My One True North by Milly Johnson #BookReview

 

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Laurie and Pete should never have met.
But fate has pushed them together for a reason.

Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners.
Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.

From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning.
Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories.
Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

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There’s romance and then there’s ‘Romance’ and My One True North falls in the latter category, the one I absolutely love. Milly Johnson willed me to see Pete and Laurie together very early into the novel because I could see sooooo clear as day they were meant to be together. The story was perfectly paced and it had a very satisfying build up for me, their surprisingly easy connection wasn’t left too long hanging but didn’t come too quick either.

There were a few mysteries and secrets woven into the story that made it even more interesting even if is not so difficult to spot what is going on. The main thread is still about people having lost their loved ones, yet the comments and the situation the characters were in didn’t make me feel utterly sad for either party. Pete and Laurie are missing their partners but they are not stuck in their grief and both want to move forward with their life at the start of the story. It also helped that I already had a sense of the direction the plot developments were going to take so I couldn’t feel too bad about what I thought was coming.

Laurie and Pete meet each other and others too, Maurice, Sharon and Michelle at Molly’s tea club, a small support group that comes together at a tea shop where they chat over cake about the difficulties they are all experiencing. Each person deals with grief but I really appreciate that the author had one character grieve the passing of her dog. It is so underestimated what that does to someone and the important place a pet has as part of the family so I really liked there was attention given to this kind of grief. This lovely bunch of people find friendship and even a few laughs too when they have their meetings, something I hadn’t expected immediately but healing comes in several formats and it made me happy when I saw them dealing with it in such a great way.

I really enjoyed all of the characters in the novel, not only Pete and Laurie are positive and wonderful people (Pete is a firefighter who rescues kittens and dogs in the most touching way, how can you resist him after that?!) but so many others really made this story, from Pete’s father Nigel to Lucy and Griff, his brother and sister in law, to Alan, Laurie’s employer, even Keith Richards and Pong (a goldfish and a cat) had me under their spell.

My One True North is a lovely novel to read, giving hope when you think there might be none to be found again, and truly sends out the message that you can’t waste time and you should be living. It is full of warmth, great friendship and love. It’s contradictory – I do know how it sounds given the subject of the novel – but it really is the truth: if you’re feeling down My One True North will certainly lift up your mood!

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher Simon & Schuster via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge #BookReview

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Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police?

When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case—and discover the body. They soon find that no one has a bad word to say about Zoe, a big hearted young artist at the center of a curious web of waifs and strays, each relying on her for support, each hiding dark secrets and buried resentments. Has one of her so-called “friends” been driven to murder? Or does Aidan have the biggest secret of them all?

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

The blurb actually captures the story really well, it tells you in this case exactly what to expect. Main character Zoe, brilliant, lovely, sweet Zoe winds up dead and it is one big mystery who killed her. Of course everybody likes her, what’s not to love about her? As the story progresses from the past to the present, Zoe stays the one that everybody turns to but her friends show more of their true colours and the suspicion turns in every direction since every single one of her friends could possibly have a motive.

I can’t get enough of these type of novels if they’re done well and Watching From the Dark is definitely on the list of good ones. I did, however, only read another novel in the same genre the other week and even though I really liked both, the biggest difference is that I was actually able to predict the ending here. The story managed to wind me up paranoid about everybody, but in the end the red herrings were futile, my initial thought was the one I came back to after zigzagging over all the other names, and that turned out to be the right bet. If you read a lot of these types of novels I don’t know if it will come as a complete surprise. It could also be I’m just so good at it of course ;-).

I enjoyed the way the story was written. Zoe herself and Felix and Maeve were the characters that sprung out the most for me because they had an interesting personal history and character traits that really defined them. Her other friends Victor and Angeline could have been developed maybe a bit more for me personally. I also found Zoe to be quite a catch, it seems that every single man in this novel was attracted to her (yes that made me roll my eyes). Jealousy is of course a strong and believable motive anytime but still, it bothered me a little that literally everyone wanted her. All that was missing was a girl crush in it as well (or maybe there is, you’ll have to read it).

This is actually the second book in the detective series but you really don’t have to have read the first one. I didn’t and I didn’t miss a beat. The detectives in the story were great, there was a good connection between Jonah and Hanson, they form a perfect twosome, they’re both are very clever and they compliment each other so the detective work had drive and determination and it certainly makes me want to see more of them in the future.

I received a free copy from the publisher for review. This is my honest opinion.

