Return To Blackwater House by Vikki Patis – Review.

About The Book

You can run from your past, but you can’t hide forever…

Rebecca Bray has moved on from a childhood she desperately wants to forget.

She has everything she’s ever wanted – the perfect fiancé, a loving stepdaughter, a career she’s proud of, and now the house of her dreams.

But when the family move to the Cornish village where Rebecca grew up, everything she wanted to bury from those years starts to claw at the surface.

Then, when her stepdaughter goes missing at a New Year’s Eve party, Rebecca must finally face the ghosts of her past – or Ava might never come home safely…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Rebecca returns to the area she lived in as a child as new owner of Blackwater House she has mixed feelings. Her childhood was difficult, neglected because of drug and alcohol abuse and the only one who was willing to help was Gwen who had left the house to her. She is determined to make the best of it for herself, partner Daniel and his daughter Ava. But when Ava disappears she has to face her demons to try and get her home.

With flashbacks to her childhood, her anxiety over Ava’s disappearance and the noticeable lack of support from Daniel you get to see how strong a character Rebecca was. Even though she couldn’t see it herself. The people she meets, from her childhood, who also show that they have changed since their teens. One of them is her family liaison officer, who features quite strongly in both a professional and personal capacity. I found this really interesting because all too often you only see the job. Another was Ashleigh, whose storyline was unexpectedly more devastating than I expected it to be 

But it was Rebecca who touched me most. I loved her relationship with Ava, her need to keep Ava’s mother’s family in their lives despite the increasingly obnoxious Daniel’s wishes. I also had a lot of respect for her determination to escape her past, seek vengeance and protect Ava. All I could do was admire her. Admittedly, I didn’t see any of twists as I was reading but this increased my enjoyment. 

I will definitely be looking at this author’s back catalogue, this was a book I liked a lot.

First Born by Will Dean – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.

Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.

But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Despite reading books from Will Dean’s Tuva series this is the first standalone that I have read. It concerns twin sisters, once close but now living in different countries, a distance made greater by a disagreement they struggled to overcome. When the older, more outgoing twin Katie is found dead in her New York apartment Molly has face her fears and travel over to support their parents and accept the loss of her sister.

I have to admit that I found Molly and her obsessions infuriating at times but as she started to adapt to a different way of life in New York she seemed more at ease. But for some reason I still didn’t take to her,or most of the other characters. The only one I really cared for was the smoothie seller Jimmy who seemed more approachable and caring than many of the others. 

I read many crime novels but this was the first that I’ve read where a victim was a twin, I liked the way the author showed how the grieving process seemed different, how the loss affected Molly and also the way it made Katie’s friends feel. Knowing that she was dead but still being able to ‘see’ her. It felt a little strange and unnerving.

I loved the description of New York, somewhere I had the pleasure of visiting once and  I could clearly see the areas around Central Park and Times Square. I remembered seeing it as Molly and her parents did, overawed by its size and grandeur. 

I did see the twists in this novel but knowing didn’t impact on my feelings, I know that this book will just be as successful as the author’s previous novels.

The Shadow House by Anna Downes – Review

About The Book

THE BONES COME FIRST… 
When single mother Alex arrives at her new home with her two children, she can finally breathe easy. Pine Ridge, a rural community near the Australian coast, is beautiful, peaceful and most importantly, far away from the trauma she left behind.

NEXT, A DOLL…
Then unexplained boxes start arriving at the house, and Alex’s teenage son begins to retreat into himself more than ever. As rumours and legends swirl through the community, Alex realises that Pine Ridge is guarding long-held secrets of its own.

AND THEN THE BLOOD. 
Something is lurking in the shadows, and Alex and her family are in grave danger. She must protect her children from the darkness at all costs – before it engulfs them whole…

A tense and haunting tale of one mother’s fight for her family, in a place where no one can hear you scream. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I thoroughly enjoyed Anna Downes debut novel so was looking forward to reading this new book. It concerns Alex, mother of a rebellious teenage son, Ollie, and baby daughter Kara who has run from an abusive relationship to what she hopes is a new start. She has found an eco village and it should have provided everything she needed. But almost immediately strange things happen, the children aren’t settled and she  is too exhausted to cope. Plus not all of her neighbours are welcoming. At the same time there were flashbacks to Renee and her family where there are strong similarities to some of what Alex was facing. I have to admit that I had little liking or sympathy for Ollie, but did for Gabriel, Renee’s son. However my thoughts regarding Ollie changed the more I read and knew more about him. 

