Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review ~ Just what kind of mother are you? ~ Paula Daly

Random House UK

Your friend's child is missing. It's your fault

Every parent’s nightmare is being responsible for someone else’s child when something happens to that child. For Lisa Kallisto, a harassed mother of three, her worst nightmare comes true when she forgets that her friend’s daughter, Lucinda, should have been spending the night at a sleepover at her house. When Lucinda goes missing, Lisa is overwhelmed not just by her failure as a responsible adult but also with the devastation of witnessing the deep grief of Lucinda’s parents as they struggle to cope with the stressful situation of the disappearance of their beloved daughter.

The real strength of the book lies in the beautiful depiction of life going about its daily business. Lisa Kallisto is typical of so many mothers, juggling a demanding full time job and struggling with the daily pressures of child care and limited income. Lucinda’s parents, Kate and Guy, are more affluent but with no less pressure of keeping up appearances. Juxtaposed between these two suffering families, is the added interest of DC Joanne Aspinall, she’s the detective charged with looking into Lucinda’s disappearance and interestingly, she comes across as a blunt straight talking Northerner, a sensible detective with no airs or graces and yet who doesn’t suffer fools. She possesses that still small voice of calm in an otherwise crazy situation.

This chilling and utterly compelling story is one of those books which grabs your attention from the very beginning and after the first few pages I got a feeling that I was reading something rather special. That old cliché of a book being ‘unputdownable’ really does apply to this story.  I became engrossed in lives that were so realistic that these really could be people you meet on the street going about their daily lives. The small Cumbrian town of Windermere and surrounding area is as much a character in the novel as the people and the sense of foreboding amongst the nooks and crannies of a small community is expertly controlled.

I am in awe of Paula Daly’s ability to control a narrative to such an extent that it feels less like reading a novel and more like having a chat over a coffee with your best friend. The writing just flows like smooth cream, never faltering, no unnecessary banter, just really good dialogue, great light and shade and perfect characterisation. Even now, after finishing this book, I still really care about the people and hope they are doing alright.

There is no doubt that this is a stunning debut novel and I know that I have just read one of my books of the year.

 My Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld  for my copy of this book


 About the Author

 Paula Daly

Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? she was a self-employed physiotherapist. She lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Just Because it's Friday..

.*.....Just because it's Friday.....*

This is Jamie Fraser


I've waited over 22 years for someone to capture the vision I had of Jamie Fraser 

and Sam Heughan comes pretty darn close...

Outlander is coming 

09- 08- 2014

NEW Outlander by Diana Gabaldon BOOK (Paperback / softback)

*~Happy Friday~*


# bookadayuk my guilty pleasure.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review ~ Race to Death by Leigh Russell

Paperback to be published
24 September 2014
No Exit Press
Available now on Kindle

Race to Death, begins with a suspicious death at York Racecourse, which, for newly promoted DI Ian Peterson, starts a convoluted crime search. For Peterson, lately transferred to York CID, not only has to cope with a new detective team, but also with a crime scene which offers little in the way of clues or explanation. What then follows is a convoluted and complicated crime story which uses the initial crime scene as a starting block for other more complicated deaths. For Peterson and his team, there seems little correlation between the crimes but gradually truths are exposed and strands start to come together.

I enjoyed the story, it’s an easy read and yet the twist and turns are complex and well crafted and there are more than enough red herrings to keep you guessing until the end. The characterisation is particularly well done and I liked the way story started to piece together with just enough tension to keep the momentum alive. The ending of the story left everything nicely wrapped up but with the added promise of more to come from DI Peterson.

There is no doubt that the author is an accomplished crime writer, she has already had a successful run with her Geraldine Steel series of crime novels. It is interesting, now, to see her turn her attention to Ian Peterson who for so long worked in Steel’s shadow as her detective sergeant. In this, his own series, DI Peterson is newly promoted and transferred from London to York. His wife Bev, also gets more of a starring role, and as she learns to cope with living in a new town  we get more of her personality, and start to piece together the dynamics of them as a couple.

This is the second book in the DI Ian Peterson series, and whilst it is more enjoyable to start the series at the beginning, it is by no means essential as the author provides enough clues to able to pick up the finer points of the back story.

My thanks to Real Readers and No Exit Press for my review copy of Race to Death.

Leigh Russell

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review ~ Surrounded by Water by Stephanie Butland

Random House UK Transworld Publishers

When Elizabeth’s husband, Michael dies in a tragic drowning accident which also involves a young woman, the whole community mourns his loss. For Michael was a local police officer with a record for bravery and an almost cavalier attitude to saving the public. He and Elizabeth had the perfect marriage; both of them had found their soul mate when they met whilst Michael was on holiday in Elizabeth’s native Australia. Moving to the UK and to life in a small English village was difficult for Elizabeth but with Michael’s love and the support of his mother, Pauline and his friends, Blake and Andy she soon began to call England ‘home’. When rumours start to circulate about the circumstances of Michael’s death, Elizabeth struggling to cope, pours out her feelings to her dead husband in a series of poignant letters.