Have you heard #TheRumour by Lesley Kara #BookReview

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When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

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I hadn’t pegged this novel as a debut at all, there’s definitely no teething stage for this little baby. Rumours are a bit like wildfire – or the corona virus at the moment – it all starts with a casual remark, something small someone says, and then it gets repeated in a group of people and before you know it everybody in the whole damn town catches whiff of it and is convinced of it being a hard truth. It felt frighteningly real and easy how all of this started and got out of hand so quickly without really meaning to. The rumour lead its own life and before I fully well knew, people were on a crusade to find out Sally McGowan’s new identity in this peaceful little town by the sea, even when it’s not even sure she came to live there at all.

Fair’s fair, I was very curious to find out who it was as well and the novel was able to really put the flame under it. There are quite a few suspects to choose from but all respectible women, most of them have children so nobody you would ever think able to commit such a crime. I did have someone in mind though really early in the novel, and this person only came into view well over half of the novel so I became even more convinced I was on the right track, but then other names propped up trying to muddle with my conviction, all of them acting suspiciously in one way or another. I wasn’t placing any bets anymore and a good thing I didn’t. It’s not often a novel can still surprise me like this but the surprise was complete, a real shocker and the real Sally was one of the few people I hadn’t actually suspected at all!

The novel is a great reminder of the dangers of spreading whispered thoughts, of how easily you can accuse someone and how everyone just assumes it is the truth right away, it is frightening and unfair for that person if it’s not true, the damage it can do… We all know it but still women can’t seem not to tell on each other and gossip, but maybe this novel can make you think twice in the future. Luckily in my job discretion is one of the characteristics you really need to have, I do hear and see things that I certainly won’t share with anyone, and I’m the same as a person, so I’m no Jo. My life is safe, for now :-).

The Rumour was a brilliant debut, fast-paced with plenty of intrigue and a very interesting topic too to read about. Do child killers deserve a second chance or do they need to be hunted down for the rest of their life, are we entitled to know where they live at all times? I think you’ll come to the same conclusion as me after you read it, because how could you not? How do they look back and how do they live their lives after the crime in the protection program? I found it quite enthralling to get some insight there from a person living this kind of life, even if it was fictional. I read another novel about the same thing in the past but this one was ten times better for me. I heard through the grapevine myself at the time of publication that this one was a gripping novel full of red herrings and I’m really happy that I can say that ‘they’ were right, it was such a wonderful novel that I already look forward to reading her next one. Fully approved!

I received a proof copy of this novel from a lovely blog friend. This is my honest opinion.

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs #BookReview @johnmarrs1 @AmazonPub

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They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

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I bumped this one up my readlist the minute I got my hands on the ecopy. Honestly, I didn’t know what this novel was about anymore when I started reading it, I trust this author enough not to care, and I can only recommend doing so because I was in for a surprise real soon this way. The only thing you need to know is that Maggie and Nina live in the same house and that Maggie never leaves the house, so the only hobby she has is spying on the neighbours and reading the books Nina brings her. Don’t be mistaken though, there is a constant battle going on between them and Maggie thinks twice about every word she says to Nina. This resentment also created a tug of war in my feelings for both of them. In what they say and do they both seemed very reasonable women at the start. That really wasn’t the right conclusion to make though.

I strongly felt for Maggie in the beginning, only to feel some understanding for Nina after a while too because of all she went through in her reckless teenage years, until that was overshadowed again with pity and sympathy for Maggie… They both made mistakes in the past, because Nina was young, because Maggie loved her daughter and wanted to do what she thought was best. It is debatable if that was the right thing to do but all I do know is that it backfired in the most horrible way. She is treated horribly by her daughter and there’s literally little she can do about it. She could tell her the truth but even in her most ugly predicament Maggie still doesn’t grab this opportunity. Maybe that is something I didn’t agree upon but I can’t argue the deep love for her daughter.

Nobody lives happily ever after at the end of What Lies Between Us and it won’t come as a surprise either when you read the novel that it does not have this all American ending but in it’s own way the author wrote a rewarding closure to this sad and tragic story.

I held my breath quite a few times while I read this novel, fearing the worst and hoping for the best. The action and reaction between mother and daughter was relentless and I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad that a third person was getting closer to them without knowing what was going on in that house. What Lies Between Us is a very dark and gripping story that will leave nobody unfazed. The novel was built on plenty of deceit, secrets, love and revenge, abuse, loss and obsession. All the best ingredients for an amazing page turner and that is exactly what this is!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

Strangers by C.L. Taylor #BookReview

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Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

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Strangers has 3 interesting storylines about the goings-on in Alice, Ursula and Gareth’s lives. At first it really feels as if these three have nothing in common but then slowly I saw them in the periphery of each other with the mall as the one big link between them. Alice works as a manager in a clothes shop in a mall, Ursula is a renowned shoplifter, a habit she can’t seem to give up, and Gareth is a security officer in the same mall. They are all circling around each other, and at times they even cross each other fleetingly but they never seem to come closer. I loved how hungry the author made me for their stories to overlap and to have these strangers finally meet. It’s a game of wait and see but if you’re patient, the reward is big!

