Come Closer by Sara Gran #BookReview

There was no reason to assume anything out of the ordinary was going on.

Strange noises in the apartment. Impulsive behaviour. Intense dreams.

It wasn’t like everything went wrong all at once. Shoplifting. Fighting. Blackouts. There must be a reasonable explanation for all this.

My thoughts on Come Closer

Come Closer is a re-release of a novella published in 2003. I love Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt series but this one had passed me by until late last year. I asked for it for Christmas without looking at it in too much detail, only to realise it was a horror when I took off the wrapping paper! After romance, horror is probably my least favourite genre.

Thankfully this wasn’t the type of horror I try to avoid. Yes, there was a bit of gore but the horror here was more psychological, which works for me. And even then, there is a question about whether what is happening is real or whether it is really about the societal ‘horror’ when a young woman doesn’t play by the rules.

This is especially true when you think about when it was written, before mobiles were common, and long before anyone had even thought of the phrase #metoo. In 2003, there was an expectation that we would ‘lean in’ and to not do so was somehow to fail (has a lot really changed?)

And so maybe the voice Amanda is hearing is her own – telling her that there is more to life than staying home and waiting for her husband to turn up late for the perfectly cooked meal she prepared (after a hard day at work, of course – because the chores were still her responsibility).

It would make sense, and I can completely sympathise. In fact, I did. I felt for Amanda and her need to ‘fix’ herself. But I also wanted her to find the joy her demon was bringing her. That I felt so much in such a short time is testament to Gran and her ability to squeeze everything out of every word.

Highly recommend. 5/5 stars.


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Other review of books by Sarah Gran

Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

The Infinite Blacktop

January Reads in Review

How are we already at the end of January? 2022 seems to be going as fast as 2020 and 2021 went slowly. I have a to do list as long as my arm (the things I want to accomplish!) and am already feeling stressed that I will run out of time. Thankfully, the new year’s resolution to re-invigorate my blog is going to plan – not only have I read some great books, I’ve managed to review everything I’ve read (click on the covers to find out more)….

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My Week In Reviews: 30th January 2022

Happy Sunday and welcome to another weekly update where I share a little about what’s happened to me this week and the books I’ve reviewed.

I reviewed three books this week, two of which I really enjoyed. First up was The Winter Guest by W. C. Ryan. Set in Northern Ireland at the end of World War I and the start of The Troubles, this was a clever mix of old fashioned who dunit, ghost story, and history lesson. I really enjoyed, though I feel like I should have read it at Halloween.

Next up was Girl A by Abigail Dean, which I didn’t initially want to read because I’d read too much about it last year. I am glad I did though because, despite the dark subject matter, this was a really great read and an amazing debut.

Unfortunately, my final book of the week wasn’t as big a hit for me. The Birthday Party by Wendy Dranfield had a good story at its core but was bogged down by sub-plots and the need to take one too many leaps of faith.

I also shared a list of new to me authors from last year, who I hope to read more of this year (plus one I probably won’t).

Life wise, we went for a very windy walk and marked off another small bit of the Cleveland Way, which we started to walk during lockdown. It was also a short walk as we went the wrong way!

With Storm Malik meaning a risk of 80 mph gusts, I think we’ll skip our walk this week and stay in and bake instead. And that’s it for this week. How has your week – reading and otherwise?

Emma x

Joining in with the Sunday Post and Kimberly, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

The Birthday Party by Wendy Dranfield #bookreview

Charlotte waves at her mother across the crowded lawn. Little red boots on, cowboy hat crooked over her blonde pigtails, she’s been looking forward to this party for weeks. Moments later, she disappears without a trace…

Kathy Hamilton drives away from her sister-in-law’s pristine-white suburban house in Maple Falls certain she’s left her daughter in safe hands. On the hottest day of the year, a birthday is the perfect excuse to gather friends, family and neighbors around the pool for a barbecue. But when she returns hours later to find her little girl has vanished, her world shatters.

Nobody laughing and drinking in the garden that day saw anything unusual.

Kathy’s eldest daughter is anxious and hardly eating. Is she sick with worry for her sister, or hiding a terrible secret?

The phone rings and rings, but why can’t Kathy get hold of the babysitter?

And is she imagining it, or when her husband rushed from work to join the search, was he wearing a different shirt to the one she saw him leave the house in that morning?

As the temperature rises, and long-buried secrets begin to surface, it’s clear that even the most perfect families keep devastating secrets. But in a town as small as this, is there anyone you can trust?

My thoughts on The Birthday Party

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Girl A by Abigail Dean #BookReview

I am Lex Gracie: but they call me Girl A.
I grew up with my family on the moors.
I escaped when I was fifteen years old.


My thoughts on Girl A

There was a lot of hype when Girl A came out last year. Which was why I avoided it. I don’t do well with hype. But then I saw a copy in my local library and thought ‘why not’. Turns out it was a good decision because Girl A is a very, very, good book.

Why? It’s dark, and gritty, and painful to read (the subject matter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and there were bits that – had it been a movie – I would have closed my eyes and turned away because I’m more than a bit squeamish). But it’s also uplifting, showing the power of humans to overcome the worst obstacles and find beauty in the world. I really struggled to put this down at night.

Lex, the central character is complex and compelling and I wanted to see where her story, and those of her sibling went. Each gets a chapter, but with Lex’s story, and their family history, woven in. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel because it’s so well written. I can’t for her next book (though I have to wait until January 2023 to read it). 5/5 stars.


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The Winter Guest by W. C. Ryan #BookReview

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?

My Thoughts on The Winter Guest

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My Week In Reviews: 23rd January 2022

Happy Sunday and welcome to another weekly update where I share a little about what’s happened to me this week and the books I’ve reviewed.

Review wise, there wasn’t a lot – just one book, which I didn’t enjoy too much (Open House by Katie Sise). It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it as such. It just fell flat for me. I also posted about other reviews that are popular on my blog, though I wasn’t sure why because they were 5+ years old.

Life wise, things were much busier than the blog. Last Sunday, we did a 7K walk along our local beach before stopping at a small Brazilian cafe with wonderful ‘home-cooked food’ and cakes to die for (no photo because we ate them too quickly, but here are a few of the beach, where the sun came out on the way back).

We’re trying to get into our habit of walking every weekend during lockdown (especially as we seem to be having some sunny days right now). Today we’re off to try and find the Waintstones, which is supposed to have some of the best views in the area.

I’m also trying to make full use of my Friday’s off now I’m no longer having to work them to catch up with everything that isn’t getting done during my standard work days. This week, I painted the stairs. I did an ombre effect going up, which has worked better than I’d hope. Next Friday, I’ll finish them off with some varnish and share a photo if it all works.

And that’s it for this week. How has your week – reading and otherwise?

Emma x

Joining in with the Sunday Post and Kimberly, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Popular Posts?

I’m to much of a one for stats on my blog. Now that I am using the WordPress app on my iPad, though, they are the first thing I see when I open it up to write.

I have to admit, it’s nice to see numbers of people who’ve visited. More fascinating, though, is the top ranking posts each week. There are the posts I’ve published that week – which you’d expect – but also random ones from years ago. They seem to spike, and I have no idea why.

This week, there were three that just seemed to come from nowhere…

A Sheltered Woman is a short story and The Other Child a domestic thriller. Both are from 2015. Cinderella Girl is a Scandi Noir from 2016. As far as I’m aware there is nothing ‘special’ about these books, even though they were good reads. There is no TV shows being made, for example, that might lead people to search for them.

So I am assuming this is more likely to be linked to some type of internet bot thing. And I’m just interested in how it works. Anyone out there who understands blogging more than me that can shed light?