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.
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’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.
I finished The Idea of You a few days ago but I have found this review quite hard to write. Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the UK and I thought about this book a lot, thinking of the women who would be struggling with the day, thinking of babies that they hadn’t got to hold in their arms.
Lucy is aware of her clock ticking when she meets Jonah, he is slightly older and has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship. They fall in love and get married and both agree that they want to have a baby and are overjoyed when Lucky quickly falls pregnant. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and Lucy lost the baby with an early miscarriage. Subsequent pregnancies ended the same way, each time breaking Lucy’s heart in two.
Since I finished this book I read that the author has personal experience of miscarriage and this did not surprise me, the way that Lucy feels after each loss is so raw and real and I know that many readers have shed many tears reading The Idea of You.
But that doesn’t mean that The Idea of You is a depressing read, there is a lot of love and courage and inspiration in the book. When Lucy’s stepdaughter comes to live with them she struggles with the relationship while at the same time coping with her losses. Lucy has to find an inner strength that she didn’t know that she had while coming to terms with what is happening and things that happened in her past. There is a lot of healing in this book.
What I liked was that this book didn’t have your typical happy ending that so many other books would have, yet the ending is still happy. Whether you have experienced miscarriage or not, this book will give you plenty to think about.
Thank you to Amanda Prowse and her publisher, Lake Union, for the opportunity to read and review The Idea Of You.
With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…
This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?
About the Author:
Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.
I’m not sure that there is a parent or child in the world that doesn’t love at least one Julia Donaldson book. I have six year old twins and her books are often read at bedtime in my house, The Highway Rat being the favourite. Another favourite book is We’re Going On a Bear Hunt which is illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. So when I saw that The Giant Jumperee was written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury I knew that I had to read this book to my children.
We read it on my paperwhite kindle which worked fine but I’m sure that we didn’t get to fully appreciate the wonderful drawings. My children didn’t seem in the least bit bothered as they snuggled close to get a look at the pictures, there were lots of giggles as we read and a few squeals of excitement as they tried to work out what the jumperee might be.
The book is short, it is a very quick read and I think aimed at the younger end of Julia Donaldson fans. My children were probably at the upper end of the target audience and I think that it would be perfect for those who were not quite ready for the scary Gruffalo. It would also be a good book for a young reader to read to an adult.
Overall, this is a wonderful book that I’m sure will be very popular with young children and their parents.
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House, for the opportunity to read The Giant Jumperee.
Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow. “I’M THE GIANT JUMPEREE AND I’M SCARY AS CAN BE!” When Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help they are each scared away in turn by the mysterious voice.
He can squash you like a flee
He will sting you like a bee
And he’s taller than a tree!
But who is the Giant Jumperee?
A new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.
About the author:
Julia Donaldson is the outrageously talented, prize-winning author of the world’s best-loved picture books, and was the 2011-2013 UK Children’s Laureate. Her books include Room on the Broom, Stick Man, What the Ladybird Heard and the modern classics The Gruffalo, the The Gruffalo’s Child which have sold 17 million copies worldwide and has been translated into seventy languages. Julia also writes fiction as well as poems, plays and songs and her brilliant live children’s shows are always in demand. Julia and her husband Malcolm divide their time between Sussex and Edinburgh.
About the illustrator:
As a child
Growing up in Ipswich, England, Helen Oxenbury loved nothing more than drawing. As a teenager, she entered art school and basked in the pleasure of drawing, and nothing but drawing, all day. During vacations she helped out at the Ipswich Repertory Theatre workshop, mixing paints for set designers. It was there that she decided her future lay in theatre design. While studying costume design, however, Helen was told by a teacher, “This is hopeless, you know. You ought to go and do illustrations – you’re much more interested in the character, and we don’t know who’s going to play the part!”
As an adult
Sets and scenery, not books, remained Helen’s preoccupation for her early adult life as she embarked on careers in theatre, film, and TV. After marrying John Burningham, another of the world’s most eminent children’s book illustrators, and giving birth to their first child, at last she turned to illustrating children’s books. “When I had babies,” Helen says, “I wanted to be home with them and look for something to do there.” Helen and her husband make their home in London, where the she works in a nearby studio. She is also an avid tennis player.
