Book Review: Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie | @alisonbailliex @Bloodhoundbook

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About the Book

More than thirty years after thirteen-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

When modern DNA evidence reveals that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona?

Soon Sarah and Tom find themselves caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and everyone is a suspect.

The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears.

 

My Thoughts

Sewing the Shadows Together is about Tom, whose younger sister Shona was raped and murdered when they were teenagers. He still carries the guilt of not being there to protect her and it haunts him in the present day many years later. Sarah was Shona’s best friend and she is also still haunted by the loss. Tom and Shona meet again at a school reunion and while Tom is back in Edinburgh they find out the man convicted of killing Shona has been cleared with modern DNA techniques.

This novel is set in the present day but those chapters are interspersed with recollections from the past in the lead up to, and aftermath of, Shona’s murder. I loved the story being told in this way as I wanted to see how everything would connect up. I had my suspicions about who had really killed Shona, and while I can sort of claim that I guessed right I would really be fibbing a little bit as I suspected a lot of the people in this book!

Tom is such a great character. His life has clearly been hugely affected by the death of his sister. He’s lost his ambition to achieve big things in life and instead has been floating along aimlessly seeing what happens. It definitely felt like his life would have been so different had his sister not died. I really felt for him because losing someone young, when you’re also still young, is profoundly affecting and it changes you. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose someone in such a horrific and traumatic way though.

I also really liked Sarah. I did feel that she is something of a doormat within her family – she puts up with a distracted husband, a domineering mother, and is somehow not up to speed with what is happening in her (grown up) children’s lives. She is always doing her best though and she really does care. I can see how she ended up as she is, it’s that juggling act of trying to keep everyone happy and it so often being at the expense of yourself. I was rooting for her and hoping that she would find some happiness for herself.

Apart from Tom and Sarah I didn’t particularly like anyone in this novel but I do so enjoy reading about unlikeable characters. It worked so well in this book as it gave a lot of potential suspects. Everyone in the novel is well-rounded and there is a complexity to the characters – no one seemed all bad or all good and so it made it harder to figure out whodunnit.

Ultimately, Sewing the Shadows Together is a brilliant crime novel. It has a depth to it and while the solving the crime is the central plot there are other things going on that add interest and make this book near impossible to put down! I bought this book when it was first published but didn’t read it until recently and I’m really kicking myself for leaving it so long. It is such a brilliant debut and I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Alison Baillie’s novels in the future!

Sewing the Shadows Together is gripping, engrossing and an all-round brilliant read! I highly recommend it!

I purchased my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Sewing the Shadows Together is out on 12 March and available here.

 

About the Author

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Alison Baillie was born in Scarborough of Scottish parents and lived in County Durham, Somerset and the Yorkshire Dales before going to university in Scotland. She then taught English in several Edinburgh secondary schools before moving to Switzerland where she still lives now. She’s taught English as a Foreign Language in Finland and Switzerland.

When she stopped teaching full-time, she fulfilled a life-time ambition and wrote Sewing the Shadows Together, a psychological suspense novel inspired in part by events when she was teaching in Scotland. She is fascinated by the way we are influenced by the events of our past and has now written a second novel, A Fractured Winter, set in Switzerland, Scotland and Yorkshire.

She has two sons and three grandchildren and is proud of their international roots, having a mixture of Scottish, Swiss, Polish and Finnish heritage. As well as spending time with them, she loves travelling, walking in the mountains and by the sea, reading and writing.

 

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#BookReview: Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell | @DredaMitchell @BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

Home Is Where The Nightmare Is

Beautiful double room to let to single person

Lisa, a troubled young woman with a past, can’t believe her luck when she finds a beautiful room to rent in a large house. The live-in owners are a kind and welcoming couple. Everything is fine until she finds a suicide note hidden in her room. But when the couple insist this man didn’t exist and that Lisa is their first tenant, Lisa begins to doubt herself.

Compelled to undercover the secrets of the man who lived in the room before her, Lisa is alarmed when increasingly disturbing incidents start to happen. Someone doesn’t want Lisa to find out the truth.

