My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell @4thestatebooks @wmcollinsbooks @HarperCollinsUK #review #blog #womenspsychologicalfiction

I was absolutely thrilled to receive a copy of this NY Times Bestseller. It leaves a deep impression on the reader long after the book has finished. Profound, disturbing, and haunting, abuse is not everyone’s cup of tea. You’ll feel every layer of Vanessa’s personality, her struggles and her strength, and you’ll suffer along with her until the bitter end.

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 

My Dark Vanessa: A Novel by [Russell, Kate Elizabeth]

US link

“Russell manages a brutal originality. . . . [an] exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“To call this book a ‘conversation piece’ or ‘an important book’ feels belittling . . . [it] is so much more than that. It’s a lightning rod. A brilliantly crafted novel.”—The Washington Post

A most anticipated book by The New York Times • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Marie Claire • Elle • Harper’s Bazaar • Bustle • Newsweek • New York Post • Esquire •  Real Simple • The Sunday Times • The Guardian 

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Review

One of the deepest novels I’ve read this year. A powerfully chilling book, it weaves every type of abuse imaginable into one story. Women will resonate with Vanessa and hopefully find the courage to tell their own stories so they no longer feel alone, undermined, and barely existing in self-doubt. But it is also a book for men.

Vanessa (15) is a lonely girl longing to be loved and typical of girls her own age, a loner. Dumped by her best friend, she is dangerously vulnerable to the predatory Strane; a master manipulator and narcissist. Central to the plot is her loyalty and the chipping away of her own identity which, if left alone, would have developed at its own speed. You can’t help thinking what life might have been like for Vanessa if Strane hadn’t polluted it, and in this way the novel examines Strane’s ruthlessness and exploitation of her youth. She is puzzlingly obsessed with a man so much older than herself and with few physical attributes a girl of her age would naturally find attractive. But there is a meeting of the minds, an academic magnetism that draws her to Strane; the catalyst being the book Lolita, given to Vanessa by Strane. In Lolita, Humbert is obsessed with ‘nymphets’ aged from 9 – 14, and as Lo unwittingly stretches her legs across Humbert’s excited lap, so too does Vanessa in Strane’s study. This is how she defines love.

As the relationship progresses, Vanessa is blind to Strane’s disturbed personality — irritatingly so — because she is oblivious to his motive. Strane’s greed causes indescribable pain and tragedy to Vanessa alone, where she is expelled from a school she loves in order to protect his name. The frustration a reader may feel is Vanessa’s powerlessness and emotional immaturity, and most importantly the lack of statutory rape laws to protect her. The issue here is that Vanessa doesn’t feel she’s been raped because she’s in love, and Strane, in his own twisted way, loves her. She is inescapably bound to him and cannot form attachments with boys of her own age. Neither Taylor nor a reporter, desperately trying to build a case about Strane, can get through to Vanessa. Even Vanessa’s counsellor has met her match.

The relationship continues outside the school for a brief period until she is too ‘old’ to satisfy Strane’s fantasies. We see her robbed of her innocence too early to understand its complexities and the damage incurred by Strane’s selfishness. Weed smoking and drinking aside, Vanessa is already on a downward trajectory, although I kept hoping for retribution as a result of Strane’s sudden diffidence.

I found the last third of the book a little lacklustre compared to the opening chapters which are an emotional roller-coaster. Gripping and horrifying, it’s hard to put down because you ache for Vanessa and you hope she will see the light. Parts of it were so emotional for me I had to put it down for a while to process what I’d just read.

Beautifully written and riveting from start to finish, the after-effects will be with the reader for months to come.

Thank you to @Netgalley, the author and the publisher for an advance copy of this book.

About the Author

Kate Elizabeth RussellKate Elizabeth Russell was born and raised in eastern Maine. She holds an MFA from Indiana University and a PhD from the University of Kansas. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.

