All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Secret Voices by M J White

I’m so excited to share my review for The Secret Voices by M J White. As soon as I heard an extract from this novel it went to the top of my must read list so imagine my excitement at being invited to this blog tour. Thanks Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. Scroll down to see if it lived up to its promise and my high expectations.

Book Review: The Secret Voices by M J White

Book Cover for The Secret Voices by M J White.

Dark sky with woman wearing a yellow coat looking out to the sea.
The Secret Voices by M J White

Title: The Secret  Voices

Author: M J White

Publisher: Hera

Genre: Crime

Release Date: 28th April 2022

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3IdYXpJ

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3fxbUia

Apple: https://apple.co/3IwAZGz

Blurb

They said they’d keep me safe.

They said, ‘It’s okay, Hannah. You know you can trust me.’

They lied.

When eight-year-old Hannah Perry goes missing in the small Suffolk village of St Just, the community is rocked. Heading up the investigation is Acting DS Rob Minshull, but he’s out of his depth in a case that seems to mirror the disappearance of a young boy, seven years ago. That search ended in unimaginable tragedy…and Minshull is praying that history won’t be repeated.

But with an investigation full of dead ends, and a kidnapper taunting the police with sinister deliveries of Hannah’s belongings and cryptic notes, the young girl’s life hangs perilously in danger.

Until Dr Cora Lael enters the picture. A psychologist with a unique ability, Cora’s rare gift allows her to sense emotions attached to discarded objects. When she is shown the first of Hannah’s belongings, she hears the child’s piercing scream.

With few leads on the case, could Cora prove Hannah’s only hope? And as time runs out, can they find Hannah before history repeats itself…?

A twisty, original and utterly gripping detective thriller that fans of James Oswald and LJ Ross will love. Don’t miss the crime thriller debut from the bestselling women’s fiction author, Miranda Dickinson.

My Thoughts

I’m so excited to share my review for The Secret Voices by M J White. As soon as I heard about this novel it went to the top of my must-read list so imagine my excitement at being invited to this blog tour. Thanks Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. Scroll down to see if it lived up to its promise and my high expectations.

I was hooked on this story before I began reading it because of an extract read by M J White aka the best-selling romantic novelist Miranda Dickinson on her weekly chatty show where she introduced 8 year old Hannah. The innocence of her voice as she has been lured into hiding by them shone through and once the premise of the story was told I needed to know more.

I galloped through this book.  It was unputadownable. Forget sleep I needed to know the ending. I love dark crime series with strong and distinctive characters with depth and backstories that you know will be revealed in time. This hit the spot and I felt the same thrill reading this as I did when I discovered Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint books and Mo Hayder.

Told in many points of view, I not only wanted to know whodunnit and why, I was invested emotionally in the all the characters. I cared for them especially Hannah and Dr Cora Lael. Cora is a protagonist to remember, not just for her voice but her unique ability to hear emotional echoes from objects. While I love books with a paranormal twist, I loved the fact that this gift isn’t using this trope but her ability is an extension of synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is where people experience words or emotions as colours or taste. Using this condition grounds this novel into reality. Like many who are different, Cora has challenges to manage her condition and the backlash she receives.

Acting Detective Sergeant Rob Minshull has challenges of his own and the banter between his team made this side of the novel feel realistic. The pace of the case was gripping and the use of Hannah’s voice while in captivity added to the gravity of the situation and feeling her fear and hearing her child logic to explain what has happened were heart breaking to read.

Fast paced with many twists and a chemistry brewing between Cora and Minshull, this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time and I’m excited for the future cases.

Would I recommend?

Yes, yes, yes.  This one of my favourite books of the year so far. The premise, characters and tone of this novel hooked me in. It’s more than a crime procedural novel with an intriguing twist, it has heart. With an atmospheric setting, it’s a series for my forever shelf and would be wonderful on screen too. I have reread it and even knowing the culprit, it didn’t lose its urgency or depth which makes it a triumph I can’t wait to discover what happens to Dr Cora Lael and Minshull do next.