As the four walls of this house and its secrets begin to close in on Lisa, she descends into a hellish hall of mirrors where she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not as she claws her way towards the truth…

Did this room already claim one victim?

Is it about to take another?

 

My Thoughts

Spare Room is a novel about Lisa, who on moving into the spare room of Jack and Martha’s home begins to notice disconcerting things. She finds a suicide note, seemingly written by a previous tenant, down the back of her bedside table. She’s also very suspicious of Jack, believing him to be trying to make her so uncomfortable that she’ll leave.

Wow, this book is fast-paced! It opens with a prologue where a man is about to take his own life, and then moves to Lisa coming to view a room in the house. I was gripped from the very beginning and I couldn’t put this book down.

Lisa is clearly troubled. Early on there are hints that she had an eating disorder when she was younger, and she has trouble making friends and forming romantic relationships. She has odd behaviours at bed time too, which made me really curious about what was going on with her. She quickly becomes certain that Jack is trying to frighten her but because we only see things from her point of view, I wasn’t sure how much was him being vile and how much was Lisa being paranoid. I loved the fact that Lisa isn’t always likeable in this book, it meant that while I felt sorry for her I could see that she does have potential to be very manipulative to get what she wants. It made her more real, she’s not just a stereotypical victim.

Lisa becomes increasingly fixated on finding out who lived in the spare room before her. Her need to know begins to encroach on her life, and all her thoughts come to revolve around what happened to him. The more she wonders about him the more she becomes suspicious of Jack and Martha. I couldn’t work out how it was all going to turn out for anyone.

I didn’t trust a single person in this book, it felt from the start like there are lots of secrets to be uncovered! Lisa’s parents seemed very odd to me, I couldn’t put my finger on why to start with but I just wasn’t sure of them. Jack and Martha are a strange couple, they have very strict rules for Lisa while she’s living in their house and they seem very cold to her. It seemed odd to rent out a room in your house to a stranger if you’re not comfortable with a stranger living in your house.

Spare Room was chilling at times, and while the weird happenings in the house Lisa moved in to were really unnerving, the most chilling thing for me was the lies people were prepared to tell in order to keep up the pretence of their own lives even if it does harm to others.

Spare Room is a really twisty (and twisted!) novel and I found it impossible to put down! I started it quite late at night and it was one of those ‘just one more chapter’ books where you end up staying up way past bedtime to finish it because you simply have to know how it’s all going to end! This was my first novel by Dreda Say Mitchell but it definitely won’t be my last!

Spare Room is gripping, dark, twisty and almost impossible to put down! I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Emma at Bloodhound Books for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Spare Room is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Dreda Say Mitchell is an award-winning, bestselling crime writer, broadcaster, campaigner, and journalist. Since her sixth book she has been co-writing with Tony Mason. She is the author of eleven novels, with her debut awarded The CWA’s John Creasey Dagger. She has been a frequent guest on television and radio including Question Time, BBC Breakfast, Newsnight, Victoria Derbyshire, The Stephen Nolan Show, Front Row and Woman’s Hour and numerous others. She has presented Radio 4’s Open Book. Dreda was named one of Britain’s 50 Remarkable Women by Lady Geek in association with Nokia. She was the 2011 chair of the Harrogate Crime Fiction Festival. Dreda and Tony’s work is currently in development for TV. She was born and raised in the East End of London where she continues to live.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.dredasaymitchell.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DredaMitchell

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DredaSayMitchell

 

 

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#BookReview: Perfect Bones by A. J. Waines @AJWaines @BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.

The third book in the Samantha Willerby series, Perfect Bones is a tense and creepy psychological thriller that will send your pulse racing. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Nicci French, Mark Edwards and Lisa Gardner.

 

My Thoughts

Firstly, I want to wish AJ Waines a very happy publication day! Perfect Bones is out today and I’m delighted to be sharing my review.

Perfect Bones is the third book in the Samantha Willerby series but it can be read as a standalone. This time Samantha is called in to help art student Aiden who is so traumatised by a crime he has seen that he’s now mute. The police need his eye witness testimony so Samantha is desperately trying to help Aiden communicate before the killer strikes again.

