The House on the Lake by Nuala Ellwood / Blog Tour

The House on the Lake by Nuala Ellwood

 

Publisher: Penguin 45992911

Publishing Date: 20th February 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Psychological Thriller, Suspense

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

**THE THIRD NAIL-BITING THRILLER FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF MY SISTER’S BONES AND DAY OF THE ACCIDENT**

No matter how far you run . . .
He’s never far behind

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.

What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

my-review 

 

Lisa has just left her husband, taking their 3 years old son with her. She doesn’t have a plan, she only knows that she has to go to Rowan Isle House, somewhere in Yorkshire, because her friend promised her it is to be the safest place in the world. Only after her arrival, Lisa realises that it’s a dilapidated, lonely old house at the lake, with no running water, no heating, not really fit to live in. But she doesn’t have another choice – she needs a safe place, no matter how it looks like.
Going back in time, the plot introduces us to a young girl, living in the same house with her father. She knows him as “Sarge” – he’s a soldier, a veteran of the Gulf War and, as it quickly becomes obvious to the reader, suffering from PTSD. He’s training his daughter to be a soldier, teaching her to hunt, kill and survive off the land, but also controlling every single aspect of her life. They both keep themselves to themselves, living an isolated life.

The characters are really well written, all so damaged and troubled, full of flaws and problems but, as we already know it, it only adds to their personalities, making them more human and realistic. Though I personally couldn’t relate to any of them, at any level, which of course made the reading this little bit more difficult, but overall I truly appreciate how well the author has created them, giving them distinctive voices. The story of the young girl, who we at first know as “Soldier”, is truly heart – breaking. Her father’s training methods are quite shocking, and it annoyed me immensely how much he controlled her, how he abused her, pressing his advantage at every opportunity, making her insecure and dependent of his moods. But Lisa’s background was, actually, not different to this of Grace – she was living a life, being controlled by her husband who has also undermined her at every single moment. I think I simply hated to see how abusive the men were towards women in this book, that it was again a case of the overwhelming feeling of being in control and undermining women from the young age. Sure, they were fighting back but well, did it turn out well for them?
Lisa was a complicated character and I wasn’t really sure how to figure her out. She wanted to be free from her husband, and yes, she run away, which is in fact already a huge step, but then nothing happens, she didn’t have a plan, she simply run in circles, acting without consideration. What bothered me also was the fact she wanted to stay unnoticed but behaved in such an odd way anytime she was around people, so really, it was a bit unbelievable. And the character of Isobel added more confusion than explanation, if you ask me. It was as if she was added to the story because she simply fitted the plot.

The story switches between the two narrations with ease and without confusion. I was all the time wondering how the two stories will eventually connect, and of course my head was full of possible scenarios, however I didn’t guess everything, no, scrap this, I guessed almost nothing. It’s a rather slow burner, it’s for sure not an action driven book, it mostly focuses on characters’, but the setting the scene and getting to know the characters’ was well done. The Rowan Isle House is a character on its own, full of darkness and hiding so many secrets, and the setting in the remote Yorkshire Dales couldn’t be better chosen, adding so much atmosphere and a sense of isolation to the story.

The book started really well, and the creepy atmosphere of uncertainty and danger was brilliantly captured. However, the closer to the end we found ourselves, the more impact it was losing. For a huge part it was a gripping and full of tension read, with the tension slowly dissolving towards the end. And you know the feeling, when you ends reading a book, so fully satisfied, as if you’ve done something special? Well, I didn’t have this feeling here, sadly.

It was twisty and dark story full of secrets, menacing, and for sure not everything there is as it may seem. It’s about abuse, control and manipulation. It’s not a comfortable read, and not an easy one but I haven’t expected it to be different – the author has already proven that she’s not afraid to dig deeper into our darker sides and touch upon hard issues. But having read Nuala Ellwood’s previous books, maybe I was expecting too much, as somehow I couldn’t quite engage with this story, couldn’t get into it. I think there were simply too many moments that required benefit of the doubt, there were too far – fetched. The characters’ actions also left much to be desired in matters of credibility and well, it was not my favourite read by this author, however, as it seems, it appeals to many other readers, which is a great thing.

