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When I Was Invisible By Dorothy Koomson

When I Was Invisible‘When I Was Invisible’ is the latest book by Dorothy Koomson.

In 1988, two eight-year-old girls with almost identical names and the same love of ballet meet for the first time. They seem destined to be best friends forever and to become professional dancers. Years later, however, they have both been dealt so many cruel blows that they walk away from each other into very different futures – one enters a convent, the other becomes a minor celebrity. Will these new, ‘invisible’ lives be the ones they were meant to live, or will they only find that kind of salvation when they are reunited twenty years later?

In Dorothy’s latest book, we meet two girls who both have the same names only with different spellings, Veronica Harper and Veronika Harper. To avoid confusion, Veronika is known as Nika whilst Veronica is known as Roni. They meet in primary school and sharing the same name plus their passion for ballet become inseparable, but life gets in the way of the friendship and two girls are pulled apart both moving in opposite directions and both living lives that they never dreamt off.

The story is written in both past and present tense and is seen through the narrative of two women, now grown up and trying to rebuild their lives from the secrets that they both ran from.

Running from her past Nika, is determined to get her life in order. Having left an abusive and public relationship and with no money, her only option is live on the streets, with a new identity and scrapes together some money to finally invest in setting up a new life for herself. But her journey isn’t an easy one, meeting many nasty characters along the way, Nika becomes a strong woman, that other unfortunate people come to looking for help and support. As she finally begins to get her life together, her past comes back to haunt her and new friendships begin to get in the way.

Whilst Nika is roaming the street, Roni has given her life to God and became a nun. Rather take a vow of silence than speak of what happened to her as a child, Roni has conflicted emotions about the path she decided to take and returns home, where she is greeted with a less than warm welcome. With an outspoken and pass remarkable uncle and a temperamental mother, she wonders what to do with her life and wonders about Nika, her once best friend.

As the story progresses, we meet two very strong and independent women who each have been dealt difficult and traumatising cards in life, but they share a secret, a secret that should have brought them together during a hard time but instead pulled them apart and made them into harder people who are wary of trusting people.

Like Dorothy’s previous books, she touches on serious issues of child and sexual abuse as well as homelessness, but she handles the topics with such sensitivity and compassion. Her books are gritty page turners, filled with relatable and engaging characters, that you create a bond with. An emotional and powerful story about friendship and new beginnings, ‘When I Was Invisible’ is a powerful and thought provoking book.

You can buy When I Was Invisible from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Good Me Bad Me By Ali Land

Good Me Bad Me‘Good Me Bad Me’ is the latest book by Ali Land.

Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police. But out of sight is not out of mind. As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly. A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water. Good me, bad me. She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

I have read some dark and twisted books in my time, but none of them has stood out to me as much as ‘Good Me, Bad Me’.

It’s such a complex tale written through the narrative of Milly, a young girl who’s mother was a serial child killer and she has to testify against her mother in the very public court case. As Milly moves in with a new family with a new identity, she has to adjust to the life around as well as deal with the memories and emotions on the run up to the trial.

Whilst, reading this book I experienced such a flurry of emotions that it was impossible to put it down. Milly is a complicated character, having being exposed to various types of abuse as well as witness to some of the most horrific things that a child has to see, it’s no wonder she has trouble settling in. The family that she is placed with look perfect but behind closed doors, seem quite troubled. Mike, is her foster parent, but not only that he is her therapist and is helping advise and guide her through the court case and helping her deal with what she has been through. His wife, Saskia is a bit of a sad character, her main interest is yoga and she tries to get along with her only daughter, Phoebe who continuously pushes her away. Phoebe is an unlikable character. She’s a spoilt bully, who picks on Annie, publicly tormenting her whilst pretending to be her friend in the house. She’s jealous of the attention, Milly gets from her parents particularly from Mike and never misses an opportunity to make her feel uncomfortable or unwanted in both school and home life.

Milly has been through so much and I wanted nothing more than for her to able to settle in and finally have the life that she always wanted. A loving family that provided a secure and happy environment where she wasn’t on edge and constantly afraid. But every time, Milly tries to relax, something happens that reminds her of dark times, the run up to the court case, the bullying at the school and it is at these times, we see a different side to the quiet girl.

With her narrative flowing back and forth from past and present tense, Milly clearly tells her story of her traumatic childhood at the hands of her evil mother and this truly does make for disturbing reading. She’s a brave character, who has conflicted feelings, the love and hatred for a troubled parent and why she was exposed to so much.

Cleverly written with dark but sympathetic characters that I did feel a strong empathy for, this book was captivating from the very start. Riddled with deceit, this atmospheric story made for truly dark and unsettling reading that really pulls the reader in, touching on the subject of child abuse, serial killers and multiple personalities, ‘Good Me, Bad Me’ is an explosive story of morals, moving on and a teenage girl trying to piece herself back together and just wanting to be loved.

You can buy Good Me Bad Me from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Good As Gone By Amy Gentry

Good As Gone‘Good As Gone’ is Amy Gentry’s first novel.

Eight years ago, thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. In the years since, her family have papered over the cracks of their grief – while hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then, one night, the doorbell rings.

Yesterday I spent my day gripped by Amy’s debut book, an atmospheric and dark tale about every parents worst nightmare, when a child goes missing.

Cleverly the story starts with Anne retelling, the moment her daughter, Julie was taken away 8 years ago and then flashes to present time when Julie suddenly reappears in their life.

As the story flows, it’s seen from the narrative of both Anne and Julie as they settle into their lives together. As they have spent so many years apart and Julie has been through so much, the two women are like strangers and find it hard to be close, as Anne had always prepared herself to believe that her daughter would never return and when she reappears, she finds it hard to adjust especially when she finds that things about Julie don’t make sense and she begins to question whether Julie is really home or is someone impersonating her missing daughter.

Julie is an interesting woman. Having been missing for a number of years, she’s been through an awful lot and has had many demons to deal with. Her chapters alternate between different personas she’s had to become to survive over the years and cleverly with this different characters, you do wonder if she really is Julie.

Right from the start, there is an element of uncertainty in the story, as with Anne you begin to question Julie’s story and different things come to light but as the story progresses, it becomes darker and focuses on the subject of cults with the introduction of a creepy character called John David.

Riddled with suspense and complex characters, ‘Good As Gone’ is an emotionally charged and thrilling story that made for gripping reading, with clever plot twists and confused identities that keeps the reader on their toes, this debut was an exciting read.

You can pre-order Good as Gone from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 6th April 2017.

The Housekeeper By Suellen Dainty

The Housekeeper‘The Housekeeper’ is the latest book by Suellen Dainty.

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend, (who also happens to be her boss), leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley, is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true. Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

When Anne discovers that her partner and her boss has been cheating on her, she’s quits her job and decides that she wants to do something drastically different in her life.

So, when she sees an advert for celebrity power couple Emma Helmsley and Rob, looking for a housekeeper, she jumps at the chance. The couple are both well known psychologists but Emma moved away from psychology and branched into household management and organisation, writing books about organisation and has a huge following with her daily notes of motivational and inspirational advice, which Anne has actively followed.

As Anne settles into her new role, she loves being embroiled in the chaotic family, where there is never a quiet moments with their comings and goings and flamboyant parties, but as her time with the family continues, Anne discovers that the family isn’t quite as perfect as the she and the outside world are led to believe.

The story is filled with many interesting and complex characters. I found myself having a strong empathy with Anne, she’s alone in the world having lost her mother as a child and was brought up by her granny who sadly passed away, she has a best friend Jude, but her time is taken up with her twins. So when she begins to work for Emma and Rob, she naturally falls into the role of housekeeper, chef and listener, she finds a place in life and within the family, she feels wanted and has a purpose and has finally gotten the family she always wanted.

She finds herself drawing closer to Rob, a charismatic and handsome man that people are drawn to, instinctively she’s attracted to him, but after time she finds him intriguing as he works on the memoirs of Rowan McLeish, a psychiatrist, who had an unique way of helping his patients and as Rob tells Anne about his findings about Rowan, it brings Anne back to a strange time, as snippets of her childhood come back to her.

Emma, is a wonderful character, her career is to offer advice and be a motivational speaker, on how to be organised but her own life and house is absolute chaos, that’s why she employed Anne. To the outside world, she’s perfect but in real life, she’s scatty, insecure and constantly looking for reassurance. She confides in Anne and is a far cry from the professional persona that she claims.

With a delightfully dark cover, ‘The Housekeeper” is a complicated and twisted tale about lies and deceit. Atmospheric from the start, the story is cleverly written with regulars shocks and unexpected surprises that keeps the reader engaged. With a selection of delicious characters that are all far from perfect, the story is about the complexities of life, the desire to fit in and what you see isn’t always what is true.

You can buy The Housekeeper from Amazon

Our Song By Dani Atkins

Our Song‘Our Song’ is by Dani Atkins.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they’ve never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally’s ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Dani Atkins is one of those authors, whose books pull you in and consume you, the first book I read by her was ‘Fractured’ and this book broke my heart and so when I started reading ‘Our Song’ I mentally prepared myself for heartbreak and to be honest, nothing could prepare me for the pain that this song inflicted on me.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ally and Charlotte, who unfortunately meet one night when both their husbands are brought into hospital. The two women know each other from their university years, when Ally dated Charlotte’s husband David. Ally and David met at university, he wooed her and they fell madly in love, they thought their love was forever but life and Charlotte got in the way.

The story is written past and present tenses and is seen from the perspective of both women as they deal with the upset and worry for their husbands. Ally’s husband, Joe was injured after heroically rescuing a little boy and his dog and was left with hypothermia. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s husband, David has developed a virus in his heart and is in need for a heart transplant.

As the story moves on, flashing from past to present, we meet two women who were initially arch enemies and hate the sight of one another become companions and offer support to each other forming an unlikely bond during the hard time.

The two leading ladies are a wonderful contrast to each other. Ally has a sweet, gentle nature underneath her tough exterior whereas Charlotte has a bit of an ice maiden vibe about her but she’s really a kind soul, who’s always felt insecure and inferior to Ally, who was David’s first love.

Spanning over a number of years, this book is cleverly written with intersecting paths and long lost characters meeting up along the way. Emotionally charged with strong and relatable characters, the story is about the fragility of life, friendship and addresses the issue of revisiting old ghosts and lost love.

A tear jerker of a novel that will break the hardest of hearts, ‘Our Song’ is a beautifully written and intelligent story that left me in a sobbing mess.

You can buy Our Song from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.