They All Fall Down by Cat Hogan

theyallfalldown

Length: 322 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Ring-a-ring o’ rosie . . .
… Someone wants to play.
… Who’s not playing the game?
… Now Someone must pay.

Jen Harper likes to play it safe. She is settling into life on the outskirts of a sleepy fishing village with her little boy, Danny. Life by the sea – just how she wanted it.

When she meets Andy, she feels the time has come to put her baggage and the scars of the past behind her. Then she is introduced to Scott, Andy’s best friend, and is stung by his obvious disdain for her. Why is Scott so protective of his best friend? What is the dark secret that threatens all of them?

In her attempt to find answers, Jen must confront her demons and push her relationships to their limits. By digging up the past, she puts Danny and herself in danger. Will she succeed in uncovering the truth before they all fall down?

Raw and energetic, They All Fall Down is a fast-paced and addictive novel exploring the depths of flawed human nature, the thin line between love and obsession and the destructive nature of addiction.

The Review: Having met the lovely Cat Hogan a number of times before, I was very excited to get to this, which so many top author’s have lauded and recommended.

As you can see above the book is set in a fishing village and, actually before I go on I have to highly commend the author for an astoundingly vivid and stark setting, that had me daydreaming of the majesty of waves lashing against rocks. This was further punctuated on reading of Cat Hogan’s fabulous bio, which showed her love and affinity for the sea. From the start of the book I was happy out, with a read that at times turns away from the thriller genre I’d put it in, leaning more towards an irishy fiction one instead.  I’m not always a fan of books that are so irish in terms of the nuances and language (yes I do know where I’m from), and for a while struggled to connect with the villagers (some of them were very unlikable) but then the thriller part, the meeting of the baddie of the story, via one heck of a backstory, soon put time to that.

Jen moves into a new house with her gorgeous son Danny, who I adored. A prerequisite is that they move in with Andy, a friend of her Aunty Pat, who is recently deceased. Andy is a lovely character but unfortunately brings some baggage with him in the form of his extremely jealous best friend Scott, a rich playboy who thinks the world owes him something. Here we get some insight into an evil that is about, as he uses wealth and power to destroy all around him and I couldn’t wait to see where it all went. The climax was excellent and I was very excited to see that there was actually a sequel There was a Crooked Man (which is now on my Kindle!) All in all a book I really enjoyed.

Rating: 4/5

The Other Side Of The Wall by Andrea Mara

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 Length: 402 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for Amazon

What they say:

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.

The Review: I was very lucky to have read an earlier form of this book, as I’m blessed to share online space with Andrea Mara (a freelance journalist whose blog is the brilliant officemum.ie) in the Imagine Write Inspire writing group (come on, I had to!) , led by the most lovely Carmel Harrington, and was blown away that this was a debut. Enough about that, however. This book starts as every thriller should, in the middle of the night, with our lead character woken with a jump. After some time she looks out to see that there’s a child’s body floating in the pond next door, only, on further investigation, there isn’t. And so begins Sylvia’s story, where a series of happenings are making her wonder if there’s something going on with the new people next door, or whether it’s all in her mind.

We have multiple point of views here, as well as following Sylvia on her daily passage as a working mum. The author of this book has, as this is her forte, presented us with various mothers, there’s Sylvia, but there’s also Kate, who is a stay at home mum. I loved the lighter relief of their everyday routines, and the issues that arose with partners, relatives and work but was quickly reeled into the plights of various characters. I felt you were immersed time and time again in the everyday before a new build up started-something beginning to niggle at you before suddenly you were presented with a shock.

I was gripped by the back stories of the various characters (there’s a lot of jumping in terms of timelines, but I enjoyed the way it was done) and in particular that of Kate and her brother, Miller, which was the story that took over my mind both times (I couldn’t review until I had read it in its current form) I put the book down. I’ve probably told you before that my brother has AS and so every time I read about a character who is a little different it takes hold. The treatment of Miller really got to me and I started to feel that whatever we might learn he had done was justified (I know, I know!).