 

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The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver / Blog Tour

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

 

Publisher: Penguin 42289360._sy475_/ Viking

Publishing Date: 30th January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover (out on 03.03.2020) | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Two Lives. Two Loves. One Impossible Choice.

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.

But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob ’til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.

But then something inexplicable happens, which gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened. But what if there’s someone in in her new life who wants her to stay?

A heart-breaking, uplifting story for fans of PS I Love You and Jojo Moyes, this gorgeously romantic novel will make you laugh, cry and remind you of what a wonderful gift it is to love and to be loved.

Rating: five-stars

 

Lydia and Freddie have been together for ever – since they were really young. Now, they are happily engaged and planning their future together. But then fate intervenes and, on his way to Lydia’s birthday dinner, Freddie dies in a car accident. Lydia is devastated. This is actually an understatement. she can’t live, she can’t breathe, she can’t sleep without Freddie. She is unable to handle a day in life, and everything that it includes: eating, washing, going to work. When she’s finally given sleeping pills, she finally sleeps, but she also awakes – in a dream that is too vivid, is lifelike – next to Freddie. She soon realises that the pills help her to be with Freddie again, and so she starts to live two lives – her real one and her dream world. But will it be helpful? Will this bring Lydia back to life, help her rebuild it? Is it at all possible, without consequences, to lead such a double life, with one foot in and one foot out of the real world? 

Lydia’s character was exceptionally well written. There was so much depth to her, and you could feel all the emotions that were accompanying her days. Her pain and despair at losing the love of her life were literally heart – breaking, you had a feeling that you are simply next to her and experience the same things. She was complex, believable and genuine in her feelings, and was also full of flaws but that always makes a character even more likeable and relatable.                                                                                              She’s also a character that develops throughout the story and it was truly uplifting to observe her taking control of her life again, especially after seeing what she has to experience to come to this point in her life. She wanted to hide away so much and I was so thankful for her to have her brilliant mum,  sister Elle and friend Jonah who never gave up on her, who tried to show her that maybe, somewhere, there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel? I kept everything crossed for Lydia. I could easily understand her and her decisions, even if they were so hard to grasp, especially by her closest ones. I loved how strong in the end the author has made her, guiding her through the process of grief, slowly picking up the pieces of her life and forging a new path.                                The relationships in this story are also brilliant written, no matter if the author writes about love between Lydia and Freddie, or familial relationships with Lydia’s mother and her sister, or normal friendships. They all felt real, realistic and so truly human.  

The author has already proven with her debut novel, and she shows it again, that she has a way with words, writing about feelings and grief in such a sensitive and understanding way. She explores love in a way that not everybody can, in an almost lyrical but not too overdone move, and she won’t let you have a dry eye at the end. But don’t worry if you think this book is sadness pure, no, it’s not, there are bags of humour and Ms Silver’s words are light and chatty. The pace was absolutely right, showing without rush, but also without slow moments, how grief can impact a person, in both short and long term.

Yes, I think you can feel cynical, what with the whole magical element but while sometimes it really doesn’t work in a book, this time the author has created a perfectly believable alternative for Lydia. It felt… I don’t know, real? Yes, somehow real. Not too pushed, not too forced, not too far – fetched, simply being there and making me believe.

So, “The Two Lives of Lydia Bird” is about having to come to terms after your world has fallen apart and the fact how important unconditional support is, no matter wherever it comes from. I was completely immersed in Lydia’s grief and her idea of true love – it was beautiful. I fell for her immediately, it was impossible not to. It’s a beautiful, sensitive, heart breaking and at the same time uplifting novel. It’s a powerful and thought – provoking read and the dreaded second book proved itself to be as great as the first one (if not this little bit better!). It’s an emotional and moving that’s going to steal your heart, break it, mend it and break it over and over again, but in the end it’s going to give you hope and this overwhelming feeling that everything will be okay. Hugely recommended!

 

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Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks / Blog Tour

Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks

 

Publisher: Penguin 44600961

Publishing Date: 6th February 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

THE STUNNING DEBUT WITH A DIFFERENCE. Perfect for fans of One Day and The Rosie Project

Emily just wants to keep the world away.
She doesn’t want anyone to know all the ways her life is messed up.
Going to anger management every Saturday, talking to strangers, was not part of the plan.

