Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Stranger in my Home – Adele Parks

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

This is the first novel I’ve read by Adele Parks having previously assumed that she wrote light women’s fiction I’m afraid I’d never looked beyond the covers, until I saw this, her latest contemporary fiction book. Reading the blurb I couldn’t resist the premise, imagine someone coming along, telling you that the child, the perfect daughter, that you’ve lovingly cared for over the past fifteen years, isn’t your daughter!

I know an unlikely opener but that’s what happened to the fictional Alison when a handsome stranger, Tom Truby knocks on her door one evening. The story he tells is terrifying as it appears that his daughter Olivia, is actually Alison’s, and her beloved Katherine belongs to Tom, a recent widower.

Adele Parks having set off the bomb in her happy and blessed couple Alison and Jeff then reveals how they react to the news. Is Jeff, a writer, able to observe the destruction right at the heart of his family in his normal observant if removed style? What about the naturally more anxious Alison? What about her new daughter, Olivia who has just lost her mother? And yes the questions just keep rolling in and the author make us wait for the answers by weaving a storyline so tight around those affected. I must admit I had my strong suspicions about a key aspect of this plot fairly early on, but there was enough misdirection dripping off the proverbial pen, that I wasn’t entirely sure, which only served to increase my satisfaction to be proved right.

All of the characters, including the teenagers (Tom has three children in all) are realistically portrayed as they cope with an upheaval that would test anyone’s sanity. Given the unusual situation they behave with the range of responses that seem entirely plausible and not anywhere near as outrageous as a less confident author might have been tempted to take them. The tension is however, palpable. How on earth will the families resolve the issues that the accidental swap has posed?

With the action starting in the autumn term the author cleverly marks the time with annual events such an autumnal walks with Tom’s dog and Bonfire Night we see everything unfold through Alison’s eyes in the first person present tense. Can she come to terms with the fact that Katherine is not biologically hers and deal with the fact that Olivia, who is at best stand-offish, reflects so many of her own characteristics. There are also secrets from the past that helpfully muddy the already murky waters.

With all of the elements of secrets, half-truths and lies running through the entire book, this could have easily been quite a depressing read but there were many interjections of wry humour to lighten the read with observational humour, simple but incredibly effective in keeping this reader turning the pages, completely engrossed in all the different elements. This meant that the original self-satisfied Alison became far more appealing, not just because who wouldn’t sympathise with someone in her situation but because she keeps moving forward, overwhelmed and distraught she might be, but she’s also not prepared to lose her daughter without a fight.

This was a gripping read, well-plotted and full of suspense. It is not light women’s fiction but something entirely darker and full of foreboding. In many ways it reminded me of Lisa Jewell’s novels, a story that pulls you in which also makes you laugh at life, making for one very satisfying reading experience.

I was lucky enough to be offered a copy of The Stranger In My Home by Amazon Vine ahead of the paperback publication on 9 February 2017 although it was published in eBook format on 28 September 2016.

First Published UK: 28 September 2016
Publisher: Headline Review
No of Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (October 23)

Weekly Wrap Up

I will be in Wales having celebrated a wedding of one of my partner’s school friends when this post gets published. Sadly my reading still isn’t up to the normal rate, real life is just too busy at the moment. That said I have managed to write a respectable four reviews this week.

Monday’s review was from The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane by Jane Housham. This is a non-fiction historical true crime story set in the Gateshead area in the mid-Victorian era. The book is as much about what happened afterwards taking in a look at the newly opened Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane – a fantastic read that easily deserved the full five stars.

Tuesday’s excerpt came from the fifth in Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone series, Blood Lines which was up to her usual incredible high standards – my review of this book will be published soon.

On Wednesday my reading week also took in Elly Griffiths and Alex Caan, neither of which were finished at the time of writing this post but hopefully I will manage some reading during the travelling!

Thursday’s review was of Pariah by David Jackson, a book I purchased following his incredibly A Tapping at my Door. This series is set in New York and is an action packed thriller.

I returned to the historical crime fiction on Friday by reviewing a shortlisted book for the Man Booker Prize; His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – a stunning read which was also set in the mid-Victorian era, this time in Scotland.

My final review of the week was for the stunning debut The Two O’clock Boy by Mark Hill, a book that reaches back to the 1980s for the seed of a current murder spree.

 

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall. Although I personally preferred the earlier books featuring Kate Austin set in the UK, this book set in Luxembourg has lingered in my mind which to me says I probably liked it more than the review at the time suggests.

Nowhere Girl

Blurb


From the top of the Ferris wheel, Ellie can see everything. Her life, laid out beneath her. Ellie looks up. She wants freedom.
Down below, her little sister and mother wait, watching as people bundle off the wheel and disappear into the crowd. No Ellie. Must be the next box.
But the Ferris wheel continues to turn.

When Ellie goes missing on the first day of Schueberfouer, the police are dismissive, keen not to attract negative attention on one of Luxembourg’s most important events.
Probation officer, Cate Austin, has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realises just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself.
She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the centre of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie’s whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home. Amazon


Stacking the Shelves

This week from NetGalley I have a copy of Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham, an unusual choice for me but I read Jubilee by this author many years ago which was a huge hit with me so I’m hoping for not only a change of style but more great writing.

another-day-gone

Blurb

Coventry, 1939. Days before the outbreak of World War II, a terrorist bomb explodes on a busy street, killing and maiming innocent civilians. A man is hanged on the evidence given by a young witness. As time goes on, the witness doubts her recollection of events, but her testimony has already had far-reaching consequences.
Over sixty years later, in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings, Sara returns to her childhood home to find that her sister, Polly, missing for more than ten years, has finally come back too. Why now—and where has she been? The sisters grew up under the fierce protection of their nanny, Bridie, herself haunted by a family secret. And there are other secrets that Bridie has kept from the two girls she brought up as her own. Polly’s return sets in motion events that will stretch the women’s fragile bond to its breaking point.
Set against three generations of violence and retribution, Another Day Gone reveals the enduring consequences of a single mistaken memory. NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of The Stranger in My Home by Adele Parks, a book that caught my eye because I’ve heard wonderful things about this author but haven’t read any of her books.

the-stranger-in-my-home

Blurb

What would YOU do if your child wasn’t yours?

Utterly compelling, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks’s new contemporary novel The Stranger In My Home, is sure to move, grip and delight her fans, along with readers of Liane Moriarty, Jane Shemilt and Lisa Jewell.

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world.

Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it.

Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.

The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose. Amazon

Lastly, unrequested but gratefully received from Trapeze Books is a copy of Ragdoll by Daniel Cole. Fortunately this won’t be published until 23 February 2017 so I have a space on my spreadsheet for it!

ragdoll

Blurb

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move? Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 2 books, and gained 3 and so my TBR has reached a new high of 182 books!

93 physical books
69 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?