The Raven’s Mark by Christie J Newport – Review.

About The Book

Meet Beth Fellows, a Preston detective haunted by her mum’s murder when she was only four. She’s a driven woman with a heart of gold.

A stranger came into our home, strangled my mother to death and left me sitting alone with her body. What happened to my mum is the driving force behind every major decision I’ve made since . . .

Now Beth faces the hardest case of her career: Rose Danes’s throat is cut, her body discarded on a council estate. Seared into the teenage girl’s skin is the image of a raven.

Six years ago, another girl was attacked. The victim, fourteen-year-old Celine Wilson, barely survived and was left brain-damaged in a coma.


Why wait six years to strike again?

Then Beth receives a mobile phone from the killer — with a warning that he will hurt those closest to her if she tells anyone.

She’s talking to a dangerous predator but nobody knows. Not her team. Not her partner. No one.

If I’d known the personal cost of heading this investigation I would have walked away. No, I would have run as fast as I could and never looked back. Now, it’s far too late . . .

Beth must break all the rules to stop any more girls from suffering. But will her everything be enough to stop a sick murderer?

My Review

I first became aware of this novel when I saw a link to an article in my local newspaper. It’s not often where I read a book set where I live so I immediately looked closer and placed an online preorder. And then sat and waited impatiently.

It was well worth the wait, this is a gem!

Firstly, this was a team of detectives that I liked a lot. I could see how they were all affected by the death of a teenage girl, especially when they all felt guilt that there were a lot of similarities to a previous case where the culprit had never been found. Not just the frontline officers but the team working behind the scenes as well, the forensic investigators who often go unmentioned. All were unable to relax in their free time. I also really appreciated the closeness and their loyalty. None of them wanted to outshine their colleagues, they just wanted to stop a killer. 

Secondly, the storyline. The death of a young girl is always going to be upsetting and the author showed how raw the situation was. The way that Rose’s family and friends fell apart from grief, anger and guilt. It also had a huge impact on Beth, who also has to cope with selfish behaviour from her partner Yvette and worry over the safety of those close to her. 

And obviously, with it being a local book and author I enjoyed the setting. I did spend quite a bit of it trying to place the real Preston into a fictional setting but that was part of the fun. It wasn’t just the places, it was also the people. I felt that the author captured the true personality of Prestonians. 

A fantastic debut novel and I’m hoping that there will be a follow up.

The Turn Of The Tide by Alan Jones – Review.

About The Book

The Turn of the Tide is the third book in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy: a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

As Hitler’s greed turns eastwards to the fertile and oil rich Soviet heartlands, life for the Kästner and the Nussbaum families disintegrates and fragments as the Nazis tighten the noose on German and Polish Jews. Implementing Endlösung der Judenfrage, the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’, Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich and Eichmann plan to have Germany, and Europe, Judenrein, ‘cleansed of Jews’.

General Erich Kästner, increasingly alone, fights a losing battle to protect his friends, and their fellow Jews, putting himself and his family in jeopardy.

As the tide of war turns, he looks anxiously to the Soviets in the east, and to the Western Allies, desperately hoping, despite his patriotism, that Germany is defeated before there are no Jews left in the countries occupied by the Third Reich.
When an assassination attempt on Hitler and his henchmen fails, Erich Kästner himself comes under the scrutiny of the Gestapo, and his own survival, and that of his family, becomes uncertain.

As the war draws to an end, with Germany in ruins, time is running out for the Kästners and the Nussbaums…

My Review

The Turn Of The Tide, book three in the Sturmtaucher series, is one I have been trying to read for a year. But with the length of it I knew I had to set aside quite a lot of reading time and I’m not very good at reading more than one book at a time. 

It is a series where you really need to read them all in order. The storyline concerns three families whose lives are connected throughout the three books, and whilst not confusing they are complex. But despite the gap in reading it didn’t take me long to remember who was who and probably more importantly what they had done.

This book mainly takes place in the last few years of the war and the months after. It shows Franz and Johann as POWs in Scotland, Ruth and Manny living with a family on the Isle of Man and then in London with both of them determined to support the British and in Manny’s case get revenge. It shows Erich and the remaining members of the Kastner family in Germany, trying to survive and still showing differing views on war. And it also chillingly shows the ruthless obsession shown by members of the Gestapo and their refusal to back down in their pursuit of Erich.

Whilst the ending of the war is described in detail, much of the novel shows the attempts by many to get answers about loved ones. I could see clearly their devastation that all felt over their city being destroyed and seeing the horror of people picking through the rubble that used to be their homes. The author showed that there were more than the main characters who were searching, all hoping that they would find out one way or another. I can’t even begin to imagine how many never found out. The most emotional parts of this novel, for me, was knowing exactly what happened to their families or friends but those looking didn’t. 

I learned more about the war from this book than anything else I have read or watched on TV. Many of the characters weren’t military, they were just normal people whose lives had been torn apart by the actions of leaders. How many were brainwashed, or chose to believe because it was easier. 

Heartbreaking, horrifying and original. Highly recommended.

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 Broken Places by Rebecca Bradley – Review

About The Book

When Adrian Sykes is abducted in the night and brutally murdered, he leaves behind a pregnant wife, and no answers. Or are there? 

A secret unit within Nottinghamshire police has an angle, but it’s not one they’re willing to share. Information is hidden and secrets are kept. 

To firm up their case, undercover officer Molly Bell must enter the lion’s den to discover the truth, but it’s more difficult than expected. Secrets unravel, and a collision course is set. 

Suspended from duty and back from rehab, Detective Inspector Hannah Robbins is at home, patiently awaiting her misconduct hearing, when her past slams into her present. Will it drag Hannah under and finally destroy her, or can she face it head-on and survive? 

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I have read all of Rebecca Bradley’s novels and this is definitely my favourite. I was absolutely hooked. I do strongly advice that you read the full series in order so that you can enjoy this book as much as I did. You need to be aware what this monster has done in more than one novel!

Due to the events in the previous book, Hannah doesn’t feature as strongly as normal. Instead the focus is on Aaron, her colleague and an undercover officer Molly who for most of the novel is known as Pippa. I really liked this, it was like seeing two different people, but one wasn’t real. I thought this worked perfectly, she could only be known as Pippa!

The main thread of this novel really unsettled me, I struggle to accept cults and their control. There probably are many more characters who are more evil than Harper but I am struggling to think of any. I could see and feel how he made Pippa, Hannah and young Ruby feel. All of them were a lot braver than I would be. It was chilling, way too realistic but gripping. 

Hannah’s rehabilitation was also interesting, I liked seeing the closeness and loyalty of the team, her admittance that she had a problem and the insight into how the police force and the way they handled the situation. I imagine it’s common.

I am really interested in seeing what happened next in this series, I think it is one of the strongest out there.

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