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The Child Finder By Rene Denefeld

The Child Finder‘The Child Finder’ is the latest book by Rene Denefeld.

Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own experience, that allows her to succeed when others have failed. Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they’d gone to cut down a tree for Christmas. Soon after she disappeared, blizzards swept the region and the authorities presumed she died from exposure. But Naomi knows that Madison isn’t dead. As she relentlessly pursues the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce defences that have protected her for so long. If she finds this child, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

‘The Child Finder’ is an enchanting and eerie story that is reminiscent of Emma Donoghue’s novel called ‘Room’, a story of a young child being held captive.

In this story, we meet Naomi Cottle, a woman who is called ‘The Child Finder’, after successfully finding 30 children, she has called in to help find Madison Culver who disappeared months ago whilst out with her parents, one day. Determined not to give up on their only child, the parents call in Naomi and seek her help to find their daughter.

Naomi is no ordinary woman, her past is riddled with uncertainty, as she too was taken away from her parents before being given to a kind, elderly woman called Mrs Cottle, who took her in as a foster child along with a little boy called Jerome. She never knew her mother or even her real name, so finds it to be her duty to help reunite these children with their parents. She is an attuned and well skilled woman, who notices things that others fail and this makes her a unwanted newcomer to the small snow-covered town, who have already given up on finding the little girl. Her story is often told through past and present sequences, the various cases that she has worked on, to make her the investigator that she has become.

Meanwhile, the story is also cleverly written through the eyes of Madison, as she lives with her captor and does everything that she can to survive. Her inclusion in the tale, gives a sweet and innocent tone to the story, as she begins to grow up and wonder where her life will take her, whether she will see her parents again or is this life she is led to lead. Often, she disappears into favourite stories calling herself ‘The Snow Child’, a brave story of survival.

This story is atmospheric and chilling from the very start, seen through the eyes of the hunter and the hunted, it gives both angles an interesting slant. Set against the backdrop of snowy mountains and woods, I found this story to be gripping with the dual narrative as well as the perspective of Madison’s captor. A story of innocence and survival, ‘The Child Finder’ is a quietly, disturbing story that was impossible to put down.

You can buy The Child Finder from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Almost Love By Louise O’Neill

Almost Love‘Almost Love’ is the latest book by Irish author, Louise O’Neill.

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard. So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him. Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job. But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew. And love is supposed to hurt. Isn’t it?

When it comes to books by Louise, you are guaranteed, an emotional rollercoaster of a story that will leave you exhausted at the end, so much so that I literally had to take a step back from the book and review my thoughts before typing them up

Her books delve into the dark worlds of toxic relationships, gas lighting and leading characters, that leave you feeling conflicted when you find yourself disliking them.

In ‘Almost Love’, we meet Sarah, a troubled young woman who has moved from one disastrous relationship to the next as she tries to put her life in order and sort out her head. The story is written in the past and present tense and is seen solely through the narrative of Sarah, as she reflects on her current relationship that is crumbling around her because of a previous relationship that she never got over.

Sarah meets Matthew, twenty years her senior she becomes infatuated with him and waits on his every beck and call. She craves for mere seconds of his attention and when he calls her, she drops everything for stolen moments in hotel rooms. She becomes obsessed with him, which causes trouble with friends and her father, who all want better for her. But for Sarah, Matthew is perfect for her, he introduces her to a world of arts and culture, a world that she longs to be part off. Now, in a new relationship with Oisin, a man her own age, she can’t seem to move on from Matthew and finds herself comparing the relationships and the men and takes all her inner turmoil out on Oisin.

This story is a dark and gritty read that really question relationships and where you stand in them. Sarah is a complex character and as much as I tried to, I couldn’t warm to her. She was horrible to all those close to her particularly her father, who she has a turbulent relationship with ever since the death of her mother. She’s quite self-absorbed and uses those around her, she belittles Oisin constantly and this can sometimes be unsettling reading as she battles her emotions around her.

This book is honest and that’s what makes it such an unique and compelling story, it doesn’t gloss on the fairy tale magic of relationships but focuses on the harsh reality of wanting to be loved and falling out of love, which also a sad and tender element to the tale. A frank and honest tale about love, self loathing, obsession and just how dark it can all become, ‘Almost Love’, is an agonisingly realistic story about the complexities of relationship and how sometimes in life, being you is never quite enough for someone to love you, this book is relatable to any person who has ever been in a relationship.

You can buy Almost Love from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Things Bright And Beautiful By Anbara Salam

Things Bright And Beautiful‘Things Bright And Beautiful’ is Anbara Salam’s debut novel.

