Caroline Scott so I knew that I would feel different emotions when reading. There were parts of this novel that made me smile, usually when Stella’s friend Lucien featured but there were also those that made me very emotional. Some of the more emotional moments were from reading the letters that Stella received from those who wanted to share their recipes. At times these revealed family memories but also the hardship experienced by many at the time. I had never heard of the hunger marches or that so many shipyards, collieries and mills had closed. But much more upsetting were reading the pages from her mother’s diary. I felt that Elizabeth was just as strong a character as Stella and that I really got to know her on the pages that she featured. 

I know little about the history of food and what ingredients go into a meal. A few of the foods mentioned in the letters Stella received I had heard of. Both Chorley cakes and Eccles cakes are a local food and I have eaten both without knowing anything about the custom. Many of the foods I had never heard of, and on googling feeling grateful that I had never eaten them whilst also feeling shame because my grandparents families would have lived off food like this for most of their childhood. 

I loved this novel and can’t wait to see what will come next from this author.