#BlogTour 4.5* #Review #TheMarriagePact by @michellerichmon @penguinrandom

Super Excited to kick off this #BlogTour for this cracking new release!

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

The synopsis:

It’s the perfect wedding gift.

Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered membership of a club which promises members will never divorce.

Signing The Pact seems the ideal start to their marriage.

Until one of them breaks the rules.

Because The Pact is for life.

And its members will go to any lengths to ensure nobody leaves . . .

My review:

Oh what a corker of a read! A complex psychological thriller based on relationships and in particular, the institution that is marriage. This is definitely a novel that you need to go with…….
Allow yourself to become immersed in the story page by page and not try to add rationality into the themes. I am thinking along the lines of ‘A Handmaids Tale’ guide to a healthy marriage!

Jack and Alice are the picture perfect couple. Alice is a junior associate lawyer and Jack a renowned and experienced counsellor. The world it would seem, is their oyster! They begin their journey towards marriage taking a very practical stance on how they will build their lives together. But are they as picture perfect as they portray?

Jack is the main protagonist of the novel and we see things from his point of. The basis of the plot begins on their wedding day. Alice has no family and is grieving for her father when Jack proposes. Jack’s desire to ‘keep her’ and Alice’s desire to have some form of family play a huge part in their impending nuptials. Alice invites a client from work, the elusive Liam Finnegan and his wife Fiona. They present Jack and Alice with a mysterious gift!

The gift is a wooden box with a handwritten note
“Alice and Jack, know this: the pact will never leave you”.
Alarm bells instantly started ringing for me, no, nope, no way etc. but when I thought about various organisations such as the free masons, religions and scientology etc. I thought how educated people join these organisations every day, they must do, for them to exist within our society. These organisations often have a code of conduct by which to live by. So I allowed myself to let The Pact, tell its story.

The Pact, is a strict organisation that is contractually based. It has its own manual that contains 5 key parts: our mission, rules of procedure, Laws of the pact, consequences and arbitration. There is an in-depth explanation of the formation of The Pact but its main aims are to bring the principles of British law to the institution of marriage via: community, encouragement and structure. Jack and Alice are given the advice, memorise the manual, which they take far too flippantly.

Jack and Alice are very different in their personalities and it soon becomes clear that the The Pact will prove difficult for one of them to follow. The manual they greet, with both fascination and repulsion. The simple rules of buying thoughtful gifts, trips away and glamorous parties are easy. But the punishments inflicted offer a more sinister side to the whole agenda.

Within a few short weeks Alice finds herself fitted with GPS tracking device for observation purposes. Jack meets old flame JoAnne at one of the parties, whom tries her best to discreetly warn him against The Pact. With the warning
“no one leaves alive, that is”
paranoia sets in………….

Fear, control, threats, collusion and mind games galore! The Pact will be huge for fans of the psychological thriller genre. It also offers up, much food for thought. What matters most true love or adhering to the pact at all costs?

#NoOneLeaves 4.5*

MR
Michelle Richmond
Authors links:
Web: http://michellerichmond.com/
Twitter: @michellerichmon

#YA #Review #TheMidnightQueen @sylwritesthings @AllisonandBusby #WhatDaisySays

Today I hand over the blog to my 14 year old daughter Daisy. It would appear I have two budding bloggers on my hands. So here it is #WhatDaisySays!

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The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Hunter
Synopsis:

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented – and highest born – sons of the kingdom are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover . . .

Gray’s Britain is a fragmented kingdom of many tongues, many gods and many magicks. But all that concerns Gray right now is returning as soon as possible to his studies and setting right the nightmare that has seen him disgraced and banished to his tutor’s home – without a trace of his powers. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Although she has no talent of her own and has been forbidden by her father to pursue it, Sophie Callender longs for a magickal education. But she started a bookish rebellion in her father’s library long ago, and her sheltered upbringing conceals a mysterious past and what may prove a catastrophic future. Her meeting with Gray sets off a series of events that will lead them to uncover a conspiracy at the heart of the kingdom and into the legend of the Midnight Queen, who vanished without a trace years before.

#WhatDaisySays:

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Hunter is an intriguingly written fantasy book based around a world of magick. This is due to be a trilogy and I am honestly excited to see where the writer takes the plot. Our two main characters are introduced within the first chapter. Gray (Graham Marshall), has been forced to stay at his professor’s house for the summer for reasons unbeknown to the reader for a while into the book. Gray’s character is a very intelligent, caring, young man. The visible hatred between Gray and the professor is brought to the reader’s attention by our other main character, Sophie. Sophie was by far my favourite character. I think the themes in this book were really relatable and current. For instance, in the setting of the book Sophie is discouraged by her father from reading and learning about magick like the men in story do. I feel this was an exceptionally relevant theme, considering the modern feminist movements. Sophie’s character was also very bubbly and talkative which combats Grays initial moodiness.