The storytelling was perfection, the descriptions excellent, and I’m always a sucker for multiple point of views and the fact that there were multiple mysteries to be solved too meant this suited me down to the ground. This book isn’t gory but there is the possibility of a few grimaces along the way, the idea of what one character does to another human being being a tough one to stomach. I will say that there was in particular one loose end that I would have enjoyed being tied up a little neater but it niggled at me at the time and then was quickly replaced with memories of other things that had happened. All in all a very atmospheric, memorable thriller (not listed as this on Amazon, is under sagas, literary and fiction?!) that rose to an excellent climax and is beyond beyond (done purposely!!) recommended.

Rating: 5/5

All We Have Lost by Aimee Alexander

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Length: 276 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal amazon link for the book

What they say:

From the bestselling author of Pause to Rewind and The Accidental Life of Greg Millar comes this ‘stunning tale of modern marriage.’

Kim Waters seems to have it all: her own PR agency, a loving husband and two adorable children. Then Kim announces that she’s fed up plugging Flush toilet cleaner and writing sparkling press releases for mediocre products; she wants to write ‘the great novel’ and spend more time with her young family. She folds her business and settles down to a life of cosy domesticity.

If only it were that easy. The ‘great novel’ is, in fact, a great struggle. Life as a domestic goddess has (many) hidden challenges. And her relationship with her husband is rapidly losing its equilibrium.

As the perfect life Kim has built for herself starts to crumble comes the revelation that will make her doubt everything she had taken for granted…

The Review: I saw Aimee Alexander aka Denise Deegan, speaking at a literary festival some years ago, and I knew from her covers which were dark, her extract, which was a rom com, and the way she spoke about writing, that she was one to read straight away. Of course I didn’t. Instead I went to Amazon, bought two of her books, constantly reminding myself I had to read her, with this hitting fever pitch as I watched everyone around rave over The Accidental Life Of Greg Millar … And again I didn’t get to her. Until Christmas time, and boy am I relived I did!

So the book begins with the lead arriving home to a darkened house after she’s missed her children’s bedtime again. The narrative, that of the first person, present tense variety, was perfect. We see Kim, the working mum who feels guilty all the time, who has done this one too many times and decides to give up life as she knows it to become a stay at home mum and a writer (yes!). This resulted in some very funny book issues, which I couldn’t get enough of (I loved how the protagonist had to come to terms with a best friend who had a book deal based off her notoriety while she was starting from the absolute beginning). My only issue actually was that the writer in me would have loved to see more of this.

This book struck so many chords with me. The feelings, the change of dynamic in the house, sometimes possibly perceived as opposed to actual, and the difference in relationship between Ian and Kim, who were such a great pairing. There were times in this book that I took it upon myself to be mad for Kim as household tasks were now handed over to her, but with no please or thank you (would you know that I perhaps see some of our home situation here, lol?) as decisions they made jointly were suddenly solely the duty of the earner of the house (no fingers, stop typing, you are NOT going to do this!) There was an excellent portrayal of the mixed emotions that come with going from a career to staying at home with children, with the feelings of being content and happy to be with the kids sometimes being usurped by loneliness, an itch to do more, a niggling feeling that you’ve lost your place in terms of value in the world, as well as your rights in the household.

The pacing was excellent, with twists and turns, cliches that turned out not to be and side issues and back issues that I won’t go into as I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll tell you that this is what I would catalogue as a slightly darker form of ‘mom lit,’ and it’s one I’ll be recommending all around me. I really enjoyed this and will most definitely be reading Aimee Alexander’s books (see her catalogue here), again.

Rating: 4.5/5

Blog Tour: Maybe Tomorrow by Erin Cawood

Maybe Tomorrow Cover

Hi everyone, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Maybe Tomorrow by Erin Cawood and hosted by the amazing Chick Lit Plus. I’m so excited to have been able to interview Erin and also to share my review with you. Also, there’s some  AMAZING giveaways!!

What they say: Welcome to the FORGIVE OR FORGET series, a compelling contemporary women’s fiction love story and family saga series. Cawood’s love inspired medical romance series follows the close-knit McGowan siblings; Keon, Kiera, Cormack, and Cara, as they face the difficult choice between forgiving or forgetting true love after a broken heart.
Does a heart ever really heal from its first break? 

On an unseasonably hot night in late September, Dr. Keon McGowan is called away from a family gathering to a hospital emergency. Amongst his patients that night is a blast from his past he’d rather forget. He’ll certainly never forgive butterfly hunter Darcia Davenport for leaving him alone as a single dad while she chased butterflies through the Amazon rainforest.