Jake just wants to keep his family together.
He’s also messed everything up.
Going to anger management is now his best hope for bonding with his six-year-old Alfie.

Emily can’t understand why Jake – who seems to have it all – is even there.
Jake can’t understand why Alfie – who never likes strangers – lights up around spikey Emily.

Everything they think about each other is about to change.
But can they change how they feel about themselves?

Rating: five-stars

 

Jake and Emily meet at anger management, though any of them needs it, right? For Jake it is either this or his marriage, and for Emily either this or prison. But still, neither of them feel like they belong there. Jake is a stay at home dad, struggling to come to terms with his son Alfie who simply doesn’t behave like he should behave. Emily, shaven headed and sharp like a razor, tries to come to terms with her broken relationship.
A very unusual friendship between Emily and Alfie starts – they immediately connect and they both bring out the best of each other, even though Alfie actually doesn’t form any other connections with people.

I actually am not sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book, but for sure not this what I’ve got – and I mean it in a very positive way. There was so much depth to this read, it was thought – provoking and very clever, full of sharp observations, realistic but also very, very readable and, both the plot and the characters, have captured my heart.

Alfie’s character was so exceptionally well written, and for this only the book already deserves 5 shining stars. The author has not only brilliantly captured all his quirks, challenges and things that have made him so special but also managed to give him a voice that could in reality really belong to a 6 – years – old boy. I loved Alfie and my heart went to him – however, I could also put myself in Jake’s shoes, and his troubles, dilemmas and feelings were absolutely realistic. I could feel his anger, disorientation, hope and desperation as well as if they were my own.
I adored to see how Alfie blossomed around Emily, how well he has bonded with her and how good she was around him, much better than his own mother. I must admit, at the beginning Jemma and Jake really annoyed me, I wanted them to simply sit down and talk to and with each other, to open up and show their real feelings to each other, but then I was absolutely team Jake. You could not help but fell for Alfie but also to understand Jake’s frustrations, how much he tried to understand Alfie and his needs and how unhappy failing to recognise them have made him. How he loved his son but how he also made him feel so frustrated was heart – breaking.
And Emily was a great characters, there was so much depth to her – outside like a cactus, with spiky exterior and full of thorns and stingy but inside she was vulnerable, loving and sensitive.

Rachel Marks has a great way with words and she can brilliantly and eloquently capture all kinds of emotions, and the way she has written Alfie, with so much understanding and sensitivity, was a highlight of this novel. We know that Alfie’s character is based on Ms Marks’ son, and it shines through the pages that she knows what she’s writing about, that she’s experienced this all by herself but it’s still a sign of a great talent to draw a character so well, to get into their heads so much and write such distinctive and strong perspective. You can really see that Rachel Marks writes with her heart on her sleeve, bringing the situations and characters to life.

I liked how the author placed the romantic elements in the background, focusing on different things – basically the three characters’ lives, their history and troubles with coming to terms with what was happening in their lives. Alfie’s parts of the story, told from his own perspective, were like a breath of fresh air, so different but adding so much depth and giving you a different view, sometimes frustrating, sometimes surprising but always refreshing and heart – wrenching, especially when you were putting yourself in Alfie’s situation, a young boy who couldn’t understand why other people don’t understand him.

“Saturdays at Noon” was sad and uplifting at the same time and with unforgettable characters that were full of flaws but all the same relatable and real. It showed how differently people can perceive the same situation, the same event, the same world. It’s a read that will make you smile and cry, feel frustrated, angry and also full of hope. It is full of hidden messages, how we shouldn’t judge people, their choices and behaviour because we don’t know what’s really hidden in them and their heads, important and vital messages making it thought – provoking and making you wonder all the time, so really, the best kind of read. It’s realistically written and it’s filled with warm humour, a compelling, touching, compassionate and captivating debut novel about parenthood, with all its ups and downs, families and unusual friendship. Hugely recommended!