 

 

 

My Dark Vanessa: The Biggest Debut Novel of 2020 

vanessa quote card

What people are saying:

“Exquisite… My Dark Vanessa stands on its own as simultaneously specific and universal—about a young woman who believes she’s in a love story when she’s actually in a psychological horror film.” (Los Angeles Times)

My Dark Vanessa: The Biggest Debut Novel of 2020 by [Russell, Kate Elizabeth]

UK Link

“This timely, riveting debut illuminates the interplay between a child’s heartbreaking confusion and the deepest perversions of power.” (People, Book of the Week)

“A brilliant and stunning debut, My Dark Vanessa is utterly truth-rattling, humane in its clarity and chilling in its resonance. An absolute must read.” (Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl)

‘Clever, unsettling … this novel stands out for its elusiveness, its exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power’ New Yorker

‘The #MeToo novel that’s as gripping as any thriller’ Grazia

‘Gripping and unsettling… a bracingly uncompromising book. It will doubtless be devoured with an ache of recognition by large numbers of women. But it really ought to be read by men’ Economist

Superb … a book that asks what we have lost and gained in an era that has revolutionised the way we think about sex and power’ Observer

Addictively disturbing’ Red Magazine

 

The Man Across The Street: An uplifting story of love and hope for 2020 (The Hope Street Series Book 1) by Marcie Steele. @Bloodredbooks @marcie_steele #blog #review #romance #womensfiction

I was SO excited to be given an advance reader copy of this amazing book by Marci Steele. I hadn’t read anything by this author before, but I’ll definitely be watching for her other books in this series.

Description:

Maybe I’m scared to be happy…

The Man Across The Street: An uplifting story of love and hope for 2020 (The Hope Street Series Book 1) by [Steele, Marcie]Meet Hannah – she’s been her mum’s sole carer since she was eighteen. Now alone after Martha’s sudden death, Hannah feels lost in the only place she’s known as home, Hope Street. Coming up to a milestone birthday, she’s wondering what her purpose in life is.

Meet Doug – a workaholic, he’s in the office from dusk ’til dawn, and when he has a heart attack. Now on the mend, he needs to de-stress his life and focus on living it, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Doug moves to Hope Street, number 35. Hannah lives at number 34, directly opposite. From the moment they meet, there’s a spark.

But there are secrets too. Hannah’s mum has been keeping something from her, her sister left over twenty years ago, and there can’t be such a simple reason why Doug has moved to Somerley. Can there?

The Man Across the Street is the first of a new series by bestselling author, Marcie Steele. It features a host of characters living on Hope Street in the market town of Somerley, also featured in The Somerley Series. Each character will have their own standalone story in books to follow.

Publisher: Blood Red Books (January 1, 2020)

Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Buying links here

Review

Hannah Lockley is lost. Having cared for her mother after an accident, she has no career prospects and can’t afford to go to college. But is her life as dire as she thinks? Living down a cobblestone road at 34 Hope Street, she knows almost everyone in the neighborhood. You can’t help warming to her lively, social personality and (I agree with her mum) she’d make an excellent nurse.

Doug and Alex Peterson work in the Salford Business Quarter, an office building that overlooks a park. They are embarking on demolishing a derelict factory on the waterfront to build sixteen flats. But when Doug moves into a house on Hope Street, his life becomes forever changed. He cannot get Hannah, his new neighbor, out of his mind. But he also can’t get his workaholic, obsessive past out of his head either.

Told from both Hannah and Doug’s perspectives, I found myself emotionally invested from the start. Steele has a knack of getting under her readers’ sin and this book is no exception. I love books about love, loss, and relationships, and the trials the characters face through each chapter. But this book doesn’t come without it’s hardships, and there’s a mystery to solve—a Pandora’s box—which gives the story an added layer I crave as a reader.

As Hannah chases up questions of her past with the widow at number three, the intrigue thickens. Phoebe is the best friend a girl could want and she’s always there to pick up the pieces. But why was Hannah’s mum holding on to such a secret? Talking to her mother’s grave doesn’t help and working out the ‘wherewithals’ with Thelma and Renee isn’t getting her anywhere. Who else is left to ask? Doug is such a kind man, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. But he has his secrets too.

One of the reasons I loved this book from the start was the age group of the characters. Doug is in his late forties (so I can resonate) and Hannah is not that far behind. You can live their lives through them as the author delivers each character on point and so accurately that it’s impossible not to be affected in some way. You want to wrap Hannah in a big hug and tell her it’s all going to be okay, but in order to grow she has to face pain head on.