As an artist
Today, Helen is among the most popular and critically acclaimed illustrators of her time. Her numerous books for children include the Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; Smarties Book Prize-winning Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell; We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen; Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, written by Mem Fox,as well as her classic board books for babies. And what does she love most about her work? Thinking up new ideas? Seeing the finished book? Not at all. For Helen, “The best part is when I think I know what I’m doing and I’ve completed a few drawings. In fact, when I get about a third of the way through, and I feel I’m on my way, then I’m happy. It’s like reading a good book – you don’t want it to end.”
The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is published in the UK on April 2nd 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK. It will be published in America on April 18th 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon US now.
I’m fairly sure that this is the longest book review that I have written, I have tried to cut it down but can’t, it seems that I have a lot to say about A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold and feel the need to say it! It is also the first review that I have done that could be classed as giving away spoilers, although being a non-fiction book that doesn’t tell the reader anything that isn’t already ‘out there’ I’m not sure whether you can really class them as spoilers.
My 3* review:
I have to admit that while reading this book I did ask myself why I had wanted to read it. As a big crime fiction fan, I do find myself interested in real crime, especially the more unusual cases. I remember the shooting at Columbine high school in America, I remember being horrified that something like that could happen in a school and trying to comprehend why two teenage boys would decide to go on a rampage in their own school.
I am thankful that gun laws in the UK prevent this sort of thing from happening, and I’ve always been horrified at the subsequent school shootings that have happened since Columbine. I have to admit that part of me is fascinated about what would make someone shoot children in a school, and what type of upbringing might cause someone to do that.
So when I came across A Mother’s Reckoning I wanted to read it, I wanted to understand what had happened at Columbine and how Dylan’s parents coped with the aftermath. I wanted to know whether the author would try to minimise her son’s involvement or paint herself as a wonderful mother who did nothing wrong? I had many questions.
The first half of this book is incredibly depressing to read. It is clear that Sue Klebold descended into a very dark place after the shooting and she uses the pages to vomit those feelings out onto the reader. I got to 50% through and had to take a break, I could feel my own thoughts becoming darker and knew that I had to step away from the book. I read two fiction books before returning, bracing myself for more.
Perhaps because I was prepared for it the second half was not as deeply depressing as the first. In fact, the second half actually said very little that wasn’t in the first half, this book is very repetitive. We hear, again and again, and again, how Sue and her now ex-husband had not noticed anything with Dylan that they hadn’t put down to normal teenage angst and how if she had suspected anything then she would have forced Dylan to get help and that then Dylan wouldn’t have felt so desperate and wouldn’t have killed so many people. I’m simplifying it, but basically, Sue Klebold obviously thinks that she could have saved the day if only she’d noticed.
Another thing that Klebold focuses on is what she calls ‘brain illness’. She does eventually give a brief explanation of why she says brain illness rather than mental health but if I’m honest, by then I was past caring about the why as it had become so annoying that I just wanted her to stop it and call it what it is. Brain illness makes no sense to me, sure, I understand that when you have mental health problems that your brain doesn’t work as it should, but does it have an illness? If my kidney’s stop working properly I don’t say that I have kidney illness, or a leg illness when I’ve broken my bone. You get the point, but it’s annoying and unnecessary. And yes, I do have mental health problems so feel that I am able to say that I hate ‘brain illness’.
It was interesting to read about Klebold’s denial around what her son did and how that denial was smashed when the police sat her down and told her step by step, what had happened during the rampage that Dylan and his friend Eric went on, including who shot who. It is made clear to us that Dylan shot fewer people than Eric and that he had spared a few people, telling them to run instead of shooting them. While these may be true facts it did feel that Klebold had emphasised them to make sure that we know that her son was not the worst.
It is clear that Klebold sees Eric as the bad one and that without him in his life Dylan would never have done such terrible things. Klebold acknowledges that Dylan had mental health (sorry, brain illness) problems that were undiagnosed and tells us repeatedly that Dylan was suicidal yet unable to kill himself, but so desperate was he to die that he went along with Eric’s plan to kill others, something that both boys knew would end in their deaths too. Klebold does talk about the memorials for the victims, she tells us that originally two crosses had been put there for Dylan and Eric but they had been destroyed. I can’t help but feel that she thinks that Dylan deserves a cross, that he too was a victim in all of this.
