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Paperback Published: 27 July 2017

 

Description:

Francesco has a memory of his father from early childhood, a night when life for his family changed: their name, their story, their living place. From that night, he has vowed to protect his mother and to follow the words of his father: Non mollare. Never give up.

When Francesco is rounded up with a group of young men and herded into a camp on the island of San Domino, he realises that someone has handed a list of names to the fascist police; everyone is suspicious of one another. His former lover Emilio is constantly agitating for revolution. His old friend Gio jealously watches their relationship rekindle. Locked in spartan dormitories, resentment and bitterness between the men grows each day.

Elena, a young and illiterate island girl on the cusp of womanhood, is drawn to the handsome Francesco yet fails to understand why her family try to keep her away from him. By day, she makes and floats her paper birds, willing them to fly from the island, just as she wants to herself. Sometimes, she is given a message to pass on. She’s not sure who they are from; she knows simply that Francesco is hiding something. When Elena discovers the truth about the group of prisoners, the fine line between love and hate pulls her towards an act that can only have terrible consequences for all.

My Thoughts & Review:

Mussolini’s Island was a book that I was first aware of via a review from another blogger, Mairead over at Swirl and Thread wrote an exceptionally powerful review that grabbed my attention and had me desperate to read this book for myself.

Set against the backdrop of Fascist Italy, Sarah Day takes her readers deep into the heart of part of history that many know little about, the drive to rid Sicily of  degenerates, deviants and those who would cast a shadow on the great Italian name.  Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party founded Italian Fascism, and Prime Minister between 1922-1943, made it practically impossible for homosexuality to exist in his ideal of a fascist Italy.  And so, the confinement of gay and bisexual men was was enforced on the outlying islands of the country.  Here we follow one group who were sent to San Domino.

Our protagonist, Francesco touches the hearts of readers as he recounts early memories of his father and life before Sicily.  Soon we learn that he and his mother fled their home in Naples to being afresh in Catania, with new names and a new history.  For Francesco, hiding his true identity comes as second nature, and when he begins to question his sexuality this is yet another secret he keeps close to his heart.  He some drifts towards the local arrusi, young men and boys meeting up in the shelter of darkened alleyways, dancehalls etc to spend time with their lovers for a few short moments of illicit freedom.

The expulsion of the arrusi to the island of San Domino leaves the men stripped of their identities, no longer are they village mechanics, waiters, fathers, friends, but merely an insult to the Italian people.  They are viewed as a contamination that needs to be contained.  The people of San Domino do not want them on their island, but in times of hardship a job is a job, and so if they are to be paid to guard these prisoners then they will do it.

Throughout the book, Francesco remembers vividly the quote his father repeated to him Non Mollare – Never Give Up and that’s exactly what he tries to do.  Regardless of the difficult situation he finds himself in, Francesco looks up, holds his head high and carries on.  He feels strongly that despite having let those around him down, he will do whatever he can to protect his loved ones. 

Sarah Day has written an exceptionally wonderful novel, so full of emotion and detail.  The historical information woven into the tale is fascinating yet at the same time utterly heartbreaking.  I found at several points I wanted to scream out at the injustice of what was happening, the way that the writing brings the story to life is so moving and yet it is handled with such care and devotion.  I cannot say that this was an aspect of history that I knew about, but it’s sparked my need to find out more and I thank Sarah for this.  Not only is this a beautiful book that I will cherish, it’s also made me think about society and what we are willing to tolerate.

You can buy a copy of Mussolini’s Island via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository

My thanks to Millie Seaward at Headline Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this exceptional book and take part in the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

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Published: 26 January 2017

Description:

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My Thoughts & Review:

Her Husband’s Lover is a psychological thriller that deserves to be read with your full attention – turn off your mobile, unhook the landline, send everyone out of the house for the day and get comfy because this is a book that once started will draw you in and keep you reading all day.

Without regurgitating the plot, I will say that Crouch sets up the intensely twisting tale with a wonderful opening gambit – a woman frantically fleeing a pursuer, she is desperate, she is scared and is running for the freedom of herself and her children.  An opening like that instantly grabs the attention of the reader and draws then in.
Louisa does escape, but the subsequent crash is devastating for her, it claims the life of her children and the husband she had been fleeing.  And her injuries were so severe that she was comatose and then had to undergo intensive physio and psychotherapies as part of her recovery.  However her recovery is hampered somewhat by the vendetta of Sophie, the girlfriend of her late husband.  Sophie refuses to believe any of the “lies” that Louisa tells at the inquest about Sam, and the ruling that his death was not her fault is the catalyst for a dark and twisted quest for vengeance against Louisa.

