The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

the starsIn our day and age the problems Grace encounters might seem conventional and the way she deals with them completely normal. In 1947 her attempts to be independent and raise her children as a single mother would have been frowned upon. In that era the wife was still very much considered to be property of said man. Women were still coming into their own and starting to throw off the chains of their servitude.

Grace has no idea that her marriage isn’t like every other marriage. Gene is her first sexual experience and her first encounter with what she believes to be love.

When Gene disappears in the midst of a terrible fire she gets the opportunity to discover new emotions and real love. She also experiences friendship with both genders and the kindness of strangers.

Faced with a life of abuse, neglect and anger she has to make a choice to either stay and be silent or refuse to endure a life lived on the terms of a bully.

Kudos to Shreve for adding historical facts and for the authentic feel of the story. Grace was and is every woman, regardless of the era.

Buy The Stars are Fire at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer

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Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

dont closeThere are plenty of hot topics in this psychological thriller, however I think there was one in particular that resonated more with me. Possibly because in this story it is the root and cause of everything else, all the other problems to come, and perhaps also because it is so commonplace nowadays.

Divorce, separation, custody battles and enforced patchwork families. That doesn’t mean some families don’t manage amicable arrangements, however the emotional trauma still remains the same. Depending on how vicious and vindictive things get the emotional damage is unmeasurable.

For the twins, Robin and Sarah, the moment they are ripped apart is the beginning of the end. The reader meets two happy little girls in the past and then moves forward to encounter two unhappy women in the future. The paths the two of them take are completely different. Robin finds fame and enough anxiety to fill a house, whereas Sarah creates a family, but is ousted by her manipulative husband.

It is fair to say that all is not what it seems, as the layers of this story are slowly torn away like someone peeling an onion. The anger, abuse and hate ripples through the two families over the years. It leaves victims in its wake.

Seddon confronts the reader with quite a few uncomfortable truths, and yet simultaneously she spins a web of fear, deceit and mayhem around them. It is done in such cunning way that you don’t see the twist coming until it nearly smacks you in the face.

Buy Don’t Close Your Eyes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @hollyseddon and @Atlanticbooks

Read Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Blog-Tour: Don’t Say a Word by A.L. Bird

I do ‘love me some A.L. Bird’ so it is my absolute pleasure to kick off the Blog-Tour for the amazing Don’t Say a Word by A.L. Bird. Get ready for another tense and captivating read.

About the Author

AL Bird lives in North London, where she divides her time between writing and working as a lawyer. The Good Mother is her major psychological thriller for Carina UK, embarking into the world of ‘grip-lit’. Don’t Say a Word is her new psychological thriller from HQDigital, an imprint of HarperCollins. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London, and is also an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, which she studied under Richard Skinner. She’s also a member of the Crime Writers’Association.

For updates on her writing, you can follow her on Twitter, @ALBirdwriter, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ALBirdwriter or by visiting her website, at www.albirdwriter.com

Buy Don’t Say a Word

About the book

A happy child.

Every parent knows the world can be scary. Lawyer Jen Sutton knows it better than most. And she’ll go to any length to protect her son from what – and who – lies outside their front door.

A loving mother.

Some might say she’s being over-protective. But isn’t it a mother’s duty to protect her child from harm?

A family built on a lie.

Jen has kept her secrets safe. Until the postcard arrives, signed by the one person she hoped would never catch up with her… and her new case begins to feel a little too close to home.

One thing is clear: Jen has been found.

Now, she faces a choice. Run, and lose everything? Or fight – and risk her son discovering the truth.

Don’t Say a Word is the electrifying new psychological thriller from AL Bird – perfect for fans of CL Taylor and Sue Fortin.

Review

It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. In a nutshell that is both the life motto and curse Jen lives by and with. She is convinced her past is right on her heels and ready to implode her new life. She is hiding from a vengeful, abusive ex, and someone who used to be both her closest confidante and her nemesis at the same time. Chloe is with Jen 24/7. In her head, on her mind and featuring in quite a few flashbacks. Jen feels as if she is hemmed in by the paranoia and the gut feeling that retribution is waiting just around the corner.

So when a case at work starts to ring a few alarm bells she puts it down to her heightened senses and her instincts. All she ever thinks of is her son and keeping him safe. These coincidences are exactly that, aren’t they? And that is precisely why Jen is always in a constant state of anxious apprehension. She knows the fear will always follow her around like a little black rain cloud.

There is a chapter in this book that really annoyed me, not from a plot point of view, but because it is the painful truth. The way some children fall through the system. The kids with no voice, the ones no one ever listens to, because they are invisible. Then the way the system or rather those enforcing the system, become nothing more than highly judgemental morality police. They judge based on ticked boxes, theoretical knowledge and false assumptions.

Be prepared for the kind of read that makes you query the characters, the truth and perhaps even the systems our society uses to keep our children safe. Whether we like it or not there is a level of indifference, which in turn explains why abuse and domestic violence are still so prevalent in the 21st century.

