While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

While I was Sleeping

I have been fortunate to meet Dani Atkins on several occasions but I have to confess to never having read one of her books so, having heard such wonderful things about them, I was determined to put that right.  My enormous thanks to the lovely folk at Simon and Schuster and Books and the City for my copy of Dani’s While I was Sleeping in return for an honest review.

Published by Simon and Schuster, While I Was Sleeping is available for purchase through these links.

While I Was Sleeping

While I was Sleeping

What if someone else was living your happy ever after?

When Maddie wakes up in a hospital bed, she can’t remember anything about what happened to her or what has changed.

She just remembers she was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.

But it seems life has become a lot more complicated while she has been asleep …

My Review of While I was Sleeping

Maddie’s wedding plans are about to be altered.

Wow! Reading While I Was Sleeping made me feel as if my heart had been ripped out, torn into tiny pieces and jammed back into my chest irreparably changed.

This is going to be a book that is impossible to review accurately and effectively as I really don’t want to spoil the story for other readers . Consequently, I’m not going to focus too much about the plot except to say that While I Was Sleeping has some surprises along the way, much humour, searing honesty and a depth of emotion that is unparalleled. I was so fortunate that I was able to read it in one sitting on a long haul flight as Dani Atkins has crafted a tale that I couldn’t tear myself from. I was so entirely absorbed that I had no notion of what was happening around me.

The limited and beautifully defined cast of characters means that the reader becomes intimately involved with them, living alongside Maddie, Chloe and Ryan as their lives intersect with an intensity that is almost too much to bear at times. My own loyalties fluctuated between them all until I was as emotionally invested in the outcomes as they were themselves.

While I Was Sleeping is so skilfully written. Dani Atkins is fabulously clever in being an impartial persona behind Maddie and Chloe’s voices so that I found my loyalties vacillated frequently, perfectly mirroring what was happening in the book.

I thought the way the relationships were presented was utterly magnificent, as were all the themes of love, loyalty, nature, nurture, health and grief.

I am aware that this review is slightly vague, but I truly feel that more detail might spoil for others a tear jerking, heart rending story that hit me like a sledge hammer and left me emotionally wrung out. What I will say is that I thought While I Was Sleeping was completely fantastic and you should read it for yourself to find out why.

About Dani Atkins

dani Atkins

Dani Atkins was born in London, and grew up in Cockfosters, Hertfordshire. She moved to a small village in 1984, where she has lived ever since in a 350-year-old cottage with her husband, two (now grown-up) children, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Dani has been writing for fun all her life, but following the 2013 publication of her novel Fractured (published as Then and Always in the US), has made writing her full-time career. Her other novels include The Story of Us (2014); Our Song (2016); Perfect Strangers (a standalone eBook novella published in December 2016) and This Love (2017). In 2018 This Love won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award at the RoNAs ceremony in London. Her new novel, While I Was Sleeping, was published in August 2018.

You can find Dani on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @AtkinsDani.

Do No Harm by L V Hay

Do No Harm

My enormous thanks to the lovely Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of L V Hay’s Do No Harm in return for an honest review.

Do No Harm is available for purchase through the links here.

Do No Harm
Do No Harm

Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…

Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…

Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

My Review of Do No Harm

Maxwell is determined to upstage his ex-wife Lily’s marriage to Sebastian but this will only be the start of their problems.

Oh my word. What a super study of obsession and control from L V Hay in Do No Harm. I so enjoyed this read.

Perfectly and competently plotted, Do No Harm is fluidly and smoothly written so that it feels like a top class read. I guessed who had done what straight away – and then, of course, with such clever writing, had to keep changing my mind as L V Hay wrong footed me at every turn. This is a genuinely twisty story with surprises and shocks coming thick and fast. I thought the short chapters added a breathless pace too.

I loved the characterisation and because the focus is on Lily, Denny, Sebastian, Maxwell and Fran with few extraneous people, there’s a smashing level of intensity that enhances the obsessive theme of Do No Harm. At times I wanted to shake Lily even whilst I understood the reasons for her actions.