In my opinion, Marcie Steel totally smashes this one out of the park. A heartfelt examination of a woman’s most wrenching moments as she struggles to find out who she really is. Another bestseller and one I highly recommend to those who love Women’s Romance Fiction.

Many thanks to the author, Marcie Steele, to the publisher and to the blog tour organizer, Sarah Hardy, for the privilege of reading this book.

Reviews:

‘Marcie Steele writes with such down to earth warmth that you wish you could live in her stories. The Man Across the Street is no exception, full of characters that you’d love to be friends with.’ Tilly Tennant.

‘Love, secrets, intrigue, heartache. Find it all on Hope Street. An engaging tale of ordinary lives to warm you heart and restore your faith in mankind.’ Imogen Clark

If you love an uplifting story about new beginnings, then The Man Across The Street is the perfect read to curl up with. Fans of Hannah Ellis, Debbie Johnson and Emily Harvale will love this book.

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Marcie Steele and I also write under the name of Mel Sherratt.

As Mel, I write crime thrillers, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as I call it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all eight of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the kindle UK top 20.

However, I’m a romantic at heart and I’ve always wanted to write about characters who were not necessarily involved in the darker side of life. Coffee, cakes and friends are three of my favourite things, hence Stirred with Love for my first book writing as Marcie Steele. The Little Market Stall of Hope and Heartbreak and The Second Chance Shoe Shop are also available now.

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter. You can find out more at Mel’s website http://www.melsherratt.co.uk or I’m on Twitter at @marcie_steele.

Other books by Marcie Steele

Marcie Steele

Author links:

Webpage: https://www.marciesteele.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marcie_steele

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarcieSteeleauthor/

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Claire’s 10 FAVORITE books this year! #blog #review #books #simplythebest!

WOW! What a fabulous reading year! Thanks to authors and publishers who have allowed me to not only read their fabulous books, but have provided an advance reader copy before publication. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel!

In this list you’ll find slick psychological thrillers, deliciously dark that keep you guessing until the end. Police procedurals with flawed but completely relatable characters and heartbreaking women’s fiction with resolutions and twists you don’t see coming. All of them exceptional. Un-put-downable. Highly addictive and superbly written.

This list is by no means complete. I had to pick out ten that stuck out in my mind and wouldn’t let go. But there are others I would have gladly added. So next year, instead of blogging in December, I’ll be blogging in June too!

Books and Descriptions:

Oh, I just finished The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. WOW, bloody WOW!  It blew my mind, and should also be added to this list. But there isn’t room, so I’ll cheat and add it here instead.

The Chalk Man: The Sunday Times bestseller. The most chilling book you'll read this year by [Tudor, C. J.]

It was only meant to be a game . . . None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning. Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own? Was it the terrible accident? Or when they found the first body? Print Length: 342 pages. Publisher: Penguin (11 Jan. 2018).

After The End by Clare Mackintosh – From New York Times bestselling author Clare Mackintosh comes a deeply moving and page-turning novel about an impossible choice—and the two paths fate could take. Print Length: 400 pages. Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 25, 2019)

Violet by SJI HollidayWhen two young women – strangers – end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, a strange friendship develops, one that can only have one ending … a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday. Paperback: 276 pages. Publisher: Orenda Books (November 14, 2019)

The Marriage Trap by Sheryl Browne – My husband has been keeping secrets for a long time. He thinks I don’t know what he does outside of this house. But I know everything… Print Length: 300 pages. Publisher: Bookouture (July 30, 2019)

Nine Elms by Rober Bryndza – From the breakthrough international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice, a breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective’s fight for redemption. And survival… Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly turned into a nightmare. Print Length: 392 pages. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (December 1, 2019)

Our House by Louise Candlish – On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it. Print Length: 426 pages. Publisher: Berkley (August 7, 2018)

Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir – The prison doors slam shut behind Agla when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her. As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.  Print Length: 276 pages. Publisher: Orenda Books; None edition (August 17, 2019)

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten – The killer is just getting started… When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet. Print Length: 293 pages. Publisher: One More Chapter (May 31, 2019)

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver – When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member? Print Length: 276 pages. Publisher: Orenda Books (September 14, 2019)

Dead Memories by Angela Marsons – She ruined their lives. Now they’re going to destroy hers. ‘Someone is recreating every traumatic point in your life. They are doing this to make you suffer, to make you hurt and the only possible end game can be death. Your death.’ Print Length: 400 pages. Publisher: Bookouture (February 22, 2019).

