Review & Q&A: Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson @TammyRobinson76

 

 

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Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson.

 

My Review:

If you have yet to read any books by Tammy Robinson then you really are missing out. Tammy writes incredibly emotive stories, with great characters that you can’t help but care about.

Differently Normal tells the story of Maddy, a teenager living with her mum and her sister Bee. Bee has autism and requires 24/7 care and it’s down to Maddy and her mum to provide it. For Maddy, juggling working and caring for her much loved sister leaves her little time for much else, she has been forced to grow up too quickly, but she’s happy with her life and knows that Bee needs her.

And then she meets Albert. Albert is instantly attracted to Maddy, and gradually she comes to realise that there’s something very special about Albert and that he respects her responsibilities at home.

I don’t want to give too much away but I just loved reading about Maddy and Albert, it was a heartwarming story that at times was incredibly sad, yet it also managed to make me laugh out loud a number of times.

Tammy Robinson has excelled herself with this book, her portrayal of Bee is just wonderful, the book shows the reader how difficult it can be to love and care for a child with autism, but also how wonderful and rewarding it can be. Bee such a lovely character who brought real love and humour to the story.

I don’t do spoilers in my reviews but I will say that the ending of Different Normal was not what I had been expecting, the author skillfully handled the events in the book and I have to say, it took my heart some time to recover. I suggest that you don’t read the end of this book in public!

An easy 5* read for me, and one that will appeal to a wide range of readers, both young and old.

Q&A with Tammy Robinson.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Rebecca, thank you for this opportunity. I live in Rotorua, New Zealand and I write contemporary books. I just turned 40 (eek!) and I have three children under the age of five, so I’m pretty tired right now! I’m currently a stay at home mum, but in the past I’ve done everything from sell shoes, to work on cruise ships, to HR manager on a tropical island resort.

2. What would your English teacher say if she knew that you were an author now? 

Honestly? I can’t even remember my English teacher! But I can remember my Journalism teacher, and she’d be super proud. An eccentric woman, she’d bring her puppy into class with her and my best friend Brian and I would take it outside to do it’s ‘business’ and spend our lessons lying on the grass in the sun talking about life. But I’d hazard a guess and say any English teacher I ever had wouldn’t be too surprised, given that I’ve always known I’d be an author one day.

3. Can you tell us something that we, your readers, don’t know about you?

I am a twin. I have a sister, Kerrie, who is six minutes younger than I am. We’re not identical, but when we were little our mother dressed us the same and people thought we were.

Also I had depression from the age of seventeen and battled with it for many years. I went through some very dark times. After a stint in a psychiatric hospital I was treated with ECT (Electric Convulsive therapy) and I have been symptom free for the past decade. With my history, I was worried about developing Post natal depression, but thankfully, apart from the usual parent struggles, that has not been the case.

4. You have a young family, how do you juggle writing and parenting?

At the moment it’s tough. My children are so young they require my attention most of the time, especially Leo who is only eight months and still breastfed. I used to get very frustrated that I couldn’t write during the day, but then I realised I was being a half arsed mother because I was stewing on those feelings of frustration instead of giving them my full attention. I had to let it go and just remind myself that I would get ten or twenty minutes that night between dinner and the bed time routine, and that would be ‘my time’. Fortunately I have a very understanding husband, who takes on the childcare duties most weekends so I can get some serious writing done then.

5. You have a real skill at describing scenery in your books, making it so real that the reader can really picture the settings. And as they’re set in New Zealand you certainly have a lot of stunning scenery to describe. Have you always been really aware of your surroundings or is this something that you have learnt for focus on for your books?

Good question! I wasn’t really aware of doing it until I thought about your question, but yes, I do tend to focus on my surroundings and absorb them. I love nature, especially the ocean (which is why it features in most of my books). When I am writing a scene I picture it in my head and then set about describing that so the reader can see what I’m seeing. I have learnt which details to focus on and which ones to let go. There can be too much description in some books, so I try and only describe what’s necessary.

6. You recently changed the name and covers for some of your books, can you tell us a little bit about why you did that and what impact it has had on your sales?