I also felt horribly fascinated by the way L V Hay shows how obsession can take over a person’s life and how easy it is to control and manipulate those around us. She illustrates perfectly the injustice of life and the ease with which we can be taken over by others.

Do No Harm is a brilliantly entertaining read, and I found its impact lasted well after I had turned the final page. It left my belief in human nature shaken and disturbed. I thoroughly recommend it.

About L V Hay

Lucy Hay

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, and its follow-up Drama Screenplays.

Lucy lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

You can find out more by following L V Hay on Twitter @LucyVHayAuthor, visiting her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

The Ruin

My grateful thanks to Millie Seaward at Little Brown for a surprise copy of The Ruin by Dervla Mc Tiernan in return for an honest review.

Published by Sphere, an imprint of Little Brown, The Ruin is available for purchase here.

The Ruin

The Ruin

February 1993

On his first week on the job, Garda Cormac Reilly responds to a call at a decrepit country house to find two silent, neglected children waiting for him – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lies dead upstairs.

March 2013

Twenty years later, Cormac has left his high-flying career as a detective in Dublin and returned to Galway. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.

What ties a recent suicide to the woman’s death so long ago? And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?

My Review of The Ruin

Rookie police officer Cormac Reilly little realises how far into the future his first case will reverberate.

I really enjoyed The Ruin and feel the explanation of the title given by the author fits the smashing contents of this book perfectly, but I don’t want to spoil the story by saying too much about why!

Cormac Reilly is a fabulously well developed and interesting character whom the reader warms to instantly. Dervla McTiernan has such a sophisticated and easy style to read and I loved the way Cormac’s back story is drip fed into The Ruin but isn’t entirely revealed so that there will be so much to enjoy in any future book with him at the centre. I felt I was meeting someone who will become a firm friend and I already care about what happens to him because he didn’t feel like a character in a book, but rather someone I knew personally.

Both plot and sub plot in The Ruin are elegantly constructed and weave together in a beautifully orchestrated dance. The themes of abuse and corruption, sadly only too familiar in recent history, provide a depth that adds extra dimensions that elevate The Ruin above just another police procedural story into a satisfying and layered read that really attracts the reader’s attention. I frequently felt an emotional response as I read. I love it when a book makes me exclaim ‘No! Don’t do that’ as I become so engrossed in what is happening. Dervla Mc Tiernan has the ability to do that to her readers in spades. The variety of sentence construction and the overall quality of the writing makes for spell binding reading. Again, I’m not going to spoil the plot for other readers by saying much about it. Just believe me when I say it’s a cracker!

The Ruin may be a debut novel, but it is so assured, so interesting and so entertaining that I may just have found a new favourite author in Dervla McTiernan. I urge you to discover her too!

About Dervla McTiernan

Dervla

Dervla McTiernan was born in County Cork, Ireland to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now works for the Mental Health Commission. She lives in Perth with her husband and two children.

Find out more about Dervla by following her on Twitter @DervlaMcTiernan and visiting her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

becky sharp

I’d like to thank Jaime Frost at Harper Collins for sending me a surprise copy of The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning in return for an honest review.

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp is published by Harper Collins and is available for purchase through the links here.

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp

becky sharp

An hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, Vanity Fair, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp

Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.

Becky Sharp has big dreams and no connections. Determined to swap the gutters of Soho for the glamorous, exclusive world behind the velvet rope, Becky will do anything to achieve fame, riches and status.

Whether it’s seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, or befriending silly debutantes and rich old ladies, Becky Sharp is destined for great things. Because it might be tough at the top but it’s worse at the bottom.

From London to Paris and beyond, Becky Sharp is going places – so get the hell out of her way…

My Review of The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp

The final of Big Brother is coming to an end and life is about to change dramatically for Becky Sharp.