Much of the time I can workout which way a storyline is going, I had no idea with this book. It’s not really full of twists, instead there are secrets that are gradually revealed and there was more than just Ollie who I liked and understood more as I read. 

It’s original with a perfect setting that was also different to most.

Cold Clay by Juneau Black – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A MURDER TO SOLVE. A REPORTER ON THE CASE.
CRIMES OF THE PAST WON’T STAY BURIED . . .

In the woodland community of Shady Hollow, you’ll discover a secret. Moose and mice, owls and bears live side by side in civilised harmony. The town has a coffee shop and a bookshop, a haberdasher and a bank. Life is peaceful, until a skeleton is found buried deep under an apple tree. Danger has returned to Shady Hollow.

Ace reporter Vera Vixen only wants a good news story as harvest time arrives with the promise of glorious feasts ahead. But the discovery of the body casts a darker shadow. Soon enough, the coffeeshop’s owner is being dragged down to the police station. Vera can’t believe gentle Joe the moose is a killer. To get to the bottom of the matter, she will have to dig into the secrets her neighbours would rather leave buried forever . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Cold Clay is the second in the series to feature Vera the Vixen, journalist/ detective in the Shady Hollow series. There are no spoilers in the novel but I do recommend reading them in order. If the only reason is because they are very light- hearted for a crime novel, are easy to read and they are pure escapism.

If you have read book one you will have met Joe the moose who owns the coffee shop. You would know that his wife, Julia, left him years earlier. But this novel shows a different explanation for her disappearance and Vera is determined to prove that he wasn’t involved. Even if it causes an argument with Orville who she has become very close to.

I did see who was responsible for Julia’s disappearance but I don’t think it was meant to be a surprise. What I couldn’t see was who and how, and I enjoyed reading how Vera discovered the answers. She couldn’t see though, that others were also suspicious.

I don’t really think of these characters as creatures, probably because you wouldn’t expect foxes, bears, ravens etc to eat cake and drink coffee. Many feature from the earlier book, some of them I saw in a different way. Esme, in particular, was much nicer and I feel that Vera’s friendship with her could grow. I love her relationship with Orville, the detective and the descriptions of both her frustration and love for her job.

Another very entertaining read and I’m looking forward to book three. 

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A DEVOTED MOTHER
Sam Cooper has a happy life: a good job, a blossoming relationship. Yet, there’s something he can never forget – the image seared into his mind of his mother, Laurie, dying when he was a child. His father allowed his grief to tear them apart and Sam hasn’t seen him in years.

A LOVING WIFE
Until an unexpected call from Firwood hospital, asking Sam to come home, puts in motion a chain of devastating events. On his deathbed, Sam’s father makes a shocking confession.

A LIAR?
Who was Laurie Cooper? It’s clear that everything Sam thought he knew about his mother was wrong. And now he’s determined to find out exactly what she did and why – whatever the cost. 

What happens if you discover you’ve been lied to by your own family for twenty-five years?

Sam Cooper is about to find out.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received, I have read a couple of Luca Veste’s Merseyside based books before and really enjoyed them. This new book, a standalone mainly set in America, was one that appealed as soon as I’d heard about it. 

Sam is living alone in London and when he is on a date with a woman he likes a lot he receives a call from the hospital telling him to get there as soon as he can. His father was extremely poorly. He arrives in time but wasn’t  prepared for what he discovered or how much danger he was now in.

He was a character I liked immediately and who I had a lot of sympathy for. He had a very difficult relationship with his estranged father since the loss of his mother and younger brother. But he didn’t show self pity, instead he focused on trying to find answers and trying to stay alive. He also managed to maintain his sense of humour and a degree of cynicism, especially with regard to the size of his meal portions in America and the amount of adverts on TV. The fear that he felt throughout, not knowing why people wanted to kill him felt real, but the most convincing was his fear of the rivers, showing that his experience had left long lasting scars. 

It is one of those novels where the reader knows more than the characters, I knew why Sam’s mother was forced to flee, the lengths that her stalker would go to but I didn’t know who could be trusted and whether his mother was dead or alive. I also could see the reasons why some of the characters did what they did when the eventual truth was revealed. Strangely I also felt a little sympathy for a few of them. 

This is a book full of twists, danger and regret. I loved it