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The House on the Lake by Nuala Ellwood

Fleeing from her controlling partner with her young son, Joe, Lisa is given directions to a lake house in Yorkshire from a friend, a place where she can feel safe. Rowan Isle House isn’t what she was expecting but despite it being run down and having no running water, she perseveres, desperate to keep her and her son safe. After receiving a visitor from the nearby village, however, Lisa realises that maybe she isn’t as safe as she thought she would be. When her past returns to haunt her, just what will she need to do to survive?

Nuala Ellwood has become one of those authors whose books I download without even needing to read the blurb as I know that I am going to enjoy it. Her previous books, My Sister’s Bones and Day of the Accident were both superb reads and I couldn’t wait to read her latest offering. I was definitely not disappointed as The House on the Lake is a dark, gripping tale that kept me intrigued right until the very last page.

Lisa is a woman living on her nerves, terrified of meeting new people in case she is discovered. I could feel her desperation as she found herself living at a clearly uninhabitable house and wondered exactly what it was she was fleeing from. Her unconditional love for her son was apparent, despite him not being the easiest child to bring up. Throughout the book, I willed her to succeed and felt genuine fear for her as her world seemed to be closing in around her.

Lisa is not the only main character as we meet, in alternate paragraphs, previous occupiers of Rowan Isle House. The girl who, initially, we know only as ‘soldier’, tugged at my heart strings from the off. Living with her father, who clearly has PTSD, I had nothing but sympathy for this girl who is longing to experience life outside of the regimented existence inflicted by her father. There were several terrifying scenes where I genuinely feared for her life and I willed her to find a way out of this situation.

It was obvious that the two stories would eventually merge, and I liked how the author built this up slowly, creating a tense read that just made you want to keep reading. There were plenty of surprises along the way that I did not see coming and I was gripped right until the fitting end.

If you have never read any of Nuala Ellwood’s books before, then I can recommend each of them, this one being no exception.

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin Books (UK) for my copy.

 

17 Church Row by James Carol

Life has never been the same for the Rhodes family since the tragedy that occurred three years ago. In a devastating road accident, four-year-old Grace was killed, leaving her twin sister, Bella, so traumatised that she has refused to speak ever since. In an attempt to finally move on, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes move into a state-of-the-art new property, designed by the celebrated architect, Catriona Fisher. The house, with its ultra-modern security systems should be exactly what they are looking for, but what if it isn’t the safe place they think it is?

Well, this book has certainly given me pause for thought! From the start, I could understand the internal conflict felt by Nikki: should she stay at the house that holds so many memories of her dead daughter or should she move to 17 Church Row, a house that could surely protect her remaining child? As someone who has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Bella, the new property seemed a no-brainer and, for a while, all seemed fine. As the story progressed, it soon became apparent that there was a malevolent force in action, but who was behind it and what was their motive?

I think the scariest part of this book was that that the family became so reliant upon ‘Alice’ an artificial intelligence system that makes Alexa seem almost neanderthal. We see Alice making more and more decisions for the family, controlling their lives in every way, to the point where you wonder how far she will actually go. I found it quite unnerving to think that this sort of technology probably isn’t too far off in the future and how we rely upon the internet to do so many things already. What if this goes wrong? What will happen to society?

Most of the story is told from the perspective of Nikki, but some chapters are written by an unknown character who becomes more unhinged as the plot develops. I liked how we weren’t told who this is until much later in the book, making me constantly wonder who this could be. I have read numerous books with cold, calculating narrators but this is probably the one who has perturbed me the most.

17 Church Row is one of those books that draws you in instantly and holds your attention until the very last page. A fast-paced, exciting read that will certainly make you question the use of technology!

With thanks to Readers First for my copy.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

How well do you know your neighbour? Lexie and Harriet live next door to each other in an upmarket block of flats in London, but never speak. It’s not as though they dislike each other, it’s just not the done thing. The thought of bumping into each other in the lift abhors them and yet they happily eavesdrop on each other through their paper-thin walls. With both women experiencing problems in their personal lives, they soon begin to covet each other’s life with dangerous consequences…

With its slow build-up, Through the Wall is one of those books that takes you a while, but once it’s grabbed you, there’s no letting go! From its opening in a psychiatric hospital, there is a air of foreboding where you know that something bad is about to happen, but what?

From the outside, Harriet looks like the ultimate party girl, her raucous gatherings drawing in strangers from near and far. Lexie wouldn’t be as jealous, however, if she knew Harriet’s past and that this was one way of hiding her loneliness. Similarly, Lexie looks like she shares the perfect life with her husband, Tom, the sort of life that Harriet dreams of. Her happy social media posts hide the trauma of losing a child, though, and do not take into account the pain of trying for a baby. This was a good lesson in how we should not always believe what people choose to share on the likes of Instagram or Facebook, as these posts often display a skewed version of the person’s real life.

