All Pets Allowed – Blackberry Farm 2 by Adele Griffin

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the book tour hosted by the publisher – Algonquin Books.

Meet the busy, animal-mad, Branch Family! Mum and dad Branch are both vets and they live happily together with their three children – Caroline, Becket and Nicholas – on Blackberry Farm.

As the story opens, Becket and Nicholas are busy planning for their 10th birthday party – or at least Becket is. We very quickly realise that although Becket and Nicholas are twins, they are very different from each other. Whereas Becket is outgoing and loud, thriving in the company of others, Nicholas is more introverted and is quietly dreading the planned birthday party that his entire class has been invited to.

Each year, for their birthday, they receive a special gift from their parents. This year, Becket is desperate for a dog to join their family. Nicholas however, really wants a cat. When their parents agree that they can both have what they want, both children are ecstatic and they can’t wait to visit the shelter to choose their respective new pets.

‘Given’ the cat (because she’s a gift) and ‘Dibs’ the dog join the family but it doesn’t quite go the way the children were expecting… Whereas Nicholas was expecting a cat to be like him – quiet and happy with his own company, Given is quite the opposite. She is HUGE (and utterly gorgeous thanks to the fabulous illustrations by Leuyen Pham!) and likes nothing more than being the centre of attention. Dibs too, is not what Becket expected. He adores her, but is nervous of others and is more likely to run away and hide than want to be involved in the action.

This is a charming story of friendship and acceptance which gave me Enid Blyton feels. It was lovely to read about a really strong family unit who all pull together. It is bound to appeal to children – particularly those who love animals. I was lucky enough to be sent the first in the series too, so I will be reading that this week before taking both into school to introduce to my class. Thank you to Algonquin Books and to Adele Griffin for helping to make young readers.

This is out on 4th October – pre-order your copy now!

The Lost Child’s Quest – Tales of Truth & Treasure Book 1 – by James Haddell

A quest for truth sparks a hunt for a legendary hoard of magical treasures.

I was absolutely thrilled to be sent a copy of this middle grade book prior to publication and to be asked to kick off James Haddell’s blog tour. As a primary school Reading Lead, I am always on the lookout for high quality, high-interest children’s books and this ticks all the boxes! I can’t wait to share it with my class.

When James first contacted me, he described this story as, ‘The first instalment in a series about an orphaned girl, her search for answers about her past, and the adventures this leads her on. Her search for answers ignites with the arrival of a sinister stranger and a move to a new home: Stormhaven Castle, where unravelling mysteries of the past is part of everyday life.’ I was sold immediately! An adventure story with a strong female protagonist and a Castle thrown into the mix? Who wouldn’t be?

From the moment I met Tia Hemyke, I was completely drawn into her story. Tia is an orphan – she knows nothing of her past and her only clues are a collection of mysterious objects that were left with her when she was a baby. Right at the beginning of the story the mood is quiet and thoughtful. We learn that she is about to embark on a new life with Mr and Mrs Trevelyan who are to become her new mum and dad.

Very quickly however, the pace quickens and the story explodes! Within just a few pages, the ‘sinister stranger’ mentioned above bursts on to the scene. Mr Silverman clearly has an ulterior motive for turning up at Mrs Davidson’s home for orphaned girls, and he seems strangely interested in the pendant Tia is wearing around her neck… Tia escapes him, but not before Mr Silverman throws the name ‘Geoffrey Hemyke’ at her, which, as a child desperate to understand her past, understandably sparks Tia’s interest. And this is where the ‘quest’ in the title begins.

Mr and Mrs Trevelyan take Tia to live in the idyllic sounding Stormhaven Castle. We learn that this castle is steeped in history, having ‘been home to warlords, kings, knights and sorcerers… nowadays it is home to a community of archaeologists and historians who are trying to unlock the hidden secrets of its past.’ What better place for Tia to explore her past and her possible link to eminent historian, Geoffrey Hemyke? She learns that he is believed to have unearthed ‘the secret of a long lost medieval hoard of treasure…’ This piques Tia’s interest. Could this hoard of treasure be linked to the mysterious artefacts she was left with as a baby?