I have a couple of confessions. Firstly, I have never been able to read Vanity Fair as I found Becky Sharp so intensely irritating I never finished it so that I am unable to make any comparisons with Thackery’s narrative and secondly I thought the first chapter to The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp was going to lead to a contrived retelling of someone else’s ideas. I was wrong. I think I got off on the wrong reader foot because I loathe Big Brother but as soon as that episode was completed I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s vicious, witty and very very clever.

Becky Sharp is an absolute triumph. Sarra Manning made me hate her and admire her in equal measure. I completely understood her driving force and empathised with it whilst abhorring her methodology so that I found her utterly fascinating. Becky Sharp epitomises all that is wrong in modern society in a glorious, vituperative package that I couldn’t help but admire.

All the characters work so well together. And it is the brilliant manipulation by Becky that orchestrates the entire novel incredibly effectively. I felt sorry for those in her thrall and quite gratified if any of them managed to outwit her, however briefly.

I loved the modern setting of this story. Our reliance on the superficiality of social media and branding is brilliantly handled and woven throughout, making the events absolutely believable.

So, having begun The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp with sceptical trepidation, I found I was enormously entertained by Sarra Manning’s faultless, effervescent style and lively writing so that I thoroughly enjoyed Becky’s adventures. I’d love to know what she gets up to next in any sequel as I’m sure she hasn’t finished her adventures yet!

About Sarra Manning

sarra

Sarra Manning is an author and journalist. Her novels include Unsticky, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and The House Of Secrets.

Sarra has written both adult and YA novels and has contributed to The Guardian, ELLE, Grazia, Stylist, Fabulous, Stella, You Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and is currently the Literary Editor of Red magazine.

Sarra lives in London.

You can find Sarra on Instagram or Facebook and follow her on Twitter @sarramanning for more information.

When I Find You by Emma Curtis

when I find you

When One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis was published I was lucky enough to interview Emma here all about it.  Today I’m thrilled to share the second of my holiday reads and to review When I Find You, Emma’s latest book. My grateful thanks both to the author and to Hannah Bright at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

Published by Black Swan, an imprint of Penguin Random House, When I Find You is available for purchase through these links.

When I Find You

when I find you

What do you do when someone takes advantage of your greatest weakness?

When Laura wakes up after her office Christmas party and sees a man’s shirt on the floor, she is horrified. But this is no ordinary one-night-stand regret.

Laura suffers from severe face-blindness, a condition that means she is completely unable to identify and remember faces. So the man she spent all night dancing with and kissing – the man she thought she’d brought home – was ‘Pink Shirt’.

But the shirt on her floor is blue.

And now Laura must go to work every day, and face the man who took advantage of her condition. The man she has no way of recognising.

She doesn’t know who he is . . . but when she finds him she’ll make him pay.

My Review of When I Find You

Suffering from face blindness, prosopagnosia, Laura finds it difficult to navigate life.

What an interesting and absorbing read When I Find You is. I confess it took me a while to rid myself of the simple question of why Laura didn’t simply tell everyone about her condition so that she didn’t need to struggle to identify them so much. Once I had finished reading this complex, well researched and totally twisty narrative, I understood perfectly. What a devastating condition! I loved the way Emma Curtis educated me as well as entertained me.

But not only did When I Find You educate and entertain me, it perplexed me and made me think too. I had to change my mind about the perpetrator of the crime several times over, and more importantly I think, I had to consider what constitutes consensual sexual intercourse and how far Laura could be said to be to blame for what happens to her. I’ve finished When I Find You feeling rather unsettled and that is no bad thing at all.

I really enjoyed the writer’s style as Emma Curtis balances Laura, Rebecca and David so perfectly. None is perfect and the reader is made to see how easy it is to commit an untruth at best and a serious crime at worst as our lives are so often at the mercy of others. I thoroughly enjoyed the insight into corporate and family life too as Emma Curtis touches on love and loyalty, secrets and lies, honesty and the concept of belonging and feeling alienated regardless of the effect of Laura’s condition. This may be a thriller but it is also a book about humanity.

