The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.
But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.
As her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

It would be safe to assume that The Winter’s Child is just another missing child/ unreliable narrator/ psychological thriller. But even though the novel does cover some of those things it is completely different to what I expected it to be. It does concern a missing child but the child isn’t a young boy like I imagined him to be, he is a teenager who disappeared after a family row. There is an unreliable narrator but again it is different. Susannah is a difficult character to understand. I wanted to feel sympathy for her. She is vulnerable and suffering without Joel but she appeared to be cold to others, selfish, unapproachable and snobbish. Her attitude to John, Melanie and Jackie was appalling. Especially Jackie, who was one of the characters I really warmed to. The police are minor characters, the focus is mostly on Susannah and how she is coping, or not, without her son.
It’s beautifully written, and quite refreshing to read. It’s a crime novel but it’s approached from a parent’s view rather than an investigation into a disappearance of a messed up teenager. A remarkable novel that will stay in my thought for quite a while.

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My Publication Day – Jane Isaac.

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Jane Isaac talking about how she likes to spend her publication day. She is the author of two series of books, one features Helen Lavery and the other Will Jackman. I have enjoyed reading both series of books.

How will you spend the day?

I usually have a launch party with friends and family in a nearby bookshop, a lovely occasion affording the opportunity to thank those who’ve helped with research and supported the new release, eat cake, drink plenty of wine, and generally celebrate! If this isn’t scheduled for the actual release day, my husband and I have a nice dinner and raise a glass of something special to toast the new release.

Will you be following reviews from early readers or do prefer not to know?
(Excluding blog tours)

Yes, I tend to read all the early reviews. I’m a bit of a perfectionist I suppose, and try to make every book better than the last, so I don’t really rest easy until I know that the majority of my readers are happy with the new title and how it fits into the series.

Is it emotional, getting the novel you have worked on for months into the public
eye?

Yes, definitely. It takes me almost a year to write a book and there is always a chunk of me in there somewhere, which makes publication day feel quite vulnerable. I guess it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and meeting readers’ expectations, which is why it’s so special when people take the time to post a review and leave their thoughts.

If you have had books published before, does the feeling change?

I thought it would, but it doesn’t! My fifth book was released in May and that initial feeling of trepidation still trailed me like a shadow for the first few days.

I often wonder and imagine that when your novel is published and you have been working on at least one novel since, is the book that is published less important? And is it a distraction, welcome or otherwise having to focus on what is for you old material?

I tend to write series fiction and am usually writing the next book, whilst working through copy edits and proofing in readiness for publication of the previous. I did struggle with moving between the two in the early stages, but not so much now. I do think every novel is equally important though. They should all be the best work we can produce.

Do blog tours make you more nervous or do you see them as beneficial?

I admit I do feel a little nervous, but I’m also hugely grateful that bloggers feel able to give up their valuable time to take part in a tour. Anything that helps to spread the word about a new title is hugely beneficial for everybody in the industry, from the reader to the author to the publisher, so I believe they are tremendously worthwhile.

I’m also astounded by how much time and effort bloggers put into reading, reviewing and sharing news of new books. In my opinion, they are truly the unsung heroes of the book world.

What is your publication day treat? Champagne, cream cake, 10km run?

A nice glass of wine (Zinfandel Rose is my current favourite).

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Thanks so much for having me, Stephanie. I really enjoyed answering your questions!

Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on an isolated Australian cape. As the daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community.
When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. An innocent moment in McPhail’s hut then occurs that threatens to tear their peaceful community apart.
Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a spellbinding tale of friendship and desire, memory and truth, which questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.