Coming face to face with the woman who broke his heart after all this time, Keon realises that he has never fully healed from it. But any chance of finding closure is ripped away when Darcy chooses to end treatment and live her final weeks without regret. Can Keon let her go? Or will he fight for the tomorrow they might never have?
MAYBE TOMORROW is an emotional journey of love caught between fate and destiny, and Keon is forced to choose between his head and his heart, his wants and his responsibilities, forgiving Darcy or forgetting all about her, and between a second chance family or an ill-fated heartbreak romance.

**Maybe Tomorrow is only 99 cents while on tour!**

Now to the interview (which was such a joy to be a part of by the way, Erin is lovely!)

Hi Erin, first off, congratulations on ‘Maybe Tomorrow,’ I really enjoyed it!

Thank you! I’m happy that you enjoyed Keon and Darcy’s story. And thank you for hosting me on your website today.

Can you tell us a little bit about Maybe Tomorrow?

When Darcy walked of their marriage without warning Keon McGowan would have done anything to have her back. Then, the baby he didn’t know they had was dropped on his doorstep and he vowed never to forgive her. Ten years later, twice divorced head of A&E, Keon is blindsided by Darcy’s imminent death. She has liver failure and she’s choosing not to have the transplant that will save her life. Darcy wants to die as the Monarch butterflies migrate from Mexico.

In an attempt to change her mind, Keon invites Darcy to his family’s annual weekend get together in Sherwood Forest, asking her to give their daughter Lily, memories of the mother she’s never met. But with the close proximity to Darcy, Keon soon realises that he’s still in love with her. Keon has to choose between supporting Darcy’s right to die and fighting for a second chance at happily ever after, knowing she might still die anyway.

Keon’s dealing with a lot. He’s a single parent and the head of the largest trauma centre in London. He hates the fact that his job prevents him from being a father, leaves him to rely on others to raise his daughter and he blames himself for his second wife’s alcoholism and the demise their marriage as a result. He’s eventually doing something about all of that when Darcy swans back into his life and makes him question everything he’s ever believed in, including the reason she left him in the first place.

If I could describe Maybe Tomorrow in terms of television shows, I’d have to say ABC’s Brothers and Sisters meets Grey’s Anatomy. The McGowans are a close-knit family of doctors with a lot of secrets. Its high stakes drama and just when you think you’ve figured it out, someone else throws a plot twist.

Can I ask, what inspired you to write it?

I couldn’t tell you where the inspiration came from. I woke up one morning with Keon in my head telling me he hated butterflies. The love of his life left him to chase butterflies through the Amazon rainforest and seeing butterflies reminded him of her.

Of course… their daughter is totally fascinated by butterflies, just like her mother and therefore he unable to escape from them.

There’s a lot of medical detail in the book, which I found to be very intriguing, can you tell me was there a lot of research to be done?

I had to find a condition that could kill Darcy. Something that would stop Keon’s world from turning, but Darcy could shrug off as ‘nothing’ because she’d been dealing with it for a while and has already had the time to contemplate what she wanted and didn’t want in terms of treatment choices. It also needed to be something that could be both explained by the demands Darcy’s adventurous lifestyle and masked by it.

Hepatitis B attacks the liver. It doesn’t always have symptoms, and those symptoms can be minor such as cold/flu like symptoms, and can be treated without the need for medical attention. But it also possible to manage long term with medication.

I was lucky that on Maybe Tomorrow, I had a team of editors who come from a medical background, and my sister is a medical professional. They all answered a lot of questions and provided a lot of guidance on hospital protocol.

Were there any characters you found difficult to write?

As a writer you have to put yourself into the headspace of your characters. Keon came naturally to me. He knew what he wanted from start to finish. He wanted Darcy to live. He wanted that second chance. It was always Keon’s story. But Darcy…? Not so much. She’s such a secretive complex person, with so many regrets and not one but two inflictions. She didn’t reveal very much to me at all. She was tough to crack because she had contemplated her death, now was her time to die, and all Keon had to do was let her go. They both talk about following your heart, rather than your head, and I think the moment Darcy started to fight back was the moment she started to listen to her heart rather than her head.

