Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everyone watches their neighbours.

Elise King moves into the sleepy seaside town of Ebbing. Illness has thrown her career as a successful detective into doubt, but no matter how hard she tries to relax and recuperate, she knows that something isn’t right.

Everyone lies about their friends.

Tensions are running high beneath the surface of this idyllic community: the weekenders in their fancy clothes, renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes. A town divided, with the threat of violence only a heartbeat away.

Everyone knows a secret.

This peaceful world is shattered when two teenagers end up in hospital and a local man vanishes without trace. Elise starts digging for answers, but the community closes ranks, and the truth begins to slip through her fingers. Because in a small town like this, the locals are good at keeping secrets…

Everyone’s a suspect when a local goes missing.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read all of Fiona Barton’s books and this is my favourite so far. I really enjoyed getting to meet all the different characters and seeing the way they interacted with each other.

My Review

Elise is the lead detective, coming towards the end of sick leave after a cancer diagnosis and looking forward to getting back to work. She does have misgivings, chemo brain is a concern but Caro her colleague is a big help without being patronising. She has another assistant, her friend Ronnie, who isn’t a police officer but sees herself as another Miss Marple. This friendship was one of my favourite parts of the novel.

There are quite a lot of other characters, some whose link you couldn’t see at first. The victim, Charlie, was obviously a crook from the start and it could have been any one of the people he duped who was responsible for his death. Some of them I had a lot of sympathy for, especially his daughter who was the only one who couldn’t have been responsible.

The murder isn’t the only crime, a festival where drugs nearly caused fatalities has also had a big impact on the area. The suspicion, gossip and mistrust affected many and added to the hardships already suffered. But both cases aren’t as gritty and hard hitting as most crime novels I read. Instead the novel seems to focus on personalities and rather than the crimes committed.

I would love to meet Elise and Caro again, I can definitely see this novel as part of a series.

The Poet by Louisa Reid – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

I believe every word you say. That was always my mistake.

Bright, promising Emma is entangled in a toxic romance with her old professor – and she’s losing control.

Cruel, charming Tom is idolized by his students and peers – confident he holds all the cards.

In their small Oxford home, he manipulates and undermines her every thought and act. Soon, he will push her to the limit and she must decide: to remain quiet and submit, or to take her revenge. 

Written in verse and charged with passion and anger, The Poet is a portrait of a deeply dysfunctional relationship, exploring coercive control, class and privilege. It is also a page-turning tale of female solidarity and survival.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. As soon as I started to read this book I knew it would be different to everything I have read before. It does tell the story of a toxic relationship, which has been done many times before, but is done so in verse. I never thought I would be possible to have so much impact with so few words. 

Emma is in a relationship with Tom, lecturer, novelist, charmer, idolised by many. But beneath the surface you get to see the man for what he really is. A bully, cheat and liar who is prepared to do anything to protect his image. It takes Emma a while to realise what he is like but when she does she starts to think of a way in which she can get her revenge. 

It did take me longer than I thought it would to read it. I can only think that this was because it had such a big impact despite its brevity. I really sense how alone, betrayed and desperate Emma felt. I could see her self hatred  for giving in to him time and time again, not knowing the best way to cope with him. But in the latter stages of the novel I saw her change, able to show how much she hated him and I was cheering as she got what she wanted. 

This is an absolutely wonderful novel, I read a digital copy but I definitely need to get a printed edition for when I get the chance to reread it. 

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon – Review.

About The Book

A NICE, NORMAL HOUSE

Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.

A NICE, NORMAL HUSBAND

Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.

A NICE, NORMAL LIFE…

If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read a book by this author before, although I do have The Trouble With Goats And Sheep. I don’t think I’ve ever ‘met’ a character as strong as Linda. One of those who made me feel like many of the other characters felt. A little uneasy, fearful and at times lost for words. The only other who was anywhere near a match for her was her mother.