Author Biography

Photo of M J White aka Miranda Dickinson
M J White

MJ White is the crime pen name of the internationally bestselling author Miranda Dickinson. To date she has sold over one million books worldwide and has been translated into sixteen languages. Miranda has always been a huge fan of crime fiction and The Secret Voices marks the start of a new and exciting departure for her writing.

https://twitter.com/MJWhite13

Other blogs on the tour*

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this fantastic tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

Other blogs on this tour

April 28th

Niki Preston, Jera’s Jamboree, Splashes into books

April 29th

Ramblingmads.com, Bookmadjo – Mad about books, Baker’s not so secret blog

Jessica Belmont, Bookish Jottings, Varietats

1st May

Confessions of a bookaholic, Monika Reads, Jenny Lou’s book reviews

2nd May

Quirkybookreads, Jane Hunt Writer, Kelly T’s Space

3rd May

Cal Turner’s reviews, Jaffareadstoo, Heidi Lynn’s book reviews

4th May

Nicki’s book blog, A Little Book Problem, @breathe.andread

5th May

Herding cats, Kate Kenzie Writes, Afternoonbookery

6th May

Iheartbooks.blog, Sharon beyond the books, The word is out – Alyson’s reviews

7th May

Chez Maxima, @more.books.yes.please, Sibzzreads

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: A Year of Mr Maybes by Judy Leigh

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for Judy Leigh’s A Year of Mr Maybes. Not only did the cover promise some cheer in a gloomy Yorkshire last week, I was drawn to read because of the older protagonist’s search for love. Scroll down to see if it fulfilled its promise.

Book Review: A Year of Mr Maybes by Judy Leigh

Book cover for A Year of Mr Maybes by Judy Leigh
A Year of Mr Maybes by Judy Leigh

Title: A year of Mr Maybes

Author: Judy Leigh

Publisher: Boldwood books

Genre: Women’s fiction

Release Date: 29th March 2022

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3tpoJmQ

Blurb

Never say never to falling in love…

Val didn’t expect to be starting again in her seventies, but when life gives her lemons, Val is determined to make lemonade.

Settled into her new home – a picture-perfect fisherman’s cottage in the small Cornish seaside town of Lowenstowe – Val is ready to start a new chapter. And with her son due to get married next Christmas, there’s also the little job of finding herself a plus-one to help her face her ex-husband and his new girlfriend.

With the support of her neighbour Connie, and after decades of married life, Val takes the plunge back into the world of dating with trepidation and excitement. But can she remember how the single life works, let alone what her type is? There seem to be plenty of Mr Maybes, but no sign of Mr Right.

As the year passes, and as friendships and community life flourish, Val begins to blossom. And as Christmas approach, she might just decide she doesn’t need that plus-one after all – although never say never… 

Judy Leigh is back with her trademark promise of laughter, love and friendship. The perfect feel-good novel for all fans of Dawn French, Dee Macdonald and Cathy Hopkins.

My Thoughts

Welcome to a year of Cornish loveliness, community and fun. The ease of writing lured me into the Val’s life who proves you’re never too old to search for new beginnings and love. The relationship between her, Connie, and Loveday were a joy to read and the adventures they went on made me want to go on  a road trip to Cornwall and visit the places they visited.

I was expecting a warm, romantic read but this is so much more: it’s a story of friendship, community and how coming together can make big things happen. With older protagonists, it proves romantic stories aren’t just for the young and it provided many memorable moments. I will have the image of a leopard skin catsuit wearing septuagenarian singing karaoke ingrained in my mind forever.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this was a joy to read and Judy Leigh’s talent for painting pictures with words provided a perfect Cornish escape without leaving home. This novel is full of warmth, memorable characters and moments that capture the heart and imagination.

Author Biography

Judy Leigh

Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French HensA Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

Social Media Links –  

Website http://judyleigh.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/judyleighwriter

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/judyrleigh/

Newsletter Sign Up Link http://bit.ly/JudyLeighNewsletter

Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judy-leigh

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

All about Books, Book review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

Today I’m excited to share my review for Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi. This is a different type of book I usually choose to read but I’m trying to expand my reading style. Scroll down to see if my hopes for this novel were achieved.

