Review: The Apartment by K. L. Slater | @KimLSlater @audibleuk

THE APARTMENT

About the Book

They say every cloud has a silver lining….

When Freya Miller is struck by tragedy, losing her husband and her home within a short time, she is burdened with many worries. The main one being where she and her five-year old daughter, Skye, are going to live. A chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes all that. He offers the young mother the most amazing opportunity: an apartment at one of London’s most exclusive addresses for a fraction of the market rental cost. It’s an offer Freya simply can’t refuse. Within a couple of weeks, Freya and Skye are moving into Adder House and meeting the other welcoming residents. They very quickly feel part of the family.

But just when Freya truly believes all her problems are history, a series of strange, unexplained occurrences begin. It leaves Freya with the unshakeable feeling that even when their apartment door is securely locked, she and her daughter are not alone. Freya thought she’d left all her troubles behind her yet she soon realises there are problems here that are far more terrifying than before.

For behind the doors of Adder House, everything is most definitely not as it seems.

Old secrets refuse to stay buried, and someone is determined to keep a terrible past very much alive.

 

My Thoughts

The Apartment is such an unsettling novel that follows Freya and her young daughter Skye. Freya is dealing with losing her husband and is trying to get life back on track for the sake of her daughter so when she’s offered a wonderful apartment for a fraction of the rent you’d expect it to cost she jumps at the chance. Things are perhaps not all they seem though!

I loved this audio book! I was on edge from the beginning of this book – the way that Dr Marsden approaches Freya seemingly out of nowhere to offer her this amazing apartment at low rent set my nerves jangling! It seems way too good to be true and I would have run a mile! Having said that I have never found myself in Freya’s situation and I could absolutely see why she accepted this offer. She has a young child and nowhere to call home, and this apartment is perfect and in a great location for them. I really liked Freya and Skye from the off and was really rooting for them to be okay.

There is a real uneasiness in the apartment block, something just doesn’t feel right as you’re reading but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Each of the other occupants seem a little unusual, even though they are perfectly pleasant to Freya, but then that can happen when you move somewhere new and don’t know anyone. I certainly couldn’t work out what was going on or who was going to turn out to be the bad guy, The Apartment certainly kept me on my toes.

I was pleased for Freya when a young family moves into the apartment block and she becomes friendly with them. It seems like she might finally be feeling at home and that things might be all going to work out fine. Unfortunately for Freya the slightly unnerving things that have been happening ever since she moved in slowly begin to ramp up and she doesn’t know where to turn. I really felt for her because her two closest friends had been suspicious of her moving into this apartment but she went ahead anyway and is then left feeling like she can’t tell them that they may have been right.

The tension is there in The Apartment from the beginning and it slowly ratchets up in a way that is so unnerving. Then there is a point when things begin to move at a pace and I was on the edge of my seat listening and hoping that nothing bad was going to happen to Freya or Skye. It was so tense that I was holding my breath! The reveals when they come are shocking, I had my suspicions about some of the people and some of the situations but I couldn’t have imagined the entirety of what the apartment was all about. The fact that it’s based on a true story just adds to the already heightened tension that grows throughout.

Tuppence Middleton is such a great narrator and really made all the character’s voices distinctive and added to the growing sense of tension that grows throughout the novel. I’ll definitely look out for more audiobooks narrated by her in the future.

The Apartment is incredibly tense, unnerving and unputdownable! I was listening to this book in every spare minute that I had because I simply had to know what was happening and if Freya and Skye were going to be alright! I highly recommend this audiobook!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Apartment is out now as an audiobook and is available here.

About the Author

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Kim is the million-copy best-selling author of eight standalone psychological crime thrillers. At the age of 40 Kim went back to university and now holds an MA in Creative Writing. Kim is a full-time writer and lives with her husband in Nottingham. She enjoys traveling, eating out, is an avid film fan and most of all, she loves reading across genres.

 

 

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Review: Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland | @22_ireland @PolygonBooks #LoveBooksTours

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About the Book

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?

The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly.

Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

 

My Thoughts

Bone Deep is a stunning novel that explores the relationship between siblings, and the betrayals in romantic relationships. The novel is narrated by two characters – Mac who is determined to keep her secrets buried whilst writing a short story collection about sibling rivalry; and Lucie who arrives to be Mac’s Girl Friday and has secrets of her own.

The audio book is wonderful, I found myself engrossed in this novel from the opening chapter and it had me spellbound. I was so intrigued by both Mac and Lucie and felt equally invested in both their stories. I was also so drawn to the setting with the abandoned mill and the way it looms large over the characters in this book. Mac and Lucie are each voiced by a different narrater (Una Mcdade and Emma Hartley-Miller) which made it easy to keep track of whose story I was listening to, which I always appreciate in an audio book.

Bone Deep takes two women who are in different stages of life and also on opposite sides of the coin that is affairs of the heart. Mac is becoming confused and her past and present are beginning to get mixed in her mind, she is also obsessively writing and then withdrawing from her story about two sisters. This all melds together as the novel moves towards its final stunning conclusion. Lucie is looking for an escape after she’s done wrong by her sister and is somewhat ousted by their mother who knows what she’s done. Mac is initially kind towards Lucie, although she doesn’t feel she needs her help, but as the past pulls on her more and more she starts to see Lucie in a different light.

The pain that runs through this novel is palpable and even though Lucie has done wrong I could only feel sympathy for her. She has made a terrible mistake but she’s not the only one and yet she is paying the biggest price for it. I was willing her to face up to things and to try and make it right but she can’t help but retreat further into herself. I could see echoes of her in Mac to start with and worried that she may end up like Mac but in the end Mac’s secrets go way darker and deeper than Lucie’s ever could.

There is something indefinable about this novel – it’s heart-wrenching and yet also magical. There is so much beauty amongst all the pain and the darkness. Sandra Ireland beautifully weaves together the strands of Mac and Lucie’s stories along with the story that Mac is writing and it’s simply breathtaking – the mysteries, the connections and the ultimate conclusion! Bone Deep is a book that grabs hold of you and it doesn’t let go, even after you’ve finished listening to it. I feel haunted by it, it’s still going around in my mind and I already want to read it again! I highly recommend this book, it really is a stunning novel!

Many thanks to the Kelly at Love Books Tours for my copy of the audio book and my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Bone Deep is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Sandra Ireland

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Carnoustie. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. In 2013 Sandra was awarded a Carnegie- Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women’s magazines. She is the author of Beneath the Skin (2016) and Bone Deep (2018), and her third novel, The Unmaking of Ellie Rook will be published in July 2019.

 

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The Audio Book Tag!

Book Tag

I’ve been meaning to do this tag ever since I saw it on Nicki, and then on Meggy’s fabulous blogs so I’m happy to have finally got to it today!

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Teddy Ruxpin is a bit creepier looking than I remembered!

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LISTENED TO AUDIOBOOK OR WHEN DID YOU BEGIN?

I used to enjoy audio books on cassette as a young child (I played the tapes in my Teddy Ruxpin!) but then stopped listening to books for a long time. I started again when I began my English Literature degree as a mature student a few years ago. I always liked to read a book all the way through before going back to read it slowly and making notes when I was studying so doing my first read through on audio book during my two hour round trip commute each day (five days a week) helped me get my reading done. I discovered how much I loved listening to books and have enjoyed them ever since, and now I couldn’t read as much as I do without them!

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUDIOBOOK?

Gosh, that’s a tough question. I recently listened to Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reids on audio and that was such a brilliant listen, I recommend it! I also really loved Just Kids by Patti Smith, it added to the book for me that Patti reads her book herself. I also have a real fondness for Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, narrated by Josh Cohen. I also just finished The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (read by Paula Wilcox) and it was sheer perfection, the narration is spot on for the book!

 

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT AUDIOBOOKS?