However, all the well researched medical conditions and fascinating themes aside, what the reader actually has here in Emma Curtis’s When I Find You is a fantastic, manipulative and heart- thumpingly good story. As the story raced to its conclusion I had no idea how it might actually resolve itself as my guesses along the way had been wrong.

I took When I Find You on a trip and it was perfect holiday reading, making me look at those around me in a whole new light! I really recommend it.

About Emma Curtis

emma

Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and now lives in London with her husband. After raising two children and working various jobs, her fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write her acclaimed debut novel, One Little MistakeWhen I Find You is her second thriller.

You can follow Emma on Twitter @emmacurtisbooks and find her on Facebook.

The Truth About You, Me and Us by Kate Field

the-truth-about-you-me-and-uskindle-final-cover-327740-510x590

I’ve been meaning to read The Truth About You, Me and Us by Kate Field for simply ages and on my recent (curtailed early because of Typhoon Mangkhut) holiday I finally got to it. I’m so glad I did and am delighted to share my review today – especially as it is publication week for Kate’s latest book The Winter That Made Us and I hadn’t been able to participate in that tour as I was expecting to be away.

Published by Accent Press, The Truth About You, Me and Us is available for purchase through these links.

The Truth About You, Me and Us

Five years ago Helen Walters walked out on her ‘perfect’ life with the ‘perfect’ man. Wealthy, glamorous and bored, she longed for something more.

Now a talented artist with a small business, Helen creates crazy patchwork crafts to support her young daughter, Megan. Penniless, content and single, she is almost unrecognisable.

But when her past unexpectedly collides with her new life, Helen finds herself torn. She knows what the easiest choice is, but is it what she wants?

My Review of The Truth About You, Me and Us

When Helen thinks she sees Daniel, her perfect man from five years previously, little does she realise what life has in store.

Oh, I just loved The Truth About You, Me and Us. I kept asking myself why I hadn’t read Kate Field before and wondering why she hasn’t yet reached the stellar heights of huge household names because if The Truth About You, Me and Us is anything to go by she deserves her place amongst the very best. I thought this story was utterly delightful and a perfect example of truly romantic women’s fiction. There’s such an ease in Kate Field’s style that reading her work is like touching silk or satin. It’s smooth, high quality and oh so satisfying.

I thought the plot was deftly constructed and completely tantalising. I was desperate for Helen to find happiness and I certainly had a personal preference between the two male protagonists as possible partners for her. I really appreciated the way in which Kate Field wove themes of relationships, trust, secrets and loyalty into her narrative so that she kept me guessing how the story could be resolved. I also adored the way the narrative was constructed so that Helen’s past was gradually revealed without recourse to time slip in an incredibly skilled way.

I have mentioned before that I’m not keen on children and frequently find their depiction contrived in fiction, but Megan was perfectly created. The catalyst for so much of the action, she felt realistic and important without dominating. Helen too felt real, warm and vivid so that I was on her side from the very first sentence to the final full stop. But for me it was Daniel and Joel who really took centre stage and I actually forgot that they are not real men so that I thought about them when I wasn’t reading The Truth About You, Me and Us and I had several things I wanted to say to both of them to help life along for Helen. I think it takes a highly skilled writer to convince a reader they are witnessing real life.

The Truth About You, Me and Us is completely wonderful. It’s difficult not to sound clichéd but I found it heart warming, romantic, and, cleverly, equally realistic and escapist so that it is perfectly balanced and the kind of novel I want to return to time after time. The Truth About You, Me and Us made me happy and gladdened my heart and what could be better than that? It’s a gorgeous read and I recommend you add it to your reading pile immediately!

About Kate Field

Kate Field

Kate Field lives in Lancashire with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

You can follow Kate Twitter @katehaswords and find her on Facebook.