I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll – Every Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns. It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice. Print Length: 317 pages. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (October 10, 2019)

Top 10 Books 2019

My reviews on each of these amazing book are available on this blog under the book title. All of them are high star reads and highly recommended. I hope you enjoy them too!

Special thanks go to the Blog Tour Organizers, Sarah Hardy (@sarahhardy681) and Anne Cater, (@annecater) who have tirelessly and professionally given up their time to support writers, and @Netgalley for providing readers with a place to request copies to try out new authors.

Thank you!

And Happy Christmas to all.

Claire

 

Freya 800AD: Viking era by Jean Mead @jeanmeadauthor #review #blogger #historical #mystery

I am so excited to be featuring a book I absolutely love. Not only is the cover one of the best I’ve seen in this genre, but the deep layers of research and the history of the time make it a must-read for all historical mystery lovers.  If you enjoy Viking war heroes, this book will provide a window into the harsh Nordic winters and a remarkable woman called Freya. Be sure to check out More Exciting News after my review.

Book description

Freya 800AD: Viking era by [Mead, Jean]Viking Era Fiction – Freya Sigvat lived more than a thousand years ago at the beginning of the Viking raids on Britain. When her husband, and the men of the settlement, sail across the Norse Sea to wreak havoc on Britain, Freya is left to manage the almost deserted settlement. Knut, a man of the mountains with a warped and cruel mind crosses the threshold of her family longhouse with devastating consequences. In a cruel twist of fate, Freya is forced to desert those she loves to live in isolation. Surviving through a long dark winter with wolves and bears roaming the frozen wilderness. This is the story of a remarkable woman, her heroism and terrifying adventure. The drama of a family feud, romance, secrets and eventual betrayal.

Book Links: US flag US here  British flag UK here

Print Length: 267 pages

Publisher: Novel Publishing (October 6, 2014)

Publication Date: October 6, 2014

ASIN: B00O8VCKQO

Thriller & Suspense Action Fiction

Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

Action Thriller Fiction

Review

Freya Sigvat lies awake in the longhouse dreading the coming day. The thought of her husband leaving for the wide open sea in his precious longboat is breaking her heart. Perhaps the next time she hears his voice will be in her head. Mead takes her readers back to the time of the Vikings, a time of hardship and restrained emotions, a time of war and heroes, where tenderness doesn’t belong. It’s easy to conjure scenes of ‘dark crests rising out of thin mists’ – slopes a myriad of greys, lilacs and blues and a dark peppering of oak and pine trees. You can even smell the smoldering moss of the fire and the honeyed mead.

Old Unnur has the ears of the gods and she can see into the future. With a good cup of mead she’s a hearty companion with a sharp mind full of memories. But Freya’s mind is hardly on the mead or the warmth of the fire. She thinks of Olaf, feels the pull of his spirit, whilst Olaf’s mind is on battle, his sword high over his head in the excitement of it all. My senses warn me his return will be anything but ordinary. Will these men conquer those far off lands? What plunder will they bring back?

Each chapter is laced with intrigue and when one danger is past, another slams full force into the community. There is no doubt this book has been well researched. It is poetically written, movie-worthy and one that will take you on an exciting journey providing a marvelous window into Norske society.

What people are saying:

Beautifully mastered historical fiction. I definitely recommend this book to all those who like historical fiction or can’t seem to get enough of Vikings!  – J.M. Northrup

A step back in time. Another compelling book by Jean Mead as she takes us back in time to life in a bygone age.  – Rosalie Marsh

If you want to know how life was in those times, look no further than this story of Freya. – Gunnardottir

A viking heroine! When I finished reading, I found the characters still inhabiting my imagination.  – Mary Rose

The characters are rich and complex, especially Freya. I was drawn into their lives and hungry for more. – Andrew Ternay

Jean Mead has researched thoroughly to create a novel that takes its reader to Ninth Century Norway – to a world of longhouses, sleeping benches, and Pictish hordes. – Amazon Reviewer

A gritty drama. With the ships movements I could easily have been onboard. – Amazon Reviewer

More exciting news!