Julia Crouch writes with a wonderful ability to get under the skin of her readers, her characters are superb creations that evoke great emotion from the captive audience.  She writes scenes that cause a reader to squirm uncomfortably but all the while they are powerless to put the book down, driven on by the urge to know what happens next.
Cleverly weaving narration by Louisa and Sophie that encompasses the past and the present, Crouch builds tension and suspense effortlessly.  This slow build allows for an incredibly powerful climactic ending that will stay with the reader after finishing.

You can pre-order a copy of My Husband’s Lover here.

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Published: 15 December 2016
Reviewed: 11 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Headline

 

Description:

Join Izzy on her journey from January blues to joy. THE YEAR OF SAYING YES by Hannah Doyle will make you dirty-laugh, feel warm and fuzzy, and rediscover life’s magic – all thanks to one little word: yes. Fans of Lindsey Kelk, Mhairi McFarlane and Lucy-Anne Holmes, you’re in for a real treat.

The first of four exclusive part-serialisations of THE YEAR OF SAYING YES by Hannah Doyle.

Dear Readers

It’s drizzling outside, which totally matches my #currentmood. Pigs in blankets, all the mince pies and a festive Baileys or five are distant memories. You know the drill – it’s January. Everyone’s banning booze (terrible idea) or cutting carbs (impossible). To add to the misery pile, my plans to seduce the man of my dreams at the stroke of midnight flopped spectacularly.

I’m Izzy. I don’t just need a New Year resolution, I need a whole new life. And I need YOU. My dreary life is about to get a total makeover – it’s my ‘Year of Saying Yes’. And this is where you come in. It’s up to you to #DareIzzy. I’m saying yes to your challenges, no matter how nuts, adventurous or wild they are. The sky’s the limit – I’m at your mercy, readers!

Wish me luck. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

Love

Izzy x

Don’t miss Part 2 of Izzy’s adventure, where Izzy is challenged to ask a total stranger for his number, pose naked for a life drawing class and, wait for it… perform at Glastonbury!

My Thoughts & Review:

Initially I was hesitant to read this, when I see that a book is split into smaller editions I would steer clear and wait until all of them have been published so I can read them back to back or wait to see if they are grouped into one book, but when this popped through the letterbox I was intrigued.  The description sparked my interest and before I knew it I’d read almost half of the novella in one sitting.  Thankfully part two is out 12th January (so if scheduling has worked then it’s out TODAY!  *dashes to Amazon to buy next instalment*)

Izzy is a fun character, she’s one that many readers will be able to relate to and share in her misery (and have a few giggles) when life throws her a curve ball.  The supporting characters so far seem to be likeable and realistic.

Hannah Doyle writes beautifully, the flow of her writing pulls the reader in and ensures they are entertained the whole way through, the wit and humour in her writing giving you no option but to fall in love with the book and characters.

You can buy a copy of The Year of Saying Yes Part 1 here  and then join me in buying Part 2 straight after!

 

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 28 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review

 

Description:

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen is a chilling, twisty, compulsive thriller about a woman whose boyfriend has vanished. Fans of I LET YOU GO and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be gripped.

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

My Thoughts & Review:

Have you ever read a book and had no idea where it was leading you?  Or read a thriller that you “think” you know what’s going on and about to happen only to be completely thrown by the unexpected?  Well this book is both of those things, it’s cleverly deceptive, the plotting is ingenious and the levels of suspense are mind warping.

This is a very chilling read, borderline sinister at times.  It all hinges upon the moment Hannah returns home from a training course, excited to share news with her boyfriend Matt only to be faced with the realisation that he’s not there and neither is any of his possessions.
Reading this instantly had my brain on alert, where was Matt?  What had happened to him?  Did Matt exist or was he a figment of Hannah’s imagination?  Was she delusional?  Yes I tend to think too far ahead and too much sometimes, but the style of writing in the opening chapters of this book means that the reader can sit and formulate some wonderful ideas about the what and why.

Hannah is a very well created character, her charted downward spiral is skilfully written, so much so that the reader feels sympathy towards her plight, empathises with her and shares her frustrations at not being able to find out what happened, but despite all of this she was not a character I was overly fond of – the reasons for this is explainable once you’re read the book.  The chilling psychological twist that’s expertly woven into this novel really catches Hannah and the reader out, elements of the plot hint towards an unknown danger, is someone is watching Hannah?  Is someone playing with her emotions and her mind?  Her paranoia and panic feel very realistic and the reader is driven to keep going, desperate to find out what is going on, who is behind the strange events, but most of all to find out what happened to Matt.
The fact that Hannah is suffering a breakdown means she is an unreliable narrator, which works very well for this type of story.  Her feverish actions and jumbled thinking lend themselves to the increased tension and make this a gripping read.