Advent Island is a place beyond the reaches of Bea’s most fitful imaginings. It’s not just the rats and the hordes of mosquitos and the weevils in the powdered milk. Past the confines of their stuffy little house, amidst the damp and the dust and the sweltering heat, rumours are spreading of devil chasers who roam the island on the hunt for evil spirits. And then there are the noises from the church at night. Yet, to the amusement of the locals and the bafflement of her husband, Bea gradually adapts to life on the island. But with the dreadful events heralded by the arrival of an unexpected, wildly irritating and always-humming house guest, Advent Island becomes a hostile place once again. And before long, trapped in the jungle and in the growing fever of her husband’s insanity, Bea finds herself fighting for her freedom, and for her life.

As a debut, this book was certainly a strong and interesting one, but it was also a book that I sometimes struggled with. I initially found it difficult to get into, only because I wasn’t sure of the location or the time era that the book was set in but once I did, I found it to a compellingly claustrophobic and eerie story where nothing is what it seems.

Set against the backdrop of Advent Island, a remote island in the Pacific, the story is seen from the perspective from different characters, but primarily seen from Max and Bea, two newcomers to the island, where Max has taken up the position of Pastor and Bea, is his wife as they adjust to their new lives.

I really liked Bea, she was a strong woman, who gave up her life in America to follow her husband, she adapted to her new life with no complaint, living in dirt, little food and spent most of her time alone whilst Max was delivering his religious messages. Max, I found less interesting, as he struggled to fit into the small village and be respected, especially with Marietta, a woman who was always questioning his beliefs and thoughts.

The story is beautifully written and written in such descriptive detail, that you almost felt you were in the forests with the characters. Riddled with mystery and intrigue throughout, this story deals with the complexities of relationships, religion and culture, ‘Things Bright And Beautiful’ is an atmospheric story that transports the reader into another world.

You can buy Things Bright and Beautiful from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Fear Book Tour – Extract

The FearToday I’m hosting the book tour for C.L Taylor’s brand new book, ‘The Fear’ and I’ve an extract from the exciting book.

We are sitting so close that, when he just changed gear, I had to lean to my left to avoid his forearm brushing mine. A wave of panic courses through me. The last time I was in a car with this man we were driving through France. But Mike doesn’t recognise me. He did a quick sweep of my body as I rounded the van, a casual appraisal any man might do to a woman he’s never met before, but there was no spark of interest when I opened the passenger door and got in. Why would there be? I’m a grown woman, not a child.

As he navigates his way back down to the road and up the muddy track to the barn he chatters away about nothing in particular – the weather, the flooding, the news. I nod and shrug but I’m not really listening. I can’t stop staring at his face.

He’s forty-nine now and his hair is more grey than black, but it’s still thick and wavy, cut short above the ears and at the nape of his neck. Deep lines stripe across his brow and fan out at the corner of his eyes. He looks old and tired.

I was afraid that all the feelings I’d had as a teenager would come flooding back and overwhelm me, but I don’t feel love or desire. Not even hate or fear. What I feel, as I look at his long, thick fingers curved over the steering wheel, is revulsion.
 
‘Here we are then.’ He pulls on the handbrake and turns off the engine. We’re in the yard. Parked up outside the barn.

This is just a small taster from an exciting book that was unsettling and exciting in equal parts.

You can pre-order The Fear from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 22nd March 2018.

What Lies Within By Annabelle Thorpe

What Lies Within‘What Lies Within’ is the latest book by Annabelle Thorpe.

Freya, Paul and Hamad. Three friends from two different worlds; a seemingly unshakeable bond, suddenly under threat.
A move that would change all their lives. The trio have stayed close since university despite Freya and Paul’s marriage and Hamad’s wealthy lifestyle – so different from their own. Then an incredible job offer from Hamad sees Paul and Freya move to Morocco. A city where nothing is as it seems Marrakech soon proves a perplexing place to live. Instead of reinvigorating their marriage, Freya finds the move is driving them apart. Revelations about their shared past force her to acknowledge that neither Paul nor Hamad is quite the man she thought. When a shocking crime is committed, Freya finds herself cast adrift in the dark corners of a bewildering city, unsure who to trust or to believe.

Set against the exotic location of Marrakech, this story is seen from the perspective of married couple Freya and Paul and their best friend Hamad, the couple have recently moved to the city, after receiving a mysterious invite from their best friend Hamad, which results in both getting new jobs in the bustling city. Freya is hoping that that the new city, will help their troubled marriage but it seems to driving the couple further apart.

As Freya throws herself into her new job, writing the memoirs for Hamad’s glamourous grandmother’s Edith, a woman who’s on the cusp of dementia but wants to share the memories and dramas of life before it’s too late. But as Freya delves into the Edith’s life, she begins to unravel secrets and lies that were buried deep long ago.

Meanwhile, Paul is working on a new project of redesigning three houses, but it seems that something sinister and supernatural at work preventing him, with a guilty conscience and a heavy workload, Paul is strugglng.

A complex and claustrophobic story about the dark side of expat life and the loniness of settling in, ‘What Lies Within’ is a cleverly written tale about love and deceit. Beautifully descriptive in parts, that made me want to jump on a plane this exotic tale was impossible to put down.

You can buy What Lies Within from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.