Blood Sisters by Jane Corry / Blog Tour

Good morning! I am so, so THRILLED to start this Friday with a review of Jane Corry’s Blood Sister as a part of her new, epic blog tour. Having read Jane’s previous novel I couldn’t wait for her new release, and believe me, guys – this book is dark but not too dark, full of lies and secrets that are not too overwhelming – it is just a perfect book for one sitting. Why only one? Because when you start reading it, you won’t be able to put it down!

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

32874095Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 464

Genre:  Mystery/Psychological Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of the Sunday Times bestseller MY HUSBAND’S WIFE

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.
Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do…

 

Rating: five-stars

Having read and absolutely loved Jane Corry’s previous novel, My Husband’s Wife, I was incredibly excited to read her new release, Blood Sisters. This book has completely drawn me in – I actually read it on one Sunday, forgetting about the world going around and reality. It was full of surprises, and I love when a book is able to surprise me in a way Blood Sisters did, with its complex plot, the unreliable narrators that you weren’t sure if you should trust, and playing games with our minds.

The story is a slow burner, so be prepared that the first part may feel a little too long or as if there is almost nothing happening there – and I’ve already started to panic, guys, it made me feel so, so scared! However, with the second part the story gains incredible tempo, there are many twists and turns on the way and really you won’t be able to put the book down. When you think that everything is clear already, that we know all we should know, the author throws another surprise and everything changes.

The story was told in two alternating perspectives by the half – sisters Alison and Kitty, taking us on a journey to their past and present. Alison is an art teacher, Kitty is living in a home as she’s severely disabled, with a brain damage and she doesn’t remember what happened to bring her to this home in the first place. The connection between Alison and Kitty is quickly explained and throughout the story we start to learn more about the secrets that bond them together.

Alison is an artist and a teacher, and she applies for a job in an open prison for art classes for the inmates. Alison was relatively hard to “breach” and to warm into, to be honest, as she was so very introvert, but I also could understand her, especially as more and more facts about her were unravelled. It just seemed as if Alison was all the time holding back and keeping something for her. On the other hand, her half – sister Kitty was like and open book, not holding her thoughts back from us. It was incredible how deeply the author has managed to get into Kitty’s head. She has so brilliantly and realistically captured Kitty’s frustrations when she couldn’t express herself, when the only thing that came out of her mouth, instead of words, were sounds and babbles. However, and I really don’t know if this makes me a really bad person, I couldn’t help the feeling that Kitty deserved what’s happened to her. There, I said it. Sure, I sympathized with her, I pitied her but still I couldn’t help thinking that she was asking for what’s happened – and I think she will never change. But of course, Kitty’s story was also heart – breaking and it was exceptionally emotional to see how frustrated she was, fighting to grab hold of her flyaway memories, to communicate with the outside world. Jane Corry has so well described how the brain damage affected Kitty and her behaviour, but also how it affected the closes to her.

The author has written the characters in such a great way. There was a depth to them and even though they were not all likeable, you still want that everything will turn well for them. You also never know who to trust, as they were all telling so many lies to protect themselves – it may sound scaring but believe me, this complex web of lies was superbly created and it just sucks you in, and you are desperate to know what actually has happened.

This book was perfectly written, with realistic and diverse characters, with sharp dialogues and the plot was complex and intriguing, panning out in a way that was totally unpredictable. It was fast – paced (even with the beginning being on the slow side – I know it sounds weird but well, it is so), there was not a single flat moment, it kept me all the time on my tenterhooks. Blood Sisters was an incredible tale of sibling rivalry, misunderstandings, abuse, lies and secrets. Jane Corry has also included a lot of her experience from working in a prison, as you really have a feeling that she truly knows what she’s writing about, that she knows the prison and its secrets inside out. It was fascinating to see how it all works there.

I liked that the chapters were short and dynamic, and they often ended on the cliffhanger, and I had to resist, more than often, to turn the next few pages only to see the first few sentences of the following chapter to see what is going to happen there. They are also guilty for me reading the book in one day only – I think you also know that syndrome of “only one more chapter” and then finishing the book on one breath almost. It really felt as if I were a witness to the events, as if they were happening next to me, so realistic and distinctive was the narration.

I loved how the whole story was created – it was complex and complicated but not in a way that would do your head in, when you don’t understand anything. There were many clues and tips at how the characters are connected and it was slowly untangling the whole web of secrets, discreetly and gently adding more and more of them – but I have never felt overwhelmed with them or confused. We are aware that things have happened in the past and the author takes us on a slow, but fast – paced, journey full of tension and questions that leads to a great grande – finale. It was really like taking one step forward and three steps back, getting answer to one questions and getting few new questions instead, and it was bloody, bloody brilliant! There is really so much more to this book than meet the eye! It is dark, it is disturbing but it is a great read about guilt and about what are we able to do to protect are closest ones, written in a very vivid way, effortlessly bringing all the small and big things to life. Highly recommended from me!

