Anne Bonny #BookReview Ever This Day by @scribblemum Helen Moorhouse #Ireland #HistoricalFiction #Psychological #Thriller #Mystery @PoolbegBooks ‘Beautiful writing and Irish historical fiction at its finest. 5* genius’

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Ever This Day by Helen Moorhouse
My own copy via Kindle TBR mountain
Synopsis:

Little Frances slams the doors, and runs around the upstairs floors.
She’ll steal your pen or touch your hair, when you’re sure there’s no one there.
The nuns are meant to keep her safe, but she gets out of her own grave.
So pull your covers over your head, Little Frances isn’t dead …

On a bright spring day in London, Ria Driver sees a face she never thought she’d see again. Coincidence? Or her past coming back to haunt her? Suddenly, Ria is plunged back almost thirty years, to the time she spent as Supervisor at the Convent of Maria Goretti, a rural Irish boarding school. And although she has tried her best to forget, the memories come flooding back. Cold, darkness, isolation, loss … fear. Fear of the sadistic Mother Benedicta and her cruel punishments. And fear of the noises … the humming, the footsteps, the knocking …What was the cause of the sounds from the attic? And who was the child who should not have been there?

As events unfold, Ria realises that she can leave the past behind no longer, that her story needs an ending. And to find it, she must go back to where she swore she’d never go again.

My Review:

This novel is a cross-over of several genre’s. It has elements of historical fiction with the setting of 1942/1980s Ireland. It has a huge mystery surrounding the convent and discovered remains. It also has a real horror-creepy feel to it. I tried reading it alone at night by the light of my kindle and was seriously freaking out! The writing is stunning, despite the tough themes the author has challenged.
Envy, fear and rage this novel has it all!

What are the fabulous people at Poolbeg Books feeding their authors? This is the second novel I have reviewed this year under this publisher and both have been clear 5* Genius and added to my favourites of the year so far!

The novel opens in Ballykeeran August 1942, with a child seeking her sister Frances who is hiding. The child returns home alone. What seems quite simple, will soon become sinister as the book develops its various threads.

London 2015, Ria is a divorced, single teacher in her 50s. She has a daughter Emma now grown and flown the nest and a set of lovely friends. After a chance encounter on a London street and a related current news story, leaves Ria rattled. She begins to confide in best friend Jess and so her story begins. . .

‘That day that started the end of the story’

In 1987 Dublin, a young Ria dreams of a new life in Boston, America. But she is not within the means to afford the ticket. Jobs are hard to come by in 1980s Ireland when she spots an ad for a live-in teacher/guardian at a convent. Sitting in her bed-sit in Rathmines orphaned and penniless. The job at St Theresa’s all girls secondary school beckons. Ria is a newly qualified teacher and desperate for both money and a chance to prove herself. She considers it ‘step one of the plan’.

When she arrives at the convent, Ria is struck by the peaceful countryside and old building. She is greeted by Sister Ruth and taken to meet the mother superior Mother Benedicta. Ria is shown to her cell-like room, with a crucifix hanging above the bed and she instantly begins to regret her decision. With lights, out at 10pm and nowhere else to go. Ria will have to swallow her pride and make it work at the convent.

During her meeting with Mother Benedicta she is informed of her duties and hours. Her day will begin at 7:30am and end at 10:30pm. It is a long day packed full of order, discipline, physical activity and most of all silence. . .

‘When the mouth is closed, the mind and the heart are open to Jesus’ –
Mother Benedicta

She is given a duties pamphlet and reminded that idleness is unacceptable in both herself and the girls she will chaperone.
‘We strive for purity’ – Mother Benedicta

The novel also has the point of view of Lydia. One of the young boarding students at the convent. She describes the prison-like conditions herself. Electronic devices such as a walk-man are banned, and life is dull. Lydia only has 9 months left, until she reaches the end of her last year. Through Lydia we learn that the convent used to house younger girls in what they call the ‘baby dorm’ which is now sealed off. Strange noises are often heard to come from the room.
It is through this haunting, that a friendship will form between Lydia and Ria.

