Review: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain


When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back. Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part. And all for the love of her unborn child. A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

My review:

There’s something about Diane Chamberlain’s writing and the worlds she creates, something that grabs me from the very beginning. Maybe it’s the southern setting, the historical side of the story, or the way she makes you care about the characters after only a few pages. I’ve read some of her books and although I haven’t loved all of them, a couple are among my personal favorites. And The Dream Daughter is probably my favorite of hers yet. It’s a WONDERFUL book.

I admit that, at first, I didn’t consider reading it because her last one had left me a bit indifferent. But after reading wonderful reviews from some of my favorite bloggers, I realized I wanted to give it a chance. The blurb doesn’t really say anything about the plot, but I guess I must’ve seen what it really was about in a review, because I knew the “real plot” before I started reading it. Without saying much, I can promise you that the book is SO MUCH MORE than what the blurb says. In fact, I can assure you that the blurb doesn’t make me want to read it at all. Remember A Mother’s Confession? Don’t get me wrong, these two books are not similar at all, but they are both wonderful novels that I wouldn’t have read at first because of their title, cover, or blurb, and yet they ended up being favorites of mine.

This is going to be a top 5 of the year for me, and I have no doubt about that. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to tell everyone about this book, I literally explained the whole story to my boyfriend and I couldn’t stop thinking of what I would’ve done had I been in Carly’s situation. This book made me cry more than once, as it was emotional, sad and yet comforting at the same time.

The storyline is super hard to predict and there was a particularly shocking twist that I never saw coming and left me speechless. I read the book in less than two days because once I picked it up, I couldn’t let it go. I was consumed by it. And I’ll never forget it.


Review: The Outsider by @StephenKing @HodderBooks


Release: 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery & Thriller / Fantasy

During my teenage years, I read some Stephen King books, some of which became all-time favorites (The Green Mile ❤). I wouldn’t say I’ve read most of his novels, but I’ve read enough to know what I love about his writing and, of course, what I don’t. The Outsider is Stephen King’s new novel and I really enjoyed it. It might not be my favorite, but I liked it much more than the last one and other so-so novels like Joyland.

I couldn’t have read The Outsider at a better time. Keep in mind that it is a BIG book, almost 500 pages. However, I flew through it in barely two days. Actually, I spent a whole afternoon reading. I meant to do many things during that day… but instead, I kept on reading until my eyes told me to go to sleep.

The Outsider tells the story of a murder that seems impossible to solve. There are witnesses and prints, yet the suspect claims he was hundreds of miles away that day. And there’s proof of that. So how can it be? What are we dealing with?

The first half of this book was simply unputdownable and although I knew the book would be about supernatural stuff, the mystery aspect was handled so well that I was almost waiting they could solve the puzzle without “magic”. Later on, they brought a character from another King’s series, and I must say I really liked her addition and the way she went on to investigate the case.

I’ve discussed the book with Renee ( and although I ended up enjoying it way more than her, we both agree that the second half wasn’t as gripping as the first, which is precisely what I’ve felt with most of Stephen King’s books. Still, I grew to love the characters here and I love it when that happens.

My favorite aspect of the book was how Holly kept her mind open and tried to convince everyone else that they should be willing to believe in the unknown. It was a great message, and although I don’t believe in any of this, I really like books that deal with this kind of themes. It was all very Stephen King 😉

Many thanks to the publishers for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review


Review: Sleeping Beauties @StephenKing @OwenKingwriter ‏@HodderBooks


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In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing. 

You can’t imagine my excitement when I received Sleeping Beauties in the mail. I’ve been a fan of Stephen King for as long as I can remember. I’ve absolutely loved some of his books, I’ve liked some others… and I’m always looking forward the next film or tv adaptation. After watching IT only a couple of weeks ago (and falling in love), I knew I wanted to start this one immediately. And yes, today is release day, which means I read this very long book in just about three days. It is indeed absorbing.

