#review The Fox In The Box by @AmandaGeeAuthor illustrated by Lee Holland.

 

thefoxinthebox

The Fox in the Box by Amanda Gee.

 

My Review:

When author Amanda Gee was asking for people to read and review her children’s book, The Fox In The Box I thought that it was probably a bit young for my almost seven year old children, but the cover was so adorable that I couldn’t resist.

And I’m so pleased that I didn’t. We all loved the book, the cute illustrations by Lee Holland work so perfectly with the story, it was fun to read and made my children think about animals and their homes. This really is a wonderful book, it is short but perfect and the rhyming words work really well. The font is clear and easy to read, although my children regularly ask me to read it to them they are both able to read it themselves too.

After reading this book I will definitely be looking out for more from Amanda Gee and I will definitely be buying The Fox in the Box as presents.

Blurb:

When Lydia finds a lost baby fox outside her back door, they set off together to look for his family. But on the way, they discover a terrible disaster is about to overtake their village. Can they stop it…..and will the cub find what he’s looking for?

About the Author:

I have lived in Suffolk all my life and have had a passion for the environment and wildlife for a very long time. In my books for children as well as teaching them about friendship and kindness, I am trying to help educate them about the fantastic world we live in and the amazing animals we share it with.

The Fox In The Box by Amanda Gee and illustrated by Lee Holland is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

#blogtour Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #MariaInTheMoon

 

Maria in the Moon - Blog Tour Poster

My Review:

When I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Maria In The Moon, I literally couldn’t reply fast enough to say YES! Having absolutely loved Louise Beech’s The Mountain in My Shoe (read my review here) I couldn’t wait to read her next book.

Maria in the Moon tells us about Catherine, a lonely thirty something whose home was recently flooded, she works nights in a care home and spends her spare time volunteering at the flood crisis phoneline. Happy to focus on the needs and problems of others she works hard not to think of her own, but it becomes clear that Catherine’s past is quickly catching up on her and that she is going to have to face it.

Maria In The Moon is a book that is slow and steady, yet the storyline is engaging and I couldn’t help but love Catherine and root for her to find her way through her troubles and out the other side. I absolutely loved the relationship that Catherine had with her step mother, it was brilliantly done and added some humour to the story. Catherine’s story was not always easy to read, but it was somehow quite beautiful.

I shouldn’t be surprised really, Louise Beech has an amazing way of writing, her characters are wonderfully written and she is one author that could write a shopping list and I’d still want to read it.

Blurb:

mariainthemoon

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’

Thirty-one-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

About The Author:

Louise Beech picture 1

Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She was also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show for three years.

Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech is out on Kindle UK now and will be released in paperback on 30th September 2017. You can buy or pre-order now from Amazon UK and  Amazon US .

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman @GailHoneyman @HarperCollinsUK

 

eleanoroliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

 

My Review:

At first, I wasn’t really sure what to make of Eleanor Oliphant, I mean the way in which she speaks and thinks is more than a little unusual, but by the end of the book I think that she had a little piece of my heart that will stay Oliphant shaped for quite some time to come.

Eleanor is an incredibly lonely person, she goes to work and drinks too much on the weekends to make the time go faster so that she can go back to work and have something to do. She thinks that her colleagues hate her and spend a lot of their time laughing at her. She has no friends, only her mother who she speaks to on the phone once a week. Which for Eleanor is still too often. Despite all of this, Eleanor thinks that she is happy, she doesn’t feel the need for people in her life, she’s self-sufficient and happy with that. I have to admit that I really empathised with Eleanor, as an introvert I think that Eleanor and I have more than a few things in common.

When Eleanor meets the man of her dreams she thinks that life is going to be getting a lot better. She starts to pay attention to her appearance and to what she’s wearing for the first time, and begins to see and experience things differently. She also finds herself spending time with Raymond, the IT guy from work, he gradually gets Eleanor to open up and they become friends, something new and alien to Eleanor.

When the love of her life turns out to be a lot less perfect that she’d thought, Eleanor plunges into a destructive depression. But with the support of her new friend, and a very supportive boss, Eleanor starts to put her life back together. I couldn’t help but cheer her on, and even feel proud of this fictional character whose funny way of speaking and thinking now felt endearing.

As the book goes on the story behind Eleanor and why she is how she is becomes clear, I think that the reader can’t help but feel sorry for her, but as the book progresses I felt a sense of respect for Eleanor, that she’d survived so much and yet here she was, coming out the other side.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a wonderful book that will hopefully make people think about the people that they know, how much they really know about them, and what struggles they might have that you know nothing about. Loneliness is becoming more and more of a problem in our society, and this book is a wonderful example of how dangerous and destructive it can be. With a debut novel this good, Gail Honeyman is definitely an author to watch!

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins UK, for a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman via Netgalley.

Blurb:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

About the Author:

gailhoneyman

Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, and was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Gail lives in Glasgow.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne @KarenDionne @LittleBrownUK #MarshKing

 

themarshkingsdaughter

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.

 

My Review:

I’d heard quite a lot about The Marsh King’s Daughter before reading it, all of it good. There’s always a risk when that happens that the book will let you down, so with slight trepidation, and without knowing anything about the story, I started to read.