Can I ask when you started writing ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ did you know what the ending would be?

I always knew that Keon and Darcy’s story would come to an end in the middle of the Mexican rainforest as the Monarch butterflies migrated. One of the first scenes I wrote was a letter from Keon, explaining to ten year old Lily, why he had to leave her. Why, when he returned, he would not be the same man and he wouldn’t be able to tell her why. He hoped that one day, she would be old enough to understand, that he’d gone to be with Darcy, that he couldn’t not be there with her when she died.

Unfortunately, that letter never made it into the final version, because as both Keon and Darcy’s characters developed it became clear that Keon would never leave Lily, and Darcy would skin him alive if he did!

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing habits or share some tips with us?

Life as a writer is like a perpetual hourglass, you’re always running out of time. If you’re not making a full time income from writing then, in addition to the usual demands on your time; day job, family, housework, etc, you have to you have to spilt your ‘writing time’ between writing and marketing. That’s just the way it is!

I try to write every day. I make use of my daily commute to and from work on public transport to plug in my earphones and write on my phone. I used to do it when I walked to work but I almost got run over one too many times! I also try to make use of my breaks to get online and catch up on social media!

When it comes to writing. I’m a halt-plot-half-pantser kind of gal. I take an idea and I run with it until I’ve completed a brief outline of the story and the characters, then I email them to myself and save it in an ideas folder. I never forget a story idea this way and I now have over a hundred stories waiting to be written.

Thanks so much for talking to me today, I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Thank you so much for opportunity to share Maybe Tomorrow with your readers!

It was a pleasure, Erin, thanks for coming over!:)

 And the review …

So, starting from the very beginning I have to say the book began with a bang that I hugely appreciated! I loved how just after meeting Dr Keon McGowan, working in a very London’s busiest trauma centre, we were thrown into the deep end with Keon coming face to face with his ex-wife, Darcy, who had abandoned him and his daughter. The descriptions were brilliant, I was AT the hospital, and it was like any episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or ‘ER’ I’d ever seen with amazingly precise medical detail. As for Keon and Darcy, their meeting was very dramatic, a drama which carried on throughout the book not only with the two leads, but also with many other characters. One character that jumps to mind was his sister, Keira, who was quite over the top and so served to keep the tension going, though I found her to be unlikable.

 

We met not only his family, but Darcy’s too, which I really enjoyed, although at times I was a little confused, simply by the switching between characters. The romance, the banter, the chemistry, the feistiness, the tears, all kept me hooked. The pacing was great, the book absolutely flew by and I was disappointed on realizing I was nearing the end. All in all I really enjoyed ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, though as I said above it is a bit dramatic in places, so a little less easy-going than I’m used to, but definitely worth a read.

 

Thanks so much to the author, Erin Cawood, her publisher, Booktroupe and Chick Lit Plus for a copy of this book in return for an honest review as part of the blog tour.

Rating: 4/5

Stops on the ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ blog tour. Check them out!

MaybeTomorrowblogtour

January 25 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review. Q&A & Excerpt

January 25 – Wendi Nunnery – Review

January 26 – Change the Word – Q&A

January 27 – Chick Lit Plus – Excerpt

January 28 – Queen of All She Reads – Review & Excerpt

January 29 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt

February 1 – BR Maycock’s Book Blog – Review & Q&A

February 1 – Bookabie  – Review, Q&A & Excerpt

 

Author Bio

erin cawood

Erin Cawood is a commercial women’s fiction author, with a taste for dramatic storylines and a passion for strong lead characters she really gets behind, cheering on right to the very end of their story. Her focus? Taking romance into the darker, edgier side of contemporary fiction.

Get 2 free books when you sign up to Erin Cawood’s newsletter HERE!

Enter HERE to win a Kindle!

 

Links

Erin on Facebook

Erin on Twitter

Erin’s website

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

 

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The Girls From See Saw Lane by Sandy Taylor

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What they say:I loved this novel so much, even though it’s probably the most heart-breaking story I’ve read all year…it will totally absorb you and capture your heart.That Thing She Reads

Brighton 1963. Mary Pickles and I walked along the street with our arms linked, looking in shop windows. We were best friends and together we were invincible.