Some other characters in this were very untrustworthy and ones that at times I found myself wondering why Hannah would be around them, perhaps I’m overthinking it a bit.  I did like the way relationship Hannah had with her parents was written, the troubled past that shaped the dynamic of the present.  It also provided food for thought later on in the plot.

I was completely gripped by this book, and by the end I was mentally exhausted.  Mary Torjussen writes some incredibly tense moments and characters that take effect on the reader in a way that I’ve rarely experienced from a book.  The toxicity of some characters leeches from the pages and the reader cannot help but feel uncomfortable with events and the shocking twists that unfold.  I think I may need to go read The Velveteen Rabbit or something similar now to recharge my head after this book.

You can buy a copy of Gone Without A Trace here.

 

About the Author:

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape – she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child. Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer. She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE, is set.

 

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 18 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review

 

Description:

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.
John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable.
Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction.
The momentum is in his favour for now.
But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

My Thoughts & Review:

Pendulum is the second book by Adam Hamdy to feature John Wallace, the first book Run is set whilst John is still in Afghanistan.  Pendulum does read well without having read Run, there is ample detail provided to explain links between the books.

John Wallace is about to be hanged in his own home by a masked assailant wearing serious body armour.  Wallace has no idea who this assailant is or why he has been targeted,  but he does know that he wished the wooden beams in the roof had woodworm.
When the hanging attempt fails Wallace makes a run for freedom but the would be killer isn’t going to give up his prize too easily.

What then follows is an adrenaline filled whirlwind of activity, Wallace trying to keep out of sight of his would be killer and desperately seeking answers to why someone is after him.  Travelling from the UK to America in search of clues, answers, help, Wallace walks a tightrope of danger and seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time too often.

As the first instalment in a trilogy, this book sets the bar high for the books to follow.  The levels of intrigue, mystery, action and danger are intense and utterly immersive.  Hamdy writes with an efficient style that lulls the reader in with short and snappy chapters.  Effortlessly he throws the reader straight into the action from the beginning of the book and continues in this way throughout with numerous high octane escapades.

The characters in this are interesting and although the protagonist wasn’t especially likeable I still wanted a good outcome for him and felt sympathy/empathy at times towards him.  The supporting characters all added depth to the story, indeed some were incredibly intriguing and the descriptiveness of Hamdy’s writing meant that it was possible to envision them all, especially the killer!

The concept of the story is captivating, the description has the right level of mystery in it to hook a reader’s interest and hold it till at least half way through the book, well this was  where I became a little less enthused,  when things seemed to take a turn towards being less credible, less realistic and a little too sensational.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book and very well written, I just felt that it was a little far fetched in places and I wanted to skim read some bits as it felt a little too “wordy”.

I would definitely look out for the next book in the series to see how Wallace fared after this lethal game of cat and mouse and to see what Hamdy had planned next for him.

You can buy a copy of Pendulum here.

 

About the Author:

Adam Hamdy is the author of the forthcoming Pendulum trilogy, which will be published by Headline in November 2016. New York Times bestselling author, James Patterson, said: “I read Pendulum in one gloriously suspenseful weekend. Definitely one of the best thrillers of the year.”

As a screenwriter, Adam has worked with studios and production companies on both sides of the Atlantic, and is currently developing original TV dramas with networks in the UK and US.

In addition to his film and television work, Adam is building a reputation as an author. After garnering critical acclaim, Adam’s self-published second novel, Out of Reach, was republished by Endeavour Press in 2015.

Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors.

Adam has a degree in Law from Oxford University and a degree in Philosophy from the University of London. Adam is a seasoned skier, rock climber, CPSA marksman, and is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organisation, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers Association, and the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

For more information about Adam Hamdy’s books check out his website http://www.adamhamdy.com or follow him on Twitter @adamhamdy

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The Perfect Gift

Author: Emma Hannigan
Published: 14 July 2016
Reviewed: 11 August 2016
4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Headline Review in return for an honest review
Description:

Happy Birthday, darling girl…

Ever since she can remember, Roisin has received a birthday card in the post. Signed with love from the birth mother she has never met.

Brought up by her adoptive parents, Keeley and Doug, Roisin has wanted for nothing. But on her thirtieth birthday a letter comes that shakes her world.
For Keeley, who’s raised Roisin as her own, the letter reminds her of a secret she’s been holding for thirty years. 

And for Nell, keeping watch in the lighthouse, the past is a place she rarely goes. Until a young runaway arrives seeking shelter, and unwraps the gift of hope for them all…

My Thoughts & Review:

The Perfect Gift is a heart warming tale about mothers and daughters.  How they must learn the diplomacy of compromise, to build trust and let go of secrets in order to move on in life.  