It is such a masterly woven novel with appealing characters. Each one also has an interesting backstory to follow, so when the chapters alternate, you just can’t stop reading. Alice met a guy who might just have something to hide, Gareth has trouble with his mother who suffers dementia and receives strange postcards, and Ursula oww, I felt for her, she had the toughest life and the biggest heart. There’s a reason she can’t stop the shoplifting, why she doesn’t teach anymore, and her new lodging doesn’t turn out to be all that great either. There is a lot of chill factor in this novel and it’s not only the people, the house she lives in felt properly creepy and I don’t think I’d take the same actions as Ursula, she’s a lot braver than I am. Don’t you scream at the tv normally too when someone is going to investigate all alone? Well I was pretty much yelling at my book and at her not to go looking for trouble. Nobody ever listens to me though…

There are many MANY strange events and happenings in this novel and danger signs were constantly flashing before my eyes. I didn’t trust anyone and I could feel the net closing in as we were nearing the end. The hardest thing was to explain why though. It all came together quite brilliantly, as I had expected from this wonderful author who I only discovered 2 novels ago. She’s an outstanding author who invests in her character development and that investment certainly pays off as I was so into it, I could hardly tear myself away from reading. A very absorbing and compelling novel!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Avon Books via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

4 years of blogging: my highlights

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Hi people! Yesterday was a special day for two reasons. First of all I handed over the keys to the home I had for 20 years. I’m ok and fine, the day before my move last week was a difficult one but it was all better after a good night’s sleep. I found a temporary location with a bit of a change in scenery (I’m not used to seeing traffic and pedestrians all the time so I’m glued to the window instead of my cat who doesn’t care too much) and I’m hoping to move to my own apartment somewhere in April. I haven’t seen my books since the end of December and I miss them, so fingers crossed! I also found a very cool bookcase that I’m thinking about. I don’t have a lot of space for it (I think 150m is max length) so my options are limited and this is playful which is why I like it… If you have other ideas I’m always happy to hear them, now is the time :-).

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Anyway, you’re not here to hear about my personal affairs today, so the other news is that the blog also turned four yesterday whoohoo!

It’s been such an adventure these past years and so many things happened to me that I still can’t believe. I’ve always been a person who lacks confidence, I can’t help it, but now, even at work, they say I’m more confident. They probably think it grew naturally but I really believe it’s all thanks to blogging and the kind words I hear every week, even daily from so many lovely people.

In the past four years I have received so many wonderful and amazing novels, from authors, publishers, even other bloggers that I’d never have been able to read otherwise. Books have an average price of 20 euro here (well you can usually have a party like it’s 19,99) so I could never buy all the books I want to read and be up to date and able to talk books with my fellow readers without help. Libraries here also lack a serious selection of English books and we still don’t have any systems like Overdrive (they give you an ereader with some 30 books on it if you want to read digital but it’s also very limited), so I can only be very very grateful for every single book I receive this way. Also, bookpost is just amazing, a letter addressed to you that isn’t a bill is just thrilling, it NEVER EVER grows old.

I’ve had bookpost arrive here (I always give my work address because my mailbox at home was too small for some books) that was just an empty envelope, I had envelopes without my last name (lucky there’s only 2 possibilities out of 250 people here), without the company name, even with my blog name written on it. I’ve seen it all 🙂

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I was quoted in several novels (written by bestselling authors such as Riley Sager and Johana Gustawsson), and my real name was even mentioned in the acknowledgements by the very sweet Carole Wyer.

The appreciation is so big, every time I see a comment like this my day is made! Orenda Books is an amazing publishing company and Karen is so sweet…

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… and her authors are as sweet as she is!

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One of my first followers on Twitter was the great Peter James and since then many lovely authors and bloggers found my profile and want to see what I like, love and hate. I feel blessed that so many people want to be my friend!

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It feels amazing that I HAVE THE POWER to make people want to read the same novel I read. I find it difficult in real life to put my emotions into words and express myself, but appearantly if it comes to books, people do get me 😉 and you get reactions like these:

About The Guestlist:

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About Passengers:

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About Call Me Star Girl:

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About Blackberry and Wild Rose:

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About The Lion Tamer Who Lost:

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So many lovely words and it’s no surprise these people are my bestest blogfriends (there was a time that I did BFF posts and of course they had to be part of it).

