The Girl In The Maze by Cathy Hayward – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘I would caution you against delving into the past. The past is often best left exactly where it is.’

Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them.

Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult.

As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother’s past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost.

An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy reading a dual time frame novel so was looking forward to reading this book. And it was also a pleasure to read a novel that takes place somewhere I have visited and could recognise, Morecambe. The whole theme of the novel concerns family  and how attitudes years earlier had an impact on Emma and her family in modern day.  It was a little upsetting at times to read how her mother and grandmother both suffered in their teens. Twenty years apart but nothing had improved.

Many people will be familiar with the mother and baby homes or the laundries where a young woman had her child snatched away from her. The trauma suffered by Margaret in this novel was just how I would imagine it to be. A very difficult family life, abused and that abuse ignored by the one who could have done something to help. It would be easy to dislike her and her treatment of Emma and her young family but all I felt was sympathy. And she was a character who I only knew through the narrative of others. 

One of the strongest aspects of this novel were the letters. Most of what happened in the past was revealed by these and towards the end of the novel they became more remorseful and upsetting. It made me wonder how many families went through similar experiences and how many of those never found any answers. And it was also a stark reminder how important it is to talk, Emma and her own family could have had a completely different relationship with Margaret if they had been able to talk about the past. 

There was some detestable characters but most who featured felt normal and likeable. All of them had their life changed by some appalling acts that could have been avoided. 

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.

The Girls From Alexandria by Carol Cooper – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.

Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy reading something out of my comfort zone and it’s a bonus when it concerns an area or a topic which I know nothing about. In this novel that area was Alexandria, I’m ashamed to say I had never even heard of it.

It’s a dual time frame novel where Nadia features in both. The modern day where Nadia is in hospital, aged 70 and being ignored by the medics who were going through the motions of providing care. The other part of the novel started in the 1950s and went through to modern day covering Nadia’s childhood and then her married life in Alexandria and London. And whilst I loved her  wry approach to life and way of coping with being ignored in modern day I also enjoyed reading about a completely different way of life in Alexandria. There were parts that made me sad and wary but there were also parts that made me smile. I have never thought about how strange some of the British everyday phrases seem to those who aren’t used to them. I felt that Nadia, Fouad, and their many friends took a lot of pleasure in using them. 

Like a few  in the novel I wasn’t convinced by Simone’s existence at first. But as it progressed I wanted her to be real if for no other reason to make those who should have provided care to listen to Nadia. I hope that I have never have the misfortune to get doctors like the ones who feature here. 

An absolutely wonderful novel that I read at a perfect time for me.

All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When everything you say is a lie, can you even remember the truth?

Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.

If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.

That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.

This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. It’s not often where I find a narrator who made me feel extremely edgy but it was I got with Annie. I have to admit that this feeling didn’t last for the whole length of the novel but she definitely wasn’t a character who I would like to meet in real life. And even though my feelings did change slightly when I realised what had happened in her past somewhat, she was still someone who I felt wary of. Even though this book is about a missing girl, most of the novel concerns Annie and the way she handles the situation. Which has to be said isn’t well. 

Apart from the character of Annie what I found interesting about this novel was the impact a missing child had on the local community. This isn’t really told from the point of view of the police. Instead it’s about those who come together to search, help, and at times turn vigilante as suspects are revealed. It also show how rumours and gossip spread and how dangerous it can be. Often without any thought for the victim or their family and friends. It also shows that there will always be the ones who don’t really care, who are more concerned about the impact it has on them rather than a family going through their worst nightmare. 

Alongside the story that concerns the missing girl there are also brief passages that show an unsettling friendship between three girls. They are short but sinister, when you see how easy it is to manipulate a dangerous situation. 

This is the first book I have read by this author, I would definitely read another.

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

An addictive thriller about a case gone cold and the dangers lurking on our doorsteps, Monstrous Souls will have you gripped to the very end.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy a dual time frame novel and this book is one of the better ones. Most of the narrative is from Heidi, the young woman who was attacked in 2001 which resulted in memory loss and how she handles dealing with the snippets that she has started to remember fifteen years later. And there is also Denise, a police officer who has involved in the initial investigation and the only person who can help Heidi find her answers.

Some of this book is quite difficult to read, especially in 2001. The way Nina had to deal with what was happening to her and how a cry for help resulted in further tragedy. The guilt Heidi feels as more memories resurface. The anger and frustration felt by the police when faced with a historic crime that looks like it could involve one of their own.

What the author does so well is show how the crimes committed affect the different individuals concerned, both at the time they were committed and in the future. How the fear of retribution made many stay silent. It is extremely convincing. 

It’s hard to be believe that this is a debut novel, it is very well written with little hint of who could or couldn’t be trusted.