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Burnt Paper Sky By Gilly MacMillan

Burnt Paper Sky‘Burnt Paper Sky’ is Gilly MacMillan’s debut novel.

Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing. But what really happened that fateful afternoon? Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel? The clock is ticking to find Ben alive. Whose side are you on?

I’ll be honest, when I initially started this book, I found it a bit slow and laborious to get into, but as time went by and the plot thickened, I found that I couldn’t put the book down and all my great intentions of early nights went out the window.

The book is likened to ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ and it is another gripping thriller with a psychological twist about every parents nightmare when a child goes missing. But, what makes the story really interesting is that it is seen from the perspective of the mother of the missing child and the police detective investigating the cases and deals with the raw emotions when tempers and situations run amok.

After letting her son run ahead of her in the woods, Rachel has immediately become a public figure of hate, an irresponsible mother, she is the classic victim of guilty before proven innocent. Although she battles with her own guilt of letting her little boy taste a bit of independence. She tries to put on a brave face even though her world is falling down around her as she appears to be the main suspect in the case and her whole life has been a lie. As the days pass by and hopes begins to fade, she finds herself dealing with the impossible thought of a life without her little boy. Meanwhile Detective Inspector Jim Clemo, is one of the leading officers in the case and is finding the pressure of the case to be quite immense, trying to keep his emotions separate from the case, we see a man desperate to return the little boy to his mother, but fighting against the clock is hard when new suspects appear and alibis don’t make sense.

The story is cleverly and honestly written and with the two perspectives of the story, it gives an insight into the technical and factual side of the investigation and the heartache and fear from the other, so the pace and emotion of the story constantly change making the story a thrilling read. Rachel as the main character, I thought was quite an interesting woman how she battled under pressure and how she dealt with situations made me regularly question her involvement in the incident and I found this to be the case with many of the people we encounter along the story, filled with shady and unlikable characters, the book is filled with suspects and this really keeps the reader on their toes.

‘Burnt Paper Sky’ reads like a factual story as it is filled with facts about child disappearances and with the inclusion of a fast paced and dark narrative makes this debut a thrillingly, intelligent and sensitively written book that will leave you restless until you reach the final page, no wonder it’s Piatkus’s breakthrough novel, it’s a terrific read.

You can buy Burnt Paper Sky from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Win A Copy Of Hello, Goodbye And Everything In Between By Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye And Everything in BetweenOne of all time favourite Young Adult authors, Jennifer E. Smith is back with a brand new story called ‘Hello, Goodbye And Everything in Between’ and the generous people at Headline Publishing have given me two copies of the book, one for me and one for a lucky winner.

The story of ‘Hello, Goodbye And Everything in Between’ is –

One night. A life-changing decision. And a list…

Of course Clare made a list. She creates lists for everything. That’s just how she is.

But tonight is Clare and Aidan’s last night before college and this list will decide their future, together or apart.

It takes them on a rollercoaster ride through their past – from the first hello in science class to the first conversation at a pizza joint, their first kiss at the beach and their first dance in a darkened gymnasium – all the way up to tonight.

A night of laughs, fresh hurts, last-minute kisses and an inevitable goodbye.

But will it be goodbye forever or goodbye for now?

To be in with an chance of winning this book, simply reply below with your answer to the question by Monday 7th September and I shall pick a name at random.

What does Clare create?

Good luck everyone!

Sinéad Crowley

Sinéad CrowleySinéad Crowley is Arts and Media Correspondent for RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, working for television, radio and online. Her debut thriller, ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ was a bestseller in Ireland and shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2014. Her second novel, ‘Are You Watching Me?’ also features Detective Claire Boyle was released this summer. Sinéad lives in Dublin with her husband and two young sons.

  1. Can you tell us what your new book ‘Are You Watching Me?’ is about?
    ‘Are You Watching Me’ is about a young woman, Liz who is trying to retreat from life after a difficult couple of years. She doesn’t use social media and has found the most low key job imaginable, as an assistant at a charity for elderly men. But a chance appearance on TV leads her to unexpected and unwanted fame, and then one day she gets a letter from a man called Stephen, who says he is watching her.

    At the same time the body of one of the clients of the centre is found at his home. Could the two events be connected?

