The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This was the first book I have read by Rowan Coleman so I had no idea how powerful her writing was. It is a while since I have felt so emotional throughout most of a novel. 

There are three stories of three women. Tru, Emily and Agnes. Emily was the one who featured the least but she was one of the more important characters, because without her there wouldn’t be a story. She is also the one who was a real person. She was a Bronte. The book takes place in the house where she spent a lot of her time, the family home of the Heaton’s, Tru’s home.

When Tru returns home after her husband is presumed dead after a plane crash it is the first time for sixteen years. She has always had a difficult relationship with her mother that they both have to try and repair, has to be a support to her young son Will, and make Ponden Hall more safe to live in. The life of Emily Bronte is always something she has been interested in and even more so when she starts to find letters written by her.

I have to admit that I know little about the Bronte family, I have never read Wuthering Heights and even though I visited Haworth and watched a programme on children’s TV many years ago I cannot remember much about it. Apart from strangely, images of an ailing Emily lying on a sofa.

Despite knowing little, I adored this novel. The tragic story of Agnes, researched many years later by Emily and still being prominent in the modern day story was one that affected me more than any other. The relationship between Tru and Ma and the way they realised that they did care for each other and the way Will helped bring them closer together. The ghostly happenings which made me feel chilled alongside the local legends.

I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. Emily’s and Agnes’s story appearing at the end of chapters so the reader could see what Tru found out at the same time. The way Tru met Abe was revealed the same way. I have never read a book this way before and I found it added to the emotion, devastation and at times outrage.

It was a book that had me looking at information and photographs on the internet to see of they were real or invention. I was very grateful for the author notes which provided the information I couldn’t find. 

An absolutely wonderful read. I don’t usually read novels twice now but I could make an exception for this. After I’ve revisited Haworth, obviously.

Looker by Laura Sims – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn’t have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

The Actress lives a few doors down. She’s famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Looker was a novel that made me want to close all my curtains until I finished reading it. I don’t think I have ever felt as on edge before when reading.

The narrator and actress are unnamed throughout. At first this felt a little strange but it didn’t really matter. You just needed to know that the actress had everything the narrator wanted. Not possessions, a nice house and money as such, more a loving husband and children. Everything that could bring happiness to the very lonely narrator, who seems to get more isolated the more I read.

There were times I felt uncomfortable. The storyline regarding Cat, the students and the obsessive behaviour that became increasingly sinister and out of control. But, unusually I did have sympathy. Especially in the beginning when you read why her marriage collapsed.

It is only a short novel but I don’t think it would have had the same impact if it had been longer. It is intimidating, more so because I did struggle to separate reality from imagination towards the end. Was she really like she saw herself? And was the actress as happy as she imagined?

Read it and make up your own mind.

The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘He said he didn’t remember killing them…’

As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Detective Aidan Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job…

To extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Wick has spent over a decade in prison, in near-total silence, having confessed to an unspeakable crime that shocked the nation and earned him the nickname of The Sleepwalker.

But when a daring premeditated attack leaves one police officer dead and another one fighting for his life, Wick’s whispered last words will send Waits on a journey into the heart of darkness…

Manipulated by a reticent psychopath from his past, and under investigation from his new partner, Detective Constable Naomi Black, Waits realises too late that a remorseless contract killer is at work.

Can Aidan Waits solve his last case before fleeing justice?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A few years ago I read and enjoyed Sirens, the first book in the Aidan Watts series. I was intrigued with the Manchester setting but wasn’t prepared for how dark the storyline was, how corrupt the police were and mainly how flawed Aidan was.

By book three much is the same, the darkness and corruption is still evident but I started to see a different side to Aidan. He seemed to accept, without resentment, the way his life had gone and I started to see a more compassionate side to him. I first noticed it when he met Adam in Strangeways prison. I felt that he was genuinely concerned for him and that he wanted to make his life more bearable. This feeling continued throughout the novel and on finishing it, I think it was because he was aware of what lay in his own future. A few days after reading it I feel that this was the first book I liked him in.

It was a nice change to have a police officer who wasn’t corrupt. Naomi, who became Aidan’s new partner early in the novel when Sutty was injured whilst on duty. I could sense her loyalty, despite the frustration she felt towards Aidan at times. Even when he hurt her feelings she didn’t abandon him. She was the only member of the force who I didn’t feel had a different agenda. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of her.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Closer I Get was a novel that I heard a lot about without really knowing it’s synopsis. That is, until I saw a link to an article in a newspaper article about what inspired the author to write it, which then inspired me to read the book as soon as I could.

Many people are on social media. Many post things that they wouldn’t say in real life, face to face. They get involved in disagreements that are best avoided, often using the hashtag. Some become stalkers. Evie is one of the few who do all of these things. There are probably many like her, a loner who had a terrible childhood and didn’t know how to be in the real world. There were moments where I could understand her pain but not how she dealt with it. After being served with a restraining order for her actions involving Tom they both have to rebuild the lives. But are things as they appear?

I found this story mesmerising. More so because neither of the two main characters were that likeable. I couldn’t work out if either of them were being honest and neither of them were nice to anybody they came into contact with. I did have sympathy for Tom initially but I also had misgivings when I could see the way he treated his friends and lovers. He was selfish and self obsessed and couldn’t see that his friend Emma may have needed him to be there for her, just like she was expected to be there for him. The only one who brought out his better side was his developing friendship with his elderly neighbour, Colin.

As well as the characters the author does a terrific job of describing the negative side to social media. One of the platforms in particular is shown at its worst and I’m probably not the only one who was left feeling ill at ease and reluctant to post anything at all.

Totally different to many of the novels that I read, I’m looking forward to my limited edition signed copy arriving soon.

The Last Stage by Louise Voss – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Last Stage is also a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Last Stage is the second book that I have read by Louise Voss and much like the first it is a slow burner, where the reader has little idea what expect.

There are quite a few narrators. Meredith, her twin brother Pete, two police officers, one of whom is a new officer, and two very unsavoury characters. One of these I did identify fairly early on, the other I was completely wrong about.

There are a few scenes that contain violence but none of them are gratuitous. They didn’t need to be, anybody who reads this can imagine the terror that Meredith felt. Not only for the threat to herself, but also towards people she cares deeply about. She was happy in her new life and doesn’t want her past to affect it. In particular she didn’t want to think about who was responsible for her injury and the reasons why she turned her back on the music industry.

Meredith was a character who I liked more as I read. I found her to be honest, felt her remorse over the abandonment of her family and admired her determination to live her life without revealing her past and relying on her fame to be successful. Her type of music I was familiar with, being roughly the same age but I was never a fan. Unlike Mavis, who made me smile a lot.

It was slightly different too much of the crime fiction I usually read. Not as dark but many of the character felt more real. In particular the police team. The frustration, admiration and determination to impress all made a very entertaining novel to read.