 

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All the Rage by Cara Hunter / Blog Tour

All the Rage by Cara Hunter

 

Publisher: Penguin 43518959._sy475_

Publishing Date: 23rd January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Series: DI Adam Fawley #4.

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . .

Rating:   four-stars

 

Faith has been found by a taxi driver, wandering around after, as it turns out, being abducted, with signs on her wrists indicating they were tied with a cable. She has managed to escape and now, terrified, tries to get home. The driver takes her home and contacts the police, even though Faith says she doesn’t want to press charges. Her mother is backing her on this decision. Why doesn’t she want to speak with the police? They are baffled, and DI Adam Fawley and his team are truly disturbed. They know they have to act carefully but what if the next victim is not as lucky? Because it’s not this kind of crime that doesn’t repeat itself, and they are right. The investigation takes Adam twenty years prior, when he helped to ensure the conviction of Gaving Parry, known as The Roadside Rapist, who has been claiming his innocence ever since he’s been sentenced. Adam is certain that Parry is guilty but uncertainties arise – either Parry is a victim or they have a copycat. What is happening?

Even though I’ve previously only read the book three in the series, it was a great feeling to be back with Adam and his team in Oxford, with old and new mates. It’s a great group, hardworking, highly motivated and not giving up easily, and I really liked their team – spirit.

The book is mainly told through DI Fawley and his team points of view, but what is more, each of them has also their own troubles and problems, loads to bear but it only made the narration feel more down to earth, more human and real. Also, the characters were like living and breathing people that you’ve met in real life – or at least they felt like this. They’re not all likeable but them being so full of flaws makes them feel like normal people. The author has got into their heads, into their minds and brilliantly captured all the personalities.
This narration is jazzed up with the inclusion of social media, newspaper articles, court and interview transcripts, and the variety is great and makes the reading even more interesting and realistic.

And again the author has managed to pull wool over my eyes, dragging me this way and then another, making me think that I’ve got everything solved and then hitting me around the head with a brick and pointing in another direction. It is really a twisty read full of turns and when you think you have something sorted out, you are taken for a different route on another thrilling roller – coaster ride.

It was a great, fast – paced read. Yes, I had some problems at the beginning to get into it, the many characters and the many things that happened, the quickly changing scenes made me feel rather confused, and the sections seemed, I don’t know, disjointed, and it really didn’t make the reading easier. But I still enjoyed the many twists and turns that I – of course, of course, me and my detective skills – haven’t seen coming. It was an intense and thrilling crime, twisted and full of red herrings, with shocking revelations that kept me on my tenterhooks. Hugely recommended!

 

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One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

 

Publisher: Penguin 43201773._sy475_

Publishing Date: 17th October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

On a winter morning she lost a piece of her heart. Can she find it?

Evangeline isn’t feeling festive this December.

The frost and fairy lights only remind her it’s been a year since she lost the mother who took her in as a baby and raised her.

She’s never felt more alone – until she discovers her birth mother’s identity. And where to find her.

A lifetime and thousands of miles have separated Evangeline and Bonnie. Now, travelling to New Zealand could be Evangeline’s chance to confront the woman who gave her up.

But is she ready for what she’ll find there?

The answers she’s been looking for, a new family to heal her . . . Or someone she could never have expected?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Genie isn’t feeling festive this year. She doesn’t feel great at all in fact. It’s almost a year after her adoptive mum died in an accident Genie is blaming herself for. Encouraged by her adoptive dad to meet her birth mother Bonnie, hoping it will give her some answers and lessen the guilt and reconnect her with the world, Genie dares to start the journey around the world to New Zealand, where Bonnie lives. It could be a chance to confront the woman who gave her up but on the arrival Genie discovers that not only Bonnie embarked on a journey to England to probably find Genien but also meets Tui, a girl who’s going to change her whole world. Is she ready for what she’s going to discover?

I am so, so happy that this book has read like Isabelle’s debut novel, it was really close to perfection this time – there was this really hard to capture, and also to describe, feeling that you have in your heart and belly when reading, a feeling that makes the book a brilliant experience and I’m so glad to report to you that “One Winter Morning” is such a book. Isabelle Broom’s first novel was great and I loved it, then I had some problems with her next books and it made me feel desperately sad because I knew that she can write such great stories, and now she’s back with this newest release and I can’t stop praising it.