The only thing I can think of is the inability to make notes or highlights of favourite paragraphs. I love highlighting on my kindle and I put loads of sticky tabs in books that I’m enjoying so I do miss being able to do that with audio books. Oh, and if I fall asleep reading on my kindle it opens to the page I was on whereas on audio it can be really difficult to find my place again!

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE DIFFERENCE IN EXPERIENCE BETWEEN PHYSICALLY READING A BOOK AND LISTENING TO IT?

For me, there isn’t really a difference. I can take in a story and remember it just as well when reading as I can when listening. I suppose when I think about it the biggest difference for me is that audio books allow me to keep ‘reading’ on the days when I physically can’t hold a book or turn pages, or when my eyes are particularly bad and I can’t focus to read.

I also find that some books seem to naturally work better for me on audio and some on the page, and I find that really interesting.

 

HOW AND WHEN DO YOU LISTEN?

I listen via either my iPhone or iPad mostly. I love how audio books give me much needed distraction when my pain levels are very bad and I can’t physically do much of                                        anything. I also listen when doing my physio exercises as they allow me to focus on two things at once which is really important for learning how to balance equally on both of my legs. I’ve also been known to listen to a couple of minutes of my audio book on my way up and down stairs (my stairlift is quite slow)!

 

WHAT STYLE/GENRE DO YOU PREFER?

I pretty much listen to audio books in the same genres I enjoy reading so non-fiction, memoir, thrillers, general fiction, historical fiction.

 

WHAT ARE SOME AUDIOBOOK/NARRATOR RECOMMENDATIONS?

I highly recommend Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which has multiple narrators and is so well done. I also recently listened to The Wych Elm by Tana French, and found the narrator Paul Nugent perfect for this novel so it really enhanced the reading experience for me. The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner (narrated by Colleen MacMahon) was a brilliant listen for me so I recommend that one too. I also really enjoyed Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch, it was a good story and the narrator Deryn Edwards really brought the book to life. Oh and I have to mention Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm, that was such a lovely listen and I do love when an author of non-fiction narrates their own book.

 

*I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 

Do you listen to audio books? Do you have any recommendations to share?

 

#BookReview: The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner | @marriner_p @annecater @audibleuk #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Margate 1920. The Great War is over but Britain mourns and its spirit is not yet mended.

Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past.

Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side.

Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends? As the body of the Unknown Warrior is returned, can the nation find a way forward?

 

My Thoughts

The Blue Bench is a novel following four characters in the aftermath of the first world war. Edward and William have returned from the front but they are forever changed by what they have been through. Catherine and Evelyn are two young women keen to get on with their lives. The book is about their journeys as they each try to look to the future. The novel is predominantly told from the perspectives of Edward and Evelyn but all four of these characters feature all the way through.

The Blue Bench opens with a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which for the people concerned is an annual pilgrimage. The book then goes back in time to 1920 when we meet Edward, William, Catherine and Evelyn. It is such a beautiful and moving novel. It is a melancholy book but there are moments of lightness to balance the dark. It’s a meandering story that follows these four characters as they each try to build a life for themselves in the new world they find themselves in post war.

Edward was the character I was most fascinated by. He has suffered an horrendous facial injury in the war and has to wear an uncomfortable tin mask. He suffers great pain and requires more and more painkillers to get any kind of relief and this leads to him procuring these medications by whatever means necessary. I felt such sympathy for him as he struggles. I have no idea what it is to go to war but I do know what it’s like to have an obvious disability and to suffer with chronic pain, Paul Marriner captures this so well. Edward is a wonderful pianist, he enjoys playing piano and it seems to take him out of his real life for a while. People really enjoy his playing but it still is shocking to some of his audiences when they see his face; it’s as if the beauty of his playing is somehow cancelled out for people by the injury to his face. There is always something of a distance around Edward, even when his closest friend William is with him, it’s as if he can no longer allow himself to fully engage with people and life. I could feel his loneliness even when he was with people. I was rooting for him all the way through the novel and was hoping that he would beat the odds and find some happiness and calm in his life.