Within the first chapter I noticed that the writing style was very unusual. Whilst reading, the informal, friendly tone made it feel as if it was written in first person by Sophie, when in fact it’s written in the third person. Sylvia Hunter has a very unique writing style that makes the book very easy to read. However, the book was very slow to get to the plot. This was the only downfall I found the book had. On one hand, I can see that because it took a while to get to the plot we got to get to know Gray and Sophie really well but on the other hand it does make the first 100 pages or so hard to power through.

Throughout the book the plot takes lots of unexpected twists and turns that I personally thought were quite clever. I enjoyed learning all about magick which was obviously one of the main themes in the book. Despite knowing magick obviously isn’t real I still find it incredibly interesting to read different authors inventions of magickal worlds. I think Sylvia Hunter’s magickal world went in depth enough to catch your interest but at the same time it doesn’t feel like your reading one of Gray’s study books from Oxford’s Merlin College.

Three other characters that I thought were written very interestingly were: Amelia, Joanna and the professor. Firstly, Amelia was the character I loved to hate. You could tell that she was designed to be written in a very mean girl fashion. She’s one of those girls whose pretty and she knows she can get anything with her looks- very manipulative. Joanna, who is one of the three sisters (Joanna, Amelia and Sophie) born to the professor is very outspoken and sassy. I enjoyed reading her character’s dialogue and I thought it bought a funny, light hearted tone to the book. Joanna was very passionately against her father’s views. Her father, the professor is written in a very old fashioned manner with very controversial and prejudice views against women. You find out early on that the girl’s mother (whom died when they were fairly young) was very upset to find that Joanna (the youngest) was a girl because the professor had wanted at least one boy. You also find out that Amelia believes it’s her father’s job to ‘pick’ her a ‘suitable’ man. This dynamic makes very thought provoking, interesting reading.

What would a book be without romance? Sophie and Gray’s romance develops very slowly from a place of trust, care and friendship. This like the plot develops very slowly but makes for very chilled out reading. There personalities are written to be very compatible and you see throughout the book how much they help each other.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book once the plot got going. The plot is full of very exciting twists and turns that I think almost any reader would enjoy and I personally thoroughly enjoyed the way the characters are written. I did also really enjoy the theme of female empowerment.

SH
Sylvia Hunter
Authors links:
Web: http://sylviaizzohunter.ca/
Twitter: @sylwritesthings

#Review #WarGirlUrsula @MarionKummerow #WW2Fic #Indie #HistFic

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War Girl Ursula by Marion Kummerow

Synopsis:

Berlin 1943: Compassion is a crime.

A prisoner escapes. A guard looks the other way.

Why does Ursula Hermann risk her life and brave the Gestapo to save a man she barely knows?

Ursula has always lived the law, never broken the rules in her life.
That is until the day she finds escapee British airman Tom Westlake and all the right she’s worked so hard to maintain goes wrong…

He runs.

And she does nothing to stop him.

Torn with guilt about what she did, Ursula battles with her decision when suddenly Tom returns, injured and pleading for her help.

This is her opportunity to make things right.

But shadows from the past tug at her heart, convincing her to risk everything, including her life, in order to protect a man from the nation her country is fighting.

As they brave the perils and dangers of the ever-present Gestapo, will Ursula find a way to keep Tom safe?
Or will being on the opposite sides of the war ultimately cost both of them their lives?

My review:

I have read and loved Unrelenting by the author and I am a huge fan of her writing style. She knows exactly how to write straight to the hearts of her readers. After already being astounded with her writing abilities, I was desperate to read this!

The novel opens in Berlin, January 1943, at the wedding of Ursula Klausen and Andreas Hermann. However, only Ursula is present. Andreas is buried deep in the eastern front, fighting in the war! I don’t know if it is because I married a soldier myself at just 17 years old and the catastrophic events of 9/11 occurred just a month later. But the vulnerability and loneliness of Ursula’s plight really struck a chord with me. There she goes again Kummerow hits me straight in the feels with her opening pages! 🙂

Ursula’s young brother Richard, is also away at war, at the fragile age of just 17 years old. She lives with her mother and sisters Anna and Lotte. Lotte is extremely anti-Hitler and despises the policies of the Nazi’s so much so, she is often shushed by family members for fear of someone overhearing her cast off comments. Anna longs for an education, which is virtually unheard of in Nazi Germany society. She settles for nursing school in an attempt to appease her parents and the Nazi government.

The atmosphere of being inside Nazi Germany, with real life German citizens is written incredibly well. It details exactly how fascism takes hold of a nation. Goebbels suggests in his speeches great things await those who are worthy! Ursula desperately wants to be deemed worthy. Ursula is by no means a rule breaker, she the typical ‘good girl’ that follows the rules and does as she is told. That is until she is forced to witness the atrocities herself………

With young rebel Lotte sent to relatives in the countryside with her mother and Anna at nursing school. Ursula must begin her own role to contribute to the greatness of the Fatherland. She is assigned a detail at a local prison, a prison that will open her eyes to the sheer brutality of Nazi rule. At the prison she meets a wealth of characters and she begins to develop empathy and even sympathy for their situations. So much so, she becomes known as the ‘blonde angel’.