The author has so wonderfully and skilfully captured the whole range of emotions here – the book was oozing in them but it doesn’t mean that it felt too emotional, no, there was the right amount of them, to make it poignant without making it too sugary. There was love, loss, grief, friendship and hope, combined with challenges that we have to face every day. It was truly a magnificent read that easily transported me into the characters’ world.

The characters felt like living and breathing people, and of course I loved Genie immediately, what with her love of horses. Actually, I warmed to all of them quickly, right after getting to know them. But Genie was a great leading character, full of flaws as well but it made her even more realistic in my eyes, and her struggle to move forward was genuine. I adored being with her on this journey where she learns how to process her grief and learns how to trust in other people, that she’s not alone.
The chapters told from Genie’s point of view are intertwined with those told by Bonnie, which added a bit of mystery and kept me glued to the pages as I wanted to know what has really happened, and while it was not so hugely dramatic, just a normal story that could happen anytime and anywhere, Isabelle Broom managed to keep it intriguing enough, revealing something about Bonnie’s past and then switching the narration back to Genie, leaving me wanting more. Eventually, the two stories merge into one, and the ending made me feel really satisfied, I couldn’t wish for a better one.
Genie’s developing friendship with Kit and Tui were absolutely realistic and genuine, and those two were also adorable characters, I really liked what the author did with Tui’s character, loved her cheerfulness, openness and “jeez”.

Isabelle Broom is already known for the settings she chooses for her books, and this time she didn’t disappoint, taking us on a journey to New Zealand. Without making the book feel like a tourist guide, there were enough vivid, colourful descriptions of the places and beautiful scenery. It felt a bit different, to spent Christmas there where it’s actually summer, but it was a change.

“One Winter Morning” brilliantly touches upon the complicated and complex family relationships and dynamics even if the plot is simple and realistic – the thing the author has chosen to write about is probably happening right now, somewhere in the world. She managed to make it realistic, with a special touch of romance and humour. It was a lovely journey of new beginnings and finding yourself, heart – warming and charming that I highly recommend!

The Ex – Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty / Blog Tour

The Ex – Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty

 

Publisher: Penguin 43805738._sy475_

Publishing Date: 31st October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

SHE WANTS HIM BACK. SHE WANTS YOU GONE.

Luke is the one. After everything she’s been through, Georgia knows she deserves someone like him, to make her feel loved. Safe.

The only problem is his ex-girlfriend. Luke says Cadence is having trouble accepting their break-up, but Georgia thinks there’s more to the story. She has the feeling someone is watching her.

So when everything starts to go wrong at work, at home, in her old friendships and her happy new relationship with Luke, Georgia starts to feel afraid.

It’s becoming clear Cadence wants what she has. But how far will she go to get it?

Rating: four-stars

 

When Georgia meets Luke in a bar, after being stood up by her Tinder date, she is immediately attracted to him. He’s charming, handsome, funny and caring. she feels he is “The One” and she won’t let his stalking, psycho ex to spoil this new relationship. Or will she? The problem may be bigger than she thinks, as Luke and Cadence are still sharing one flat. Moreover, Cadence starts stalking Georgia, leaving aggressive notes on her car, sending her messages. She feels like she’s being followed. So Luke, on the premise that it’s going to soothe the situation with his ex, moves together with Georgia. Except it doesn’t happen, and things just seem to be getting worse.

It is really hard to review “The Ex – Girlfriend” without giving anything away and so I must be careful in what I’m saying. The characters were incredibly engaging and I quickly found myself immersed in their lives, keeping my fingers crossed or wanting to shake them. There came a moment when I really wasn’t sure whom can I trust. I had my own suspicions but nevertheless, the author has played great mind – games with me and I couldn’t be sure anything. However, and I’m not sure if it was done on purpose, then came the first great hint and I was sure I KNOW – the thing I only didn’t know was – why.
There were moments that Georgia didn’t feel like Georgia and it surprised me, as I thought that I already know her as a balanced, believable character – however, when I found out there was a reason why she was like this, the puzzles finally found their right places. Nevertheless, she was incredibly down to earth and real, our Georgia, she only wanted a relationship, a normal relationship, and you can’t help but simply fell for her and her wish, and when she meets Luke you want them to succeed, because everything seems so perfect.
I was truly thankful for Cadence’s point of view. It often happens that we are given only one side of the story but this time the author has thought about everything, giving her perspective. Ms Moriarty has brilliantly demonstrated how easy it is to be manipulated, especially when – just like those two women – you trust unconditionally. However, she also gave her characters strong spines and it was a great rollercoaster journey, seeing them realising what’s happening.

