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
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Ever This Day is available via Kindle Unlimited

Currently on the TBR pile:
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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 One Click by @office_mum Andrea Mara 5* Genius #Psychological #Thriller #SocialMedia #NewRelease @PoolbegBooks ‘I found the characters really got into my head, much like the trolling got into Lauren’s’

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One Click by Andrea Mara
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, she has no idea what will come of that single click.

Her daughters are surprised that she posted a photo without consent, but it’s only when she starts to get anonymous messages about the woman on the beach that she deletes the photo. It’s too little too late, and the messages escalate, prompting Lauren to confess to the woman. The woman has her own dark story, one that might explain the messages, but Lauren isn’t convinced. Then her ex-husband begins to harass her, telling her she shares too much online and brought this on herself.

She’s also dealing with other problems. A difficult client at work starts to show up in places he shouldn’t be. Her younger daughter is behaving out of character and Lauren can’t work out what’s wrong. And the cracks are literally beginning to show in her old South Dublin house, mirroring the cracks in her carefully curated life.

Meanwhile, the messages from the internet troll become more personal and more vindictive. Her friends feel she should stand up to her stalker, but Lauren isn’t so sure. And then she makes one small mistake that brings everything tumbling down.

My Review:

‘If I’d known what would happen to all of us, I would never have taken the picture’
‘One small motion. Just one click’ – Lauren

The novel opens in Venice, Italy with Lauren on holiday with teen daughters Rebecca and Ava. Lauren is over-coming the recent separation from her husband and end of her marriage. She notices a young woman, who appears so ‘care-free’. The young woman is in her 20s and Lauren instantly feels slightly envious of the young woman’s future. She takes a quick and innocent snap for her Instagram, titled #HowISpentMyTwenties. Which she shares to her social media accounts. Gathering Lauren immediate attention, likes, shares and comments.

However, it is only when Lauren begins receiving abusive messages that she realises her error. The messages from @vin_HO_rus are at first blocked, but her troll is persistent in his/her continual attacks on Lauren. The person wants information regarding the mysterious woman in the picture. Information Lauren can’t/won’t share.

Later on, Lauren meets with the stranger in the photo, Cleo Holloway. She also lives in Ireland, although she is American by birth. Lauren confesses all to Cleo and apologises profusely. Cleo is nonchalant about the whole situation. Telling Lauren to simply ignore the troll. The continue their brief chat and do exchange numbers. But both agree to not let the troll spoil the remainder of their holiday.

‘I’m half hoping it’s over and I’ll never see Cleo again’ – Lauren

Lauren returns to Ireland and the troll messages continue. The troll becomes more and more personal in his/her approach and Lauren begins to fear for her safety and that of her two teen daughters. This leads Lauren to make a call to Cleo. . . .

Upon speaking to Cleo, we the reader learn her backstory! It is mind-blowing. We learn why she is in Ireland. Why she lives a sheltered existence and why the troll may be targeting her personally. When I read this part of the novel it was one, of them huge twist moments. Where you think to yourself ‘Oh no you didn’t!’. The author has cleverly weaved in a backstory and narrative that I never saw coming and one that firmly glued me to the pages!

Aside from the usual social media drama, Lauren is also still dealing from the fall-out with her ex-husband Dave and her teens who are moody and obviously blame their mother. I felt quite sorry for Lauren. But she is a strong and feisty woman. She is a counselling psychologist by profession and used to dealing with some suspect behaviour in her clients. Especially a recent client named Jonathan, who borders on the obsessive with Lauren and enjoys the power it grants over her. Despite all of this, Lauren attempts to but a brave face on and deal with her present circumstances.

‘The Tweets mean nothing unless I give them power – I just need to keep ignoring’ – Lauren
The whole psychological/thriller situation is ramped up, page after page. Lauren, Cleo and Jonathan all make for fantastic reading. I was absolutely hooked! I read this novel in one sitting. I found the characters really got into my head, much like the trolling got into Lauren’s.

‘He doesn’t need to break into my house, I let him in through my phone’ – Lauren

My initial thoughts may have been ‘not another social media thriller’. But this is so much more than that. It is cleverly plotted, to perfection and I was absolutely gripped by the storyline.
At the bottom of my notes it reads, Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant!
5* genius

AM
Andrea Mara
Website
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*I am also super excited as I have Andrea’s debut novel sat on my kindle tbr pile, waiting to be devoured. Here it is*
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The other Side Of The Wall by Andrea Mara
Synopsis:

When Sylvia looks out her bedroom window at night and sees a child face down in the pond next door, she races into her neighbour’s garden. But the pond is empty, and no-one is answering the door.

Wondering if night feeds and sleep deprivation are getting to her, she hurriedly retreats. Besides, the fact that a local child has gone missing must be preying on her mind. Then, a week later, she hears the sound of a man crying through her bedroom wall.

The man living next door, Sam, has recently moved in. His wife and children are away for the summer and he joins them at weekends. Sylvia finds him friendly and helpful, yet she becomes increasingly uneasy about him.

Then Sylvia’s little daughter wakes one night, screaming that there’s a man in her room. This is followed by a series of bizarre disturbances in the house.

Sylvia’s husband insists it’s all in her mind, but she is certain it’s not – there’s something very wrong on the other side of the wall.