This is Emma Hannigan’s tenth novel and quite possibly her best yet.  Her writing flows beautifully, evoking emotions from readers at the very beginning of the book with a deeply moving prologue that had this hardened crime fiction fan tearing up.
  
Set in Ireland, the story centres around three women, who have all suffered great sadness and pain.  Roisin, adopted as a baby by Keeley and Doug has always struggled to fit in and find her place.  She decides to return home to set up her own business after travelling.  But she has a secret that she has never shared with anyone. 
Keeley runs a B&B with husband Doug, and is very successful.  But she also holds a secret, one that she has kept from her husband.  

Finally Nell, a recluse who lives in an old lighthouse, her only company is her cleaning lady Mo.  Nell has a past she would rather forget about, but the discovery of a young runaway pushes her to face her past.  
Each of the women are forced to confront their secrets and the revelations open their eyes to a different world, one where they no longer need to protect themselves from hurt by hiding away.   

Characters are truly wonderful, Roisin is such a spirited character, her ambition and enthusiasm are infectious, almost leaping off the page at the reader.  They are all believable and easy to relate to.  

This is the sort of book to pick up when you need to slow down, lose yourself in a good book and just relax – an escape if you will.  Despite guessing some of the secrets part of the way through this book I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  Reading Emma Hannigan’s books are like catching up with an old friend, they’re comforting and wonderful, you feel emotional but ultimately you feel a sense that everything is ok in the world after reading it and it reminds you to appreciate the family you have.  

You can buy a copy of The Perfect Gift here.   
 

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Find Her

Author: Lisa Gardner
Published: 9 February 2016
Reviewed: 25 July 2016
4 out of 5 stars 
Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review

Description:

AN ESCAPED KIDNAPPING VICTIM BECOMES AN AVENGER OF INNOCENTS. CAN SHE ESCAPE WHEN SHE’S TARGETED AGAIN? The eighth novel in Sunday Times bestseller Lisa Gardner’s Detective D.D. Warren series. Harlan Coben says FIND HER is ‘taut psychological suspense’ which ‘should not be missed’. 

I escaped the box.

The coffin that was both my prison and my lifeline.

My prison as I waited each day for release.


My lifeline as being locked inside meant being away from him.

I escaped the box, but I didn’t escape its consequences.

Now danger’s irrelevant. 

All I care about is making them pay. The other predators out there. Those just like the man who took me.

And if someone tries to grab me again? I know how to protect myself. 

And when another girl is taken? 

Have no doubt: I will do anything, anything, to find her.

Escaped kidnap victim Flora Dane has once again disappeared. Has the self-proclaimed vigilante become a victim? Or is something far more sinister at play? D.D. will have to race against the clock if she is going to Find Her.

My Thoughts & Review:

Despite being the eighth book in the Detective D.D. Warren series, I felt I was able to read this with little trouble.  There were references to previous cases which may have added extra information for other readers but nevertheless had no impact on me.  This book reads well as a standalone book, however where an author has established a series I do like to go back and read the books that I have missed just to catch up (looks like my summer reading pile has grown considerably!).

Flora Dane is a very interesting character, having been held captive for 472 days she was eventually found and returned to her family.  Instead of regressing back into herself, she turns vigilante to hunt down predators, and so when another young girl goes missing, Flora is determined to find her.  Despite putting herself in danger, Flora goes off to find the girl and disappears again, leaving Detective Warren to search for both girls in a gripping and frightening race against time.  Narrating from three perspectives, the author really immerses the reader in the action; details of the investigation, Flora’s current captivity and Flora’s previous kidnapping and time held captive.  The portrayal of Flora’s captivity was harrowing to read, Lisa Gardner really earns her gold stars for creating such a claustrophobic atmosphere that makes the reader feel uncomfortable.  Her attention to detail reflects at how much research has been done into both victims and perpetrators, thoroughly interesting, fascinating yet creepy all at the same time!   

The characters were interesting and realistic, there was a real believability to them, especially FloraFlora’s struggles made it hard to pin her to solely being a victim or a vigilante/ predator, so many of her actions and decisions were easily traced back to what she endured and I wonder if she might have been suffering Stockholm Syndrome

This is a book best read at breakneck speed, it’s thrilling, disturbing and utterly fascinating.   The pace of this good, very easy to read in one day (if you get peace and quiet to do so), but maybe try and get most of it read before bedtime!  
I would absolutely recommend this to fans of psychological thriller booksI can’t wait to see how the previous books compare to this one, hopefully this is another author to add to my “keep an eye out for” list. 

You can buy a copy of Find Her here. 

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