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**BLOG TOUR** The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

In 1903, a woman is found by some fisherman, badly beaten, accompanied by her young daughter. They are taken to All Hallows, an asylum on Dartmoor where the woman falls into a coma, but her young daughter, Harriet, is taken to an attic room in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Ninety years later, in 1993, after the death of his mother, young Lewis Tyler is sent to All Hallows, which is now a boarding school. Finding a kindred spirit in Isak, they find out about Nurse Everdeen and her charge and soon they are determined to find out what happened back in 1903.

The introduction to the book grabbed me instantly as we see Lewis Tyler, in the present day, visiting All Hallows as part of his work. It is clear to see that he has a past with this building and we are left with a hint as to what it may be. This took us nicely to the two timeframes that form the majority of the book, Lewis featuring in the events of 1993.

I liked the character of Lewis immediately and had great sympathy towards his plight. An outsider, it was good to see him find a friend in Isak, another boy with a troubled life. I enjoyed the scenes they shared as they tried to discover the mystery behind the strange noises coming from the room above theirs – was it their imagination or something a bit more ghostly?

The part of the story set in 1903 had a huge sense of foreboding. Nurse Everdeen was a character who grew on me as the book progressed, her story tugging at the heartstrings on more than one occasion. Louise Douglas paints a very damning picture of life at the asylum and I almost felt relieved that Nurse Everdeen was in her claustrophobic room in the attic.

There were numerous shocks along the way, the denouement being a very pleasant surprise. I like it when a book suddenly takes you somewhere you were not expecting and The Room in the Attic definitely does this! This is an engrossing multi-genre read that kept me gripped right until the end.

With thanks to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources.


**Blog Tour** The Man on Hackpen Hill by J S Monroe

Crop circles often appear in Wiltshire but this one on Hackpen Hill is a bit different: the patterns seem to be trying to convey a message and the dead body in the middle is certainly not a common feature. DI Silas Hart is at a loss until he happens upon Jim, a Porton Down scientist who is convinced he is being pursued by MI5 for wanting to tell the truth about what is happening at the government laboratory. With Bella, a trainee journalist intent on telling Jim’s story, someone is desperate to stop the truth being told and is prepared to kill to achieve their aim.

This is an intense read that grabs you right from the very beginning and keeps you hooked until the last page. There is a lot going on with elements of mystery, thriller and police procedural but the short pacy chapters keep you gripped, making you want to read ‘just one more’ before putting it down. It is really well-researched and I do not claim to understand all of the science, but this did not hamper my understanding or enjoyment of the plot in any way.

There are two sets of main characters, each with a distinctive role in the plot. In Jim and Bella, we have like-minded people who have been thrown together by an unknown person, each of them reliant upon the other. I genuinely feared for Jim’s safety throughout the book as it becomes apparent that he seems to have information on what message the crop circles are trying to convey. Likewise, as Bella became more and more embroiled in Jim’s world, her well-being became more of a concern, especially as other aspects of her life start to become more worrying. I admired the courage of Jim and Bella; Jim in particular was a favourite character.

I loved the relationship between the two main police characters and enjoyed how the focus was very much on their part in the investigation and not on their private lives. I feel that there is scope for DI Hart and DC Strover to appear in another book so I hope it’s not the last we see of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the intelligent plot of The Man on Hackpen Hill and found myself drawn into the plot, desperate to see if my theories were correct! A great read.

With thanks to Lauren Tavella from Head of Zeus for my copy.


**BLOG TOUR** The Clockmaker’s Wife by Daisy Wood

London, 1940: After their house is destroyed in the Blitz, Nell Spelman flees to the countryside with her baby, Alice, leaving her husband, Arthur behind. Arthur has an important job to do – he is one of the men tasked with keeping the Great Clock at Westminster working and the famous Big Ben chiming.

New York, Present Day: When Ellie discovers a watch belonging to a grandmother she never met, she embarks on an investigation to find out more about her family’s past. When another discovery shocks her to the core, she begins to wonder whether she really wants to know the truth.

The first thing I would like to say about The Clockmaker’s Wife is how pleased I was that the blurb does not give away too much of the plot. Enough to grab my attention, I found myself instantly engrossed in the story, wondering where the author was going to take us. The World War Two setting opens up so many potential twists and turns and we definitely have many of them here!

Although this is told in two time frames, it was the chapters set during World War Two that were the strongest for me as this was where the core of the plot took place. All aspects of the war were covered from the Blitz to evacuation, rationing to the changing role of women. There is a huge element of mystery and intrigue making up the focus for both time frames which was exciting and at times, highly emotive.

The Clockmaker’s Wife is a well-written piece of historical fiction which kept me gripped right until the end and I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author.

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour and to Avon and Net Galley for my copy.