Jean Mead has a new book coming out on 8th December with pre-order available mid November. You’ll find the blurb below on the back of this beautiful book jacket. Mark your calendars and reserve space on your book shelves, coffee tables and kindles. You won’t want to miss this one!

About the Author:

Jean MeadJean Mead was born in Warwickshire in England. Moved to Staffordshire at the age of seven and attended the Howard school in Elford. Later moved to a school in Tamworth. The family moved back to Warwickshire and at the age of thirteen Jean attended Sharmans Cross High for Girls.

Writing was always a favourite occupation. Many dozen of short stories were published in magazines in the UK, America, Ireland and Australia.

The Other Famous Five, a novel for children was her first book to be published. A contemporary novel written under another name followed. Eventually The Widow Makers and The Widow Makers:Strife were published.

Freya 800 AD is the latest book. This is the story of a woman living more than a thousand years ago at the beginning of the Viking raids on Britain.

A contemporary novel No Goodbye will be in bookshops early 2013.

Jean is now completing the 3rd book in the historical trilogy, The Widow Makers:Road’s End.

More books by Jean Mead:

jean meads books

 

Our House by Louise Candlish – published by @BerkleyPub @penguinrandom #review #blog #women’s #psychological #thriller

This book was such a treat! I bought the hardback format for my book shelf and I’m very happy I did. Nail-biting from the very beginning, this writer knows how to turn everyday situations into truly disturbing nightmares. A five star read for me!

Book Description

Our House by [Candlish, Louise]“The perfect book for thriller readers and true-crime podcast addicts…a stunning literary thriller that artfully twists and turns until the very end.”–Bustle

One of The Washington Post‘s 10 Best Thrillers and Mysteries of the Year
One of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Books of the Year
One of Real Simple‘s Best Books of the Year

On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it.

When Fiona Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband, Bram, have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years; how can another family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared–along with their two young children–when she needs him most?

As the nightmare takes hold, Fiona begins to untangle the lies that led to a devastating crime–and a betrayal so shocking it will teach her to keep her own secrets behind locked doors….

Print Length: 426 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 045148911X

Publisher: Berkley (August 7, 2018)

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B075HZ82S6

Buyers links: US flag US here    British flag UK  here

Review

A well-executed plot that had me gasping from the outset. I noticed a few reviews that indicated this was a slow burn, but for me it was completely the opposite. Each chapter and sections of dialogue drove the story forward at an alarming rate. and I couldn’t put the book down.

Although the premise may seem a little far-fetched, as I read on it became terrifyingly believable. On Friday 13th, Fi returns home to discover something has happened to her house. The front façade is the same, but the occupants and furniture aren’t. Fi’s husband’s phone is out of service and her children aren’t at school that day. Two inconsistencies sure to send any mother into a tail spin. This is one of those stories that spring from an ordinary day at work, a simple ride home and BAM! The stuff great psychological thrillers are made of.

Written mainly in two points of view, Fi’s and Bram’s with his Word document that parallels Fi’s podcast — stories that lead up to the present day. With infidelity and divorce in the background, and latterly a ‘bird’s nest’ plan — keeping the children in the same home with alternating parental custody — things should have been working well. But they’re not when you consider the secret Bram is hiding. With Fi being the innocent party up until now, you watch two otherwise intelligent, responsible people slide slowly into a complete nightmare. A car crash, a few more affairs and a conspiracy that made my toes curl.

