The Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott – Blog Tour Review.

 

The Summer of Secrets Cover

About the Book

The heart-breaking and unforgettable new novel from Nikola Scott about two women born decades apart caught up in dark secrets. Perfect for readers of Dinah Jefferies and Kate Morton.

August 1939

At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…

Today

Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy a dual time frame novel and this novel was one I was looking forward to reading. I could visualise both periods very well. The reclusive Maddy who struggles to accept her sister’s friends and partying, and Chloe who would appear to have a fantastic life but for her very sick brother and her controlling husband.
At first I struggled to read Chloe’s story. I found intimidating with the way that her husband manipulated her. But, she is stronger than she appears, something he seems to have forgotten and she won’t behave the way that he expects. As the novel progressed and she became more aware, I wanted to carry on reading about her. Every time it switched back to Maddy I was itching to know what happened next.
I liked everything about Maddy’s story. The friendships she had with Susan, William and Cookie. The tolerance but devotion to Auntie and the way that she had to handle the death of her father. But again, there was a troubling relationship. Not as intimidating as the other but still a concern for the two sisters. There were a couple of touching parts in the novel, waiting for the announcement on the radio about the war starting and when the men started to leave to go off to war. I could picture clearly what it must have been like for thousands of families across the country.
The level of trust was something special, Chloe and Danny, Maddy and Susan and as they got to know each other, Chloe, Maddy and Matt. I would have loved to read about their relationships develop more.
A lovely novel and a reminder that I need to read the author’s earlier book My Mother’s Shadow soon.

Summer of Secrets Blog Tour Poster

The Girl In The Letter by Emily Gunnis – Blog Tour Review.

 

The Girl In The Letter Cover

About the Book

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.

1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.

Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.
Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…

Read her letter. Remember her story…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Like many people I was aware of places like the Magdalene Laundries and the stories attached to them. I have a vague memory of a similar establishment in the town I grew up in. Hopefully it was nothing like St Margaret’s.
The Girl in the Letter is a heartbreaking fictionalised account of two girls who spent time there in the 1950s. One is Ivy, whose child was taken away from her and the other is Elvira, a child who was returned when an adoption went wrong. Ivy tries her best to look after Elvira. After finding letters from Ivy years later, Sam who is a journalist wants to know more.
The novel goes back and forth in time between 1956 and 2017. Part of Ivy’s tale is told by letters, it is hers that Sam has read. But there are also flashbacks to those connected to the events that happened. The priest, nuns (it’s easy to see why so many people fear them), the doctors, social workers and the girls themselves. What the girls, some as young as fifteen were put through was horrific, the cruelty shown by those who could have done better was devastating.
At times it was difficult to read, seeing the heartbreak of the young mothers had their children taken away for a ‘better life’. Sadly not many did.
Some of the accounts from those connected did show remorse but not enough. Some only thought about how they would look if they were found out. I did work out the connection between the 1950s and 2017, I don’t think it was a secret but I found it fascinating how close-knit it was. I ached for some happiness, and the relationship between Nana, Sam and Emma provided some. It showed how a family could be without interference from others. It also showed how many lives were ruined due to those who feel the need to judge.
Even though this is fiction the reader is aware that these events and worse did happen. It made me wonder if those who were responsible did show remorse and how many lives were ruined because of their actions.
A novel that is full of bitterness, fear and regret but also one that gave hope for better understanding and a willingness to talk and show love.

The Girl In The Letter Blog Tour Poster

Come And Find Me by Sarah Hilary – Review.

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About the Book

On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.
DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She’s finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn’t able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.
As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him – and is about to pay the ultimate price.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
Come and Find Me is the fifth book in the series that features Marnie and Jake and I can honestly say that it was my favourite one so far. It is slightly different to the earlier books. There has always been focus on both Marnie and Noah’s private lives, and whilst that continues, there is also a lot of focus on those who are connected to the prison.
All of the novel is fascinating, and some of it disturbing. Women who become obsessed with convicted killers baffle and worry me. I was also unsettled because I couldn’t figure out who was responsible. With the amount of crime fiction I read I sometimes ‘solve’ the crime as I read but in this novel I failed on most of it.
The end was devastating on so many counts. Not just for the regular characters but also those who were duped into believing they were vital.
This is one of my favourite detective series and as it stands the only one out of all of them I am up to date with. I can’t even begin to imagine what Marnie and Jake have to deal with next.

You can purchase the book here

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements – Review.

About The Book

Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.
Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.
When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.

My Review

The Coffin Path is an eerie tale that takes place on the Yorkshire Moors in the 17th century. It’s a hard place to live, the bleakness, the years after the war and its in a remote area that is reliant on good weather to make a decent living. And there is a rumour that has never gone away of an evil presence on the moors and especially at Scarcross Hall, the home of Mercy and her father.
The novel has two narrators. Ellis, who has recently arrived in the area and Mercy. Ellis has a barely hinted at past and at first Mercy doesn’t trust him. But, when all her regular workers abandon her he is one of her only allies. There isn’t much of his narration that covers the sinister events, apart from what happens with the livestock.
Mercy is the character who is affected most by what is happening. She can see her father’s health deteriorate with what is occurring as well as changing behavior of Sam, a young boy who lives nearby. Most of her narration had me warily looking over my shoulder and tensing at every noise I heard. If I had a fire screen it would have been removed from the house, it was one of the creepiest parts of the novel, and it brought me out in goosebumps more than once.
As well as being a ghost story it was also a historical one. The English Civil War had an impact on the area and many of the characters in the novel were affected by it. Some of them were living in poverty and suspicious of those who had a different religion. Many of the locals weren’t likeable, but living in fear of losing everything and listening to tales of witchcraft and unexplained occurences must have made a difficult situation to live in. I imagine that this was an accurate description for the time.
I enjoy a ghost story, but I have found it difficult lately to find one that kept me on edge. The Coffin Path has made up for recent disappointments, it is one of the eeriest books that I have read for a few years. And with the addition of historical fiction in a period of time that had an impact locally.

The Coffin Path can be pre ordered here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds – Review.

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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