Blog Tour: The Foundling – Stacey Halls

Blog Tour: The Foundling – Stacey Halls

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Release Date:
February 20th 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

London, 1754.

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars, and set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170148.607The Familiars by Stacey Halls was one of my favourite books of 2019 so when I heard she was releasing a new book I was incredibly excited. The story follows a young woman named Bess, who is forced to leave her newborn baby at the foundling hospital to be looked after. After six years of scrimping and saving, she returns to reclaim the illegitimate child, only to be told that the child was reclaimed the day after she was given to the hospital by Bess herself. Bess goes on a search to discover who has taken her daughter, and for what purpose. Meanwhile not far from the hospital lives the widow of a merchant who has become a recluse since the death of her husband. When a family friend persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, it turns her world upside down and forces her to confront the truths from her past.

This beautifully told story captured me from the very begin and I very quickly became engrossed in the tale of Bess and Alexandra. Halls has a really gorgeous and vivid writing style and it was so easy just to sink into the story and be completely absorbed for hours on end. I loved the setting, it was so vibrant and really came alive in Halls writing. The sights and sounds of Georgian London were definitely brought to life in this story and it made for a very realistic and well researched read.

The two main characters in this book are both incredibly fascinating and I really enjoyed the way the book was split into parts, allowing you to see things from both women’s perspectives. They’re both very different people, but both have dealt with some really difficult things. The plot was cleverly weaved and well executed and towards the end I definitely found myself turning pages faster and faster to find out how it was going to end.

I loved that there were aspects of the story that were true to life – such as the foundling hospital (something I had never heard of before – and that the story explored issues that weren’t talked about at the time, like mental health and grief. The story is definitely a dark and atmospheric read and if you’ve read The Familiars I would absolutely recommend picking this one up. The Foundling is an intricately told story of motherhood, secrets and class and honestly I couldn’t put it down. I can’t recommend this highly enough and I can’t wait to see what Stacey Halls writes next.
5 stars
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Waiting on Wednesday: The Deep – Alma Katsu

Waiting on Wednesday: The Deep – Alma Katsu

Synopsis

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

Brilliantly combining fact and fiction, the historical and the horrific, The Deep reveals a chilling truth in an unputdownable narrative full of unnerving moments and with a growing, inexorable sense of foreboding.

Thoughts

Copy of book cover - 2020-01-15T230757.374I am so excited for this book. Growing up I was obsessed with the movie Titanic and I find the history absolutely fascinating so when I heard Alma Katsu was bringing out a book based on the infamous voyage I was so intrigued. On finding out it was a mixture of historical fiction and horror it pretty much jumped to the top of my want to read list. It sounds like such a fascinating twist on the well known story and I’m already completely in love with the cover. I haven’t read anything by Alma Katsu before but I’ve heard amazing things about her previous novels and I have no doubts this is going to be an addictive read. I’m hoping it has a really strong sense of atmosphere and I’m definitely predicting a five star read. The Deep is publishing March 10th 2020 from Transworld Books.

Blog Tour: The Boy with Blue Trousers – Carol Jones

Blog Tour: The Boy with Blue Trousers – Carol Jones

Release Date: November 14th 2019
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

On the goldfields of 19th-century Australia, two very different girls are trying to escape their past.

1856, China.
In the mulberry groves of the Pearl River Delta, eighteen-year-old Little Cat carries a terrible secret. And so, in disguise as a boy in blue trousers, she makes the long and difficult passage to Australia, a faraway land of untold riches where it is said the rivers run with gold.

1857, Australia.
Violet Hartley has arrived off the boat from England, fleeing scandal back home. Like the Chinese immigrants seeking their fortunes on the goldfields, Violet is seduced by the promise of a new frontier. Then she meets Little Cat, a woman who, like her, is trying to escape her past.

As their fates inextricably, devastatingly entwine, their story becomes one of freedom, violence, love and vengeance, echoing across the landscapes of two great continents.

Review

Copy of book cover (89)The Boy with Blue Trousers is the captivating tale of two young women fleeing the world they left behind. The story follows Little Cat, an eighteen year old in China, disguises herself as a boy and boards a ship to Australia, carrying with her a terrible secret and the desire to seek her fortune. Similarly Violet Hartley boards a boat in England bound for Australia, attempting to run away from the scandal surrounding her. When Violet and Little Cat meet, their fates become woven together as they attempt to make new lives for themselves.

This is a really ambitious tale, one that spans different continents and cultures. I became really engrossed in the story of our two main characters and loved seeing the differences between the two women. They are both fascinating and well fleshed out characters and although I enjoyed both their stories, Little Cat was definitely my favourite. She’s strong willed and stubborn, doing anything to survive. I loved the way the stories were weaved together, it’s a heartwarming tale of love and family – one I think lots of people will completely adore.

I was fascinated to learn that the story is in part based on the life Chinese people immigrating to Australia, something I didn’t know very much about. The story is quite slow paced, giving you the chance to really get to know the characters in alternating POVS. The story is beautifully told and I really enjoyed the authors writing style. If you’re looking for an engrossing tale with vivid characters, The Boy with Blue Trousers should definitely be on your wishlist.
4 stars

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Blog Tour: The Lost Ones – Anita Frank

Blog Tour: The Lost Ones – Anita Frank

Release Date: October 31st 2019
Publisher: HQ Stories
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.

Review

Copy of book cover (78)This debut novel completely swept me up in it’s beautiful story of family and loss. It’s stunningly written and I could not put this book down.

The story follows Stella, a young widow dealing with the death of her fiancee. She goes to stay with her sister who is struggling with being pregnant. Madeline stays in a remote countryside mansion, known as Greyswick and as Stella spends more time there strange things begin to happen and she begins to uncover the dark history of Greyswick.