Tia has help in her quest from her new sister Meghan and the new friends she makes at Stormhaven Castle School of Exploration and Discovery (I mean, what a name!). Her adventure will turn out to be dangerous and of course, things do not quite go to plan…

James, as a teacher himself, understands how hard it can be to keep children’s interest in a story. The fast pace of this story along with all the twists and turns are bound to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged. There are plenty of opportunities for discussion along the way and James has even included discussion prompts for each chapter at the back of the book.

Lastly, he has expertly combined fiction with historical detail. I had no idea until the end, for example, that several of the artefacts mentioned in the story are real or that The Thirteen Treasures of Britain are a series of items described in late medieval Welsh manuscripts. This level of detail adds a depth to the story that I was not expecting and which is guaranteed to fascinate readers of all ages. I absolutely cannot wait to see where he takes Tia next.

The Lost Child’s Quest – Tales of Truth & Treasure Book 1 – by James Haddell is out on Friday 4th December and can be pre-ordered from Emira Press. It will be available on Amazon from the day of publication.

Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte #6) by Carla Kovach

‘The beast had escaped and it was never going back in its cave now…’

I’m not sure why I’ve only just found this series?! But I am sooo glad that I did! I read this in 24 hours which is always a sign of a gripping read for me. It’s the sixth in a series but not having read the first five in no way detracted from the enjoyment of reading it. In fact I enjoyed picking up little clues about what may have happened previously and of course I now need to read all the others!

What the blurb says:

Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.

People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.

Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.

When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.

There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.

My thoughts:

The story starts before the wedding mentioned in the blurb when we see Holly at home preparing a meal for her partner. Straight away there are suggestions that this relationship may not be entirely healthy but Holly comes across as ultimately strong-willed and in charge of her own destiny. It’s at this point, right at the start of the book that we find out The Secret, which I won’t reveal here…

Fast forward a little and Holly is a bridesmaid at one of her best friend’s weddings. Holly, Kerry, Fran and Lilly have been friends since school – they are The Awesome Foursome – and so of course when Kerry marries Edward, the other three girls are all her bridesmaids. All is going swimmingly, until shockingly, Holly’s body is found the morning after the party in her hotel room.

Meet Detective Gina Harte. Gina has a grown-up daughter, Hannah; a granddaughter, Gracie and a little black cat called Ebony. Harte has taken some leave from work to spend time with her family who have come to stay with her. But when 25 year old Holly Long’s body is found, her leave is cancelled. This causes huge tension and resentment between Harte and Hannah – a tension which appears to have been there for years.

Holly’s body has been posed with her hands on her middle and flower petals sprinkled over her. During the post-mortem, the head of a carnation is found in her throat. What does it mean? What is the killer trying to communicate? Carnations crop up all over the story and I thought I was really cleverly putting the clues together, but I have to say I was spectacularly wrong in my predictions!

Holly’s present day story is interwoven with snippets from the lives of other characters. The most memorable for a whole host of reasons is that of Cass. Cass was Kerry’s childhood best friend until Holly came along. She has felt usurped for years, and coupled with intense confidence and body image issues, heightened by a failing relationship with her boyfriend, her sections of the story are a really uncomfortable read: ‘She hated herself and all she’d become’. Now that Holly is dead, ‘The best friend place in Kerry’s life was vacant and Cass had to take it back’. Could she have been involved?

Dark secrets abound in this book. Holly’s murder triggers memories for Gina that she would rather keep buried. Issues with her own marriage, now long behind her, are hinted at and later, given more detail. DCI Briggs not only works with Harte, but we find out that, ‘Once her lover, now he was the keeper of her deepest, darkest secret’. We do eventually find out this secret, but it is one of the aspects to the story that made me want to read the earlier books.

Before Harte and her team can get a handle on the case, another of the Awesome Foursome is found dead in her bathtub. ‘Two out of three bridesmaids was a bit too much of a coincidence.’ Can they solve the case before Lilly’s life is threatened?

I had a great time with this book and have now bought the first two in the series so that I can immerse myself in Gina’s earlier life! Highly recommended!





I would like to thank both Net Galley and Bookouture for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

All Fall Down (DI Helen Grace #9) by M J Arlidge

“History is just one person’s side of the story.”