Thanks to my fantastic decision to start blogging I also met a few magnificent people in real life: Kathy, Meggy, Zoe, Ronnie, Danielle, Jen, Vanessa, Marina… Each and every one touched my heart and I’m grateful to have met all of them because they bring me happy memories every time I think of the meet-up. I also never had imagined me going to a book event IN ANOTHER COUNTRY where everyone likes to read just as much I do. It was so memorable and a highlight not only of those 4 years but for eh ‘all’ the years of my life so far.

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So, thank you for reading, for being here for me and with me. I thought about stopping with my blog the past year but when I see this all for myself now, I don’t think I can. I might be a little quiet for a few more weeks, or months, but once the dust has settled, I hope to get back into the swing of it. So till later!

When The Time Comes by Adele O’Neill #BookReview #BlogTour

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Welcome to my stop for When The Time Comes by Adele O’Neill. Thanks so much to Aria Fiction for the invitation to join this blog tour! I don’t review on blog tours very much but this one sounded so good that I grabbed the chance right away. So I’m sharing a review today but first a little more info about the book.

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Her husband says it’s suicide. The police say it’s murder.

Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.

One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.

Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.

As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…

Purchase

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Author

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Adele is a writer from Co. Wicklow who lives with her husband Alan and her two teenage daughters. Influenced by writers across all genres she has a particular fondness for fiction that is relatable and realistic.

Her debut novel was awarded The Annie McHale Debut Novel Award for 2017 and is a character driven story of survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty, just like life. Her second novel Behind A Closed Door is another emotionally harrowing tale of impossible choices, loyalty and friendship.

Adele writes overlooking the Irish Sea, which she credits for the tumultuous dynamics in the relationships and lives of her unsuspecting characters in her third novel, When The Time Comes, another dark tale that tests the lengths we go to protect the ones we love.

Connect

Twitter: @adelesbooks
Facebook: @adeleoneillbooks

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I only found out this was the third novel in a detective series after I finished reading the novel. Louise’s life did make out part of the story so I presume there are still things I don’t know about her and her partner but I never had a feeling of not knowing enough. I can say that the author wrote about the investigators in a realistic way and there were ups and downs in their personal life too. Some readers may find it distracting from the main story, it is sort of a side story after all, but I liked seeing them as people with real problems too, Louise wasn’t a detective in the abstract sense after a while anymore.

I might say I could see the novel as divided in three parts. The first was about the side characters mostly, Liam and Alex and Louise and (Tony) Kelly. Then came the part about Jennifer, which built up to the trial in the third part of the novel.

When The Time Comes is a novel that tells the reader everything about Jennifer Buckley, her ex-husband Liam and their two children Josh and Abbie. By extention there’s also Liam’s new lover involved and her sister, who happens to be the detective who becomes involved in the case. There’s quite a few characters but I like how they’re all linked and it didn’t pose any problems following who’s who. The only thing that threw me at the start and I had to get a bit used to were two of the character’s names, because Alex is more often a guy’s name here and Kelly is always a girl and in this story it’s the other way around (well Kelly is a last name but for some reason it’s the only character whose first name is only mentioned once).

I thought that the focus of the novel would be largely on the murder investigation and the question whether Liam – suspect numero uno – did or didn’t kill his ex-wife but the author kept me in suspense as the investigation is mostly covered in the final part of the novel. Although this was of course what I was waiting for and therefore one of my favorite parts of the novel, I also became more invested in the family themselves in the build up to the trial.

When The Time Comes was almost more of a family drama than a murder mystery, well if it was a murder in the first place that is because Jennifer Buckley was pro euthanasia and didn’t make it a secret exactly. She hated that the motor neurone disease she’d been diagnosed with left her feeling more trapped  in her body with each passing day. She called it the 1000 day disease and when 900 of them passed she made arrangements for her children to be looked after by their father. It meant Liam moved back in to take care of them but as soon as he did she wound up dead. Coincidence? I think not ;-).

The impact of her disease and the consequences on everyone around her were prominent and made me care for this little family. The novel deals with some emotional and hard topics but it was still very enjoyable and easy to read.

At first I wondered who would have killed her, or helped her to kill herself, but after a while I had nothing more than a hunch to go on about what happened. The way the truth was revealed left me with a smile on my face though, quite clever from the author!

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

*** Don’t forget to check out the rest of the book tour ***