Since finishing this book I have done some more research into Dylan especially, but also Eric and the shootings. It is clear that there were more signs that Dylan was in trouble, like clear anger management issues, that were not mentioned in the book. This is not a short book and as I said it is very repetitive so there was plenty of room for Klebold to tell us about this, but I guess that she didn’t want to. Which makes me question the rest of the book, and what else she decided not to tell us.
What Klebold had to go through must have been beyond horrific and I do feel compassion towards her. She has clearly gone on to do a lot of good, supporting others who have lost children to suicide and reaching out to other parents of school shooters. The fact that she managed to get through what happened and put it to something positive is commendable.
However, I’m not really sure what she wanted to achieve with this book. The focus of the book is, understandably, on Dylan and although she tells us many times that she is very sorry about the people that were hurt by her son the victims seem to be almost forgotten and, in many ways, irrelevant. The book is far longer than it needed to be, mainly because of the repetitiveness which is a shame, this book could be a very powerful tool, helping parents to look at their children and see signs that may suggest that their child needs help and support. Instead, Klebold comes across as quite preachy and arrogant, placing blame with many people and institutions, but not with Dylan and certainly not with herself.
I received a copy of A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold from the publishers via Netgalley, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.
For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?
These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.
Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.
All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Happy Publication day to Daisy James!! She has written a post about the importance of location in books and how a hurricane led to her writing her first novel. Make sure you read to the end to find details of a giveaway. Thanks for stopping by Daisy.
There’s Something About Cornwall
First of all, a huge thank you for featuring my brand new release – There’s Something About Cornwall – on your blog.
Location is always very important to me when I’m writing. It’s almost as though it’s another character that requires just as much attention, just as much crafting, as any other. My first novel – The Runaway Bridesmaid – was set in New York. I enjoyed an amazing trip there a couple of years ago, for a milestone birthday, except, instead of spending five exhilarating days taking in the sights, because of Hurricane Sandy we ended up being there for eleven. Everywhere was closed, even the Broadway shows, so I grabbed a pen and some paper and started writing and my first published novel was born.
When I began researching my fourth book, I wanted my characters to have a fabulous backdrop for their story, so it had to be Cornwall. The scenery is so beautiful and diverse, not to mention the fact that the sun always seems to be shining. There’s Something About Cornwall follows Emilie Roberts, a food photographer, who takes a culinary road trip around the whole county as she works on a photoshoot for a celebrity TV chef working on her next cookery book.
Emilie’s epic journey starts in Padstow where she meets Matt at a beach party. He becomes a last-minute replacement driver for an orange-and-cream vintage campervan they’ve nicknamed The Satsuma Splittie. There’s plenty of stops along the way and lots of baking and tasting of the delicious Cornish food that is being photographed.
I wanted to showcase not only the local recipes, but also the wide array of artisan beverages that Cornwall is famous for. So, in Truro, they visit an apple orchard where Emilie photographs the Cornish Cyder Cake and Apple and Caramel Loaf, but they also indulge in a few pints of the local Scrumpy.
Apple & Caramel Loaf
During my research, I was amazed to find that vineyards flourish on south-facing slopes and fabulous white and rosé wine is produced in Cornwall. The county is also the only place in England that grows tea – Tregothnan Tea – it offers a whole new meaning to the label English Breakfast tea!
I also came across the Southwestern Distillery, run by Tarquin Leadbetter, which produces not only Cornish Gin but also Cornish Pastis. The pastis is a modern take on the classic French aperitif and the first of its kind created in the UK. It is made with gorse flowers foraged from the Atlantic clifftops and fresh orange zest finished off with a touch of liquorice root. Tarquin also grows his own Devon violets for use in his Tarquin’s Gin.
I hope readers will enjoy escaping to our southernmost county when they read There’s Something About Cornwall.
For a chance to win a book on the history of the much-loved, iconic camper van, a mug and a coaster, just follow Daisy James and retweet the pinned tweet. The prize will be drawn on 31st March 2017 (UK only).
Life is far from picture perfect for food photographer, Emilie Roberts. Not only has her ex-boyfriend cheated on her, he’s also stolen her dream assignment to beautiful Venice! Instead, Emilie is heading to the wind-swept Cornish coast…
Emilie doesn’t think it can get any worse – until disaster strikes on the very first day! And there’s only one man to rescue this damsel in distress: extremely hunky surfing instructor, Matt Ashby.