Throughout the book, we see Harriet’s interest becoming more and more of an obsession, to the point where she is stalking both Lexie and Tom, even gaining access to their property. I began to fear for Lexie as Harriet became fixated with Tom, wondering just how far she would go to achieve her aim. At the same time, I had nothing but sympathy for Lexie as she began her IVF journey, believing at the same time that her husband was having an affair with a woman called Rachel.

Just when I thought that Harriet had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, the author hit me with details of her past, exploring how she had been the victim of an abusive ex-partner, even if she was in complete denial about this. At this point, I was desperate for someone to take Harriet into their care, to stop her from hurting someone else or even herself. The fears for Lexie were still there, however, and were proven correct when we finally get to the showdown between the two women. The tension was palpable as I began to wonder if history was about to repeat itself.

The story ends where it begins – at the psychological hospital, and it is here where we get the twist that made me gasp. This was one of those moments where you can visualise it on the screen, and I hope that this is something we get to see at some point.

Through the Wall is a disturbing psychological thriller with some genuinely emotional moments. With thanks to Avon Books UK and to Sabah Khan for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald

When she finds out that she is pregnant, Katie feels apprehensive as she has not been with her partner, Ian, for long. Her fears are allayed, however, when he is thrilled about the pregnancy, even when it turns out that Katie is expecting twins. Alarm bells begin to ring, though, when the house she moves into isn’t the palace she was expecting, and Ian becomes difficult to contact. Paula, her new friend, seems like a godsend, providing her with care and support when she needs it most. With Ian and Paula at loggerheads and Katie caught in the middle not knowing who she can trust, she soon realises that someone is not being truthful. When the truth finally emerges, how will she protect her girls?

I am really happy to be on the blog tour for Ruth Heald’s latest book, The Woman Upstairs, even though I have just about got my breath back and my heart rate is beginning to return to normal! This is one of those books where there is that much happening on every page, you really don’t want to put it down! In The Woman Upstairs, practically every character in the book had a secret that they would prefer to keep hidden.

I found Katie to be an incredibly naive character and yet, at the same time, admired her courage as her world slowly imploded around her. In Ian, she feels that she has found someone who she can spend the rest of her life with, but the alarm bells were ringing right from the start. Disappearing when she is due to have her babies and leaving Katie to move into a dilapidated house when he is supposed to be a wealthy property developer, Ian was definitely not who he was claiming to be. I definitely had my suspicions, some of which were correct, but there was plenty more to be revealed about Ian and his past, much of it shocking.

If I had my suspicions about Ian, these were nothing compared to how I felt about Paula. Looking from the outside in, it was apparent that she was playing a huge game and that she was quickly getting under Katie’s skin. Acting as Katie’s doula, there was one scene, quite early in their ‘friendship’, that made me feel quite sick, and it was at this moment that I knew that Paula was not the woman she was claiming to be. As she slowly undermined Katie, driving a wedge between her and her loved ones, I could see how easy it was for the inexperienced new mother to be manipulated. At the same time, however, I yearned for Katie to just open her eyes and realise what she was allowing to happen to her!

Although there are many parts of The Woman Upstairs that can be predicted, this is a book full of so many twists and turns that just when you think you’ve got it, Ruth Heald hits you with something else to make you change your mind once again! This culminates in a shocking conclusion where Katie finally finds out the full extent of what has been happening around her.

If you are looking for a fast-paced read that will make you gasp out loud, The Woman Upstairs is the book for you!

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

 

**PROMO BLITZ** The First Lie by A J Park

I’m pleased to be one of the blogs taking part in the promo blitz for the new book by A. J. Park, The First Lie. If, like me, you’re a fan of a good psychological thriller then I’m sure this book will be right up your street. Take a look at the blurb and see for yourself:

We’ve all had sleepless nights thinking about it.
You’re home alone. Someone breaks in.
In defending yourself, you end up killing the intruder.
Now you’re the one the police want.

That is the situation that criminal barrister Paul Reeve arrives home to find.
His wife Alice stands in the bedroom, clutching a bloodied letter opener in her shaking hand.

“What have you done, Alice?”
“I didn’t have a choice…”

We would all believe the person we love most.
But would we all make the same choice Paul and Alice make next…?