What then follows is an emotional and totally absorbing look at the way overwhelming grief can cloud judgement and that despite how well we think we know someone, we can never truly know what is going on in their lives.

I found the way the story was written greatly moving and had such sympathy for Elizabeth’s character, although there were times when I didn't really like her very much. But the secrets which threaten to ruin her peace of mind are exposed in a very realistic way, that you can’t help but be moved by what you read, and it would take someone with a heart of stone not to be moved to tears by some of the sentiments expressed.

The story evolves very cleverly and builds up a picture of Michael and Elizabeth’s life together, their problems and insecurities are revealed and the underlying sadness of their lives is shared in minute detail.

I found much to enjoy in this novel, the writing is beautiful and the ultimate conclusion of the book was perfectly executed, so much so, that I closed the book with a smile on my face which, after the way the book started, gave me a real sense of satisfaction, that this was indeed a story well told.

Highly Recommended.

My Thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers  for my copy of this book.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review ~ Darkling by Laura Beatty

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
June 2014
This dual time narrative shares the story of two very different women. In the present day, Mia Morgan is tormented by grief and the unhappy memories of her late lover, her blind father and of a family secret which is best forgotten. Four hundred years in the past, Lady Brilliana Harley, is caught up in the conflict of the English Civil War and as her husband gets dragged into the conflict, Brilliana learns to defend her family with a strength she didn’t knew she possessed.

On the surface, these two women have little in common but gradually the pieces start to reveal common similarities and using the research left by her biographer lover, Mia starts to pick up Brilliana’s story of a strong God fearing, Puritan woman, who was living in a county of Royalists. Based on factual evidence, Brilliana, a prodigious letter writer really comes to life, and the skilful interweaving of both fact and fiction is cleverly achieved.

The story is rather slow in places and it took me a little way into the book before I began to warm to Mia’s style of observation but what is undeniable is the beauty and prose of Laura Beatty’s writing. There are some lovely descriptive passages and I found the opening chapter about the eye of the hawk quite enchanting. She describes the natural surroundings very well, so much so that Hereford, the area of Welsh Marches around Brilliana’s castle of Brampton Bryan, starts to come to life.

I think perhaps the most fascinating concept I will take away from this story is the strength of  Brilliana Harley's character and what a lasting legacy she left behind with all her letters and observations of a very troubled time in England’s history.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for my copy of this book.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sunday War Poet....

Hon. Eleanour Norton


In a Restaurant, 1917

 Encircled by the traffic's roar
Midst music and the blaze of light,
The battle-jaded khaki knights
Throng, sleek and civilised once more

Oh, one there was who, long ago
(three centuries or is it years?)
Adored the splendour and the tears
Of London Ebb - of London Flo

Oh, one whose very presence gave
The common air an added grace
Now in out hearts an empty place
And far in France an unmarked grave.


I can't find anything about this poet but I rather liked this sad little poem which seemed
a poignant reminder of once what was, and how for some, life was never going to be the same again.


Friday, 18 July 2014

Review ~ Dark Water: Part Two of Wild Water by Jan Ruth

An excellent continuation....

Jack Redman, estate agent to the smart Cheshire set, should be living the life of his dreams in North Wales with his partner Anna. But his commute from the leafy suburbs of Wilmslow, to the rural bliss of Gwern farm on the outskirts of Conwy, is fraught with anxiety. Caught between a rock and hard place, Jack struggles to organize a life which is made all the more complicated by his increasingly demanding ex-wife Patsy, his precocious daughter Lottie, and the uncertain paternity of two of his children. Whilst he struggles to keep the peace with Anna, the phrase, oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive, springs to mind, as Jack Redman tries to juggle his increasingly difficult personal life.

All too often sequels can become a bit of damp squib with less on offer than what has gone before, but rest assured that this is not the case with Dark Water.  This follow-on story picks up on the threads which were left hanging at the end of Wild Water, and with her usual panache and fine attention to detail, Jan Ruth brings together all the pieces of a story which very quickly becomes a roller coaster of emotional turmoil and smouldering resentments. There is never a lull in the narrative, the plot is allowed to evolve beautifully, and there some really lovely, light moments which offset the darker elements of the story. The banter between Jack and his small daughter, Lottie, is quite irresistible and I found myself laughing out loud at some of their dialogue, and likewise the touching moments between Anna and her dog Benson, brought tears to my eyes and echoed the memories of what it feels like to lose something precious.  With the tension is racked up to an almost impossible level, Jack, Anna and Patsy get caught up in a dark and deadly story of long buried secrets, which threatens not just their relationship with each other, but which also has a profound effect on their family and friends.

As with any part-two story, it is almost essential to have read the first book, and whilst it’s not impossible to pick up the story, you will miss the finer points and that would be to do both the story and the author a great disservice, as the books should be read sequentially. I am heartened that the ending of Dark Water could almost lend itself to another visit to this beautiful part of Wales and I'm sure that Jack Redman and company have a lot more life in them for future stories. I really hope so....