Dottie and Mary forged a friendship over a bag of penny sweets when they were eight years old. They’ve shared everything together since then – the highs and lows of school, family dramas, hopes and dreams and now, at seventeen, they’re both shop girls, working at Woolworths.

As they go out in the world in pursuit of love and happiness, the simplicity of their childhood dissolves as life becomes more complicated. The heady excitement of first love will consume them both, but the pain of unintentional betrayal will test their friendship in ways neither of them could ever imagine…

A charming, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting novel which brings a bygone era vividly to life. Fans of Nadine Dorries, Mary Gibson and Pam Weaver will love The Girls from See Saw Lane. Counting Chimneys coming soon.

‘I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. It has all the ingredients for a perfect read: fantastic, loveable and very real characters, an emotional and compelling storyline, and a brilliant setting in time and place.’ Louise Douglas

‘Sandy Taylor has proven herself to be a very talented and gifted storyteller with an immense insight into family, friendship, love, and forgiveness…This is one of the most endearing, yet heart-breaking, novels that I have encountered in quite some time and will certainly not soon forget…Witty and humorous dialogue written with such ease truly brought this story to life and swept me away between the pages. Filled with unexpected twists and turns, you’ll want to keep the box of tissues nearby!’ Kimberly’s Bookshelf

‘I have just started to read this one and am hooked! I love the vivid details of the time period and the closeness of the best friends.Weekend Reading

‘I would recommend it to anyone who loves stories about female friendships, books set in the past…and for anyone who wants an emotionally stirring read!’ My Bookish Ramblings

A beautiful tale of friendship, love, betrayal and forgiveness and one that will stay with me for a long time to comeThe Girls From See Saw Lane is a truly beautiful story that will touch your heart. Mary and Dottie will certainly live on in my head and my heart.’ By The Letter Book Reviews

‘I find it very hard to believe that this is Sandy’s first book. This book is so well written…The relationship between the girls is very heartwarming, but also extremely heartbreaking, there will be times when you will need tissues at hand.The Reading Head

‘I recommend this book to all who want to take a wonderful trip back to the 60’s. I would give it more than 5 stars if there were more to give.’ Library Thing

When you read this book, be prepared to laugh and to cry (it gets really sad)The Girls from See Saw Lane is a good book to settle in and read on a rainy afternoon.’ The Avid Reader

‘Wow this book had me laughing out loud one minute and bursting into tears the next..A massive page turner.Nat’s Reading Cloud

‘I absolutely adored it…so wonderful and so captivating.The Book Cafe

Will make you smile, laugh, reminisce and perhaps even cry a little…an absorbing and charming read.’ Portobello Book Blog

The Review: First off, such a mahoosive thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review. There’s books where you enjoy every single word, and this was one of them.  It was the story of Dottie and Mary, starting with them aged 8 and continuing into teenagedom and then adulthood. I adore books told from multiple points of views and this was told through Dottie, the character who saw herself as the lesser of the pair, although I thought of her as only slightly more innocent, with a tiny diary extract by Mary sealing everything. Both characters were as strong and as lovely as each other and you could see that both through story and diary extracts.  The story was great, Dotties family aiding in the comic moments and both Dottie and Mary’s ‘beaus, Ralph and Elton’ adding to drama, warmth and gorgeous romance.

The beauty is in the everyday, the ordinary, the many examples of what great friends the two were, two people who were always looking out for each other,

” ‘Well they won’t tease you any more, Dottie Perks … Not if I have anything to do with it.’ We smiled at each other, and in that moment it was as if we both knew that something wonderful and special had just happened.”

and how their friendship continues through. There was no waiting for the next Big Bang, or whatever was going to happen at the end (although the beginning of the story did continue to return to my mind), I just read and enjoyed each description, each daily event.

There’s betrayal, of course, a betrayal that packed a punch, with repercussions both heartbreaking and beautiful that I floated through, they were so vivid. The reviews I read all told of how one of the main characters obviously didn’t appreciate the other, but there are countless examples that tell otherwise. The ending had me in floods of tears, my heart truly broke and after I put the book away it still continued to enter my mind. I cannot recommend enough and I was shocked to see this was a debut, it was so beautifully crafted.

Rating: 5/5