Fi’s neighbour, Merle, offers to help her throughout her ordeal, although I had a hard time understanding how Fi managed to deal with it. But desperate and out of sorts, what choice did she have? I found her thoughtful and compassionate, everything you’d expect. Bram is a little too treacherous for his own good, and perhaps a little weak. I kept wanting to shake him out of his stubbornness as he kept trying to cover up his mistakes, which deteriorated with each chapter. There was no way out for him and digging deeper into his dark world only cemented his failure. Secrets, both harrowing and tragic, a moral message and a few well planned twists along the way made the book a success for me. The last chapter was something I’d toyed with but thought wouldn’t happen. I think the author did a splendid job of tying up all loose ends, even if one question may have been left hanging. For me, this enhances the read because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love being confronted by a potentially shocking revelation.

This is the first Louise Candlish book I’ve read and definitely won’t be the last. Masterfully plotted, her writing is top-notch and sure to score with avid domestic thriller lovers. If you’re looking for a superior read, one with grit and depth, this is it. Our House will definitely be listed in my top ten reads for 2019.

What people are saying:

Our House: The Sunday Times bestseller everyone's talking about by [Candlish, Louise]‘If 2018 brings a better book than Our House I will eat my hat. Addictive, twisty and oh so terrifyingly possible’ CLARE MACKINTOSH

‘I raced through it this weekend. Such a smart idea. Twisty, warped, credible. Brilliantly plotted and compelling. Deserves to be such a hit’ SARAH VAUGHAN

‘Louise Candlish is a great writer; she inhaled me into her nightmarish world where everything we think we know is ripped from under our feet’  FIONA BARTON

”A masterfully plotted, compulsive page-turner’ Guardian 
‘Keeps you guessing to the end – and beyond’ Stylist
‘Whip-smart, knowing and brilliantly plotted’ INDIA KNIGHT
‘A corker’ Evening Standard
‘Terrific premise’ New York Times

Other books by Louise Candlish

Louise Candlish

 

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda @Graydon House @HarlequinDigital #review #blog #psychological #thriller

I was so excited to find author Kaira Rouda had written another book. This was a wild ride I couldn’t pass up. A highly entertaining read with a character you hate to love.

Description

The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

The Favorite Daughter by [Rouda, Kaira]Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (May 21, 2019)

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.

Links: US US flag  here     UK British flag  here 

Review

Jane is an unreliable Orange County housewife, grieving over the loss of her daughter Mary who fell from a cliff while hiking. Trying hard to put her life back together again, she begins receiving anonymous letters from a witness claiming that Betsy may know something more than she’s letting on. Jane can’t help noticing a bond building between her daughter and her husband, and quickly steps in to redress the balance. After all, shouldn’t she be included? If her family’s life isn’t entirely stage-managed by her it will fall apart and never recover. Such are the intrigues of a narcissistic mind.

Mary’s memorial service looms — as does the high school graduation for Betsy — and Jane wants everything to be perfect. Her behaviour begins to diminish and just as I’m thinking she’ll touch rock bottom, up she bobs with something thoroughly distasteful. I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know how far she would go and I had to know if she’d get away with it.

After months of sucking down anti-depressants, the rest of her family and friends have taken steps to rebuild their lives and they’re making plans of their own. But these plans aren’t Jane’s plans and this is where truth and illusion collide. The more she watches Betsy and David, the more conspiratorial she becomes. The entertainment here is in Jane’s rationalising. Her outward victory when things go her way and her inward denial when they don’t. It doesn’t matter how often she tries to engineer relationships, you never quite know if her family are entirely oblivious to these manoeuvrings or if they’re smart enough to outstep them. Because you’d have to be sharp to take Jane head on.

Slim and trim, she has convinced herself that her beauty is world-shattering. After all, the way she sees herself is how others see her. But in the same breath, she is governed by insecurities which add the extra layer we’ve all come to expect in Rouda novels. Jane can’t help but dive headlong into a battle of wits with her surviving daughter and husband and I was dying to see her plan revealed at the graduation.  Betsy and David are hardly puppets, and this is where the fun begins. No matter how hard Jane tries to drive a wedge between them, the odds are never entirely in her favour. If at any time you think her polished veneer will crack, think again. Perception is the name of the game, and provided Jane can corral her family back to the fold, everything should go to plan.

My thoughts: These books are addictive and although Jane mirrors Paul in Best Day Ever, the storylines are distinctive enough to separate them. Towards the end, possibly the last four chapters were a little tedious for me. Too much reflection and not enough action. But we readers are Jane’s confidants, so I couldn’t have expecting anything less.