  2. To the readers of the website, tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
    I’ve been working as a journalist for over twenty years and am currently Arts and Media Correspondent with RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster. But I always loved writing as well. I wrote an unpublished novel in my twenties and then in my mid thirties decided to give it another go. On maternity leave with my first child I got the idea for the book that would become ‘Can Anybody Help me?’, which was published in May 2014 and is the first to feature Det Sgt Claire Boyle. She also features in ‘Are You Watching Me?’ and a third book, currently underway.
  3. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    The house in the hollow was ‘a mile from anywhere’ – so Maywood people said.”
    From ‘Emily of New Moon’ by LM Montgomery.
  4. Why did you decide that you wanted to write crime?
    I wrote the type of book I love to read! I love thrillers, and crime fiction, anything with a good twist in the tale. If readers say to me that they were surprised by the endings of my books then that makes me very happy.
  5. Who’s your favourite villain?
    Oliver, from ‘Unravelling Oliver’ by Liz Nugent is an interesting baddie. And if I can mention one of my own, can I say I have a soft spot for Stephen, the stalker in my new book. Again, it’s about why they do what they do.
  6. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    That’s a hard one but I’m sure you are sick of people saying ‘oh I couldn’t possibly choose!”. So I’m going to go with ‘Flowers on the Grass’ by Monica Dickens.
  7. What do you think makes a good crime book?
    Believable plot and characters. I don’t enjoy crime fiction where the villain is bad ‘just because’. I want to know why things happen as well as when and how. I’m also a sucker for a good twist. I can think of two books in the last few years that made me gasp out loud, Claire Mackintosh’s ‘I Let You Go’ and Erin Kelly’s ‘The Burning Air’ and I loved both.
  8. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Reading and writing, that’s it really. And it’s good to read outside your own genre as well. There are a lot of books out there, it’s a shame to confine yourself to one area. Also read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. That’s an order!
  9. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Declan Burke for his guidance on crime fiction. Sarah Bannon for literary fiction and YA. Louise O’Neill, because she makes every gathering cooler simply by attending.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which 3 books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    I read really quickly so they’d have to be long! ‘Lonesome Dove’ by Larry McMurty, which has been sitting on my shelf for years. Can I cheat and say a compendium of Agatha Christie books? One with about five books in it? And ‘Gone with the Wind’. That should see me through. I like stories.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Tall, skinny vanilla latte.
  12. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon that you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    My second book ‘Are You Watching Me’ is now out, and I hope people enjoy the second instalment in the Claire Boyle series. There’ll be at least one other in the series, release date TBC.

Follow Sinéad Crowley on Twitter Sinéad Crowley for updates.

The Waiting Game By Jessica Thompson – Review And Book Review

The Waiting Game’The Waiting Game’ is the latest book by Jessica Thompson.

Nessa Bruce waits for her husband to come through the double doors. She’d waited for him to return home from Afghanistan for what felt like forever, and now the moment was finally here. But Jake isn’t… Jake Bruce hasn’t come home, and it looks like he never will. Nessa’s life – and that of her daughter Poppy – is turned upside down in an instant. What has happened to the elusive man at the centre of their world? They hold onto the hope that he is still out there somewhere, alive… but as time passes by, Nessa is forced to look at her life, at the decisions she has made and the secrets she has kept. For maybe somewhere within it all lies the answer to the question she’s desperate to answer – where is the man she loves?

Jessica has firmly become one of my favourite authors. I immediately fell in love with her writing when she released her debut ‘This Is A Love Story’ a frank and honest account of a relationship between a boy and a girl and how blurred the lines are between friendship and love. Her books are from the heart tales about current affairs, that strike a chord and usually leave the reader with a lump in their throat and ’The Waiting Game’ is no different.

In this story, we meet Nessa Bruce, a quiet and sweet young woman who has committed her life to her husband and teenage daughter. Given up on her dream of becoming a midwife, she has let Jake, her husband follow his dreams of becoming a solider and waits for his term to complete from Afghanistan so he can return and make their small family complete. Whilst she waits for him, she has to put with her moody and ungrateful daughter Poppy, who openly looks down on her mother and worry about finances, as she struggles with her librarian job, she tries to provide for her high maintenance daughter, but it’s never good enough for the stroppy teenager. But one day, she Nessa hears the news that she has always feared, that Jake has been involved in an explosion fortunately he has survived the blast but is finding it hard to cope. When he returns home, Nessa is fully committed to looking after him but she never gets the chance because Jake disappears and Nessa has to prepare herself for the eventuality that he may never return.

I loved Nessa, she was a sweet and strong woman who had an accepting and kind nature, always putting others first and herself last. She had a difficult childhood as she and her younger sister were sent to numerous foster homes and she never fully recovered from a particular incident. Her daughter, Poppy was very volatile towards her mother and this sometimes made for unsettling reading as she didn’t seem to realise just how much Nessa did for her. Another interesting addition to the story was Will, who was Nessa’s childhood best friend and has always been there for her. At some point in both of lives they were in love with each other, but time was never on their side and he provides Nessa with not emotional but financial support during this difficult time, with his hipster way of life, he injects some lightheartedness into this poignant tale.

The story is written solely through the narrative of Nessa and flashes back and forth to various key moments in her life, from a teenage girl falling in love to marrying the love of her life. The story is a heartbreaking tale from the beginning and we see both Nessa and Poppy experience many moments of vulnerability and sadness as they deal with the fact that Jake has left them. There are many tender and bittersweet scenes that make for sad reading as they deal with their grief. Written from the heart, ‘The Waiting Game’ is a touching and sensitively written story that focuses on many issues such a dementia, grief and domestic abuse and shows how profoundly and differently it can effect people and how they deal with the uncertainty in life.

Now after reading my review of ‘The Waiting Game’ sit back and enjoy a letter that Nessa had written for her first love Will, but never had the courage to send.