Linda is very needy. She sees an acquaintance who she might exchange a few words with as a best friend with a lot in common. She doesn’t see that the acquaintance could see this as intimidation and is baffled when they give her the cold shoulder. When I got to know her and learnt more about what happened in her childhood I could  understand why she was this way. She was just a very lonely woman, married to a man she didn’t seem to like that much and an extremely vocal and controlling mother. 

The serial killer storyline was only in the background, all of the focus was on Linda and her need to be best friends with somebody. It was easy to see that the people she chose were just using her and laughing at her. What was less easy to see was that Linda was also aware of this and was more than capable of looking after herself. This was an aspect of the storyline that I completely missed and I need to read the book again at some point.

It is one of those books that on finishing you wonder what you have read. I had to think about it for a few hours, analysing the different characters. All I can say at this point is that I’m relieved I don’t know anybody like Linda.

The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her.

So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive.

A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind, and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I chose to read this novel because it sounded completely different to everything else I read. I’m so glad I did and it served as a reminder that I need to widen my reading preferences.

There are multiple narrators who are all connected as family or friends. But there are issues between them, mainly because all of them find it difficult to talk about openly about how they feel. All of them were suffering because of this, either by keeping secrets or not talking about their past. There was really only one of them who was fully honest about his childhood, his frustration at what he saw as interference and his love for Lara. That character was Nick, at times my least favourite, but I had to show respect for his honesty.

Cath was another character who I had conflicting views on. At first, when she was trying too hard to get close to Lara and Nick it troubled me. I could fully understand why Nick struggled with it. But she could see that it wasn’t the right thing to do and the more I read the more I liked her.

Emma was another who I liked more as I read. The guilt over the deaths that had touched her. Her role in the home she was living in and the friendships made. She was the one who revealed a lot more than any of the others. And the one whose pain affected me more than the others.

But it was one of the minor characters I liked reading about most. Young, naive and innocent Jeannie. I adored everything about her and I liked to think that she was stronger than any of the others and would be the one to ease the years of pain.

This was a wonderful novel about a family. Probably a similar family to many with happy memories and devastating ones. And like many, one that needed to talk about feelings to each other.

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

It is 1938 in China, and the Japanese are advancing. A young mother, Meilin, is forced to flee her burning city with her four-year-old son, Renshu, and embark on an epic journey across China. For comfort, they turn to their most treasured possession – a beautifully illustrated hand scroll. Its ancient fables offer solace and wisdom as they travel through their ravaged country, seeking refuge.

Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. His daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, but he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down?

Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the search for a place to call home.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have to be honest and admit that before I read this novel I had little idea about China’s history or culture. It is a novel that left me wanting to know more, especially concerning the same period as this one does, the 1930s to modern day.

Three generations of the same family, Meilin, Henry ( Renshu) and Lily. Each one of them shows how they coped with the situation they found themselves in. All three of them faced difficulties in different ways. Meilan’s was definitely the most dangerous, showing her running from horror of the war, losing her husband and leaving her family behind with no idea of their fate. But also at this time you could see Renshu’s terror, far too young to understand, you knew that his experience would still had an impact many years later. During Meilan’s story both of them, and other minor characters in the novel, got some respite from the stories that Meilan told from a scroll. After a few years of trying to find somewhere they could settle they ended up in Taiwan, the fear never leaving them but they all managed to rebuild their lives.

When the narrative switches to Renshu, now known as Henry and later his daughter Lily the author shows how difficult it was to move on from such a traumatic childhood. How difficult it was for Henry to open up and discuss what happened and always feeling the need to look over his shoulder. He didn’t want Lily to be involved in the Chinese communities, wanting to protect his family but not being able to see that he was denying her an identity.

There were times it felt strange to read. Showing families fleeing everything they know to try and keep safe, you would hope that things change. But in modern day it is happening time and time again. Just in different parts of the world.

I loved everything about this novel. It showed a completely different world to the one I know. Chinese history, it’s culture and fables and the often shocking and baffling laws in both China and America not that long ago.