5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. @annecater @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks #IntheAbsenceofMiracles

Today is my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. Thank you to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and to Orenda Books for giving me a copy of the book. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed previous books by Michael J Malone, I was keen to read his latest book, In The Absence of Miracles. It was a book that I agreed to read without even reading the blurb, so I went in with no idea what to expect, apart from what I had assumed about the authors books from what I had read before.

This book is nothing like I was expecting. It was a story that was heartbreaking and difficult to read, and one which makes the reader face the assumptions we all make about the things we read and hear.

The main character in the book is John, a respected teacher who seems to be floating through life, a bit of a lost soul. When he discovers a brother that he knew nothing about John focuses on finding out what happened to him, and soon the search becomes an obsession.

It soon becomes clear that John is going to find out a lot more about his childhood than what happened to his missing brother. It’s a real journey and it is not an easy one to travel. How much can we trust what we remember from when we were young? Is it really possible to forget huge chunks of your life?

I was totally unprepared for where this book would take me, the story is full of heartbreak but also hope. It has left me thoughtful and sad, but also keen to read more from Michael J Malone.

Blurb:

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

About The Author:


Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and MarkingsBlood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritanand Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

You can read my review of House Of Spines by Michael J Malone here.

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#BlogTour #BookReview The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen. @orlaowenwriting #TheLostThumb #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Today on If Only I Could Read Faster it appears to be twin day, because this is my second review today and both books have featured twins. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the blog tour for The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen.

My Review:

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is a quirky book, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it but it definitely wasn’t any of the options that I had thought about.

This is the author’s debut novel and it is a really impressive first novel in many ways. The story is set in Australia, although that is totally irrelevant because the setting has no part in the story. I only realised that the book was set in Australia when I was about half way through and I realised then that it is really unusual to read a book that is so insular that the outside of the story doesn’t matter.

The other unusual thing with this book is that I have absolutely no idea what year the book was set in. There were no mentions of mobile phones which could be an indication but other than that I really have no idea. I think it would be from the 1960s on, perhaps in the 80s but who knows.

Lara and Luella are twins who live with their mother who controls everything about their lives, the twins have no say in how they live, where they go, what they wear and what they eat. They have no friends and live a colourless life, both literally and figuratively, and this is why the outside world doesn’t seem to matter, because for Lara and Luella it is totally irrelevant.

At times the book was hard to read, the abuse from the mother is shocking and upsetting, the description of the characters emotions was also quite raw. I also felt as though some of what happened was somewhat predictable and that was disappointing, given how different the story and characters were I had hoped that the author wouldn’t follow some predictable storylines.

But that didn’t stop this book from being a very clever debut, one that I enjoyed reading even though at times it made me feel very sad. Orla Owen is an author to watch.

Blurb:

In a small town in New South Wales, Lara and Luella Jeffreys lead isolated lives until the night they are left alone for the first time, and Luella decides to have some fun. 

That evening goes horribly wrong. 

After Luella wakes up in hospital, she’s kept prisoner at home with her mother acting as her warden. Lara is sent to school to keep up the pretence that she is fine, her sister is fine, and the world is fine. Except they aren’t. The local storekeeper, sensing that something’s wrong, pushes her son to befriend Lara but the results of her meddling are deadly…

About The Author:

Orla Owen is a writer, online editor, and author of the novel The Lost Thumb. She’s been writing since she was a child, and in 2016 was picked to be mentored by Sarah Savitt at Virago.

Her writing focuses on the dark and macabre side of family life, the parts that go on behind closed doors.

Before she became a writer, she was an actress and drama practitioner, studying Theatre at Bretton Hall College of the Arts. She has performed at the Royal Court and Edinburgh fringe, as well as working on The Women’s Theatre Workshop mentoring scheme.

Supporting women in writing is important to her, and she was lucky enough to work on a writers’ mentoring scheme, as an assistant to the author Kerry Hudson, at the WoMentoring Project. 

She is currently working on her second novel, PAH, which will be released in early 2020.

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

book review

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

when she was bad
When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

It was a close call but I have given When She Was Bad 5*’s. And I will definitely be reading more by Tammy Cohen in the future.

‘This is my second Tammy Cohen book having read First One Missing last year which I thought was brilliantly written. I think that I have a new favourite author.

When She Was Bad has short chapters that are each told from a different point of view. At first I was a bit confused due to the number of different characters but it didn’t take long to get into the swing of it. One of the main characters is Anne, based in America Anne talks about working with a little girl who had been rescued from what the media have dubbed ‘the house of horrors’ many years ago. All the other characters are in the present and based in England. Little seemed to tie them together, but as the story unfolded the connection became clear.

Many times when reading When She Was Bad I thought that I’d worked it all out, at one point I was so sure I felt quite smug about it. Serves me right because Tammy Cohen had me guessing right until the end. Talking of the end I did feel that it was a little rushed which was a shame, I felt that a lot was smoothed over and not explained, but that didn’t stop it being a very clever piece of writing that I’m sure will keep most readers guessing right until the end.

It would also appear that Tammy Cohen has a bit of a ‘thing’ about sweat (you’ll know what I mean when you read it!), but also describes anxiety and insecurities that many people suffer from.

Thank you to the publishers for an ARC of When She Was Bad via Netgalley.’

When She Was Bad will be released on April 21st 2016 and is available for pre-order from Amazon UK here.