A Girl Called Justice: The Ghost in the Garden by Elly Griffiths

A new girl arrives at Highbury House School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. She’s never been to school before and seems to take great delight in breaking all the rules yet the teachers don’t seem to care. The mischief becomes more serious, however, when one of the girls disappears and a ransom for her return is delivered. With a ghost spotted in the garden and threatening notes being written on the pages of one of her mother’s books, amateur sleuth Justice Jones, has another case on her hands.

Despite being ‘slightly’ older than the intended audience, this is a series that I am loving! Growing up, my favourite books were Enid Blyton’s Five Find Outers series and I have always loved the idea of children becoming amateur sleuths, something that I probably secretly longed to be myself! In Justice Jones, we have a strong, likeable character, one who would not be out of place in any of Blyton’s boarding school books. The supporting cast are just as good, and I particularly like the relationship Justice has with one of the maids, highlighting the class inequality that existed at the time.

This is a well-written mystery story with clues revealed throughout the book, even though you don’t know it at the time. I liked how even what seemed like a throwaway comment ended up forming part of the plot, making you suspicious of everyone and everything!

I’m a huge fan of Elly Griffiths’ Brighton Mysteries and her Ruth Galloway series, and this is another one that has got me hooked!

The Weeping Lady Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

Perdita and Piper Rivers are now settled into their new life at Marquess House, but a violent storm threatens to uncover more secrets. In this short story, following on from the previous three books, what new mysteries are about to be revealed?

I really enjoyed reading the Marquess House trilogy and so, while I was pre-ordering Alexandra Walsh’s next book, The Wind Chime, I was thrilled to see that there was also a short story about Perdita and Piper that I hadn’t yet read. This does contain some spoilers, so if this sounds like your sort of book, it would definitely be worthwhile reading the others first.

Told in two time frames, we learn of a convent in 1486 where the bones of a suspected saint have been discovered. Before a sacred shrine can be erected, Mother Superior, Sister Non, knows she has to intervene to prevent her secret from being revealed. Just who do the bones belong to? This story is taken up in the present day by the Rivers sisters, as they aim to uncover the truth behind a centuries-old ghost story.

The Weeping Lady Conspiracy moves on at a good pace and is a perfect read for anyone who enjoys dual time frame novels. I am also pleased to see that the trilogy has now become a saga and I am eagerly awaiting the, as yet, unnamed fourth book in the series.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy

**BLOG TOUR** The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall by Jessica Thorne

Grief-stricken gardener Megan Taylor, tries to put thoughts of her missing in action brother out of her mind by taking a job at Foxfield Hall, restoring the maze in the overgrown gardens. She soon becomes interested in the mystery of the hall’s most famous resident, Lady Eleanor Fairfax, who disappeared in 1939 during the harvest festival. Although no body was ever found, Megan begins to wonder if she could have been murdered. There is also the possibility that she ran away in order to avoid a marriage to someone she didn’t love or could it even have something to do with her father’s war work? Megan finds the maze drawing her in, feeling that the truth could lie inside. Will she discover what happened to Eleanor or will she become the next woman to simply disappear without a trace?

If you had the opportunity to prevent a past tragedy from happening, not knowing how your actions would affect the future, would you do it? This is the dilemma faced by Megan when she is somehow transported back to 1939, days before the disappearance of Lady Eleanor Fairfax. Ellie, as she is known, is about to find her world turned upside down due to the outbreak of World War Two, her fiancé’s involvement in the armed services and her father’s secret war work meaning that she is left in the care of Ava Seaborne, her father’s new secretary. Ava was a mysterious character, this feeling of forebording becoming stronger when Megan encountered a Dr Faye Seaborne. A familial connection or something else entirely?

The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall packs in an awful lot, switching genres effectively throughout. Part mystery, science-fiction, history and romance, it was the time travel element that fascinated me the most. The two lead characters, Megan and Ellie, were both strong women, Ellie in particular showing great tenacity when faced with her future. Knowing the fate that was about to befall her, yet not knowing exactly how it was to happen, I admired Ellie’s determination to get to the truth, not letting the aforementioned Ava Seaborne stop her in her tracks.

Jessica Thorne managed to blindside me numerous times, leaving me wondering which characters were on the side of Ellie and Megan and which ones were not. This definitely kept me on my toes throughout! In such a complex plot, I was pleased that there were no loose ends left at the end, the story reaching a satisfying conclusion.

With thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my ARC and to Noelle Holten for orgainsing the blog tour.

Buy  Link:         

Amazon: https://geni.us/B08WPZDM5GCover

Apple: http://ow.ly/Hg8l50DDmJl 

Kobo: http://ow.ly/fiuJ50DDmI2

Google: http://ow.ly/iqP350DDmPK

The Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle

It has been three years since Sherlock Holmes plunged to his apparent death in a confrontation with his nemesis, Moriarty, at the Reichenbach Falls. His companion, Dr Watson, is continuing to solve mysteries in his absence and he is about to face the toughest one yet: the locked room murder of Mr Adair. Little does Watson know that help is about to come from a most unexpected source…

This is a fantastic adaptation for children by Stephanie Baudet of the classic Sherlock Holmes story. Despite it being aimed at the younger market, however, I found it a super read and enjoyed it just as much as another of this series, A Study in Scarlet, that I read a while ago. The story has been simplified for younger readers but it has lost none of it’s excitement and sense of mystery. The illustrations also capture the text perfectly, bringing the story alive.