Perfect Bones is told in the present as Samantha works with Aiden to try and recover what memories he has of the attack, but it is interspersed with seemingly unconnected chapters of women going to mysterious meetings. It’s initially unclear how these might be connected to the main story but it keeps you hooked to find out.

I know what PTSD is like but I was fascinated to see how a psychologist works with a patient who is rendered mute from the trauma. It was so interesting to see the various ways people can be encouraged to communicate what they’ve been through. AJ Waines clearly knows this area very well and it comes through so authentically. The police aren’t so sympathetic to Aiden, in part because they are desperate to catch the killer before anyone else is harmed but it felt like there was a lack of understanding that it wasn’t Aiden being difficult when he doesn’t communicate. This all felt very believable and realistic and gave a rounded picture of how mental illness is viewed.

Samantha is such a strong character but she’s also very human. She’s sometimes a bit rash, and she occasionally goes beyond what she’s required to do for a patient and I love this about her. She’s so believable and feels like a real person to me. I loved catching up with her and I already can’t wait for the next book to see what she’s up to next!

The tension in this novel is there from the start and it ramps up as the book goes along. It was a book I didn’t want to put down once I started reading, and I kept thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. So much so that I even had a dream relating to the gruesome assault after reading this right before bed and that’s never, ever happened to me before! My brain was whirring away as I tried to work out whodunnit but I didn’t manage to figure it out so AJ Waines I salute you in keeping me guessing right to the end – it doesn’t happen very often in a book but this had me stumped!

Perfect Bones is one of my favourite crime/psychological thrillers of the year; it’s a fast-paced, engrossing novel that will keep you hooked from start to finish. I definitely recommend picking up novel (and indeed the whole series)!

Many thanks to Emma at Bloodhound Books for my copy of Perfect Bones. All thoughts are my own.

Perfect Bones is out now and available here.

I’ve previously reviewed Lost in the Lake by AJ Waines, which you can read here if you’d like to.

 

About the Author

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AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train.

Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author now writes psychological thrillers and murder mysteries full-time, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books). In December 2017, she signed a UK two-book deal with Bloodhound Books.

AJ Waines has has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and been ranked a Top 10 UK Author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The author lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

 

 

 

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#BookReview: The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor @Jennie_Ensor ‏@BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…

Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.

Intimidated by her father’s rages, Laura has never told anyone the truth about her childhood. Now she must decide whether she has the courage to expose him and face the consequences.

Can Laura overcome her fear and save Emma before the worst happens?

 

My Thoughts

Today is publication day for The Girl in his Eyes so I’m thrilled to be sharing my review and helping promote this incredible novel!  I was drawn to The Girl in his Eyes as soon as I first heard about it and am so pleased to say that it was all that I hoped it would be.

Laura is carrying the awful secret of what her father did to her when she was younger and it’s affecting her to this day. She struggles to be in the family home and is distant from her mum and brother as a result. One day she finds out that her dad is taking a young girl for swimming lessons and she realises that she may have no choice but to confront what he did to her.

The Girl in his Eyes is told from multiple perspectives: Laura, her mother and her father. I was unsure how I was going to feel reading the dad’s point of view knowing what he did to his daughter and how his mind seemed to work. However, Jennie Ensor has dealt with the issue of abuse in such a sensitive way that I found it gave balance to the novel to know his thought process (as disturbing as it was to read).

I could really sympathise with Laura and I agonised with her over what she should do about her dad. It’s all too easy to say that victims should speak out but it’s so much more complex than that. Laura didn’t want to upset the rest of her family, particularly her mum, and worried that she wouldn’t be believed because her father gives such a convincing performance as a nice, normal family man. She is trying to hard to make a life for herself now she lives away from the family home she grew up in but her anxiety every time she goes back to visit brings it all back to the surface again; it’s a wound that isn’t allowed to heal.