I have been devouring this series since the first book was published in 2014 and have reviewed numbers two and three on my blog previously – Pop Goes the Weasel and The Doll’s House . Although it isn’t necessary to read the books in order, I have loved watching the character of Helen Grace develop and learning more about her story as the series goes on. The first in the series is Eeny Meeny if you haven’t started the journey yet (I am so jealous if you haven’t!) – it’s only £3.99 on kindle at the moment which is a total bargain!

What the blurb says:

“You have one hour to live.”

Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.

But why?

The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is a case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.

With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…

My thoughts:

This has to be one of Arlidge’s more chilling ideas – although I seem to think that every time I read one of his books! Can you imagine? When Justin receives this call, in the lift as he is leaving work one evening, he doesn’t know what to think. If it was just the words, perhaps he would have leaned towards the prank theory, but as the lift mysteriously stops whilst the caller delivers their message, he is understandably rattled. And rightly so…

When Callum gets this call, he is given an even more chilling message – if that’s possible: “You have one hour to live… unless, you’d like to trade your death for somebody else’s…” Helen quickly realises that the killer is targeting a particular group of people. This group were kidnapped as young adults doing their Duke of Edinburgh award at school and one did not survive the experience. The murders also coincide with one of this group, Maxine Pryce, publishing One Dark Night – their story of that time. Surely it all has to be linked? Could Daniel King, the perpetrator from all those years ago be back for a second try? If so, he’s only just beginning…

Our favourite characters are back to join Helen for her 9th outing. Grace Simmons reappears in this story as the boss who always has Helen’s back, although Helen is worried about her because she is ‘anxious and distracted…’ Could she be keeping secrets too? Emilia, the journalist everyone loves to hate is of course determined to be centre stage and appears to have found a weak link to exploit in Helen’s team. DC Charlie Brooks is massively pregnant and is torn between wanting to be at home with her husband and daughter, and being at the forefront of the action with Helen. There really is plenty of tension in this instalment from all angles.

This part of the story also sees Helen in a relationship – which, if you’ve read from the beginning, is a Big Step: “Finally, she had found someone who could keep up with her”. Unsurprisingly however, the path of true love is not destined to run smooth. Joseph is keeping secrets, and if there’s one thing Helen is good at, it’s sniffing out secrets.

This is yet another brilliantly plotted, twisty turny thriller from the master of the genre. I’ve said it before, but I do hope that we see DI Helen Grace on our screens at some point, and it goes without saying, but I do hope book number ten is not too far away!

“There is always a price to be paid for your actions…”





I would like to thank both Net Galley and Orion Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence (My Super Science Heroes) by Karla Valenti and illustrated by Annalisa Beghelli

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Amazon age Range: 4 – 8 years     My suggested age range: 6-10 years

I have never formally studied Marie Curie and so am ashamed to say I had no more than a very basic understanding of her achievements. This book might be aimed at kids but it helped. It is easily accessible for children and Beghelli’s illustrations are clear and engaging. The story paints Marie Curie as just a different kind of superhero from those that children are perhaps more familiar with which is bound to appeal to the littlies and could be a very smart way of hooking them in to non-fiction.

Throughout the story, the viewpoint alternates between that of Marie Curie and that of Nemesis who introduces various minions to aid his cause – Mr Opposition for example is called upon to convince Marie that she shouldn’t learn – only boys are allowed to go to University! The illustrations that accompany Nemesis’ parts are darker – check out those angry eyes! But I don’t think they are too dark for littlies.

I must admit I was surprised by the age guidance for this book. I’m not sure it’ll appeal to many 4 years olds – both content wise and being nearly 50 pages long, but it has been a while since mine were that small so I could well be wrong. In any case, the message of persistence is bound to get through no matter what the age of the reader. I learned lots that I didn’t know about Marie Curie and enjoyed the journey.




I would like to thank both Net Galley and Sourcebooks Explore for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Boy Who Made the World Disappear by Ben Miller

Oh my goodness me. I LOVED this story! It is a child-friendly romp through space but with an all important message for children everywhere…

Ben Miller’s own children are the stars of the show – how cool is that? The main star is Harrison who absolutely loves anything to do with space. Like most 8 year olds though, he finds it hard to control his temper, even though he realises that actually, his anger tends to show itself when he is anxious or worried about something.