In the convent, day students and boarders are purposely separated. There are 64 boarders when Ria arrives. Teachers and nuns do not mix and with 7/8 teaching nuns, it becomes a lonely existence for Ria. When her romance with boyfriend Leonard dissolves into nothing, Ria is left more alone and deserted than ever before. When the autumn approaches, strange things begin to happen, and Ria becomes terrified of the convent in which she lives.

‘There was so much bad stuff to come – I just didn’t know it’ – Ria

With the flashbacks to 1942, we learn about the missing young girls Frances. How her mother and father are heartbroken, and the mother turns on the remaining daughter. Branded the ‘devil’s child’ the remaining sister suffers severe emotional and mental abuse and anguish.

We learn Lydia’s backstory and how she came to be living at the convent. Her familial history is similar to Ria’s and you can see how the two could form a strong bond.

Ria meets Mr Flynn (Matthew) who is hired every year to create a musical performance. The performance offers a much-needed distraction to Ria and Lydia.
The introduction of Matthew also brings Ria a friend.

When Lydia is caught with a walk-man we see the voracious pent-up rage inside of Mother Benedicta. She is a formidable woman and has every on the edge,
petrified of her temper.

“The devil is a hard worker” – Mother Agnes

Ria fears being sacked from her position and financial ruin. Which will in-turn see her turn a blind eye to emotionally abusive practices. Until one day, something so bad happens Ria vows to leave and never return. . .

‘This place is poison – I have to get away from here’ – Ria

I can’t fully express how much I enjoyed this novel for fear of leaving spoilers. But it has so many various themes and really keeps you on your toes. You become absorbed by Ria’s story and hang onto every scene that she is in.

The various themes make this novel perfect for book groups. The danger of obedience to positions of power. The women oppressed by long-held traditional values. The extremist Catholic views that are blind to the pain and suffering they cause. Lydia’s coming of age as an orphan in unforgiving times. Are all fabulous talking points. I only wish the novel came with an added extra of reading group topics.

Beautiful writing and Irish historical fiction at its finest.
5* genius

HM
Helen Moorhouse
Website
Twitter
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Ever This Day is available via Kindle Unlimited

Currently on the TBR pile:
smts
Sing Me To Sleep by Helen Moorhouse
Also available via Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis:

Some love is neverending. First love. A mother’s love for her child. This, Jenny Mycroft learns when she finds herself unable to leave her husband, Ed and her daughter Bee, despite the fact she has died in a tragic car accident.

But no matter how strong, how enduring, her love, Jenny learns that life goes on and that for the living there is still time for new love, for fresh heartbreak.

Through a series of snapshots spanning over 30 years, Sing Me To Sleep looks at the lives of three women who love, and are loved, by one man. Through heartbreak, joy and hope to the eventual dramatic events that bring all three women together.

Sing Me To Sleep is the story of how we are driven by love, even after death. A tale of what might have been, what should have been, and what was.

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Power Of The Dog by @donwinslow #AmericanNoir #CrimeFiction #Mexico #Cartels #DEA “A fantastic insight into the real ‘war on drugs’”

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The Power Of The Dog by Don Winslow
My Own copy from TBR mountain
Synopsis:

Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug federación, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his pursuit of the cartel veers dangerously towards an obsession outside the law. This is a world characterised by its brutality, yet all Winslow’s incredibly varied cast – including a high class prostitute, an Irish hitman and a charismatic Catholic priest – are all in their own ways searching for salvation.

My Review:

I don’t quite know where to begin with this review. The novel is so in-depth and detailed about the cartel lifestyle and Mexican/American political systems that enabled it. It that it is incredibly hard to breakdown. The characterisation is brilliant, the author slowly builds the characters up as the plot unravels. You are left under no illusion what an immensely tough job it must be to enforce DEA law and attempt to stop the cartel’s flow of drugs. Not only are the police facing a criminal network that spans the globe and is savage and violent in its approach. But they also face dirty cops, bribed officials and people who would put themselves above the good of the country and its citizens.