Sleeping Beauties is a fantasy book with a truly interesting premise: what would happen if women went to sleep and never woke up? What would the world be like without women? How would men react? Would women try to stay awake or would they simply give up? In addition, the main appeal for me was the fact that a section of the book was set in a women’s prison, a la Orange is the new black. And those women were fascinating. I wish they’d had a bigger part in the story.

Despite its length (700 pages), Sleeping Beauties is a real page-turner. The first day, I read about 450 pages and it certainly didn’t feel like an effort. I was hooked. The story was engaging, the characters were multi-layered and mostly likable. I rooted for them. I actually begged for some of my favorite women to try to stay awake. The following day, the second part was the one I struggled the most with, maybe because some of my favorites were already asleep.

I loved how the book made me question several things regarding men and women’s behaviour. How it implied that all through history, men have always been known for trying to solve everything by using violence. Basically, Stephen and Owen King suggest that a world consisting of only women would be mostly peaceful and we could definitely keep the human race alive. Can’t disagree with that, lol.

Would I have chosen another ending? Maybe… But I still understood the decisions. And it was a bittersweet conclusion, but I guess it all made sense in the end. This might not be my favorite King book ever (hello there, 11/22/63), but it was an engaging and interesting read nevertheless. Does this mean I’m cured and ready to try big books again? Because I sure hope they’re as addictive as this one!

ARC, Hodder & Stoughton , 2017

Blog Tour: Snow Sisters by @carollovekin @honno #GuestPost


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Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations, until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm. Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…

My first thought when I was reading this book was that I wished it was winter and I had a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate with me. Because guys, this is the ideal book to cozy up with. I haven’t felt this with any other book this year and I don’t think I will. Snow Sisters is a truly magical and evocative story.

Snow Sisters is a perfect blend of contemporary, historical fiction, magical realism, gothic story, and family drama. If you like any of those genres, you will surely love this book. This is not a fast-paced book where the plot is more important than the characters. This is the kind of story that needs to be savoured and enjoyed slowly. And every now and then, we all need that kind of book in our lives.

The relationship between Verity and Meredith was my absolute favorite part of the book. Their closeness felt believable and authentic, and I rooted for them to defy their mother and live their own lives. In a book where there are only a few characters, it is extremely important that you warm up to the protagonists. And Carol excels at that. She has crafted a heart-breaking story that deals with several themes like family and kindness.

Carol Lovekin is such an amazing writer. Her descriptions were vivid and evocative and I could picture myself living in the Hull house, becoming a Pryce sister myself. Her writing is gorgeous and poetic and I’d surely love to have her skills with words.

Snow Sisters is a beautiful novel about women and sisterly love. And a ghost!

ARC, Honno, 2017

The Nature of Glimmerings & the Unanswerable Question by Carol Lovekin

If I could choose a genre in which to place my books, it would be Quirky. Since authors aren’t allowed to pick and choose let’s call mine ‘contemporary fiction’ with hints of magical realism. (Which isn’t at all the same as fantasy, let’s be clear.) My stories are firmly rooted in reality. I explore possibilities: the fine line between the everyday and the world of enchantment.

I’m a feminist and my stories reflect this too. I explore family relationships: how people, women in particular, respond to loss and how they survive. My books have ghosts, although there are no clanking chains or blood-chilling wails. All it takes to embrace my ghosts, and the magic I conjure, is a temporary suspension of disbelief.

Enter my loyal reader, with her penchant for a quirky ghost story and a liking for strong women. And her question: ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

Until I began writing seriously I would have claimed my ideas came out of ‘nowhere’ which is of course nonsensical. Ideas, however obscure, have to come from somewhere. And yet, paradoxically, the notion that a story must stem from a single concept is absurd.

It’s the word ‘idea’ itself I find problematical. It posits the notion that the genesis of a novel lies in an idea per se: a definable moment the writer can recall.

The origin of most stories is, for me at any rate, a random gathering of scattered thoughts; glimmerings as slender and obscure as a line in a poem or novel triggering a sideways digression. As I forget most of my night dreams the moment I wake up, I’ve never dreamed a story into existence. And as any I do recall are rarely logical – and I don’t write fantasy remember – my dreams are unlikely to serve me on any level whatsoever. Day dreaming however is another thing entirely: it’s where glimmerings evolve, the ‘what if’ moments and barely discernible fragments that come out of left field.