My Review

Skylarking is a fictionalized account of a true event that occurred in the 1880s in Jervis Bay, a remote area in Australia. Kate and Harriet have been friends throughout childhood, their fathers both work at the lighthouse. There is two years between them and as they get older Kate feels like she is being left behind. Harriet is keen to find a husband and her mother wants her to go to Melbourne rather than stay on the cape. It is on her return that tragedy strikes.
The most powerful part of this novel was the description of the area. The isolation, the danger of the sea and what it must have been like for the people who lived there. The challenges faced by the men desperate to help stricken sailors and I could visualize the men who were desperate to get a beached whale back in the sea and the frustration felt by others who wanted to earn money from her.
Even though the tale of the friendship was fiction I still found it believable. Harriet was a little spoiled, the only child whose mother wanted better for her. Kate was aware of how much her family needed her but also wished for her own life. Their relationship showed devotion, jealousy, a need to protect and a need to be noticed. I would have liked to know and understand McPhail a bit more but his enigmatic demeanour and his brashness probably contributed to his appeal.
The attitude to the Aborigines left me feeling a little uncomfortable but I should imagine it was an accurate portrayal for the time in which it was set. And it did change slightly towards the end.
When I finished this novel, I was searching the internet for days trying to find out more information about the actual event. Apart from photos of the lighthouse and cottages in ruins I found nothing. Which for anybody who knows me will know how annoying I found this. I guess though that it would be a fascinating area to visit.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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The Lies Within by Jane Isaac – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner… This woman is guilty of murder.
Grace Daniels is distraught after her daughter’s body is found in a Leicestershire country lane. With her family falling apart and the investigation going nowhere, Grace’s only solace is the re-emergence of Faye, an old friend who seems to understand her loss.
DI Will Jackman delves into the case, until a family tragedy and a figure from his past threaten to derail him.
When the police discover another victim, the spotlight falls on Grace. Can Jackman find the killer, before she is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit?

My Review

The Lies Within is the latest book in the series that features Will Jackman. It is slightly different to the previous books, focusing on the victim’s family rather than Will so is easily read as a standalone.
Will is on secondment to the Leicestershire police when Jo is found murdered. It looks similar to other attacks and the team are eager to solve the case before other women are attacked. Will is under pressure from his boss professionally and personally, his wife’s health deteriorates and the investigation takes a back seat. That is, until there is another murder.
Much of the novel is concerned with Grace and her family and how they coped with the aftermath of Jo’s murder. You see how suffocated Grace was by the police presence, how she felt when she was denied access to her daughter’s possessions and the frustration at getting no answers. It was convincing, watching their lives fall apart and how they all coped in different ways. It showed that there was no wrong way.
It is a slow burning novel. The trial and the murderer being revealed is towards the end of the novel. Will and his team are trying to solve the case, Grace has found a friend in Faye but you know that with her nothing is as it seems. She was too good to be true. It was a good ending, I like to think it was a happy one for Grace’s family. It was one that made you think about what you would do in similar circumstances.
I hope that this series continues, I want to see Will’s family life improve and for him to be happy.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

You can buy the book at Amazon or Waterstones

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. But one night she swaps her trademark saw for an axe.
When Arden’s husband is found dead later that night, the answer seems clear, most of all to young policeman Virgil Holt.
Captured and taken into custody, all seems set for Arden’s swift confession. But she has a different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless, and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding.

My Review

Before I started reading The Magician’s Lie I fully expected it be be a crime novel, following the usual procedure of a crime committed and then the investigation so I was a bit surprised when this wasn’t really what I got.
Yes, there is a crime but then the focus moves to the life story of Arden, how she ran away from an abusive relationship and finally got the chance to achieve her dream. She doesn’t come across as a bad person. In fact, she is a victim of more than one act of cruelty.
It is a while since I read historical crime fiction and I liked this a lot. The image of turn of the century America was captivating. A New York where Grand Central Station has yet to be built and Fifth Avenue was still a residential Street. All this combined with the account of a theatrical career and a few magician secrets revealed. I like to learn something new when I read a book and the account of the Iroquois Fire was a horrifying section of the novel. More so when I realized that it was an actual event.
I like to think it was a happy ending for at least one of the main characters and I am interested in whether we will see further novels featuring any of them. It would work well as a series as well as a standalone novel.
A completely unexpected read that I enjoyed immensely.
You can buy the book here
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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