If this has whetted your appetite, here is where you can pre-order the book, or you can download it now if you have an e-reader:

Pre-order Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Lie-addictive-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07NLCMD44/

UShttps://www.amazon.com/First-Lie-addictive-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07NLCMD44/

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-first-lie/a-j-park/9781409187424

Author Bio –

After studying literature, linguistics and Spanish at university, AJ Park trained as an English teacher and actor. He has edited magazines and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools in England. He was also a competitive fencer for seven years.

 Social Media Links –

Twitter @AJParkauthor

Facebook KarlVadaszffy

www.karlvad.com

 

With thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources

One Year Later by Sanjida Kay

A year ago, Amy lost her daughter Ruby-May in a terrible accident. With the anniversary of her death looming, the family decide to go on holiday, away from the scene of the incident, to a place where, they hope, they can begin to heal the rifts that have happened since their loss. It soon becomes apparent, however, that all is not quite what it seems and there is at least one person hiding something that could change their perception of what exactly happened one year ago. Just exactly who caused Ruby-May’s death and what other secrets have been concealed over the years?

The tone is set from the very start when what seems to be the body of a woman is discovered. For the majority of the book, this is not mentioned, leaving me wondering who is was and how it fit in with the tragic death of Ruby-May one year earlier. By the time this is, again, referenced, we are aware that there is, indeed, a lot more to Ruby-May’s death than we realised and there has been a huge cover up to stop the real guilty party from coming to light.

We read the story from the perspectives of Amy, Ruby-May’s mum, and Nick, the dead girl’s uncle. Their grief is portrayed in different ways and was definitely one of the strengths of the book. In Amy, we see real visceral grief, struggling to come to terms with the death of her youngest child while trying to keep going for the sake of her two other children. The scene where she realises how much she neglected them in the weeks following the death was truly heartbreaking, more so because of the way the children dealt with the terrible situation.

Nick displayed his grief in a different way as he has been carrying around the guilt of not being there when Ruby-May died. His head full of ‘what ifs’, it is understandable why he is intent on trying to heal his family’s rifts, even if his good intentions often result in more unrest.

While it is obvious that the official version of the accident is not correct, and that there has definitely been a conspiracy of silence, I did not predict the ending. This is one of those books where you realise that you have been drip fed information throughout the plot, and the ending is completely in-keeping with what you have read. The several references to Dante’s The Divine Comedy are also very apt, with salvation and repentance being running themes in both texts.

I really enjoyed One Year Later and I thank Readers First and Corvus Books for my copy.

Take a look at my review of My Mother’s Secret, one of Sanjida Kay’s earlier books.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Home by Karen Osman

I am pleased to be part of the paperback blog tour for Karen Osman’s The Home. With plenty of 5-star ratings on Amazon, and with a previous book The Good Mother being such a fantastic read, this is definitely one to catch! It is my pleasure to be able to share a great extract with you.

 

 

It was the one place she should have been safe.

Angela was just a baby when she was abandoned, and a children’s home is no place to grow up. When manager Ray takes girls off to his ‘den’ in the garden, they always come back crying…

So, when wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape.

Years later, Angela starts to search for her birth mother, Evelyn, hoping to heal the scars of her childhood. But strange and sinister events start to unfold. And Evelyn fears she may not survive her daughter’s return.

 

 

Angela

Angela squeezed herself onto the Tube, trying not to breathe in the smell of sweat from the bodies pressed up against her. This wasn’t where she wanted to be on the Friday night of the Summer Bank Holiday weekend, but her parents had invited her specifically. In fact, she had been slightly intrigued as to what may have prompted the invitation for her to spend the long weekend with them. Angela tried not to think too much about the Astoria nightclub. It would have been a brilliant night out and her friends had been talking about it for weeks. Angela wasn’t too bothered about the drugs, but she did like the music. When you worked in a stressful industry like law, you needed a release. Besides, she thought, she worked hard and she deserved a night out once every so often. Yet here she was, jammed on the Tube on the way to her parents’ home in Tetbury. It was a good two-hour journey from her office in central London and she was getting the 4.15 p.m. from Paddington, which had meant leaving work early. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been outside her law firm during working hours other than to grab a sandwich to eat at her desk. Normally, she’d be ensconced in her cubicle working at least a sixty-hour week, often going in on weekends as well.

Escaping the stifling odour of the underground at Paddington, Angela got on the mainline train, happy to have found a seat, and took a few moments to straighten her new Jaeger suit. The eye-catching shade of green was perhaps a little too much for the corporate environment of Kings Solicitors, but it went fabulously with her dark hair and she knew she pulled it off by the number of admiring glances she received. The tailored trousers and fitted jacket with shoulder pads were so flattering. Besides, she didn’t want to blend in with all the other associates in the office, and this was just one way to be remembered by clients and the senior partners. Satisfied with her appearance, Angela pulled out some papers from her bag and began to work.