This series by Sweet Cherry Publishing is a perfect way of introducing children to the work of the great Arthur Conan Doyle. It can be purchased from https://www.books2door.com/ at a great price!

With thanks to Sweet Cherry Publishing and Net Galley for my ARC.

**BLOG TOUR** The Searcher by Tana French

When ex-cop Cal Hooper moves from Chicago to a remote Irish village after his divorce, he is just looking for a quiet life. When a local teenager visits, however, telling him that his older brother has disappeared, he is intrigued. What exactly has happened to Brendan Reddy and what secrets are being hidden in this quiet area of Ireland?

The Searcher is a standalone book from the author of the Dublin Murder Squad books, so you do not need to have read any of those before this one. Indeed, this is a very different book, a slow burner with very much a character-driven plot that draws you into the world of Cal and his young friend, Trey Reddy.

Like in all remote fictional villages, there is something that the locals want to keep hidden, so when Cal arrives, people are naturally suspicious of his motivation. His relationship with young Trey helps to fuel the fire and so soon, Cal is determined to help the teenager discover what had happened to his brother, someone who he is adamant wouldn’t just have left of his own volition. I really liked how we found out bits of the story at the same time as Cal, slowly edging towards a shocking conclusion.

Although this has a slow build-up, it does not mean that this book is devoid of exciting events – far from it! For me, though, the highlight is the friendship that develops between the two main characters. Despite his initial reluctance to help, Cal soon becomes fascinated by Trey and I feel that, as he is clearly missing his daughter, he is helping to fill a child-shaped void for him. Likewise, Trey has been deprived of a father figure for most of his life and Cal is probably the first adult that has ever given him the time of day.

The Searcher has some truly shocking moments and contains scenes that will make you so angry, you will want to cry for the life that Trey finds himself living. As the book progressed, I found myself become quite attached to Trey and Cal and hoped that, by the end, they would both find the peace that they needed.

I really enjoyed The Searcher and there will be some images that remain with me. With thanks to Tana French, Penguin UK and to Georgia Taylor for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

1861

When George first sets eyes on Lucy, one of his household’s servants, he is smitten and is soon making plans for his future. After being rejected, however, his hopes are further thwarted when Lucy dies, seemingly the victim of a poisoning. Distraught, George knows that someone at home must have killed her, but who?


Present

Cassie is quite content with her life: a job she loves, friends she can rely on and doting parents who would do anything for her. All this is turned upside down, however, as research into her family history makes her question everything she thought she knew about her life.

I am a huge fan of Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline novels, my favourite being The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I was thrilled, therefore to see that the author has revisited my favourite era of historical fiction, the Victorian period, in her latest book, The Forgotten Gift.

As with her other books, we have two different plots set in two different time frames with a common theme running through them. The issue of family secrets is very much at the forefront here and the lengths some people will go to in order to stop these secrets from being revealed. I had great sympathy for George, who came across as a lovely young man, shunned by his family through no fault of his own. By starting the book with George’s will, I immediately became invested in his story, and was desperate to know what had happened in his life. This also provided a good link between the two time frames as Cassie tried to discover the same things.

As a fellow genealogist, I could relate a lot to the character of Cassie and loved how an enjoyable evening for her was one sat reading old documents, trying to make sense of the past. The discovery of scandal is an occupational hazard for a family historian, but Cassie manages to open up several cans of worms that have a profound effect on her life. I won’t give any spoilers, but I felt that this was sensitively handled, showing very real reactions from all involved parties.

I have, recently, been struggling to read books at my usual pace and I knew that a Kathleen McGurl book would help me out of my slump. I was so right as I raced through The Forgotten Gift, desperate to know what had happened in George’s life and how had overcome his problems. (Although I loved Cassie’s story, it was George who tugged at the heart strings for me!)

This is a wonderful read which, although fiction, gives a real insight into aspects of Victorian life. I have sung the praises of this author many times and I will continue to do so. If you haven’t read any of her work before, then please do – you won’t be disappointed!

With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Kathleen McGurl, Net Galley ad HQ Digital for my copy of The Forgotten Gift.

Take a look at my reviews of other books by Kathleen McGurl:

   The Emerald Comb 
   The Pearl Locket
   The Daughters Of Red Hill Hall
   The Girl from Ballymor 
   The Drowned Village
   The Forgotten Secret
   The Stationmaster’s Daughter
   The Secret of the Chateau

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