When I first started writing (and naming my books) I wasn’t really thinking about what worked best commercially. With A Roast on Sunday (now titled The Peculiar Smell of Secrets) I decided the title wasn’t appealing enough, and gave no hints as to the genre. I like to think the new title is more intriguing.

With Pohutukawa Highway (now titled MY SUMMER OF YOU) I asked for feedback and found out that a lot of people were turned off from buying the book because they were unable to pronounce the title. Pohutukawa is a tree native to New Zealand. At Christmas time is comes out in big red bristle flowers, and is known as New Zealand’s native Christmas tree. As sad as I was about doing it, I decided to change the title to something that hopefully would also appeal to more international readers.

7. What tip would you give to someone writing their first book? 

When you sit down and open up your document, DON’T read back over what you’ve already written. You’ll get sucked into editing and changing sentences and won’t get any new writing done. Just scroll straight to the end and keep writing. The time for editing is when the book is finished. Trust me, you’ll get it written a lot faster if you just write it all down first and go back over it later.

8. If you were stuck on a desert island and had three people with you who would you choose? You can have:
a. a character from one of your books

Ooh I’m torn between Charlie (Charlie and Pearl) because he’s such a lovable sweetheart and Hunter (My Summer of You) because he’s more mysterious and sexy.

b. a character from a book that you haven’t written

Erma Bombeck. Not so much a character as a real person, but someone who I think would be handy to have around!

c. someone famous who you don’t know in person or on social media.

I’d need someone who would make me laugh daily, so I’m going to say Sean Condon.
9. You can also take one book to take with you
Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazaretti.

And finally
10. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?
I’d love to say yes but no, I’m fairly boring in that regard. I am evolving as a writer. When I first started writing I would write with no idea where the story was going or how it would end. Now I like to plan in advance, it’s much easier (and faster) to write that way. I am also starting to challenge myself more and more with subject matter, dealing with subjects that require research.

(I apologise for the formatting of the questions in that, I’ve no idea what WordPress was doing and despite repeatedly copying and pasting and changing I could not get all the questions to be in the same font size!)

About The Author:

tammyrobinson

Tammy Robinson is writer from New Zealand. She has four books available for purchase on amazon and is currently at work on her fifth.

After years spent working her way round the world on cruise ships and at Club Med resorts (and yes, the rumours are all true) Tammy now lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty with her husband, their two beautiful girls, a scatty black Labrador and a grumpy black cat who occasionally requires a two week course of anti-anxiety medication to stop him from pulling his own fur out. Seriously.

When not being drooled/vomited/pooped on, Tammy manages to squeeze in some writing, assisted by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate. (Ok and the odd wine)

Find Tammy on Facebook here and Twitter here and more about her and her books here.

Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Review: My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall @RuthDugdall

 

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My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall.

 

My review:

I am a big Ruth Dugdall fan, not only have I had the pleasure of meeting her, when she was really lovely, but she also happens to be a very good author. Her characters are always interesting and realistic and the plots flow well.

So when I heard about her latest book coming out I really wanted to read it, and thankfully I was lucky enough to get an early copy.

In My Sister and Other Liars, Dugdall tackles a difficult subject and one that is hard to get right. Not only are the main characters teenagers, but they are teenagers with eating disorders. I have worked with teenagers with eating disorders and know how complicated they can be, but Dugdall has once again created great characters who are so accurate that I am sure that some of them must be based on real people.

The story revolves around Sam, she’s 17 and when we meet her she is a long term patient in an NHS unit for teenagers with an eating disorder. She is shut down and we know that she is hiding her story from the other patients, but we don’t know what her story is. As the book progresses Sam starts to tell what happened to one of the staff in the unit and we begin to find out what led to Sam being where she is now.

Not that long ago Sam was a happy teenager, with an older sister that she loved and, although she had some struggles with her parents she was doing ok. Until one day her sister, Jena is brutally attacked. Sam becomes determined to find out who her attacker was and in the process, she uncovers more about her family that she bargained for and her life is changed forever.

I really liked how the story of Sam developed over the book, and how she grew so much as she came to terms with what happened and what she did. I really don’t want to give too much away but if you like your books to have depth and a compelling storyline that keeps you guessing then My Sister and Other Liars is the book for you.

