Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly – Blog Tour Review.

Open Your Eyes Cover

About the Book

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Paula Daly is one of my favourite authors so I jumped at the chance to read her new book.
Jane is happily married to Leon, they have two young children and a good life. Leon is a successful author, something which Jane has always dreamed of but she has never been published. Their life changes when Leon is found badly injured on their driveway, moments after Jane left him to go back in their house.
Initially the novel focuses in Leon’s recovery and how different everybody behaves around him. His fascinating mother and sister seem to refuse to see a big change but Jane sees the more threatening side to him. Some of these scenes were intimidating, more so because it was so easy to see what could happen if she couldn’t calm him down. The only person he could interact with easily was their nephew.
Alongside the storyline of a family trying to rebuild their lives was the image of life inside the publishing industry. It shows success stories but also the envy and the pressure to write the next novel. Much of what is mentioned will be familiar to authors, publishers and keen readers who follow the book related news. One aspect of this was discussed in great detail after a book event a few years ago.
All of the novel takes place in Liverpool, a favourite city and there were a few scenes and observations on the characters that made me smile. They were welcome, much of the novel is unsettling with its loneliness, intimidation from Leon, the neighbours from Hell and at times an almost claustrophobic feeling.
It has been a few years since I read a novel by Paula and I’m looking forward to the next one. Just brilliant.

Open Your Eyes Blog Tour Poster

The Child by Fiona Barton – Review.

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About the Book

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

My Review

Sometimes it pays to persevere with a novel. At first, I struggled with The Child, I couldn’t form an attachment to any of the narrators, even though the tale did intrigue me. But suddenly it grabbed me and I was hooked.
Kate, who is the journalist who featured in the authors previous book The Widow, is back and keen to get a story to attach to the child’s bones that were found on a building site. Along with a photographer and a trainee she starts to delve. The changing methods of journalism were demonstrated well, how online 24-hour news has had a significant impact on printed news and the affect that it has had on jobs.
The narrative switches between four narrators. One of them was Kate who I liked a lot more in this novel, she came across as much more compassionate and less of a newshound. Out of the other three, one was utterly repulsive. Cruel, selfish and bitter just about begins to cover it. I won’t reveal their name but will leave you to make your own mind up.
My favourite character was Joe, the trainee. I hadn’t expected him to be so trustworthy and keen to help and he was quite refreshing with his ability to charm those around him. I hope that both Kate and Joe will appear in future novels together.
It’s a different type of crime novel, it focuses more on how the media approach an investigation rather than the police and once I put aside my feelings towards journalism I enjoyed it.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

This Family Of Things by Alison Jameson – Review.

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About the Book

On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

My Review

This Family Of Things is a novel that focuses mainly on two families in a small town in Ireland. Midge comes from an abusive family, all her brothers and sisters have left home and are not in touch. Bird, Margaret and Olive are siblings who run a farm nearby. When Bird finds Midge late at night all their lives change.
I haven’t read much Irish fiction but the books that I have read I have enjoyed. I like the humour and the approach to life that you never seem to see in novels set elsewhere. I found though, that I didn’t get into this immediately. I think this was mainly because I was only reading a bit at a time. Once I could read it in bigger chunks I enjoyed it a lot more.
All the characters were different, even Bird and his sisters had little in common. All coped with their various problems in different ways and none could be judged with how they chose to live their lives. I did struggle though with the way I felt about Midge until the second half of the novel.
Set in Ireland and Oregon, I preferred the Irish setting. The way the villagers communicated with each other was magical, if not always likeable. A combination of compassion, ridicule, denial, fear and sarcasm that all felt natural.
A different type of novel from my usual crime fiction but it was a welcome one. Recommended.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys – Review.

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About the Book

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

My Review

Lily has the chance of a lifetime travelling to Australia via an assisted package scheme. She is devastated at leaving her family, her father was badly injured in WW1 AND WW2 is a growing threat. But she knows that the best way of moving forward after a recent tragedy is to try and rebuild her life in new surroundings.
She soon makes friends onboard, some of them are on the same deck as her even though they are from a different background to her. She also makes friends with Eliza and Max, who are from a completely different world and Maria a young Austrian Jew who, because of the political situation has more reason than most to run away. But everybody is running from something and as the Orantes makes its long journey to Australia the secrets are slowly revealed.
I would never have thought I would read a crime novel that would take place in such a magical setting but Rachel Rhys has proved me wrong. The life on the upper deck with its balls and banquets and affluence of the first-class existence compared with the claustrophobic setting on lower levels. The tourist class deck where Lily shares a cramped cabin with two other women and the people she must dine with. And then the lower levels where the Jews and the Italians are practically hidden away.
I felt as thrilled as Lily and her friends at visiting new countries, all of which seems a normal activity now but in 1939 for a young woman it would have felt like a dream. I could sense the wonder at the beauty and the also the intimidation that she felt at times.
I was desperate to know the identity of the woman who was escorted from the Orantes in the prologue and shocked by the reveal. This was one secret that I didn’t work out.
Rachel Rhys is a pseudonym for a highly-respected author who I have never read. I plan to change that soon.
With thanks to Alison Barrow for the copy received.

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace.

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About the Book

She’s been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris. Ever since, she’s waited in station lost property for someone to claim her. It’s been sixteen years, but she’s still hopeful.

In the meantime, there are mysteries to solve: secret tunnels under the station, a suitcase that may have belonged to the Beatles, the roman soldier who appears at the same time every day with his packed lunch. Not to mention the stuffed monkey that someone keeps misplacing.

But there is one mystery Martha cannot solve. And now the authorities have found out about the girl in lost property. Time is running out – if Martha can’t discover who she really is, she will lose everything..

My Review

I first became aware of this novel earlier in the year from another blogger review that coincided with seeing a flyer on a visit to a Liverpool bookshop about an event that was taking place with the author. I was a week early for the event, the book still hadn’t been published and I put it to the back of my mind after a bit of grumbling. But on my most recent visit to the same bookshop I came away with a signed copy of the book.
What a buy! This novel is one of the best books I have ever read. I warmed to Martha, Elisabeth, William and George from the moment I met them. I loved the Liverpool humour and loyalty that appeared on nearly every page. It was a joy to read a novel where a character could put aside any revulsion they felt about appearance and offer the hand of friendship.
I had to remind myself that the novel was set in the 1970s and not modern day. William was still a young man and the war wasn’t that long ago. Attitudes were different, illegitimacy would have been more taboo than it is now and shame would have been more common. I loved the references to the Devil, all his children and their pets and how Mother used them as threat against Martha who did very well to survive the brainwashing and outbreaks of violence.
If you fancy a read that restores your faith in humanity in this often cruel world then you won’t go wrong with this. Beautiful and magical.