What will Rouda come up with next? A narcissistic child? Grandmother. Aunt. Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to it!

What readers are saying

Will hit you right in the heart” — Bustle

A PopSugar Best Book of Spring!

“An exceptional psychological thriller.” — Publishers Weekly STARRED review

“Leaves you wanting more.” — Liv Constantine, author of the national bestseller The Last Mrs. Parrish

“A smart, wickedly plotted psychological thriller brimming with dark surprises” — Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author

“Intense, creepy, and classic Rouda. A chilling story, told so well. Don’t miss it!” — J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author

“B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena fans will fall head over heels for this suspenseful psychological thriller set in an upscale Southern California community.” -PopSugar

“The Gone Girl-style domestic suspense novel follows Jane, a narcissistic perfectionist dealing with the death of her daughter.” — Washington Post

“Rouda’s portrayal of Jane is fabulously compelling and darkly hilarious…The resolution is satisfying, but the ride is so diabolically twisted and entertaining that readers will be sorry when it come to a stop.” -Shelf Awareness

“No one creates a narcissist like Rouda…. A wow read that will have you floored.” -Bookstr

From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

About the author

Kaira Rouda Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction that explores what goes on beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives. Her domestic suspense novel BEST DAY EVER is a USA TODAY bestseller translated into more than eight languages. Her next novel, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, is out May 21, 2019.

She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books.
If you’d like to host Kaira at your book club, in person or virtually, connect with the author, visit KairaRouda.com.

 

After The End by Clare Mackintosh @PutnamBooks #bookreview #womensfiction

Clare Mackintosh’s beautiful, page-turner tackles one of the hardest decisions parent ever have to make. I fell in love with Pip, Max, and Leila as they worked together, cried together and struggled together with the question of: What if. After the End possibly the most heart-wrenching book I’ve ever read. So much so, I had to call a friend and talk it through with hankies at the ready. I don’t always recommend books in Facebook’s The Book Club, but this one is a must read! Definitely one of my top ten this year!  

Book description:

From New York Times bestselling author Clare Mackintosh, a deeply moving and page-turning novel about an impossible choice—and the two paths fate could take.

“A beautifully written novel, compelling and clever, tender and true. I can’t stop thinking about it.” —Liane Moriarty

“Tailor-made for book clubs and for fans of Jodi Picoult.”—Publishers Weekly

After the End by [Mackintosh, Clare]Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

Book Links:  British flag UK here     US flag US here

Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 25, 2019)

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

 

Review

I don’t have words to describe what I think about this book, other than WOW, bloody, WOW! This is not only a book about a very sick little boy, but also about the unbelievable strains a marriage must endure, especially in the case of Pip and Max. There is no relief, not even after the end, but as the author says, there is hope.

Clare Mackintosh has based this story on her own painful experiences, so be prepared for a tough and emotional ride. As painful as it is, this book is one to be savored. Every single chapter brings a new awareness of how parents feel when faced with an impossible decision to keep their children alive or to remove all life support and let them die. After having read this book, I can say I’m a little better acquainted with the courts and legal decisions in such a tragedy, and the courageous path both doctors and parents must sometimes take.

I loved the characters, especially Leila. Her acute senses, her experience, her observation of the relationship between Max and Pip is beautifully drawn. When research is of such a high standard, it makes a difference to the reader. You learn something and that’s time well spent on a book.

It took me a lot longer to read this book and to comment than I have with any other. It is with some reservation that I say I ‘enjoyed it.’ It was harrowing and draining, but I couldn’t put it down. A departure from this author’s usual thrillers, it initially threw me for a loop. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. A book like this is definitely going to be a women’s fiction classic. I had read her book, I Let You Go, so I knew I was in for a very intricate, powerful read.

The only thing I didn’t like was the timeline, but in hindsight, how else could the author have done it? There were places where I had to go back and read sections over again as I did get lost along the way.

I can’t thank the author enough for writing it, and special thanks to Netgalley and to Penguin Group Putnam for an advance copy of this deep and and moving book.

Other books by Clare Mackintosh:

Clare Mackintosh books