Thank you to Ruth Dugdall and her publishers, Thomas & Mercer, for a copy of My Sister and Other Liars via Netgalley.

Blurb:

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.

About the author:

ruthdugdall

Ruth Dugdall was born in 1971. She holds a BA honours degree in English Literature (Warwick University) and an MA in Social Work (University of East Anglia). She qualified as a probation officer in 1996 and has worked in prison with offenders guilty of serious crimes, including stalking, rape and murder. This has informed her crime writing. Since she started writing, Ruth has won awards in several writing competitions, and has had short stories published in the Winchester Writers’ Conference and the Eva Wiggins Award anthologies.

 

My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall is released on 1st May 2017 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US. If you are an Amazon Prime member in the UK then it is available for free in April 2017 as part of Kindle First.

Review: The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir @YrsaSig

 

 

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The Legacy

 

My Review:

This is the first book that I’ve read that could be classed Scandi Noir. I know that I’m a bit late to the party with this but better late than never is definitely the case!

I heard the author of The Legacy talking about her latest book on the radio, she read an exert from this book and I did not want her to stop, I wanted to know what happened next so as soon as I could get to my computer I looked the book up and I was delighted to get a copy via Netgalley.

What I hadn’t realised was quite how long this book was. At 464 pages this is not a short book, and as a slow reader, it’s quite a commitment for me to read and it took me a week to read. However, often when I read a long book I get almost resentful of the book and the amount of time that it is taking for me to read, I have so many other books waiting! But that did not happen with The Legacy, although aware that it was loooong I never felt that it should hurry up or get to the point, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish.

While the language was a little different and perhaps slightly simplistic due to the translation from Icelandic to English, I actually quite liked it, it made the book easy to read and a little bit different.

I really liked the main characters in the book, Hulder, the main detective was great and I look forward to getting to know him better in future books in the series, and the same with Freyja who works in The Children’s House, so is involved with a young girl who witnessed her mother being murdered but understandably does not want to talk about what she saw.

The deaths in The Legacy were really quite gruesome but the author skillfully avoided giving us too much detail and let us imagine what happened to the victim, something that I was very grateful for.

I am definitely converted and will be reading more from this author, and hopefully other Icelandic crime authors.

Blurb:

The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

About the author:

Yrsa Sigurdardottir is an award-winning, best-selling author from Iceland. She began her career writing humorous novels for children but got sick of being funny and found being horrible is much easier. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with Last Rituals, the first installment in the Thóra Guðmundsdóttir series and has since been translated into 35 languages. Yrsa has also written several stand-alone thrillers and has a new series coming out in 2017 in the UK. Her work stands “comparison with the finest contemporary crime writing anywhere in the world” according to the Times Literary Supplement. Her standalone horror novel, I Remember You will be in theaters in 2017, while adaptation of the Thóra series for English language television is underway.

The latest book to be published in the UK is Why Did You Lie, described by the Sunday Times as “a tour de force”. This was preceded by the 2015 Petrona Award winning Silence of the Sea and Someone to Watch Over Me, chosen by the Sunday Times as the best crime novel published in the UK in 2013.

Yrsa is also a civil engineer and still works as such on geothermal and hydro power plant projects in her native Iceland. She is not in agreement with her co-workers regarding her actual participation in the workplace lately, she states she works 50% but they say 30%. This issue is presently unresolved.

Follow Yrsa on Twitter: @YrsaSig (See what she did there? Saved you a whole lot of confusion while typing her last name)

The Legacy is out now and availble from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blog Tour: The Book of Air by Joe Treasure.

Today I have a second stop on a blog tour, this time for Joe Treasure, author of The Book of Air. He has stopped by to tell us what inspired him to write his book.

What inspired the story of The Book of Air?

Inspiration is a mysterious process. You can start with a fragment of an idea so insubstantial that you can’t explain, even to yourself, why it holds your attention. I’m fascinated by the way random things survive destruction and get passed on and acquire meaning. I have a diary that my mother kept for a couple of months when she was 14, living in another country in a time of political upheaval. There’s rioting, mass arrests, guns are fired in the street and she’s caught up in it. Meanwhile she’s fighting with her teachers and helping with the birth of a baby nephew. It reveals only a tiny fraction of her life out of all that I’ll never now discover, but it opens a door on a lost world.

