Monthly Archives: August 2017

BOOK REVIEW – Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was GoneUtterly riveting! I couldn’t put this one down. 15-year-old Ellie Mack disappears without a trace one day. She’s the centre of her mom Laurel’s world, and her family can’t believe that this beautiful, young ‘golden’ girl (as she’s described) would leave home of her own accord as the police would have them think. But there’s no sign of her. What could have happened?

Ten years later, Laurel and Paul, Ellie’s parents have split up, unable to withstand the aftermath of her disappearance, and her siblings Jack and Hanna are somewhat estranged from their mother who they feel was unable to focus on them, but only on their absent sister.

Laurel leads a sad, solitary life unable to forgive the rest of her family for wanting to move on. Until one day she meets Floyd and he’s quite lovely, which makes her wonder if she’s made a mistake to remain in the past all this time. Laurel starts to slowly come back to life and as her relationship with Floyd begins to blossom, she meets his 9-year-old daughter Poppy. It’s a bit startling though, how very similar Poppy is to Ellie when she was that age. And suddenly Laurel is unnerved and all of those unanswered questions into Ellie’s disappearance come bubbling to the surface once again.

Cleverly told, in five parts, told mainly from Laurel’s point of view, but giving insight into Ellie’s world as well, Lisa Jewell has created an enthralling piece that reminds us that people are so often not how they present themselves to others. Hidden agenda’s are the order of the day and who is hiding what is what Laurel needs to discover in order to return to a semblance of normality.

Jewell’s characters aren’t always likeable, in fact some are downright bizarre, but she creates them with such clarity that one can easily understand why that act and react in the ways that they do.

This is a 5 star read. Highly recommended!

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BOOK REVIEW – Reported Missing by Sarah Wray

Reported MissingDescribed as a ‘completely gripping, suspenseful thriller’ and suggested for fans of Louise Jensen, K.L. Slater and The Girl on The Train, one would expect a little more from this lukewarm book than it actually delivers.

Rebecca Pendle is hiding out in a caravan park from a town that has turned its back on her. Four months ago, her husband disappeared. You’d think she deserves a bit of sympathy, but teenager Kayleigh Jackson has also not been seen since that same day. For some reason, everyone, including the police (who inexplicably seem to have done minimal background research and called in very little support backup from surrounding areas) have branded Rebecca as the enemy.

I couldn’t force myself to like any of the characters. Rebecca is a weak, sad type, wallowing in her misery and in alcohol most of the time. When she does gather herself towards herself occasionally she makes strange, misunderstood attempts to approach random (horrible) teenagers, who all turn on her and bully her, increasing her sense of self-loathing and sending her back to her lonely caravan. Even the absent Chris and Kayleigh are not painted in a positive light, so you don’t feel much sympathy towards their situation (whatever that may be) either!

To its credit, Wray’s writing, although slow and slightly laboured at times, did keep me reading until the end. I wanted to see how things were going to turn out for the seemingly defeated Rebecca (I always have that little voice inside me shouting for the underdog, even if they aren’t shouting for themselves). Strangely, I was more interested in seeing how it all turned out for her than for the missing Chris and Kayleigh!

3 stars out of 5 for this one. Thanks to Bookouture and to Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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BOOK REVIEW – The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

The Art of HidingIt was extremely fitting that I read The Art of Hiding while on a flight to join a women’s tour-group for a week that was to be a life-changing experience. It was trip that was all about sisterhood, finding strength from the power within us and discovering that we are each unique, beautiful souls with our own talents to nurture and share. And that’s exactly what this book is about!!
Nina seems to be leading a charmed life with her successful husband Finn – the gorgeous house, 2 sons at a top private school, whirlwind social life, complete with enviable holiday destinations. Until Finn dies suddenly and it seems that it was all a facade.
Reality comes calling in the cruelest possible way as Nina and her sons’ comfortable world is ripped out from under them. It would be easier to curl up under the blankets and never have to face the world again, but that’s not a possibility, and Nina’s about to discover that resilience appears when you least expect it, and your champions present themselves as the most unlikely candidates.
This is a wonderful story (and don’t kid yourself, stuff like this happens more often than you think) of inner strength and the fabulous support systems that women create for themselves when push comes to shove.
Amanda Prowse has the incredible ability to create characters so real that you want to pluck them from the pages and invite them into your kitchen for a cup of coffee and a heart-to-heart chat. They’re warm, loveable, remarkable people that you want to keep in your life, and you are left feeling quite bereft when you reach the final pages of her books.
The Art of Hiding is no different, and it gets 5 stars from me!
Thank you so much to Amanda and Simeon for sending me an ARC of this book, and for including me in your trusted circle of early recipients. It is such an honour!

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BOOK REVIEW – The Hoarder’s Widow by Allie Cresswell

The Hoarder's WidowThis is the poignant story of Maisie who is suddenly left widowed after the death of her husband Clifford, in what can only be described as a freak accident.

Throughout their marriage Maisie and her children have been surrounded by Clifford’s hoarding obsession, and I must admit I started to see this as a type of abuse. In fact, right from the start where we first meet the young couple, and he’s bought this run-down, out-of-the-way house without even telling her or getting her opinion, I didn’t like him!

Cresswell writes beautifully though, and has a way of engaging her reader and almost ‘talking you round’ your dislike of a character. Through her eventual revelations as to why Clifford was the way he was, I grudgingly admitted a certain compassion towards him. I would have thought that upon his death, one of the first things Maisie would have done would have been to open those boxes that were strictly off limits for her entire marriage. I still think that the fact that it took her so long to do so was borne out of a certain measure of fear.

I loved Maisie’s practical pragmatism. Although she’s initially overwhelmed by the curveball that life has thrown at her, realising that she literally has a mammoth task to confront, she soon settles to breaking it down into small, bite-size chunks, clearing out manageable sections of the house at a time. She also teaches herself to navigate the outside world on her own, one step at a time, something that she’s not used to, as Clifford wasn’t partial to socialising (again, I interpreted this as a type of abuse and manipulation, although I may be being a bit extreme due to my initial dislike of his character).

One of my biggest shocks, quite early on, was to discover that Maisie was not the elderly widow that I had imagined her to be! I was picturing her as this sweet, rather feeble lady, possibly in her late sixties or seventies and she’s only 48 – that’s a year younger than me!!

This is a charming book that takes a sensitive look into the relationships that exist in a marriage, between both husband and wife and parents and children; between families, extended families and their social interactions. It examines what we’re willing to tolerate for our partners and what we’re able to overlook for the sake of keeping the peace in our homes.

Many thanks to the author and TBC Reviewer Request Group (on Facebook) for my copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

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