Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Lake by Sheena Lambert

"A gripping murder mystery, with a compelling family drama at its heart.

September 1975.

A body is discovered in the receding waters of a manmade lake, and for Peggy Casey, 23-year-old landlady of The Angler’s Rest, nothing will ever be the same.

Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is dispatched from Dublin, and his arrival casts an uneasy spotlight on the damaged history of the valley, and on the difficult relationships that bind Peggy and her three older siblings.

Over the course of the weekend, Detective Ryan’s investigation will not only uncover the terrible truth behind the dead woman’s fate, but will also expose the Casey family’s deepest secrets.

Secrets never meant to be revealed."

The Lake is gripping in an understated sort of way; I knew there is a mystery that needed unraveling and I knew what that mystery was but that was where the clues ended.  The interactions between the characters kept me interested but it was not until the shocking outcome was revealed that I realised I had travelled from A to B without even knowing how I had gotten there.  

This is not the sort of murder mystery where you are constantly watching for clues that the author might choose to drip feed you.  Instead, you get totally caught up in the lives and dramas of the Casey family and the mystery body and the murder investigation takes second place to the lives of the people of Crumm.  

Lambert portrays rural Ireland well and I felt like I had been in the pub with Peggy and her three older siblings and taken a walk down to the lake with Detective Ryan myself.

The Lake is only a short book but it is special.  In the same way that Ireland grasps the hearts of those with Irish blood in their veins - you step off the plane and instantly feel like you're home and feel like you have never been away regardless of how long you are been gone - The Lake has that comforting feeling of familiarity.  I didn't feel like I had to get to know the characters but felt immediately at home in their presence.  

It takes some special writing to pull off a novel set over the course of a long weekend and set almost entirely in the pub but Sheena Lambert manages it with complete and utter ease.  I look forward to reading more of Sheena Lambert in the future!

Thank you again to Margaret Madden of Bleach House Library for the chance to discover Sheena Lambert and a special thank you to Sheena Lambert for doubling the prize by sending me a copy of two of your books and then adding an extra sparkle of magic by signing them both!

The Lake is out now and you can purchase it here (prices correct at time of writing:


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Letting You Go by Anouska Knight

"What if a tragedy occurred and you only had yourself to blame? How do you move on from the past?

Alex Foster lives a quiet life, avoiding the home she hasn’t visited in eight years. Then her sister Jaime calls. Their mother is sick, and Alex must return. Suddenly she’s plunged back into the past she’s been trying to escape.

Returning to her hometown, memories of the tragic accident that has haunted her and her family are impossible to ignore. Alex still blames herself for what happened to her brother and it’s soon clear that her father holds her responsible too. As Alex struggles to cope, can she ever escape the ghosts of the past?"

I absolutely adored this book.  It reminded me somewhat of The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara as both books have a young woman returning  to a place from her past which not only is tinged by tragedy but has also haunted them ever since they left.

When Alex hears the news of her mother's ill health, she realises that she has no option but to face her past.  Now, whilst Alex's past is not a walk in the park, there is a part of it which is absolutely dreamy...From the moment Finn stepped onto the page, I found myself with a massive grin on my face.

Yet, at the same time, this book is packed full of sadness.  I loved the variety of characters which we met along the way (especially the little ones!) and it had me blubbing away like a baby on more than one occasion.  

It rapidly became clear that the Foster family have bundles of secrets, straining to get out.  Now, whilst they appear obvious to the reader (and so this is not the sort of book that will keep you totally in the dark until the very end) not everything might be as it first seems and even if it is, it is a fabulous journey to be taken on, even if you do end up where you assumed you would.

The epilogue was my absolute favourite epilogue ever; what an absolutely perfect ending to an absolutely fabulous book.

Thank you to Eve Wersocki at Midas PR for the review copy of Letting You Go; an absolute stunner.  Letting You Go is out now and, along with Lorraine Kelly, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy, which you can buy from Amazon here:


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt

"**Get ready for the next ‘must-have’ on your reading list. GONE GIRL meets THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN in this stunning, unsettling psychological thriller.**

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?

When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.

Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible…"

Publishers are starting to bat around the comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train like there is no tomorrow, and it is a dangerous game to play.  However, on this occasion, it works as this book is absolutely up there with the best.  

I devoured Little Girl Gone as quickly as I could.  I started to read it on my commute to work, and suddenly going to work became really inconvenient as I couldn't pick the book up again until I commuted home again! 

Little Girl Gone is addictive from the very start and that addictiveness is maintained for the most part throughout, in a way that other books of this genre do not necessarily manage.  For example, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (which I loved and highly recommend) was gripping at the start but then lets the reader take a step back for some time before the first twist hits you in the face.  However, Little Girl Gone never lets up on the grip that it has on you; I had absolutely no idea who I could trust or where this story was going to end up and must have changed my mind a hundred times as to what I thought was going to happen.  

There was a part towards the middle of the book where the addictiveness loosened its grasp on me as frustration started to creep in.  Frustration that I was so much further forward in the book but seemed to have made no progress whatsoever as to what happened on the night that Mia went missing.  Just when you think you can't take the tension and suspense anymore, things start to unravel but are those things true or are they figments of Estelle's imagination?

Little Girl Gone reminded me in a way of The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen, as it left me without an inkling as to whether what I was hearing from Estelle was the scary truth or pure fiction.

An incredibly well written book from Alexandra Burt and a debut - how does she do it!  The characters are perfect; a sleep-deprived mother left to cope by herself whilst a distant father tries to make enough money to keep the family afloat.  The judgmental strangers around her as her newborn baby cries in a way that babies do; without reason and without any known cure.  Is the mother as sane as any new mother can be or is she as crazy as everyone thinks?

You'll have to read the book to find out for yourself - #didshedoit?

Thank you to Avon Books for the copy of Little Girl Gone in exchange for an honest review.  Also, thank you Alexandra Burt for the response and clarifying your thinking on the last two pages of the book. 

Little Girl Gone is out on 24 September and you can pre-order your copy here now: