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The Afternoon Tea Club By Jane Gilley

The Afternoon Tea Club”The Afternoon Tea Club’ is the latest book by Jane Gilley.

Marjorie, Stacy, Raymond and Dora each hold a different story to their chest – lost loves, abandoned dreams, crippling self-confidence issues, and simply feeling invisible. For each of them, the thought of letting those stories out is almost as terrifying as letting strangers in, and that makes for a very lonely life indeed. But when these four strangers who have struggled to “fit in” end up on the same table for an event at their local community centre, little do they know that their lives are about to be entwined and changed forever because of an Afternoon Tea club. Cue an unexpected journey of self-discovery, some unlikely new companions, and plenty of tea and biscuits along the way…

With a simply stunning cover, this book was an enjoyable read about new friendships and the hardship of loneliness. We meet various different people at different stages in life who have all been impacted by isolation whether that’s through family difficulties or a bereavement and how they find it hard to settle back into society.

We meet Stacy, the youngest of the group who’s let her little cat family consume her life so when she has a nasty accident, she decides to turn her life around and make an effort and get to know humans instead of her kitties. Raymond is at a loss after losing his wife, Dora’s heir to a family fortune but is unhappy and alone, Majorie lives with her daughter and has found herself to have turned into quite a cynical person, after years of abuse from her dead husband she’s struggling to interact with people.

The story is seen through the narratives of the characters and really hones in how loneliness and sadness can have a profound impact on people, affecting them in different ways. But with the introduction of ‘The Afternoon Tea Club’ we see, confidence and new relationships blossom and this really does make for tender and heart-warming storytelling.

Charming from the first page, this book is a sweetheart of a story from the very beginning. With relatable characters and situations, injected with humour and warmth, ‘The Afternoon Tea Club’ is a lovely story about the value of friendship.

You can ‘The Afternoon Tea Club’ from Amazon.

I Dare You By Sam Carrington

I Dare You‘I Dare You’ is the latest book by Sam Carrington.

Mapledon, 1989. Two little girls were out playing a game of dares. Only one returned home. The ten-year-old told police what she saw: village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley dragged her friend into his truck and disappeared. No body was found, but her testimony sent Cawley to prison for murder. An open and shut case, the right man behind bars. The village could sleep safe once again.
Now. Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past. 30 years ago, someone lied. 30 years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party. Now he’s out.

With the right amount of suspense and drama, Sam’s latest book is a thrilling story that keeps everyone on edge. The story is written in the past and present tense with multiple narratives, giving an insight into the people affected by the tragedy.

The story is essentially about a child who disappears 30 years ago never to be found and the village recluse, who didn’t fit with the mindset of the villagers being the prime suspect and later sent to jail. Now ‘Creepy Crawley’ has been released from prison and Anna returns home to the village, that her best friend died in and Lizzie has gone to the village with the mindset of getting the big scoop.

But neither of the women are prepared for what they discover on their return, as Anna and her mother become victims of harassment and Lizzie is determined to get some questions finally answered.

The story flows at a fast pace, with short chapters that leave the reader bursting for more. The characters are interesting and complex and even from the very outset you can see that not everything is as it seems. The community is tight knit and protective of its community and newcomers or those who don’t fit in with the village are not welcome.

With the story flowing between tenses, it gives a good background into the drama and I particularly found these scenes interesting as they really set the tone for the suspense and drama that was weaved throughout the book. I found the characters to be quite fascinating, as nearly everyone had something to hide and found Anna’s mother, Muriel quite interesting. She came across as the matriarch of the village with everyone siding with her, no matter the consequences.

A pacy and observational thriller about family secrets and betrayal, ’I Dare You’ is an engrossing tale filled with twists, drama and riddled with suspense that made for tense reading.

You can buy ‘I Dare You’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Magpie By Sophie Draper

Magpie‘Magpie’ is the latest book by Sophie Draper.

Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan. But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart. Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family … But can she face the truth?

A dark and bleak story, ‘Magpie’ follows the story of Claire and Duncan before and after the break down of their marriage as well as the disappearance of their teenage son. Seen from the narrative of both people as they deal with the sudden changes to their lives and repercussions that they embark on. To the outside world, they are a happy couple. Duncan’s vetinary business is thriving and Claire plays the role of the stay at home doting wife, even though she longs more from life. She is miserable in her marriage and makes plans to leave Duncan, but it seems that when she escaped the unhappy marriage, she was still no happier in life, particularly when her son disappears.

