Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds – Review.


About the Book

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

My Review

Close to Me is a new novel that follows the fairly common theme of having an unreliable narrator. But this book is slightly different with the narrator not being in her twenties. Here, Jo is in her mid-fifties, and struggling with having nothing to focus on now that her two adult children have left home. Neither of them have lived up to the high expectations that their parents had of them and their disappointment is evident. Rob, her husband is quite critical especially when Jo decides to help out a walk in centre where they help people to find work and with other issues they may have.
After her accident, she has no memory of the previous year, either within her family or the work she does at the centre. The book goes back and forth between the year leading up to the accident and a daily diary of Jo’s attempt to try and remember.
At first I struggled to warm to any of them. But as I read more I had more empathy for Jo and the difficult relationship with both of her children. I felt her frustration at not being able to remember the people she had known quite well before the accident. And not knowing what happened to damage the family she thought was close knit. I would have liked to get to know more about Fin, he was probably the character I liked most.
Its strange reading a novel where the reader knows what happened in the previous year but the character doesn’t and I liked it very much when everything was revealed and how exactly she had been deceived.
Well written and easy to read. I will read more by this author in the future.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds – Blog Tour – Extract.


Today, I am delighted to publish an extract from Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds that will be published as an e-book on 31st March. You can preorder the book here

About the Book

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.
Dramatic psychological suspense for fans of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, and Linda Green’s While My Eyes Were Closed.
When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

Twenty-One Days After The Fall

I turn away from my husband, shifting my weight on to my side, as far from him as the bed will allow. The movement is instinctive, dulled by the fact I’m only half awake, in the place between reality and unreality. I shiver, close my eyes tighter. Outside, the blanket of deepest night is unrelenting, the wind charging its way between the tall trees which edge the drive. I listen to the rain hitting the tiles as it pummels the roof and stone walls of our converted barn; a lone parapet at the top of the hill. I imagine the water tracking its way down the huge windows, swamping our garden and then soaking into the ground beneath.
My husband’s slow steady breaths and the familiar night-time noises within the house find my ear. I pull the duvet around me and allow my subconscious to take over, unlatching from the present, an almost physical letting-go. As I succumb to sleep the memories come, but I know they are unreliable; broken and unpredictable. The harder I search the further they retreat, but then something breaks through, at once unbidden and yet desperately wanted. As much as I crave the past, I fear it too.
He lunges, his right arm raised, slamming me hard against the wall; the force of his body holding me there. In his eyes I recognise passion, but of what nature and from what emotion it’s derived I cannot tell. I reach out again to the memory, my hand touching his face, turning him towards me to read something in his expression, to look into his eyes, begging him to stop. He pushes me away, grasping my wrist to dig his fingers hard into the pale skin and then the veins beneath, his rapid breaths hot against my neck. Insistent and urgent he holds me there, pinned to the wall. I’d fought him, of that I’m certain; my nails deep in his skin until he’d cried out.

I open my eyes; traces of early morning sunlight warming the room, creating patterns on the ceiling. I watch the rise and fall of my husband’s chest; the gentle sound of his breathing. Then he wakes too, turns to me and smiles, an easy smile, no trace of deceit; as though the last year had never happened.

With thanks to Headline.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys – Review.


About the Book

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

My Review

Lily has the chance of a lifetime travelling to Australia via an assisted package scheme. She is devastated at leaving her family, her father was badly injured in WW1 AND WW2 is a growing threat. But she knows that the best way of moving forward after a recent tragedy is to try and rebuild her life in new surroundings.
She soon makes friends onboard, some of them are on the same deck as her even though they are from a different background to her. She also makes friends with Eliza and Max, who are from a completely different world and Maria a young Austrian Jew who, because of the political situation has more reason than most to run away. But everybody is running from something and as the Orantes makes its long journey to Australia the secrets are slowly revealed.
I would never have thought I would read a crime novel that would take place in such a magical setting but Rachel Rhys has proved me wrong. The life on the upper deck with its balls and banquets and affluence of the first-class existence compared with the claustrophobic setting on lower levels. The tourist class deck where Lily shares a cramped cabin with two other women and the people she must dine with. And then the lower levels where the Jews and the Italians are practically hidden away.
I felt as thrilled as Lily and her friends at visiting new countries, all of which seems a normal activity now but in 1939 for a young woman it would have felt like a dream. I could sense the wonder at the beauty and the also the intimidation that she felt at times.
I was desperate to know the identity of the woman who was escorted from the Orantes in the prologue and shocked by the reveal. This was one secret that I didn’t work out.
Rachel Rhys is a pseudonym for a highly-respected author who I have never read. I plan to change that soon.
With thanks to Alison Barrow for the copy received.

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK.

My Review

Deadly Game is the second book in the series that features Robert Finlay. I would strongly advise that the series is read in order.
The prologue featuring Relia was quite distressing and just made me think about how many young women have been convinced by the promise of a bright future. Only to find too late that it would never be the one that they dreamt of. The part of the novel that covers the sex trafficking shows the way the young women are controlled and how impossible their situation is.
Not all the book is about sex trafficking though. There is another storyline running throughout most of the novel. One which the reader finds out more but Robert Finlay is oblivious to. It is this story that makes it essential to read Wicked Game. This storyline is quite chilling. I won’t reveal what it is about but the book is set in 2001 and events that have happened since then, the events that are never far from our news makes you think about what might have happened but never made public.
It is very topical and I hope that there is a follow up. It’s a series that I have enjoyed even though a military crime thriller isn’t one that I would usually read.
The book can be purchased here
With thanks, as always to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

Where I Lost Her by T Greenwood – Review.


About the book

Tess is visiting friends in rural Vermont when she is driving alone at night and sees a young, half-dressed toddler in the middle of the road, who then runs into the woods like a frightened deer.
The entire town begins searching for the little girl. But there are no sightings, no other witnesses, no reports of missing children. As local police point out, Tess’s imagination has played her false before. And yet Tess is compelled to keep looking, in a desperate effort to save the little girl she can’t forget.

My Review

I hadn’t realised when I started reading this novel that it wasn’t the first book set in rural Vermont and some of the characters had appeared in the earlier books. But I didn’t feel like I had missed any backstory and that they could all be read as standalone novels very easily.
When Tess goes for wine late at night, she shouldn’t really be driving. On her journey home through a remote area she sees a very young girl in the road and when she can’t find her notifies the police. After a search by everybody in the area fails to turn up any evidence the town loses faith in her account. But she refuses to give up, breaking the law and placing herself in danger trying to find her.
The narrative occasionally switches back to a time in Guatemala. You know that she has had had a hard time in the past and it is these flashbacks that reveal what happened. Some of these are only brief but show an increasing amount of sadness and tragedy.
I couldn’t escape a feeling that I had read something similar last year but I did enjoy the novel. The characters were all likeable and believable. The lead investigating officer wasn’t the most approachable or understanding member of the police but I tried to understand his reasoning behind his actions. However, his role was quite small, this is more of a family drama even though it includes an investigation into a missing child.
I loved the description of the area, the remoteness that could be both beautiful and threatening. I will look for the other books that feature the same characters.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.