At the start of this story, Harrison is going to Hector Broom’s birthday party. He is not looking forward to it. Hector is a bully who takes great delight in pinging Harrison with his ever-present elastic band. But like 8 year olds everywhere, the thought of missing out is even greater because his whole class is going to be there. Poor Harrison does NOT have a good time. Despite learning about constellations and black holes in Hector Broom’s living room, he and the party entertainer, Shelley, do not hit it off and things go from bad to worse. He does get a special balloon to take home however. A VERY special balloon indeed…

Harrison finds out very quickly that his balloon has very strange powers. I’m not going to spoil it by saying exactly in what way, but what initially seems fabulous and incredibly helpful to Harrison, soon takes an ominous turn and things quickly get out of control. To sort things out, Harrison knows that Shelley is the only one who can help him. But Shelley isn’t home. How can 8 year old Harrison get to Chile to meet her at the The Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert? Nothing is impossible when you have an enterprising older brother…

A wonderfully engaging, timeless story that is sure to engage children everywhere. I loved it!

‘…anger can be good, important even… But it’s about what you do with your anger…’

Page count: 272

Age group: 8 years +





I would like to thank both Net Galley and Simon & Schuster Children’s UK for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What Gives You Your Sense of Identity? by Sue Moorcroft

In Summer on a Sunny Island I’ve made heroine Rosa’s mum, Dory, like me. She was born into an army family and lived in Malta for several childhood years. She loves Malta and is thrilled to have the opportunity to rent an apartment there for six months. (I would be, too!)

Rosa doesn’t completely understand her mum’s joy. The sun gives her headaches, there are insects, it’s too hot, too busy and there’s too much building going on. I made her fall in love with Malta eventually but while I was busy burrowing under her skin and trying to understand her, I began to realise that she didn’t particularly understand Dory’s childhood, so different to her own.

Hero Zach’s the son of an army kid too and his grandmother’s Maltese. When he goes to live in Malta he realises that he’s got two sets of roots there. The book was more about identity than I’d realised.

And that made me think about my own.

Both my parents served in the army, although Mum had to leave to marry Dad – unfair but common in those days. I was born in Germany and left aged six weeks. Like most army kids, I was registered as a British citizen. Apart from a two-year posting to Hampshire, until I was eight-and-a-half I lived on the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta. I don’t remember Cyprus so most of my childhood memories are bound up in Malta.

The majority of people didn’t look like me and spoke a language I didn’t understand. Whether army schools should have taught the language of their host country is up for debate but I didn’t realise I was a minority. If I thought about divisions and differences it was probably more about the army, navy and RAF than about British and Maltese – or, perhaps, officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks. The army was unified by the colour khaki. Our fathers wore it. The kids wore it to school in summer. Vehicles were painted in it. Where we lived was owned by the army and so was the furniture. We had our own places: our own schools, barracks, quarters, a lido, the NAAFI and a host of military buildings with shutters in a particular blue.

Our next posting was to London and we lived in Inglis Barracks in Mill Hill East, near Finchley. This country I was supposed to call ‘home’ was cold and suddenly we were a long way from the sea. When I complained, Mum said, ‘Well, we’re not in Malta now!’ Still, I went to a school outside the barracks without realising it wasn’t an army school because it was filled with army kids, like me.

Then we moved into Civvy Street. And no one was like me.

The majority looked like me and spoke the same language but there the similarity ended. I was branded a liar when I said I’d lived in Germany, Cyprus and Malta and wasn’t even grudgingly accepted until I won a fight (it’s not always wise to pick on a barracks brat, to be truthful). I’m pretty sure some continued to think I was a liar and I needed to fit in to survive so I said a lot less about Germany, Cyprus and Malta after that. What I learned from the experience was that in order to earn friends I had to be like them.

Even now, I meet comparatively few service kids. When I do, I love chatting about shared experiences because I’m still conscious of being the misfit. I don’t remember the same childhood TV programmes as my local friends because we got Australian and US programmes in Malta. At one time we didn’t even have a TV! I was sitting on cannons to wait for my dad to finish work or snorkelling, diving from tall rocks, watching battleships and frigates sail into Grand Harbour.

Do I have a sense of identity? Well, yes, but it’s a fluid thing. It’s contextual. I’m adaptable and self-sufficient. Like many service kids, I have no ready answer to ‘Where do you come from?

I no longer hide the fact that I lived in Germany, Cyprus and Malta, though. It’s a big part of me.