‘A lot of money goes into bribes.
silver or lead’

The prologue opens in El Sauzal, Mexico 1997. Art Keller our protagonist and US operative is at the scene of a violent and bloody murder. 19 bodies lay slain, including a mother and baby. The death toll is 10 men, 3 women and 6 children. The victims were lined up against the patio wall and shot, execution style. Some of the family members show signs of torture, leading the cops to believe this is gang/cartel related. One lone victim remains, who was forced to watch the violence take place.

The novel goes on to describe the various methods of torture for crime committed. For example, traitors are shot in the back of the head and informers in the mouth. Life is the cartel is far from easy.

‘El poder del perro’ – The power of the dog

From the start the novel has a violent and explosive opening. However, the novel does go on to detail various areas of Mexico, who is affected by the cartel trade which includes the poor and just trying to get by citizens. But it also covers the policing, how a multidisciplinary team approach is desperately needed. But no one trust each other.

Art Keller is new to Mexico at the opening of the novel, but the end he is accustomed to the harsh way of life/death the cartels live by. At the beginning he is suffering flashbacks from his tour in Vietnam.
I wondered myself, which would be worse war? Or the war on drugs?

The DEA has been in operation 2yrs and Nixon has recently declared his ‘war on drugs’ stance. This is as the same time Art find himself recruited from the CIA to the DEA. Art is an experienced soldier, but I believe at the beginning he was naïve at just how integrated the cartel structure is into everyday life. His boss Tim Taylor hates him, and he is isolated and alone in and new to Mexico. This is when he first meets Adan Barrera. . .

‘Years later, Art would have given anything in the world to have just killed Adan Barrera on the spot’

‘A partnership made in hell’ – Art Keller & Tio Barrera

There are a wealth of characters from Father Juan to Nora Hayden, it would be impossible for me to break down all the details of who fits into the plot and where, just know that each individual mentioned is relevant and they all play a part no matter how big or small in the formation of a divide.
Which will sit Art on one side of the fence and the cartel on another.

Art is also dealing with his own new marriage and personal problems. He is a complex character and there is so much more to Art than first meets the eye.

‘The only redemption for having a bad father is being a good one’

Art has adapted the motto YOYO aka you’re on your own. A motto that when dealing with the cartel will serve him well, as you never know who you can trust.

When Art’s colleague Ernie Hidalgo goes missing, all hell breaks loose the DEA will stop at nothing to return one of their own.

“If I have to. . . I’ll start a fucking war” – Art Keller

Adan Barrera’s character also evolves. He is quite the strategist and manages to ensure he is top-dog of the cartel empire. But how long can that last for?
And how quickly can you be taken down or killed?

Adan also has a daughter that suffers a rare genetic condition. He personally feels responsible for this and it causes a huge rift in his marriage. With both him and his wife, ready to accept full responsibility for the condition.

‘Neither god nor science can help his daughter’

The novel goes on to explain Adan’s rise within the organised infrastructure of the cartel drug trade.

‘Adan Barrera has reinvented the drug business’

The cartels are comfortable with the situation of buying the very police sent to stop them, they see it as a franchise, a business expense.

‘Just look the other way, be someplace else, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and the monthly payment will be there in full and on time’

The cartel trade runs into profits of $8million a WEEK, yes that is a WEEK!!!!!! It is easy to see that every man, woman or child just has a price tag attached. Except one man, Art Keller can not be bought and will not be put on the pay roll.
It just might be his downfall and he knows it. . .

‘He’s only sure that either he will kill Adan or Adan will kill him, and those are the only two ways this thing can end’ – Art Keller

This novel has a deeply layered plot, that covers politics, corruption, flow of drugs, cartel wars, deception and violence. The last 20% is very intense and sets the scene perfectly for the next novel in the series The Cartel. Which I already have sat on my tbr pile.
A fantastic insight into the real ‘war on drugs’.

DW
Don Winslow
Website
Twitter

Currently Reading – 35% in:
The Force
The Force by Don Winslow
Synopsis:

Everyone can be bought. At the right price…

Detective Sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the FBI. He must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

***Although I am reading this via kindle, I urge you to sample the audiobook. The narration is fantastic. In fact, so fantastic I actually own it in both kindle & audio.***