Book Review: Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

Book Cover: Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
Dark Blue cover with the outline of an Afgantistan city  landscape
Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

Title: Sparks Like Stars

Author: Nadia Hashimi

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Fiction, Historial fiction

Release Date: 2nd March 2022

Blurb

“Suspenseful…emotionally compelling. I found myself eagerly following in a way I hadn’t remembered for a long time, impatient for the next twist and turn of the story.”—NPR

An Afghan American woman returns to Kabul to learn the truth about her family and the tragedy that destroyed their lives in this brilliant and compelling novel from the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, The House Without Windows, and When the Moon Is Low.

Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives. 

Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured. 

New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost. 

Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home—of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi’s singular voice.

My Thoughts

I signed up for this blog tour weeks ago when the world seemed a more stable place so I was concerned that my current emotions would have a negative impact on how I viewed this novel because I expected I’d struggle to read about more troubling times and horror. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This novel is special. I instantly made a connection with mischievous young Sitara as she gazed at stars and studied the constellations and was sucked into her world. Seen through a child’s eyes, the horrific events of 1978 are heart stopping but the book is littered with the wisdom of her father and others throughout. These little gems not only helped Sitara get through but provided me with moments of calm and hope. Current world events made this book more meaningful and drew me in further. I couldn’t put this book down; full of tension, emotion and love I needed to know what happened next as it explored important topics of grief, guilt and trauma.

To my shame, my knowledge of Afghanistan was limited to the news, but Nadia Hashimi’s words gave me a much-needed history lesson and insight into the region’s complex politics that’s still relevant today. She brought the beauty of the palaces, gardens, settings and culture to life making it more shocking to read the devastating events of a coup and beyond. All the characters have depth and vibrancy. I won’t be forgetting Tilly, Boba or Sitara in a hurry.

The most recent timeline in the story is 2008 with the depicted Afghanistan showing hope and a more positive future so I couldn’t help but wonder what the places discussed are like now and what impact last year’s events would have on Arayana.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. I know many people are seeking an escape in uplifting, cosy reads at the moment, as I was before I read this, but I’m so glad I didn’t shy away from reading when the world made a horrifying turn with the Ukraine war. It is an eye opening, emotional and beautifully written novel that gave me an insight into a different Afghanistan than the one represented on the news and its beauty and characters have captured my heart.

This is a book for my forever shelf and I’ll hold the wise words of Sitara’s father close as they have given me something hopeful to cling to in these troubling times.

Author Biography

Photo of Nadia Hashimi
Nadia Hashimi

Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, Nadia made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents. She is a pediatrician and lives with her family in the Washington, DC, surburbs. She is the author of three books for adults, as well as the middle grade novels One Half from the East and The Sky at Our Feet.

Website: www.nadiahashimi.com

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Today’s review is for the gorgeous The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield, a magical novel based in the time running up to the French Revolution.

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Book Cover for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Title: The Embroidered Book

Author: Kate Heartfield

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy, historical

Release Date: 17th February 2022

Blurb

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

 1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless.

When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences. In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives. But every spell requires a sacrifice.

 And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

My Thoughts

Harper Voyager excel at designing book covers that catch your eye and lure you in as if they are enchanted like many of the articles in this book. The cover made me need this book even before I became intrigued by the blurb. I love books with a magical twist but my European history is dire and my knowledge of Marie Antoinette is patchy so I did worry the plot would go over my head. I love historical fiction but with an attention span of a gnat, I have a tendency to get confused. There was no need for my concerns. With a list of main characters at the front and immersive plot I was thrown into the lives of Charlotte and Antoinette after they discover  an embroidered book of magic. The spectacular blend of magic, history and sense of place kept me enthralled.

It is an epic read of 656 pages where the two sisters have to journey through the complex politics of these turbulent times while balancing family and societal expectations when their central reason is to do anything is to do the best for their respective countries. It’s told with empathy and made me consider questions about power, class and influence.

The palaces and characters were brought to life and it was a highly visual experience reading it and would make a wonderful tv series under the right director.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, The Embroidered Book is one to read, keep and treasure. It is as beautiful inside as out and though it’s a work of fiction it gave me a platform to build my knowledge of this era while I was immersed in magic. Full of imagination, magical world building overlaid by historical fact it is a must for fans of both history and fantasy.