In the far-future section of The Book of Air almost everything that constitutes our world in 2017 has disappeared, including most of the human population. People hold on to the objects from the past. Some of them have practical value, like knives and spades. Some are useless, meaningless even – a microwave oven, a laptop. In Agnes’s village, their most treasured possessions are three books. One of them, the most substantial, is Jane Eyre. Alongside the tough physical work of tending crops and animals, some of the villagers make time to study, specifically to copy passages from Jane Eyre. They have no practical use for literacy. They don’t write letters or shopping lists. They don’t make laws or keep the minutes of meetings. They have no concept of consuming stories for pleasure. They read and write for this purpose only – to keep alive the knowledge of the books. It’s irrational, but it’s also creative. It’s irrational in a very human way.

I hadn’t thought of this until I began writing this piece, but perhaps unconsciously it was the memory of my mother’s diary that prompted me to begin The Book of Air with 15-year-old Agnes writing an account of her life. In Agnes’s mind, this is an almost blasphemous act, to misuse valuable ink and to put herself somehow on a level with Jane Eyre herself, her only model for this kind of writing. It’s a community built on elaborate rules. And in the very first sentence of the story a rule is broken, which will lead to danger and to radical questions.

To understand how Agnes’s village came to exist in this unusual form, I realized I had to tell another story, set just a few years in our future – the story of the contagion that destroys civilization. So I invented Jason, Agnes’s ancestor, who experiences the strange symptoms of the virus, and survives. I resisted writing this half of the book. One of interesting things about writing fiction is that one thing leads to another and you find yourself pushed into uncomfortable territory. The logic of the plot makes demands on you. But what bubbles up out of the unconscious in response to that pressure is unpredictable.

I can see, now the book is complete, that there’s an interest in communities running through it. Agnes’s village is just one kind of community. When she ventures beyond the village, she finds more freedom but also more chaos. Jason’s story involves a number of communities, some benign, some isolated and cultish. People cluster together, or are pushed together by circumstances, and work out ways of living. When Jason escapes from London with his young nephew Simon, he finds squatters in his house, two women who already know how to live without electricity or running water. The women nurse him through his sickness. Meanwhile three other people turn up who have met on the road. They have nothing in common except the need to survive.

As Jason thinks back on what has brought him here, and what has brought the world to this desperate state, he remembers other communities – including the travelling band of Christians with whom he spent part of his childhood, and the various groups that his younger sister Penny, Simon’s mother, got entangled with during her short life.

I think it’s no accident that I’ve written this book at a time when there’s a lot of anxiety floating around, a strong sense of existential threats, political or environmental. How do we cooperate and remain open to each other in the face of such dangers? I didn’t set out knowingly to write about these things, but I think the book is a response to them, even so.

The Book of Air

Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.

Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.

These two stories interweave, illuminating each other in unexpected ways and offering long vistas of loss, regeneration and wonder.

The Book of Air is a story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world.

 Purchase of Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Air-Joe-Treasure/dp/1911525093

About Joe Treasure

Joe Treasure Photo

Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews.

Website – http://www.joetreasure.com/

Twitter: – https://twitter.com/joetreas

 

Blog Tour: The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World by Richard Daniel Curtis.

 

I’m quite excited about this blog tour, being a parent and facing a whole new world that did not exist when I was a child can be a bit scary so I am pleased to be able to share some Do’s and Don’ts for parenting in the modern world.

The top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Modern Parents

Taken from The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World

By Richard Daniel Curtis, The Kid Calmer

The modern world is full of new threats that many parents never had to encounter when they were growing up.  It’s overwhelming at times and causes all sorts of parenting headaches, especially when your children can out-talk you on technology.  I talk to hundreds of parents each year and understand the dichotomy of trying to keep them on the straight and narrow, whilst also not ruining your relationship.  So here’s the top 10 do’s and don’ts from the book when it comes to raising a teen or soon to be teen.