Singular words have always appealed to me. I collect them: words like cwtch which is Welsh for hug. And more often than not, a single word can entice me and suggest a theme for a scene, or present me with an unexpected tangent.

My study overlooks trees and low hills. Some mornings the mist lies as heavy as sleep and it’s like living on an island. I like to imagine the Avalon barge emerging between the mists to collect me. It never does, and chewing my pencil I sigh, scan a sky full of birds and watch instead for the ones I call my word birds. They circle a tall beech tree, ignored by a big bossy crow – my hunched, feathery muse. (I kid myself it’s the same one every day – shouting kraa from the topmost branch, urging me to stop lollygagging and get on with my work.)

These word birds are my writing familiars; they drop their glimmerings onto my windowsill; leave words and phrases in the edges of my hair. I gather up these offerings and it’s anyone’s guess what they will become. Not all the words make it onto the page and many get away. Or I put them away, because no sensible writer ever throws anything out.

The glimmerings may not at first gift me entire plots or even vague outlines. What they do is hover in a ghost location in my imagination. The place where I wave my pencil wand and cast my story spells; listen for my word birds, in case they have more enchantment for me.

My loyal reader is a gem and I love her. The fact remains, next time she asks me where my ideas come from, I shall have no choice but to answer, ‘I have no idea…’

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Hingston’s Box (Decima Blake)

31673313Since investigating the disappearance of fifteen-year-old twin boys, Hingston – a young, talented Detective Sergeant, has been tormented by night terrors. On waking, he remembers a vast, golden meadow that glows with warmth and carries the sound of rapid footfalls and trouser legs pushing through grasses. A curly haired boy runs tirelessly through the meadow. The promise of adventure is lost when the sickening ache of death seeps into Hingston’s bones. Feeling suffocated and tortured, melodic chimes calm him and his panic subsides. Signed off and leaving the office, a key inexplicably falls from Hingston’s investigation file. Intrigued, he takes it with him, escaping London for Dartmouth where his investigative race begins. Stalked by a challenging elderly woman and hindered by his boss, his determination to solve the case draws him into the supernatural world that connects a murderous past to the present.

Hingston’s Box is Decima Blake’s debut and it was also a very special book in terms of genre. Why? Because it was both a police procedural and a supernatural story. How many times we’ve read novels about crimes in the present that are connected to other crimes in the past? And you know how much I love those.

This time, though, the connection was not the usual one. DS Jason Hingston is tormented by the disappearance of two teenage boys, so he’s asked to take a leave and rest. While visiting his uncle Zack in Devon, Jason meets a mysterious woman who seems to know something about the crime… And then he discovers that he has a key that magically opens a musical box he’s just found in an old store. This musical box used to belong to a family whose twin teenage boys also disappeared many years ago…

I don’t think you need to love fantasy or supernatural strorylines in order to enjoy Hingston’s Box, given that this detail doesn’t make it less of a crime novel. The most important aspect of the book is following Hingston’s investigation and trying to help him decipher the enigmatic musical box. To whom did it belong? What does it mean? Can this past crime help Jason solve the current one? You’ll see…

What I liked the most
This was a short read and Decima Blake’s writing was wonderful. Despite the supernatural part, the crime aspect of the book felt realistic and Jason was clearly a very sympathetic character: kind, smart and loyal. I loved how he never gave up and insisted on following his instincts.

What I didn’t like that much
I’m afraid I couldn’t connect much with this story. I thought it lacked a bit of “passion” and the criminal case wasn’t one that I will remember for a long time. I wished we could’ve seen Jason’s relationship with more of his colleagues. I felt sad that he was so lonely, as he seemed to be a really nice guy and a great detective.

A special mix between mystery and supernatural for those who love present cases that connect back to past crimes.

Similar books:
Every Dead Thing
Close Your Eyes

Other reviews:
Dorset Book Detective

Pegasus Publishers, 2016 – From author

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