You Don’t Know Me by Sara Foster – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished. Noah Carruso has never forgotten her: she was his first crush; his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend.

Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared, under a darkening cloud of suspicion. Now he’s coming home for the inquest into Lizzie’s death, intent on telling his side of the story for the first time.

As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce while on holiday in Thailand. They fall in love fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken, for she carries a terrible secret of her own.

He’s guarding a dark secret, but so is she.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. It is a while since I read a book that I would describe as ‘romantic suspense’ and I found it quite refreshing. Noah and Alice probably expected their holiday romance to fizzle out when Noah had to return to Sydney but with Alice being forced to return home shortly after and both needing each other for moral support their relationship grew stronger.

Both had suffered life changing events when they were younger and when what happened was revealed I enjoyed the novel a lot more. Especially with Noah, I had no idea what had happened to Lizzie and was completely wrong in my suspicions. I also liked the description of his relationship with his older brother Tom and the way he put up with his parent’s demands with the way he lived his life. Especially when it concerned the family business. He obviously had a lot of patience.

Alice’s story was less of a surprise but I loved her spirit and strength. She managed to be a support to her father, Noah and was able to put what happened to her behind her. Like many she was a stronger person than she imagined herself to be.

Reading the last third of this book I didn’t want to put it down, I had a lot of sympathy for Noah, having to stand up in court, stand up to his bullying brother and be honest with his parents. A perfect novel to read during lockdown.

Underwater Breathing by Cassandra Parkin – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

On Yorkshire’s gradually-crumbling mud cliffs sits an Edwardian seaside house. In the bathroom, Jacob and Ella hide from their parents’ passionate arguments by playing the ‘Underwater Breathing’ game – until the day Jacob wakes to find his mother and sister gone.

Years later, the sea’s creeping closer, his father is losing touch with reality and Jacob is trapped in his past. Then, Ella’s sudden reappearance forces him to confront his fractured childhood. As the truth about their parents emerges, it’s clear that Jacob’s time hiding beneath the water is coming to an end.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I was looking forward to reading this book after the The Winter’s Child, the author’s previous book was one of my top reads for 2017. I wasn’t disappointed. Jacob, Ella and Mrs Armitage were characters I enjoyed getting to know.
With narrative from 2008 and ‘now’ the reader sees the two children grow and their houses getting closer to the sea. Ella, aged seven, is petrified at the thought of this happening but her relationship with Jacob and her friendship with Mrs Armitage helped her.
I loved the sections that involved young Ella and Mrs Armitage. The author did a brilliant job of making a seven year old character a convincing one and the conversations she had with her older friend were amusing but poignant and I felt both of them enjoyed their friendship.
Ella’s role in ‘now’ wasn’t as prominent. Much of this concerns Jacob and his relationship with his father whose health is poor. It is a much darker side of the novel, a bit worrying at times and I did prefer the lighter alternative.
One of the most fascinating parts of the novel was the level of acceptance that their homes would be lost to the sea. How it seemed perfectly normal that you could suddenly lose most of your garden and eventually your home and just carry on regardless.
A unique and wonderful read.

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The Teacher’s Secret by Suzanne Leal – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

Things aren’t always as they seem…

A small town can be a refuge, but while its secrets are held, it’s hard to know who to trust and what to believe.

The Teacher’s Secret is a tender and compelling story of scandal, rumour and dislocation, and the search for grace and dignity in the midst of dishonour and humiliation..

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
The Teacher’s Secret is set in a close-knit community in Australia. Terry has been teaching at the local school for years. Some of the children he teaches are the children of parents he taught when they were children. Some of them need more help than others. Pupils and colleagues adore him but when Laurie arrives to stand in as school head she doesn’t like his ways. She sees his closeness and time he spends with the children in his own time as a threat to their safety and against the rules. And Laurie is adamant that all rules need to be adhered to by everybody. She soon makes it impossible for him to carry on working at the school.
The novel focuses on Terry but also other members of the community. We meet Nina, the teacher who replaces Terry and one of the few who doesn’t really know him. We also meet parents and grandparents of pupils, close friends and a family who want refuge.
At first, when the novel focused on Terry I found if quite difficult to read. I did have sympathy for him, he did a lot of good things for the kids, especially the ones who needed extra care. But I don’t think he helped himself at all with his refusal to accept the rules that were in place. I warmed to him more after he was forced to leave his job, when you could see how much the children needed him. And how much he needed them.
My favourite character was Nina, how she had to accept the way her life had changed and how she had to make the children accept her as their new teacher. She was the only one who had any liking or sympathy for Laurie, a feeling I didn’t share. I thought she was a cold person who would manipulate a situation so she could put her rules in place. I liked Grace and her family, I felt her fears over not being granted refuge and how hard it was to fit into a new way of life. And how it was made easier for them by a misunderstanding.
I liked reading about this little community of people and Suzanne Leal is an author who I would happily read again.

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Hotel On Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully – Blog Tour Review.



About the Book

When Maya was a girl, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to.
Desperate for answers, Maya begins to unravel secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover what happened, she must decide whether her life, and a chance at love, are worth risking for the truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
Even though Hotel on Shadow Lake wasn’t quite like I expected it to be, I enjoyed it a lot. Set in Germany in the late 1930s and USA across the decades it demonstrates the devastation caused by the horror of WW2 and also how greed can destroy lives.
In 1930’s Munich, Martha has differing views to her mother and twin brother about the country’s political situation. She is constantly being warned that she needs to keep her thoughts to herself.
In 2017, Maya is desperate to find out why the remains of her Grandmother (Martha) have been discovered in a remote area in New York. Despite warnings to be careful, she is determined to carry on with her investigation.
I liked both narrators and time frames but the strongest part of the novel for me was in the 1930s. I have read a bit of fiction that is based on events leading up to the start of WW2 but never from a female point of view. Much of it is intimidating, and a lot of it is upsetting. The levels of violence shown by the Gestapo and those who followed them because they believed it was the right thing to do. The fear from the Jewish communities, the belief of the students that they could make a difference had me reading with a lump in my throat.
So to go from this scenario to the one in America felt like quite a leap. There was still intimidation but it was completely different. I did work out the connection fairly early, but I wanted to see how it all came together in modern-day. And what had happened to Martha, who was my favourite character by a long way.
I don’t always read author notes at the back of a book but if you are the same, I would advice that you do. They made me want to read certain parts of it again.

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


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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