With HUGE thanks to Sue Moorcroft and HUGE congratulations on the publication day of Summer on a Sunny Island. I am currently reading it, so watch this space…

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by an array of publishers in other countries.

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.

Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta.

Summer on a Sunny Island blurb and buy links:

The #1 bestseller is back with an uplifting, happy read that will raise your spirits and warm your heart!

This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta

When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.

Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?




Paperback: Audio:

Duncan Versus the Googleys by Kate Milner

‘Bad people in chaotic situations are not always very fair’.

Oh my goodness, what a gorgeously topsy turvy and brilliant story from Kate Milner! There is absolutely nothing ordinary or boring about this book – kids will love it.

Meet Ursula who from the very beginning, we realise is not living an ‘ordinary’ life. We learn that she sleeps in a cardboard bed with newspaper blankets and shares only one room with her father, Mr Meager who is the caretaker for the most amazingly named retirement complex ever: Arthritis Hall. Whilst he works, Ursula explores. On the face of it, you’d think Ursula would be rather down in the dumps but there is nothing sad about this story. Ursula, like every other child in this world, covets the latest toy craze – robotic pets called Poo-Chi Pets…

Ursula’s story runs alongside that of Duncan who owns a Poo-Chi pet called Gizzmo. He also has the Poo-Chi Pet app on his phone – Poo-Chi Planet – and he plays it ALL THE TIME along with various other children from around the world: Zhang from Shanghai, coding expert Kobe from Kenya and Ratboy Ryan from Australia. At the start of the story, he is travelling to Arthritis Hall to stay with his Great Aunt Harriet. Harriet is no gentle old lady leading a quiet life. Far from it. She is a rather mad inventor whose previous successes include a mechanical armadillo and a robot postman!

As you may already have worked out, Arthritis Hall (with its executive helipad on the roof) is no ordinary retirement complex. It is managed by the tiny but terrifying Linoleum Grunt (yes, really!) who makes it abundantly clear that children are not welcome. ‘You will be required to stay in one place at all times and make no noise whatsoever’… As well as Linoleum and Harriet, it is also home to Mrs Pettigrew who turns out to be a world class computer game player and Pork Pie the cat.

But things at Arthritis Hall are not destined to just chug along peacefully. A new robotic toy is hitting the shelves. Will Googleys prove more popular than Poo-Chi Pets? There are people out there that will make damn certain of it…

‘Duncan could not help feeling that the whole world was a bit more mad than he could cope with’.

I loved the craziness of this story and read it in one sitting. Stylistically, it is different to any other kid’s book I’ve read and there is so much within it that children today will identify with that they are sure to be sucked in. Highly recommended.

Page count: 224

Age group: 8 – 10 years





I would like to thank both Net Galley and Pushkin Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nevertell by Katharine Orton

‘Don’t trust your eyes…’

Oh my. That cover…!

Welcome to the freezing, harsh landscape of Siberia. Here we find a forced labour camp filled with prisoners arrested in the purges of the ‘Great Leader’, Joseph Stalin, and home to 12 year old Lina and her mother, Katya.

There are thousands in the camp – whole families – many arrested on minor charges. The vast majority are required to work in the mine. Lina however, who was born in the camp and has known no other way of life, has inherited her grandfather’s talent for gardening and as such, is allowed to work in the greenhouse under the strict gaze of Commandant Zima. Zima is preparing for the Officer’s Banquet in a week’s time and is hoping that the vegetables Lina grows will win him prestige amongst the officers. The word around the camp is that Zima is Lina’s father, which is why he gives her preferential treatment. Lina isn’t so sure…

At the very beginning of the book, we learn about an escape plan involving Lina, her mother, Vadim – a 16 year old prisoner who ‘already has the tattoos of the criminal underworld’, Alexei – described as ‘Vadim’s muscle – twice (his) age and double his size’ and old Gleb. An unlikely group to be working together but all selected for the individual skills they can bring to the attempt. At the last minute, Lina’s best friend – Bogdan Buyan – the only other person of her age in the camp – tags along. His parents are political prisoners in another camp. His father is a map maker and Bogdan brings along draft maps of Leningrad and Moscow; as such, he is allowed to stay.