*

Angela had her own key to her parents’ house, a pretty bungalow, built of traditional Cotswold stone, and as she let herself into her childhood home she inhaled the familiar aroma: a mixture of clean washing, fresh flowers, and the trailing scent of her mother’s Estée Lauder perfume.

It was a few moments before she became aware of the stillness. She was used to the television being on or her mum talking animatedly on the phone about one of her various committees. Leaving her key and overnight bag in the hallway, Angela walked curiously through to the living room. Her mum and dad were sitting next to each other on the sofa, holding hands, and talking quietly.

‘Hello, darling! We didn’t hear you come in!’ Her mum got up to embrace her and Angela gave her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek. Normally, she would drop down on the sofa, complaining about the journey, but there was something about her mum that evening that made her think twice.

Pre-order links:

 Amazon: https://amzn.to/2M50ma4

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2LmFsya

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ErDoUc

iBooks: https://apple.co/2VZ8rRX

 

With thanks to Aria and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** Remember Me by D. E. White

Returning to the village of her youth when she discovers that her ex, and father of her child, is dying, Detective Ava Cole soon finds herself reminded of a dark time from her past. Fifteen years ago, Ava’s best friend, Ellen, disappeared from the woods, never to be seen again. Somebody knows the truth and now, with the reappearance of Ava, questions are being asked: just what did happen to Ellen on that fateful night?

Told from two perspectives – the present and fifteen years ago – it soon becomes apparent that the whereabouts of Ellen is not the mystery; the circumstances behind her disappearance is. We meet a group of friends who each have their own secrets to hide, but who exactly is responsible for what happened to Ellen? The young characters are, on the whole, not a likeable bunch, their drug experimentation and promiscuity helping to muddy the waters as to what happened on that fateful night.

From the messages that Ava is receiving, we know that there is at least one untrustworthy character amongst the two friends, but who? I enjoyed the chapters written by the unknown person, and liked how clues were dropped in slowly until you knew who it was. By this point, I had already worked this out, but I was still taken aback when the truth was finally revealed. The book definitely took a sinister turn at this point and helped me to see some of the characters in a different light.

I found Remember Me quite a slow-paced read until I reached the halfway point and then I could not put it down. The tension definitely ramped up as all of the sub-plots tied together, the story ending with a satisfying and plausible conclusion.

Remember Me is a lesson in how we often don’t always know what those closest to us are doing and is certainly worth a read.

With thanks to Isabel Smith, HQ Digital and Net Galley for my ARC. Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood

After waking up from a coma, Maggie is told that the car accident that put her in hospital claimed the life of her young daughter, Elspeth. With no memory of the event, she is shocked to learn that Elspeth drowned after the car she was in plunged into the river. Refusing to believe that this could have happened, Maggie demands to see her husband Sean, only to discover that he was last seen on the day of their daughter’s funeral. Just what did happen on that fateful day and where is Sean? Also, why does Maggie seem convinced that her daughter is not dead?

Maggie is the ultimate unreliable narrator. Her pre-accident life has disintegrated and she has been left completely on her own to try to pick up the pieces. My heart went out to her as she tried to come to terms with her new life after realising that she no longer had anything she once held dear. I also had much admiration for her as, once her recovery began, she developed a new-found strength to uncover the truth behind the day of the accident.

Throughout the book, we get the opportunity to read letters from an unnamed child to their mother, and this definitely pulled at the heartstrings. It was horrible to read the words of this poor child, seemingly abandoned by her family and yet never losing hope that they were out there somewhere and would return for her one day. This definitely backed up Maggie’s theory that Elspeth was still out there somewhere but also helped to muddy the waters for the readers. Were the letters from Elspeth or was this part of some elaborate game?

It is obvious throughout the book that there are some unseen forces working against Maggie, but who? The author introduces several characters who we don’t really know too much about. Could one of these be responsible? There is also Sean, Maggie’s errant husband – what has happened to make him go or is his disappearance as a result of foul play? One of the minor characters, in particular, was a favourite of mine, and I was desperate to know that she was not involved in any subterfuge.

Day of the Accident is full of twists and turns, some of which I managed to figure out but some I didn’t get anywhere near! This made it an incredibly enjoyable read with a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. My Sister’s Bones by the same author was one of my favourite books of 2017 and I am so pleased that this book, too, was of the same quality.

With thanks to Penguin and Net Galley for my copy.

 

 

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