And boy, what a read it was! I thought that the Marsh King’s Daughter was an incredibly written book, the amount of research that the author must have put into the story is mindblowing.

I really liked that the story was told from Helena’s point of view, going from when she was really young all the way up to an adult and a parent herself. The journey took Helena from a young child, totally unaware of the circumstances of her existence and the world beyond the marsh that she lives in with her mother and father, who she totally idolises as he teaches her how to survive in the wild, to track and hunt animals, and, perhaps most importantly, to disrespect her mother.

But as Helena grows up she can’t help but see flaws in her father, and she begins to see that maybe her mother is stronger than she ever imagined.

The Marsh King’s Daughter is sometimes upsetting and hard to read, the brutality that her father displayed is extreme. What made it even harder to read was how real it felt, I often got so caught up in the story that I was sure that Helena was real and that I was, in fact, reading a true crime book.

Karen Dionne is not an author that I had heard of before The Marsh King’s Daughter but she is certainly an author that I will be looking out for and very keen to read more of. I am completely in awe of how she crafted this book, it is definitely one to add to your reading pile.

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of The Marsh King’s Daughter through Netgalley.

Blurb:

The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.

About the Author:

karendionne

Karen Dionne is the author of dark psychological suspense THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, coming June 13, 2017 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and three other novels.

Karen is cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Salt Cay Writers Retreat held every other year on a private island in the Bahamas. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne is out on 13th June, 2017 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Review: Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge.

 

lovemenot

Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge

 

My review:

I am a huge fan of DI Helen Grace and have read all of the series, if you haven’t read any then I’d really recommend that you start at the beginning with Eeeny Meeny and go from there as I am sure that you would enjoy the books more in order.

Following the shocking storyline in Hide and Seek I was looking forward to reading what MJ Arlidge would do next with Helen Grace. Love Me Not is a little bit different in that it takes place over 24 hours and is told in real time, this makes for a really fast pace with short chapters increasing the tension and keeping the reader hanging. I read it in two days which is really quick for me, it was one of those books where you ignore the pile of dirty washing and the million and one other things that you have to do, just so that you can keep reading.

I don’t want to give too much away but of course, the 24 hours during which the book is set are a very crazy, with lots happening and DI Helen Grace and her team struggling to keep up with it all. It’s a fast-paced and fun read and I look forward to the next book!

Thank you to the publishers, Michael Joseph, for the opportunity to read Love Me Not. I was under no obligation to review and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

She Loves Me
A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a coldblooded killing. But why would anyone target a much loved wife and mother?

She Loves Me Not
Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

She Loves Me
Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking.

She Loves Me Not
If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own …

About the author:

MJarlidge

M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specialising in high end drama production. Arlidge has produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV In the last five years, and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.

 

Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge is released on 18th May 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK. It will be released on audiobook in America and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon US.

You can read my reviews for other DI Helen Grace books; The Doll’s HouseLiar LiarLittle Boy BlueNo Way Back and Hide and Seek on this blog. I read the previous books in the series before starting the blog

Review: Dead Souls by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @bookouture

 

deadsouls

Dead Souls by Angela Marsons.

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love Angela Marsons and her DI Kim Stone novels. I’ve read them from the beginning before they became super popular and earned Marsons’ numerous bestsellers in many languages across the world. All of the books are written so that they can be read as a standalone but I strongly suggest that if you have yet to read any Kim Stone books, that you start with Silent Scream, the first book in the series.

 

My Review:

As a huge fan of Angela Marsons and DI Kim Stone, the bar was set very high for this, the sixth book in the series. I’m always excited to read a new Kim Stone book, but a little bit worried that I might not like it.

I certainly didn’t need to worry about Dead Souls. Right from the start, it sucked me in and I absolutely loved reading it. The book talks a lot about hate crimes, something that is not always easy to read but feels so very topical in a post-Brexit world. Marsons had clearly researched the subject at length and this shone through in the writing and storyline and giving the reader plenty to think about.

I loved how Stone was given new challenges and taken away from the comfort of her team and especially her sidekick Bryant. But we also got to know more about the rest of her team which was great, especially Stacey who until now has been a small but important character in the books, this time she got to do a lot more than sitting at her desk searching the computer, it reminded the rest of the team, and the readers, that she is a police officer and not just a computer geek.

Of course, things for Stone and her team don’t go smoothly and the finale is a tense and shocking read. I really don’t know how Marsons manages to keep the standard of writing so high, so many times you start a new series and love it but as time goes on they start to become a bit old and predictable, not so with this series, each one has been a brilliant read and this one, I think, might just be the best yet.

Thank you to the publishers, Bookouture, and the author for a copy of Dead Souls.

Blurb:

The truth was dead and buried…until now.
When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found.

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy – and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

About the Author:

angiemarsons

Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
Angela is now signed to write a total of 16 Kim Stone books for http://bookouture.com and has secured a print deal with Bonnier Zaffre Publishing.

Dead Souls is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

You can read more of my reviews of Angela Marsons’ Kim Stone books here and here and a review of one of her non-crime books here, I also did a Q&A with the author which you can read here.

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

 

 

differentlynormal

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.