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The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Hi guys, and happy Wednesday! Hope you are all doing great and that spring is also knocking at your door. Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Beth Underdown’s blog tour and share my review of her debut novel “The Witchfinder’s Sister” with you. It is a debut but one that doesn’t read like debut at all, and you can be sure that this book will make you shudder…I loved it, and the atmosphere that author has created – it doesn’t happen often that it’s so brilliantly captured!

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

31378911

 

Publisher: Viking

Publishing Date: 2nd March 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘VIVID AND TERRIFYING’ Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Rating: 4/5

“The Witchfinder’s Sister” by Beth Underdown must be the most unusual, unique book I have ever read – I think I haven’t read fiction based on the witch – hunting before. I mean, everybody heard about Salem, and we know about women being burned alive or hung but I am not sure if I ever came across this subject in adult historical fiction. Or I simply don’t remember anymore. Whatever – “The Witchfinder’s Sister” was a captivating, intriguing and also haunting read, a brilliant story based on a real event. Told from Alice, Matthew Hopkins’ half – sister’s point of view, the story begins in a very intriguing way, with a woman being imprisoned, but we don’t know by whom nor why…

This novel is not only a reconstruction of what happened in 1645 but it perfectly mixes fiction with reality. The story of Alice and Matthew is gripping, full of dark secrets, twists and turns, it is unpredictable and I was almost all the time scared that something is going to happen to Alice. The author also adds an element of suspense and family drama, slowly revealing the secrets and letting the elements of the puzzle to fall into places. The characters were portrayed in a great way. It was so clear that Matthew was a man obsessed – however I missed what made him behave this way. Was it something particular that happened? His mission was to accuse as many women of being witches as possible and he wasn’t afraid to tell lies, manipulate and betray to succeed. It was amazing how the author described him during the questionings, as a companionable, almost having compassion man of honour, convincing everybody that what he’s doing is done in the most fair way, and also convinced himself that he wields all the power of the world in his own hands. The author has managed to write him in the most incredible way possible, I think, as there were moments that he appeared embarrassed with the things he was doing, scared and also vulnerable – even though it was only a mask! There were also moments that he was the best brother possible to Alice and in the next second he was giving her the cold shoulder again – so very complex, not straightforward. What made the character of Matthew even more fascinating was the fact that he really actually existed, and also the trials took place and were documented. Alice was a great counterbalance to Matthew’s character. She was kind and open and she, as it so often happens in historical fiction, was ahead of her times, but not too much ahead. She didn’t believe in witches and she wanted to help those that were accused by her own brother. However, as much as I appreciate how brilliantly she was developed, I still missed the connection between me and Alice. She sometimes felt like a mimosa and there was something in her, I don’t know what, a weaker side perhaps, that just made her feel a little only two dimensional.

This book is exceptionally well researched. All the details about the period, or the events, about the way people were living, dressing or eating, but also the description of the nature and landscape in the 17th century, were so vivid and so realistic, and so easily brought to life by the author. What was also amazingly described – even though I know it worked that way – was that you could have accused each and every woman of being a witch, there was no hiding place from this. The more ridiculous reason, the better, and the way people reacted to a woman being accused of witchcraft – amazing. It was probably because they were relieved it’s not their wife/sister/mother/daughter. The brainstorming really worked well then, and it was enough to be a little different, lonely, have some mental problems or using herbs to be reported as being a witch.

There were moments in this book where the story dragged on a little, and it was rather on the slow side, but with so many information and awful things happening there was no need for this to be extremely quick. The writing style is great, there is something in it that just pulls you in. The story about the witch hunting and trials is told with a real passion. The author also brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the times she’s written about. However, I’d missed more of the hunting itself. No no no, I am not a bloodthirsty vampire looking for sensation or something, it’s just that there were moments that the story dragged on too much, or that I felt as if we are staying in one place and not moving. There was a lot about other things, about Alice’s private life, a lot about Alice and Matthew’s background, and in between we get some mentions that some of the women were arrested, but that’s all. And then suddenly it comes to a trial and that was that.
But the author wonderfully writes about the emotions. You could almost feel the tension and fear, the uncertainty when not knowing what the next page is going to bring – it was really vivid and it felt truly realistic. Beth Underdowned has created a dark, exceptionally good historical thriller (is there even such a genre?), and if it is her debut novel than I really can’t wait for more books to come. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the 17th century England and the uncertainty of what’s to come next were palpable through the pages, brilliantly created. Story created around a story, such a brilliant and unique idea, moreover so well put together and with a great outcome. And I love the last sentence of this book, where Alice breaks to us that she’s found her new place in Salem… Can you imagine…? Highly recommended!

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