Katya is known throughout the camp as playing ‘a ruthless game of poker’ and she sets up a game with the officers to serve as a distraction on the night of the escape. Before she leaves, Katya gives Lina a beaded necklace of her grandfather’s and tells Lina to make her way to her grandmother in Moscow – she was away when her husband, Katya and her son were arrested and is therefore still free. We learn that she has great power…

It isn’t long before they run into problems on the outside and Lina and Bogdan end up on their own. This is only the start of their problems as they are captured again – this time by the Sorceress, Svetlana, also known as ‘Man Hunter’ and her invisible wolves – humans who have been captured and wolfbound to serve her forever. How will they escape this time…?


I devoured this book. I loved it from the beginning, but when the magical elements were introduced I couldn’t put it down. Children (and adults) will love accompanying Lina and Bogdan on their adventure!

Page count: 384

Age group: 9-12+





I would like to thank both Net Galley and Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sleep Sister by Laura Elliot

Trigger warning: Child sexual abuse

I read a lot, and I’ll be honest – I was looking forward to this as a fairly nice, easy, quick read. But it isn’t any of these. It is SO much more! It reminded me of both John Boyne’s The Hearts Invisible Furies and Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit yet with an entirely unique voice. I became completely involved in the lives of these characters – so much so that I miss them now I’ve finished it.

‘Sometimes it’s necessary to carry secrets inside us so that those we love don’t suffer our pain.’

The book is split into four parts, all of which show events from a different character’s perspective and from a different time. This is a book that spans a generation and delves deep into the lives of those involved – it is about, family, lies, shame, power, corruption and love in all its forms. I couldn’t read it too fast – there is too much to soak up. It is NOT an easy read, but oh boy, is it gripping.

At the very start of the story, we learn of the suicide of Sara Wallace, and the rest of the book seeks to explain what exactly led to that event. It is far from simple…

Anaskeagh, Ireland. Meet the Tyrell family through the eyes of 8 year old Beth – the eldest daughter. Barry, the father, is a musician who is desperately trying to support his family by following his passion, much to the disappointment of his wife. Beth is a daddy’s girl and his number one fan. Marjory – genius seamstress – is a cold, harsh wife and mother – at least to Beth. She is much more maternal and nurturing to her younger sister, Sara. Right from the start, we learn that something is not quite right: ‘The monster lived upstairs in the wardrobe…’ Is this the usual flight of fancy of a young girl, or something much more sinister?

The Grant Family. Albert is married to May and they have two sons – Kieran and Conor. Albert isMarjory’s brother and is the most important man in the town. He is well respected – owning both a factory and a furniture shop and later, having a successful career in politics. He helps the Tyrell family out financially, constantly trying to convince Barry to go and work for him so that he can support his family better. Albert’s constant refrain is that, ‘family is everything’ which leads him to make some incredibly hurtful decisions and unfortunately, his power over everyone allows him to see them through.

The O’Donovan Family. Frank works full time and then some, on their farm. Catherine, his wife, works on the farm during the day and at the local hospital at night to make ends meet. Their daughter Jess is Beth’s best friend – a friendship that lasts a lifetime despite their entirely different paths in life. Beth finds peace and happiness at the O’Donovan Farm that she never finds at home. Ultimately, a decision that Beth makes involves the O’Donovan family and links the families together forever.

Oldport, Ireland. The McKeever Family – Barry finds a second chance at happiness after he leaves Marjory and his children and falls in love with Connie. They move in together with her two children – Stewart and Marina – and Beth joins them when she finally has enough and runs away from Marjory’s sharp tongue. Connie and Stewart work at a clothes factory and after a time, Beth joins them there and starts to gain her independence.

The Wallace Family – Della owns and manages Della Designs, a successful clothes factory that employs Connie, Stewart and later, Beth. Her son Peter is known for having, ‘a tongue that would charm snakes from a basket’. They live in a large country house – Havenstone – and both Peter, and Havenstone, become central to the story.

26 years later… and the character’s situations have changed and moved on. Some of them have come together in ways I really hadn’t seen coming. I don’t want to say much more than that and spoil the read but I will say that Beth is now married with children of her own. Sara has a successful career as a photographer and is also married.

This is a true family epic of a read. I loved it and so wish it wasn’t over.

‘There was a time when silence was more important than honesty’.

Sleep Sister by Laura Elliot is only £1.99 on kindle at the moment.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Bookouture for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.