William is different to Edward, he’s more outgoing and a bit of a ladies’ man but he does have a caring side to him. He looks out for Edward, and tries to keep his mood buoyed up. Catherine and Evelyn are great characters too. I loved their friendship and the way they supported and encouraged each other. It’s so wonderful to find a novel where there are female characters who have each other’s backs, I really enjoyed reading about their growing friendship and seeing where life took them.

I very much appreciated how real events and people were interwoven into this novel, particularly the way the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be. I found these parts of the novel incredibly moving. I knew about the unknown soldier but to see the story of this brought to life in this story gave me goosebumps. It’s a real gift to write a work of fiction but to bring in real elements of history and make you feel as if you were there, to give you a new understanding of just how much something mattered.

I listened to The Blue Bench on audio book and the narrater, Colleen MacMahon, is wonderful. The pacing of the book was just right and she struck the right tone for the nature of the novel. She really made this book a joy to listen to and I will definitely be looking out for more audio books narrated by her. The audio is nineteen and a half hours long but it was one of those books that I was loving so much that I just didn’t want it to end.

I felt really quite bereft on finishing this novel. I loved every minute that I spent listening to it and I miss the characters. I still find myself wondering about them, they became so real to me. The Blue Bench is an incredible novel and one I won’t forget. It is a melancholy read, there is pain and sadness running through it but there is also fun and laughter and love – the novel may be set just after the Great War but the themes are universal and timeless in many respects. It’s a true reflection on how life is and I adored it beyond words. This will be one of those rare books that I will re-read in the future because I loved it so very much. I recommend this to everyone, it really is a stunning novel!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Paul Marriner for my copy of this audio book. All thoughts are my own.

The Blue Bench is out now in audio book and available here. It is also

 

About the Author

Paul Marriner Author picture

Paul grew up in a west London suburb and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. He is passionate about music, sport and, most of all, writing, on which he now concentrates full-time. Paul has written four novels and his primary literary ambition is that you enjoy reading them while he is hard at work on the next one (but still finding time to play drums with Redlands and Rags 2 Riches).

 

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Audio Book Review: Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick (narrated by Colleen MacMahon) | @ClarePedrick @matadorbooks @audibleuk @rararesources

Chickens Eat Pasta audiobook cover

About the Book

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy.

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

 

My Thoughts

Chickens Eat Pasta is the memoir of Clare Pedrick detailing her life as she came out of a relationship break up and on something of a whim bought a run-down house in Italy. She fell in love with the place after seeing a video of chickens eating pasta in a hall in Italy and she immediately makes plans to go there!

I was drawn to this audio book as soon as I saw the gorgeous cover, and once I read the blurb I started listening immediately! This is a gorgeous book that really draws you in to Clare’s story from the very start. I could see how she decided to move to Umbria without a huge amount of thought and planning – it can feel irresistible to make changes after life has turned out different than you expected.

You know from the blurb that things work out for Clare in Italy but whilst I was listening I was so caught up in her life as it was being recounted that I felt I didn’t know how her story would end. I was enthralled by her relationships with the locals, and her romantic interest. There are also some mouth-watering descriptions of food throughout this book that made me want to seek out some recipes!

The narrator of this audio book is Colleen MacMahon and she does a wonderful job. The brilliant writing by Clare combined with the excellent narration by Colleen really give this memoir life. All the characters, and the description of the place were so vivid and I adored it. As a side note I discovered on twitter that Colleen also painted the stunning picture that is the cover image on this book!

If you don’t often read non-fiction, this would be a perfect place to start because it reads with the ease of fiction and you do get completely absorbed in the Clare’s story.

Chickens Eat Pasta made me feel like I was right there with Clare in Umbria, it gave me such a vivid and evocative depiction of the place and the people. I loved listening to this book and I miss it now I’ve finished it. I can’t travel anymore but listening to this book gave me some wonderful escapism and I adored it. I definitely recommend this book.

Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and my audio copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Chickens Eat Pasta is available as an audiobook from here.

 

About the Author

Chickens Eat Pasta Author Photo

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.​

You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria here

 

Giveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally)

  • Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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