Letter from Nessa to Will (never sent)

01.08.1996

Dear Will,

I know we’ve been friends for a long time, ever since we were sat together in science class, tasked with making a basic circuit in Year 7.

I watched you as you fiddled around nervously with the tiny light bulb and the wires, barely able to speak to me. Your fingers trembled, your nails had been ferociously chewed. You were scared of girls in a primal way, like a mouse faced with a cat and no way of escaping.

I thought you were a bit funny back then, if I’m honest.

You smelt like mothballs, and you were horribly uncool. Your choice of words was pretentious, and you babbled on about things the rest of us didn’t understand. You were so vulnerable really, and so I just wanted to look after you. I guess I took you on as a project.

But then you changed so much Will, and so suddenly too.

Within just a few years you went from this spindly, knock-kneed Year 7 with a mouth full of brace, who would regularly fall over his own satchel while running for the bus, to this incredibly handsome lad in Year 10, with big broad shoulders and a smile to match. I mean look at you, Will… Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror, and realise it, realise how gorgeous you are?

I noticed the change. Not just in you either, but in the way the others at school responded to you. Boys started high fiving you, and picking you for their teams in P.E. Girls gazed in your direction across the classroom, unable to concentrate on Mr Smith’s never-ending lectures on string theory and neutrinos.

You didn’t notice, because you’re so lovely and humble. You don’t have an arrogant bone in your body, Will.

Instead of throwing things at your head and creating cruel rhymes about you, the girls now flutter their eyelashes, pathetically. They speak to you coyly behind locker doors, giggling at everything you say, even if it’s not that funny.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t matter anymore, like you hardly notice me and I’ve melted into the background. Why would I stand out? I’m not like them.

You get invited to all the cool stuff now, and you bring me most of the time, which is nice. But sometimes I wonder if you don’t see me as a bit of a little sister type, hanging around and tagging along? Perhaps you feel like you should, because I was your only friend back then.

I can’t believe how lovely you are Will, and you just keep getting better.

At 15, I’ve never loved someone before, but I’m sure I’m falling in love with you… When you call out my name my heart flutters, whenever you’re near me I feel like I could fly… I think of you all the time, hoping that one day you might pay me some real attention, like you do those pretty girls at school.

I don’t know how to tell you, or even when to tell you. I don’t know if I will ever pluck up the courage to give you this letter… Do you know that I’m falling for you Will? Is it obvious on my face, and the way I speak to you?

Are you surprised, and will you laugh at me, or do you feel the same?

Nessa
xxx

You can buy The Waiting Game from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

If you enjoyed today’s stop on the tour, then check out the poster below and follow the tour.

The Waiting Game Book Tour

The Other Me By Saskia Sarginson

The Other Me’The Other Me’ is the latest book by Saskia Sarginson.

Eliza Bennet has the life she’s always dreamed of. She’s who she wants to be, and she’s with the man she loves. But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She’s escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.
This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia – one girl, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from.

‘The Other Me’, was for me a completely unexpected story that gripped my attention throughout. At its core, it is a love story with a bittersweet sad and historic tale that does make for tender reading.

The story is primarily set in three different eras, 1986 when Klaudia Myer is quiet teenage girl who becomes a victim of bullying when her father is revealed as the caretaker of her secondary school and people discover her true heritage, Fast forward to 1996 and Klaudia Myer has become Eliza Bennett. Her mother has suddenly passed away and she returns home to care for her father, a gruff, religious man who doesn’t show his only daughter much love or attention. Although she is a dancer at heart, she lacks confidence in herself and prefers to keep it hidden so she works in a burlesque bar and admires from afar the confidence that the other dancers exudes whilst she cleans glasses and dreams of a far more exciting life. Here in the her bar-tending role, she meets Cosmo, a artist who has become her boyfriend, although she loves him dearly, Eliza hides a secret from him. A secret that she has carried since she was a teenager and she worries if this secret is revealed then she will reveal the love of her life. The story is also written in 1931 in Germany during the Second World War and is seen from the eyes of a reluctant soldier and this is an intriguing part to the story as the identity of the soldier isn’t revealed until the end and I found this a particularly good twist to the story.

I really enjoyed this story and thought the leading character Klaudia/Eliza was an interesting woman as she tries to find her path in life, she questions her family and also hides her true identity from those she loves the most. She keeps people at a distance and regularly there are quite sad and poignant moments and then are other scenes when she takes a chance on life and seizes the opportunities that she feels are out of her reach and these are refreshing scenes.

Another part of the story that I enjoyed was the historical twist to the story, as I have a keen interest in German history and these chapters, I found myself racing through these parts of the story as they gave an interesting insight to the other side of the war, as one man battled with his emotions with not only his part in the war but with his relationship with his own family.

This book was a compelling read with an intricately written plotline that made for clever reading. A historical and romantic story with a twist, ‘The Other Me’ is a moving tale about family, guilt and finding your true path in life.

You can buy The Other Me from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.