As much as I liked the heart – felt subplot of Georgia’s favourite patient, I think this book could easily do without it. Also, even though the story was fast – paced, there were moments that it slowed down, especially when the author introduced us to the whole stalking – issue, and I urged the book to speed up, to shake things up, to take action eventually. There was much talking of doing things but not much happened really.

“The Ex – Girlfriend” was a fast – paced, twisted story that had me glued to the pages and I’ve read it over a weekend. Yes, the plot could feel a bit predictable but there were still questions that needed to be answered and it was done in an engaging, complex way. There was the feeling throughout the story that something is going to happen but you’re not sure what and when. It was a tense and captivating tale about love and revenge, yet it was easy to read, even though the author touches upon heavier issues, such as stalking, mental illness, depression, but presenting them with sensitivity and empathy. So far I’ve read three books by Nicola Moriarty and I think this is her best yet – truly recommended!

 

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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane / Blog Tour

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

 

Publisher: Michael Joseph 44004179._sy475_

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

Rating:  four-stars

 

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope got to know each other through the New York City police academy and worked as partners later. Later, they move into neighbouring houses in the small town of Gillam and start their own families, Francis with Anna and Brian with Lena. While Gleesons have three daughters, the Stanhopes have only one son. There is only six months difference between Kate and Peter, and they immediately bond with each other, becoming true friends. A few years later however, and a tragedy occurs, changing the lives of everyone in both families and the Stanfords having to move away. Fast forward some years, Kate and Peter, now adults, are still trying to come to terms with what has happened, navigating through the years filled with pain and unfairness, nevertheless throwing themselves into what future brings. But the memories hunt them, and past becomes a millstone round their necks.

This book was for me a slow burner. It took me a long time to finally, eventually fully get into it (well, it spans over 40 years and revolves around only two families), to get what the author wanted to tell us, to cotton on what the story is about – my bad, I admit, but then the story was unputdownable, taking an unexpected twist when something really tragic happens, shaping the lives of the characters, and not necessary in a positive way. It’s a novel that will leave you mentally drained and thinking about it all the time, even after you’ve finished reading it.

Each of the characters has its own, distinctive voice and the author lets them speak. They’re full of faults, they make mistakes, they’re not always likeable but they feel real and often I felt a pang of sympathy for them, even if I haven’t supported all their choices. They were through so many trials and tribulations that it was impossible not to fell for them, especially for Kate and Peter, although – and I loved how it made me feeling – one moment you’ll be feeling like you are betraying the other side by liking the other characters.

 It was a heart – wrenching  and mentally draining family – drama, for me very character driven. The author has done a brilliant job in describing her characters, though what blew me really away was how great her understanding of human nature is and how deep and realistic she writes about characters’ interactions. This story is full to brims with feelings and emotions, even if they’re not mentioned on every single page, but they’re there, dealt with care and sensitivity. And it’s in both, the characters and the plot, that there is tons of soul – baring honesty and reality, I couldn’t imagine the characters to behave differently. The author has an incredible way with words, and is a great storyteller. The relationships that she paints are true to life, even if masterfully crafted, her observations are spot on and she doesn’t shy away from writing about burning and difficult issues.

“Ask Again, Yes” is a complex, disturbing book with the feeling of something wrong going to happen at any moment, and you simply want to keep reading, can’t leave this fictional world. It deals not only with family bonds, but addiction, mental illness and the repercussions when it’s not treated.  However, deep inside this sadness and darkness, there is light and heart and hope, and it explores life and love and everyday life in a unique way. Unique, thought – provoking and clever – recommended!

 

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