Racing from shoot to shoot in a bright orange vintage camper van, Matt isn’t the conventional knight in shining armour – but can he make all of Emilie’s fairy tale dreams come true?
I first read this book almost two years ago. I don’t know about you but I suspect that if you showed me a list of books that I read two years ago I’d have a hard time remembering much about most of them, but I would definitely be able to tell you a good deal about An Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newbound as it is a book that has stayed with me. I’m a big fan of the author and I’m delighted that publishers, Bloodhound Books, have decided to publish this previously self-published book, so when I was asked whether I wanted to take part in the blog tour and post my review I jumped at the chance. However, reading the review now I am going to change it, it seems that two years of writing reviews have, hopefully, improved my review writing somewhat, and because I remember the book so well I feel confident that I can give a review that it deserves.
My 5* review:
How far would you go to save your daughter? Would you sacrifice another person in order to save her? That is the question posed by An Impossible Dilemma.
I am a big fan of Netta Newbound, she has a way with writing that sucks the reader in, her characters are believable and although the situation that Victoria finds herself in is anything but normal, I could always understand her actions, even if I don’t think that I could have done the same.
I actually read this book two years ago, but it has stayed with me and despite that and reading many other books in that time, I still remember clearly how I felt reading this book. Newbound once again crafts a gruesome tale, she really does have a way with words and an imagination that is, I think, unrivalled within the crime writing scene. There are a few scenes in An Impossible Dilemma that stay with me to this day.
The book is easy to read and will definitely grip you and suck you in, and it is bound to give you a lot to think about. If you’re a thriller fan then you are sure to enjoy this and if you have yet to read any books by Netta Newbound then this book is sure to convert you. I’m also sure that you will never look at pigs in the same way again!
An Utterly Compelling Psychological Thriller From a Best-selling Author
Would you choose to save your child if it meant someone else had to die?
Victoria and Jonathan Lyons seem to have everything—a perfect marriage, a beautiful daughter, Emily, and a successful business. Until they discover Emily, aged five, has a rare and fatal illness.
Medical trials show that a temporary fix would be to transplant a hormone from a living donor. However in the trials the donors die within twenty four hours. Victoria and Jonathan are forced to accept that their daughter is going to die.
In an unfortunate twist of fate Jonathan is suddenly killed in a farming accident and Victoria turns to her sick father-in-law, Frank, for help. Then a series of events present Victoria and Frank with a situation that, although illegal, could save Emily.
Will they take their one chance and should they?
A Sinister and Darkly Compelling Psychological Thriller Novel, this book is intended for mature audiences and contains graphic and disturbing imagery.
Netta Newfound is the best-selling author of The Watcher.
I’d heard a lot of rumblings about Behind Her Eyes before I read it, it was pretty much all positive so I was keen to read it. It was only after I started that I discovered that the ending was a bit of a marmite ending, either you loved it or you hated it. I’d be interested to hear what others think if you’ve read it.
My 3.5* Review:
Having heard a lot of good things about Behind Her Eyes I was keen to read this book, I didn’t know what it was about which is how I generally like to read books. It’s nice to be surprised.
What I found was a book that was very well written, the characters were strong and the story was interesting and easy to read. I was enjoying it and could easily understand the good things that I had heard about the book.
There was one part to the storyline that seemed a little unusual and I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but it wasn’t a major thing so it didn’t really bother me. I was really enjoying reading it.
But then the last chapter happened. Most psychological thrillers have a twist in them and it is fun to try and guess what it might be while reading, but I had absolutely no idea what the twist was going to be, it certainly took me by surprise. But, and I now know that the final chapter is a bit of a marmite chapter, I didn’t like it. I actually wish that I had read Behind Her Eyes right up until the final chapter and then let my imagination come up with the ending, as that would have been a much more believable and satisfactory ending. I don’t want to give too much away and ruin it, but I bet you won’t see it coming.
It’s hard when you really enjoy a book but don’t like the ending and I’ve knocked a star off because of it giving it 3.5*s, perhaps a bit harsh giving the number of amazing reviews that this book has but as I said it is a marmite ending. I will definitely read more from the author though, I’d be very interested to see what else she comes up with!
I received a copy of Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough from Netgalley, I was under no obligation to review it and my views are my own.
Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes?
Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.
When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?
As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough is out now and available from Amazon UK and in paper book and audiobook on Amazon US.