Laura’s mother’s viewpoint was the one that I found affected me more than I was expecting, and this surprised me. I swung from being utterly disbelieving that she hadn’t had any inkling of what her husband was doing to their daughter, to feeling a sense of sadness for her as she tried to process and re-evaluate her marriage. There is a small moment in the novel when she sees a large spider out of her eye corner  and is terrified so immediately throws a huge book on top of it and stamps it down. She then leaves it there until someone comes home and she gets them to deal with it. This moment gave me goosebumps because that was when I really understood her and felt sorry for her. It’s such a tiny moment in the book but it showed me how her mind works when it came to dealing with things she truly can’t cope with.

The Girl in his Eyes is a very prescient novel. We are in the wake of the #metoo movement and are having our eyes opened to the abuse that goes on behind closed doors. This novel is about one woman and her father but the way the novel explores how Laura is still dealing with the trauma as an adult and the choices she makes are so important for society to understand. People who have been abused and traumatised sometimes deal with it by taking control in ways that can be hard for others to understand. I very much appreciated how Ensor explores this aspect of Laura’s life.

This isn’t always an easy book to read due to the subject matter and it feels unsettling at times but it is absolutely worth reading. I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading it to start with but I ended up reading it all in one sitting, and it did make me cry in places but I’m so glad that I read it. Ensor handles the subject of child abuse so sensitively; there is nothing graphic or gratuitous in the novel; it is much more a look at how it leaves people feeling and the affect it has on people’s lives. She has done an exceptional job to confront child abuse in such an honest and real way without it ever being too much to read.

The Girl in his Eyes is an incredible novel that will really stay with me. It’s such an important novel about the lasting damage of sexual abuse but it’s so beautifully and sensitively written that you’ll find yourself utterly absorbed in the story and won’t want to stop turning the pages. I read it in one sitting because it had me gripped from the opening chapter! This is a book that everyone should read; I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

The Girl in His Eyes is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Jennie+Ensor

Jennie Ensor lives in London and has Irish roots. During a long trip overseas she obtained a Masters in Journalism and began her writing career as a journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. Her debut novel BLIND SIDE was published by Unbound in 2016. In January 2018 her short story ‘The Gift’ was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. Her poetry has appeared in many UK and overseas publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. She sings in a chamber choir.

 

 

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#BookReview: No Place Like Home by @RebeccaMuddiman @BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?
This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home.The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.
What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?
In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for No Place Like Home as I’ve loved Rebecca Muddiman’s previous novels and so was certain that I would love this one. I’m so happy to say that this was a great read and I was gripped!

No Place Like Home is the story of Polly who has recently moved in to her new home and she is so excited to have a place that is all hers where she can feel cosy and safe. She has quite a dull life working an office job and keeping herself to herself but she’s also coping with her mum being recently moved to a nursing home due to a stroke. She visits her regularly and finds the situation really stressful and tough. On top of this she soon notices that a man keeps standing outside her house and staring in at all hours of the day and she is increasingly annoyed and then unnerved by him. Polly isn’t sure how to handle the situation but then things begin to escalate and she has to do something!

This novel is so twisted! It starts off like I expected it to as we get to know Polly and see how her life is and how she deals with Jacob watching her but as the situation escalates the novel becomes increasingly thrilling. The way this novel goes back and forth in time really heightens the tension as we begin to form a picture of how Polly ended up with Jacob obsessively watching her. I became more and more unnerved as the book went on but I could not put it down! It drew me in and kept me reading until the small hours of the morning because it reached a point where I couldn’t sleep until I knew how this book was going to end.

This is a hard book to review because you’re best going into it not knowing much more than it says in the blurb so I’m keeping this vague on purpose. The main thing you need to know is that this is a brilliant psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes all the way through. It’s a novel that will have you wondering how far you, or someone you might know, would go for what they want! I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

No Place Like Home is out today and available here.

 

About the Author

Rebecca Muddiman is from Redcar and has lived there all her life except for time working in Holland where she lived on a canal boat, and in London, where she lived six feet away from Brixton prison. She has a very boring day job, a degree in Film and Media and an MA in Creative Writing. In 2010 she won a Northern Writers’ Time to Write Award and the Northern Crime Competition in 2012. She is the author of two previous novels: STOLEN and GONE. She lives with her boyfriend, Stephen, and dog, Cotton, in a semi-detached house which they have christened ‘Murder Cottage’.

 

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