Sometimes I think Bird takes pleasure in screwing with our brains. Nothing is ever what it seems in her stories. The lines between the good and the bad guys are always skewed. Fifty shades of grey instead of clear black or white. The reader is often suddenly blind-sided by the unexpected twists and turns.

Don’t say a Word is a ride on the wild side with barely any space to take a breath and exhale. Bird combines her experience of the real world with her innate talent for creating fascinating reads.

Buy Don’t Say a Word on Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Follow @ALBirdwriter and @HQDigitalUK

Read The Good Mother by A.L. Bird.

Watching Edie by Camilla Way

watching edieOne of the most interesting elements of this story is the fact the author hasn’t created a black or white situation.

There are many shades of grey, and in this case those shades relate directly to whether the characters are good guys or bad guys. The truth is, there is no clear answer to that question.

The reader feels sympathy with Edie, because of the hard situation she finds herself in. She is a single woman, who is about to become a single mother. When the baby does eventually arrive she is overwhelmed and clearly needs a friend.

Heather seems like the great alternative to a support system, despite the troubled past she and Edie share. Seems like the perfect solution. Edie needs help and Heather wants to help. Does she really want to help though?

Heather has a tendency to stalk, get violent and blackout. She is creepy and clearly unstable. Would you want her to take care of your newborn baby?

Throughout the book Edie has flashbacks to a time when she and Heather were friends and also to some terrible event that ended said friendship.

What it comes down to is who you think is guilty of the greater crime or wrong-doing. There are things that are unforgivable or so inhumane that they leave a deep dark stain on anyone involved in them. Some wrongs can never be righted.

Watching Edie will make you question everything and everyone. It is a nicely paced and well-developed psychological thriller, and despite the fact the reader can probably guess the traumatic secret the two of them are hiding, it is still a compelling read.

Buy Watching Edie at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

the fire childTremayne keeps the reader guessing when it comes to which one of the happily married couple is slightly deranged. At certain points of the story it is quite hard to decide whether David or Rachel should win the trophy for the most bizarre and crazy character.

What Tremayne does really well is describe the surroundings.You can almost see yourself walking through the majestic rooms and the countryside. The landscape, the house, the mines and also the history of the miners.

I think the reality of miners lives, both in and out of the mines, is often trivialized. In this story the author gives an accurate sense of the stark brutality and hardship of that way of life, and also the riches reaped from the work of said miners.

One of the things that peeved me was the reaction to the assault. Why the assault wasn’t enough to warrant the exclusion, which is just so typical of our society.

I would have liked to have seen more focus on the myth or reality of being a fire child, I felt as if the rest of the story overpowered that element of the tale.

The Fire Child is a mixture of mystery, a smidgen of paranormal and a large portion of important social justice issues.

Buy The Fire Child at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Circle: The Diary of Stella Moore by Peter Dudgeon

circleThis is the sequel to Chance. I would suggest reading the first book, mainly because it will really help readers to understand Cassie and what she has been through. It also explains the relationships she has with Laura and Frank, aside from that it is just a good read.

I wish there had been less of a jump forward in years. I would have liked to have read about Cassie between Chance and before Circle. Then we might have seen more of Aaron and Laura.

In Circle the events take place 7 years after Chance. Cassie is on the brink of adulthood, which means she can put the past into perspective, and also sees any future visions in a different way.

Her visions are similar to seizures and Cassie often becomes part of the person or the evil she can see. She experiences the events as if she is there, often through the eyes of the perpetrators.

If you have read Chance you will be aware of the hidden society of sexual deviants run by high powered and well-known men in society.

Dudgeon likes to mix his fictional with the stark reality of abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and rape. In Stella’s case he makes the case for the thin line between coercion and consent. When the line is crossed both the victims and outsiders have trouble recognising the difference between abuse and actual true consent. This is also sometimes the case for the perpetrators.

Maybe Dudgeon will let Cassie and Frank become a more permanent fixture, perhaps a psychic-detective combo? Hint, hint.

Buy Circle at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Chance by Peter Dudgeon.

The Disappearance by Annabel Kantaria

kantariaI can’t for the life of me put my finger on which writing style or book this reminds me of. There are no real surprises. It is more like sitting in the garden on a warm summer day and watching the water in the nearby river flow past. Comfortable and cosy.

Throughout the book there seems to be a disconnect between Audrey and the two children. Obviously they lack a blood bond, but after at least 4 decades you would think the three of them would have some kind of close connection.

In the end I think Audrey decides she has done her duty and it is time for someone else to do theirs. Instead of being at the mercy of John and Alex she decides to take matters into her own hands. Her choice and her decision.

It must be really frustrating when adult children or relatives decide you are too old and doddery to make your own decisions. In this case it seems to be more about how much they are going to profit from putting Audrey into a care facility.

I would have liked to have seen a little more emphasis on the domestic violence aspect of the book. It was simmering under the surface, and there seemed to be a brief view into the life behind closed doors, but we go from that to his death.

Has the domestic violence influenced the way John and Alex treat Audrey, despite the both of them not having any memory of abuse?

It’s a strange one, however I did feel relief for Audrey at the end. A sort of weird satisfaction on her behalf.

Buy The Disappearance at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.