It is a book for my forever shelf and will be popular for visitors to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

Photo of Kate Heartfield
Kate Heartfield

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Unravelling by Helen Forbes

Today I’m excited to share a book that made me glad I was a book blogger. There are so many books out there making it easy to miss some gems but because of the invite to the blog tour of Unravelling by Helen Forbes I found one.

Book Review: Unravelling by Helen Forbes

Book cover: Unravelling by Helen Forbes
Unravelling by Helen Forbes

Title: Unravelling

Author: Helen Forbes

Publisher: Scolpaig Press

Genre: Crime, Psychological thriller

Release Date: 15th July 2021

Purchase: UK https://amzn.to/3hDz8EJ / US https://amzn.to/2XqDZlU

Blurb

A forest of secrets 

Two bodies are found buried in a Highland forest, a place that haunts the dreams of Kate Sharp. Her mother, Ellen, died when Kate was a child. Does the forest hold the secret to her death? 

A secret journal 

Kate discovers her mother’s journal, and the tale of a tragic unravelling begins to unfold. Ellen’s story is one of fear and hope, love and loss, set against the imposing background of Craig Dunain, a psychiatric hospital where she should have been safe.  

Unravelling the truth 

Someone else from Ellen’s past is searching for answers, and he will stop at nothing to find them. Unaware of the danger stalking her, Kate continues her search. Will she find the answers? And can she save her own life?  

Beautifully written, cleverly plotted, and meticulously researched, Unravelling is a captivating tale of family secrets. 

My Thoughts

This is a book with depth and soul. While I was reading Kate’s story as she grieves for her grandmother, and discovers secrets from her mum’s past, I tried to pinpoint what the theme of this novel was. Was it a crime, thriller or family drama? When I began Ellen’s story it hit me, it’s all of those things but fundamentally it is the story of a mother and daughter and the bond that exists between them even when they are separated by grief and time.  

It was Ellen’s story which focuses on her time in Craig Dunain, the psychiatric hospital that changed my view that this was a 4 star book; I would have to give it a 5. It captivated me with the characters, deep insight into Ellen’s mind when she suffers from episodes of schizophrenia and paranoia, and the atmosphere of the hospital. It felt real and made an emotional impact on me.

The tension increased as the secrets of the past were revealed and people from the past collide with the present.  I couldn’t put it down.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. Unravelling is an emotional, immersive and powerful thriller with an authentic voice that gives an insight into schizophrenia and life in an institute. Ellen and her world will forever be in my heart and influence how I see things in the future.

The topics of trauma, PTSD, and abuse are dealt with sensitively, but they are impactful so if you are a reader that these maybe a trigger I would avoid.

Author Biography

Author Helen Forbes
Helen Forbes

Crime fiction was not what lawyer, Helen Forbes, expected to write.  As a single parent and mature law student, she used her limited spare time to write contemporary and historical fiction.  It was a chance remark at a writing club that led her to develop a short story into her debut crime novel, In the Shadow of the Hill, featuring DS Joe Galbraith. The novel is set in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, and it was described in one newspaper review as having ‘more twists and turns than the road to the isles, making it impossible to put down.’  The novel and characters proved popular with readers, leading to the publication of a second book in the DS Joe Galbraith series. Madness Lies is set in Inverness and North Uist.  Helen has now taken to crime with a passion, and has published two psychological thrillers. Unravelling is set in Inverness, against the background of a former psychiatric hospital. Deception is set in Edinburgh, and tackles the themes of domestic violence, prostitution and trafficking. Helen has also completed a further thriller set in Edinburgh, which she hopes to publish in 2022. Queen of Grime’s main character is a crime and trauma scene cleaner with a big secret. It is gritty and dark, but also funny and uplifting. Helen hopes to expand Queen of Grime into a series.

Social Media Links –

Facebook Author Page https://bit.ly/3mzghfD

Twitter https://twitter.com/foreva48

Website https://www.helenforbes.co.uk/

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

Blogs on this tour