I honestly completely fell in love with this book. It was everything you could want from a Halloween/Autumn read. It has this dark, imposing setting that really came to life in Frank’s writing. It was full to the brim with atmosphere and I was constantly trying to squeeze in another chapters because I was so desperate to know more.

One of the things I loved most about this story was the characters. Stella and Annie are brilliantly fleshed out, and though the two are completely different I loved seeing them come together in an attempt to uncover the mysteries of the house. The story is well paced, with the latter half of the book having quite a few surprise reveals that I definitely didn’t see coming.

The Lost Ones is definitely a gripping read, with plenty of eerie, supernatural moments to send a shiver up your spine. It put me in mind of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions, so if you’re a fan of Gothic historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural, this will be right up your street.
4 stars
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Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

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Release Date:
October 4th 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 419
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .
An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read next winter.

Review

As we get to the last few months of the year I find myself reaching more and more for dark and chilling reads that will have me on the edge of my seat. I had pretty high expectations going into this one, I had heard lots of brilliant buzz and hype around it, and I’m so happy to say it delivered. Chilling, mysterious and featuring a brilliant setting.

The story is set in a remote, isolated house on an island off the Devon coast. I completely fell in love with this setting, it was the perfect place to make attempts to contact the dead, and it definitely helped to heighten the tension as we try to figure out the secrets surrounding the guests. I really liked the characters too, we are given two POVs in this story and I really enjoyed both Donovan and Kate’s perspectives as they tried to uncover the mysteries in Blackwater Abbey.

The story is full of plot twists and plenty of surprise moments to keep you hooked. I really enjoyed Ryan’s writing style, and felt the pacing was just perfect to give you that chill up your spine. I also really enjoyed the Wartime setting of this book, it’s not something I read often and loved that extra layer it brought to the story. If you’re looking for something eerie and dark with a real claustrophobic feel, this should definitely be on your wish list.  A House of Ghosts is perfect Halloween reading, and I can’t wait to try more from this author.
4 stars

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Book Review: See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

Book Review: See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

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Release Date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Tinder Press
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

Review

Copy of book cover (38)There are no words to describe how good this book is. Dark, atmospheric and chilling, this book is an intense read, and one amazing debut. There are so many things I want to say about this book. It’s exquisitely written, the claustrophobic setting, the uncomfortable feelings you get all the way through the story. This is one book that has stuck with me long after I’ve finished reading it, and I’ve recommended it to just about everyone I know.

The novel is based on the real life story of Lizzie Borden, a young women who was accused of murdering her father and step-mother. Her case went to trial but she was acquitted due to lack of evidence. The story mixes the facts of the case with a narrative that switches between before the murders occurred, and the aftermath.

The book differs in point of view between that of Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget and a stranger named Benjamin. The different perspectives are really fascinating because they give such differing views of the messed up Borden family. Each scene in the book is laced with familial tension, and Schmidt’s writing oozes with a sense of dark heat and atmosphere.

The thing that stands out most is the writing style of this book. Schmidt writes in such a fascinating way, often slightly poetic, every word adds another layer and the readers senses are continually assaulted by the descriptions of the tastes and smells of the Borden household. The story is certainly a vivid one, and it is completely unlike anything I have ever read. I think I read See What I Have Done in maybe two sittings, purely because I was completely sucked into the story.

I knew very little about Lizzie Borden prior to reading this book, bar of course the famous rhyme:

‘Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.’

But after finishing the book I found myself spending a large time googling Lizzie and the case, it’s such a fascinating story. The family being sick the day before the murders, Lizzie’s contradicting story and lack of remorse over the whole thing. Did she murder her father and step-mother? We’ll never know. I loved this book from start to finish. The characters were well constructed and fleshed out, the writing impeccable and the story probably one of the best I have ever read. This is easily my favourite book of 2017. I cannot wait to see what Sarah Schmidt writes next.
5 stars

Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Release Date:
March 7th 2019
Publisher: Hutchinson
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in Sainsburys
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed. Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

Review

40554141Daisy Jones and the Six tells the tale of world famous Daisy Jones and the Six, a rock band that took the world by storm in the 60s. After a hit record and sell out shows – the band suddenly disbanded and no one knows why. Now years later, the band recount the tale of what led to them breaking up.

Now I’m going to point out straight away that this is completely not the kind of book I would normally read. The majority of the books I read are Science Fiction and Fantasy, so this is completely outside of my comfort zone. I picked this up because of all the hype for this and another of Reid’s novels – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – and thought it might be quite an interesting read. What I didn’t expect was to be absolutely blown away by this book, and have it be one of my new all-time favourites.

Daisy Jones and the Six is told in a really fascinating way, the book unfolds as a series of interviews – with the band recounting their time recording music and touring. The story is exclusively dialogue, there’s not really anything in the way of scenery descriptions or anything of that nature. Despite that the story completely came alive for me and I felt like Daisy and the band were real people – in fact by the time I was finished I wanted to google the band to learn more about them. The story really makes you feel like these people were real, and brings to life the sights and sounds of life in the 60s.

Daisy Jones and the Six holds nothing back and there’s plenty of drink, drugs and the difficulty of dealing with fame. It’s a fascinating tale and you get the sense early on that it’s going to end badly, yet you absolutely cannot look away.

The story is emotional and heart breaking in the best possible way and I honestly struggled not to bawl my eyes out at it on the way home from work. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like Daisy Jones and the Six, and it’s definitely a book I keep thinking about despite finishing it a while ago.

I’m so glad I took the jump and tried something out of my comfort zone, because this is absolutely a new favourite. I’m incredibly keen to try more from this author and if you’ve seen the buzz around Daisy Jones and thought that the book isn’t your cup of tea I’d definitely suggest giving it a go – you might just find a new favourite.

5 stars