Do’s

  • Be the friendly, non-judgemental ear for your child. They will encounter sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and bullying whether you like it or not – it’s far better for them to have you to turn to when they do.
  • Share your teenage experiences with your teen, without giving them all of the gory details; help them to understand that you were teenage too.
  • Only give your child a smartphone when they are mature enough to be able to talk to you about bullying issues.
  • When it comes to using the internet leave them with an understanding that even if they are on a dodgy site they can come to you for support or advice without being judged.
  • Get your child to check links on suspicious emails by checking the from address matches the company and also hovering over the links and looking at the link address (often in the bottom left of the browser) to make sure they match.
  • Be open to talking about how easy it can be to crack default passwords and why you should change them.
  • As your teen starts to use social media, teach them to always stop and think before posting comments, photos or videos.
  • Teach your child to report inappropriate posts or comments and to be able to ignore them.
  • Invest in tech insurance and protectors!
  • Finally make sure your child knows that you will never be angry with them and that you are there for them to turn to when they experience problems.

Don’ts

  • Compare the pressure your child is under to what you experienced; today’s world is very different.
  • Deny your child the emotions they are feeling as they experience social problems, your child is unlikely to have learnt that they will fade and they will feel very real to them.
  • Be judgemental, it’ll only make them move further away from
  • It’s impossible to block out the impact of terrorism on the modern world, it’s far better to educate your child so they don’t pay an unhealthy interest or become anxious.
  • Let your child take their phone in their room overnight.
  • Rely on your internet blocking set up. Education is far more important than dependency on software, as the moment they no longer have the software they will struggle to cope.
  • Avoid the conversations; your child will come across malware, trolling or pornography at some point online, it’s better to have given them the tools to choose to avoid it.
  • Be heavy handed with taking away tech as your child does their homework; if they’re used to flicking between things they’ll need a gentle approach to getting used to more focus.
  • Minimise the emotional and physical sensation of the experience of games, the technology is so advanced it can provoke the same reactions as though they went through it, your child may need your support to cope with the after-effects.
  • Assume your child will know when to use technology; they’ll want to consume it. Teach them to make decisions about whether it is the best thing to use.

 

The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World

Raising a child in the 21st Century is scary! There are so many threats to your adolescent that you worry about what they are up to in their bedroom, let alone when they are out with their friends.

The world is so different than when we grew up, young people nowadays have different expectations about life and use so much technology. It’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed at times. Even things that were simple have got more complicated, issues like gender identity or sex. It’s hard to know where to start with technology, every time you feel you have a grip on what your child is into, they talk about something else you’ve never heard of.

Life as a parent is overwhelming!

The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World gives you the answers to the worries you haven’t even realised you have. Starting with a section on how your child’s brain develops and explaining why their personality changes so much during puberty. It even helps you to structure any difficult conversations you need to have with your teen or soon to be teen.

The book then goes through over thirty different aspects of the modern world, telling you about the risks associated with each, plus the dos and don’ts for you as parents. Following this, part three focusses on the predictions for the world your child will be an adult in; helping you to understand the things you can do now to give them the best chances in life. Finally, the book contains a handy glossary of terms your young person might be using.

Worried about how to help your child understand these risks? Why not buy them the sister book The Young Person’s Guide to the Modern World.

Purchase on Amazon UK  here.

About Richard Daniel Curtis

Richard Daniel Curtis

Based in Southampton with his partner and their young son, Richard Daniel Curtis is an internationally renowned behaviour expert and futurist passionate about helping people understand mindset and psychology. A former teacher, and mental health support worker, Richard is known for his impact with turning round some of the most extreme behaviours and is consulted about adults and children around the globe, even having two assessments named after him. He has founded The Root of It -an organisation of qualified professionals available to support schools and individuals with behavioural difficulties- for which he was awarded the Gold Scoot Headline Award in 2015 and Best New Business in 2014. Most recently he launched The Mentoring School to train the psychology related to mentoring people of all ages. For his work and expertise he has been interviewed for the BBC,ITV and Sky News TV and various international print media and radio. His previous titles include: 101 Tips for Parents, 101 More Tips for Parents and 101 Behaviour Tips for Parents (2014) and Gratitude at Home (2016).

Website: The Kid Calmer

Twitter: @thekidcalmer

Facebook: #thekidcalmer

 

 

 

Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf.

 

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Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf.

 

My Review:

I’ve read a few books by the author and have always enjoyed them so I was keen to read Missing Pieces. However, once it was published I read a few reviews by bloggers that I trust that made me unsure about whether I would enjoy it. I normally try not to let reviews influence me but it did mean that Missing Pieces sank down my tbr pile.

It is unfortunate that I kind of wish that it had stayed there. Although the writing was good and it was easy to read with decent characters the story just did not grab me. I think that the reason is that the book gets straight into the story, there is absolutely no getting to know the characters before they’re thrown into turmoil by the events in the book, this meant that I really wasn’t sure what I thought about the main character, Sarah, although as the book went on I liked her less and less, but was she a reliable narrator? That I didn’t know and I think that the book suffered as a result.

When Sarah’s husband’s Aunt is critically ill in hospital after a fall down the stairs in her home Sarah and Jack head to his hometown, somewhere that he hasn’t returned to since he left twenty years ago. Sarah has never met any of Jack’s family and is looking forward to meeting them, she knows that Jack’s parents died in a car accident when Jack was a teenager and his aunt and uncle looked after him and his sister Amy.

However, soon after they arrive it becomes clear to Sarah that maybe she doesn’t know her husband as well as she thought that she did. This is where things got a bit difficult for me, Sarah’s reaction seemed slightly unusual, as did the actions of one of the locals who decided to help Sarah investigate her husband’s past.

If I’m honest I nearly gave up on this book many times, I felt guilty that it had taken me so long to get round to reading this book to review and that kept me going, it is also quite easy to read so I kept going. I was pretty sure that I’d worked things out long before the end, and I’m giving the book an extra half a star because the ending wasn’t quite what I had expected.

I’m not sure what went wrong with the author for this book, as I said I’ve read other books by Heather that I’ve really enjoyed, but next time I will be less keen to read one which is a shame.

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley, I was under no obligation to review and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

Missing Pieces is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blog Tour & Review: The Lost Children by Helen Phifer.

 

My Review:

I do love it when I discover a new author and really enjoy the book, and it is even better when the book is the first in a new series. I am already looking forward to book two!

The Lost Children follows Lucy, a detective who has just returned to work following an enforced absence after an event that we never quite get to understand but that continues to haunt Lucy. On her first day back at work Lucy is thrown in the deep end when a body is found in an old and abandoned asylum, someone has been brutally murdered in a small town where this sort of thing rarely happens. When another body is found Lucy is convinced that the two deaths are linked, but why is someone suddenly killing people and how is the old asylum linked to the murdered people?

The asylum in the story is almost like a character in itself, now derelict it holds the secrets of the horrors in its past. Before being closed down for good it was home to children who were seen as difficult and unruly, or who had learning difficulties. We learn about the treatment of those children through the eyes of one of the children kept there. This added to the storyline and helped the reader to understand why these killings might be taking place.

I really enjoyed this book, it was easy to read and sucked me in. I liked Lucy as a character and her relationship with her police partner, Mattie. The book reminded me of MJ Arlidge and his Helen Grace books, which is a huge compliment.

The believable characters who are solid and well-written, combined with an intriguing and original storyline make The Lost Children a great read and Helen Phifer an author to watch out for. I look forward to the next book in the Detective Lucy Harwin series and hope to find the time to read Phifer’s previous books.

Blurb:

The Lost Children by Helen Phifer

 
Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…

For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to a gurney… 

Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging wrongs. 

What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.

As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose? 

An absolutely terrifying and gripping thriller that will chill readers of MJ Arlidge, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott to the bone. 

About the author:

Helen Phifer author picture

Helen Phifer’s love of reading began with Enid Blyton, before progressing on to Laura Ingals Wilder and scaring herself with Steven King. If she can’t write for any particular reason she finds herself getting itchy fingers and really irritable. She loves reading as much as writing and is also very fond of chocolate, Prosecco, The Lake District, New York, white Zinfandel wine, my children and grandchildren, my friends, porn star martini cocktails, Stephen King, watching scary films, Marilyn Monroe, Melissa McCarthy, Idris Elba, Simon Baker, Spandau Ballet, The Munsters and coffee. In no particular order.

www.helenphifer.com

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