When Ursula receives a devastating Telegram regarding her husband. She finds comfort in the words of the prison priest. But cracks are beginning to show and Ursula is waking up to the inhumanity that surrounds her. Months go by and she is forced to watch further barbaric practices when the mass executions begin. Has Ursula started to realise the Nazi regime for the morally unjust government that it is?

When there is a shell strike at the prison and a young British Captain escapes, Ursula stands by allow it. Why has Ursula, in her own words, suddenly become a disgrace to the Fatherland? What if she is caught and who is the young escapee?

This is a novel of the characters, their lives and the aftermath of their actions or inaction. Living with a continual element of fear, the captain and Ursula begin to bond. Ursula is faced with the difficult task of coming to terms with the brutality she has ignored and the propaganda she has believed. This novel reads right to the very last page and leaves you with an emotional cliff-hanger of an ending that will have you begging for the next in the series! A fabulous historical fiction novel 5*

MK
Marion Kummerow
Authors links:
Web: http://kummerow.info/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6868348.Marion_Kummerow
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AutorinKummerow/
Twitter: @MarionKummerow

*The novel is available free to #KindleUnlimited members!

#Review #TheDry #JaneHarper

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The Dry by Jane Harper

Synopsis:

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

My review:

A debut novel that promises secrets, childhood memories and murder! What’s not to like? Set during a severe drought, in the outback Australia this novel has at atmospheric feel to it. There are running parallels between city life and country existence.

The protagonist Aaron Falk is summoned to his small hometown of Kiewarra by his childhood best friend’s father via way of a note stating
“Luke lied, you lide, be at the funeral”.
Falk’s childhood best friends Luke Hadler is the main suspect in his family annihilation case, leaving dead his young wife Karen and son Billy. But is the case what it seems? Did Luke really kill his family and turn the shotgun on himself?

There is a wealth of characters from the past and the present, that fully add to the plot. But this is a small town with not only it’s secrets, but a small town mentality and some would rather no questions were asked. When Falk teams up with Sgt Raco to investigate further ‘off the books’. We begin to understand why some in the town hate Falk so much and his family were run out of town years ago.

There is an elusive character from the past, who’s death caused tense emotions and mistrust in the town. How did Ellie Deacon die and what does Falk have to hide? With no outside forensics found at the sight and the lone survivor the infant daughter Charlotte, this is a complex mystery. We learn of the family members and their various roles in the community. The failing farm and the economics that led to a financial struggle etc. There is confusing suspects and conflicting evidence throughout.

The investigation continues at a rather slow pace and I found this to be not in fitting with the opening of the novel. But the ending did not disappoint, it is moving and emotionally charged. 3.5*

#BlogTour #Review #TheOtherTwin by @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks

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The Other Twin by LV Hay

Synopsis:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

My review:

The story focuses on the relationship between two sisters, after one’s untimely death at just 24 years old. There are distinct themes, of the ripples of resentments and accusations. Social media and personal identity also play a key part in the plots development. So I could see the huge appeal to readers in the crime fiction/mystery genre.

The novel opens with Poppy, who lives a chaotic lifestyle away from her hometown of Brighton. Upon receiving a phone call from her mother she is made aware her sister has died and she must return home as soon as possible. Her journey home is riddled with so many questions. How did India die and why?

There is an unnamed male character who’s point of view comes across rather narcissistic at times. But I felt this added to an unknown element in the plot and couldn’t wait to discover what it actually meant and who it was.

When Poppy returns to the family home she is disturbed and dumbfounded to discover that her sister allegedly leapt from a railway bridge to her death and the police are ruling it initially as a suicide. This sends Poppy on the course of her own investigation. She discovers that the police found a suicide note, a letter written to Jenny and yet she can discover no close friends of India’s named Jenny. Who is Jenny? Does she hold the key to India’s suicide?

Poppy hacks into India’s various social media accounts and phone attempting to discover who this mysterious Jenny is. She eventually discovers a message sent from Jenny on the day of India’s suicide that states “you shouldn’t have waited for me”. Which only leads to more questions. India’s suicide is proving to be a complex mystery!

Overall, there are themes where I think the author has taken huge risks. Yet it’s modern, edgy and unique. I can see the huge appeal to the younger generation of readers and those who long to see a wide-ranging demographic in the characterisation. I congratulate the author on being daring to take those risks with her debut novel. She has created a methodically, fresh and inclusive mystery! 4*

Lucy Hay author photo
LV Hay
Author bio:

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, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

Twitter: @LucyVHayAuthor