There’s an interesting mix of characters from the bullyish Duncan who is abrupt and short with humans, but with animals, he’s kind and gentle. He’s nasty towards Claire and makes her feel worthless and insignificant which is difficult to read at times. Claire, was once a confident and happy woman but now questions everything around her and puts her son’s safety and happiness before hers at all times. Joe is also an complex character, althought not diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, he shows symptoms of the illness particularly his obsession with going out with his metal detector.

At the forefront of the story is the breakdown of a marriage, a son’s disappearance as well as a discovery of secrets and lies that made for interesting reading. The story is written cleverly in past and present tense and this was interesting twist that really pulled the reader in. Atmospheric, suspenseful and filled with drama, ‘Magpie’ was a vividly written story that captivates the reader from the first page.

You can buy ‘Magpie’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

An Island Christmas By Helena Halme

An Island Christmas‘An Island Christmas’ is the second book in the ‘Love On The Island’ series by Helena Halme.

It’s time for Alicia to enjoy her first Christmas back on her beloved Islands with her family. There’ll be traditional dancing around the tree and sipping mulled wine in front of a cozy fire. But peace is broken by Alicia’s estranged husband, Liam, who springs an unwelcome and devastating surprise, while her ex-lover, Patrick, tempts her with an altogether different kind of future. Alicia faces impossible choices to keep her family together.With her world crashing around her, can Alicia create the idyllic Island Christmas she’s always dreamt about? Meanwhile, Brit, Alicia’s best friend, returns to the Islands to lick her wounds after a particularly bloody break-up with an Italian chef. When she meets her new boss, the Captain of a Baltic cruise liner, sparks fly. Brit can’t help but fall quickly in love with Jukka, but when she discovers his murky past, she fears her heart is about to be broken yet again. Are the rumors about Jukka true, or just typical small island gossip?

Set in Sweden, this story is seen through many narratives adapting to new lives. Alicia is trying to get through an unhappy marriage, come to terms of the sudden death of her only son as well as becoming a grandmother for the first time. Brit is starting a job and life after discovering the man of her life isn’t who he made out to be.

The multiple perspectives give an interesting insight into the story, women from different generations going through situations, from infidelity, motherhood and grief. The story is an emotional and tender book that really engages with the relatable situations and people. The setting of the story was particularly wonderful and I thought that the author’s vivid descriptions were a lovely addition that really pulled the reader in.

A new book in the series, ‘An Island Christmas’ filled with drama, love and loss this book is a charming and festive story.

You can buy ‘An Island Christmas’ from Amazon.

Woman In The Water By Katerina Diamond

Woman In The Water‘Woman In The Water’ is the latest book by Katerina Diamond.

When a woman’s body is found submerged in icy water, police are shocked to find she is alive. But she won’t disclose her name, or what happened to her – even when a second body is discovered. And then she disappears from her hospital bed. Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey follow their only lead to the home of the Corrigans, looking for answers. But the more they dig into the couple’s lives, the less they understand about them. What’s their connection to the body in the river? Why have other people they know been hurt, or vanished?

Woman In The Water’ sees the return of crime fighting duo DS Adrian Miles and DS Imogen Grey.

The story starts with Adrian discovering a young woman in the water, presumed dead until he saves her. When she regains her consciousness, she remembers nothing but suddenly one day, she disappears. Adrian finds himself obsessing with the woman and case, as a child he witnessed domestic abuse and finds himself consumed with finding her and keeping her safe. But as Adrian and Imogen investigate the case, Adrian delves into dark places that impact him in the worst possible way.

Katerina’s books have always been very dark and gory, bringing the reader to the dark side of human nature but in this book, it’s not just gruesome, but also unsettling as one of the main characters has to go through a terrible ordeal. She handles the story with care and sensitivity but also includes the harrowing police procedure and the aftermath that the victim has to endure.

Again Katerina has delivered a story with twists and turns that really pull the reader in. With unreliable characters, suspicious people and the complex relationship between the investigating duo as thru embark on new territory.

Although ‘Woman In The Water’ is the latest book in Katerina’s series, I found it to have an extremely different slant to her previous books. Even though it included the crime duo that we love, the usual gore and suspense that kept us on our toes this book included a topic that is seen rarely reported due to the shame and the absolute terror of it but Katerina brought it forward in her writing which was commendable.

Written with care and precision, this book tackles issues of abuse on many levels and makes for heartbreaking and gripping reading. Extremely unsettling in parts, ‘Woman In The Water’ is a fantastic new book from Katerina Diamond, filled with twists and turns that shocked you to the gore, this book stays with you long after you reach the final page and if anything may give people the courage to speak up if they were in similar circumstances.

You can pre-order ‘Woman In The Water’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 9th January 2020.