Book Review

One of Us – Rachel McLean

Today marks the welcome return of Rachel McLean to my blog, with her latest novel, One of Us, the third book in the Village trilogy. I am sure you all know by now that I am a huge fan of Rachel’s and I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog blitz and for providing me with a copy of the book. This review will contain spoilers for the first two books, so you might want to read them first. Have a look at my reviews for Thicker Than Water and Sea of Lies for all the details.

BLURB:

‘Leave, or die.’

Jess Dyer has won safety for her sister-in-law Ruth and proved her worth as the leader of her refugee community.

Sarah Evans has stood up to her parents and discovered who she can trust.

But the villagers still aren’t welcome. When the local population expresses its anger, can Jess keep everyone safe? And can she hold it together as Steward when someone she loves dies?

And how will Sarah react when her new fiancee Martin receives death threats, telling him he must leave her, and their village?

One Of Us is a gripping thriller about belonging and acceptance. It’s the third book in the Village trilogy, and the sequel to Sea Of Lies.

OOU cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Buy here

REVIEW:

Rachel McLean’s author bio (see below) states that she wants to write thrillers that make you think, and she has certainly done that with One of Us. Set six months after Sea of Lies, we find the villagers still healing from the kidnap and rescue of some of the village women, and starting to move on with a more settled existence. However, this new found calm is short-lived when they are asked to accept people from the neighbouring town into their community. At first their reaction to this surprised me. After all a community that were once reliant on charity would surely be willing to offer this same charity to others in need. However, the more I thought about it, I could see how their experiences and the treatment they had received at the hands of the very people who now needed their help may have hardened their hearts. I was left wondering how I would react in this situation – my heart tells me that I would always try to help someone in need, but my head can see how it could become more important to keep my family safe.

One of Us feels like a much more emotional book than the previous books in the series. Where they seemed to concentrate more on action, this book deals more with the reactions and the internal turmoil of the characters. My heart absolutely broke for Ruth and Ben in the aftermath of her kidnap and arrest, as well as for poor Martin who still hasn’t been fully accepted by the village. Touching on subjects including depression, PTSD and persecution, this book really touched me, and showed a side to Rachel’s writing that I hadn’t fully appreciated before. Add to these subjects the shocking death of a character who I had grown to love, and you are left with a book that will really put you through the emotional wringer.

Put simply, One of Us is a triumphant end to the Village trilogy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mclean

My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Book Review

Sea of Lies – Rachel McLean

The very talented Rachel McLean is making another appearance today, as it is publication day for Sea of Lies, the sequel to Thicker Than Water. Thank you so much to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for enabling me to be a part of the publication day activities, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

He abducted her. He fell in love with her. He helped her escape. Can she trust him?

Sarah Evans has returned home after being abducted and held in a dilapidated farmhouse by a group of men.

With her is Martin, who turned against the other men to help her escape. He says he’s not like them, and claims to be in love with her.

Can Sarah trust Martin? Does she share his feelings? Or should she listen to her father, himself deceitful and abusive, and turn her back on the relationship?

Sea of Lies is a chilling psychological thriller about secrets, trust, and a family falling apart.

A standalone sequel to Thicker Than Water

Sea of LIes (large)

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Following straight on from the end of Thicker Than Water, Sea of Lies picks up the action from a different angle, with the main characters from Thicker Than Water stepping somewhat into the sidelines, and some of the supporting cast picking up the lead. I thought this was a really interesting way to continue the story, as it would have been so easy to just carry it on from the same perspective. I was fascinated to find out more about characters that I had met before, and formed judgements about that were perhaps not entirely accurate. Getting to know the Evans family, in particular, better and coming to understand their dynamic really made me see how different characters perceive situations so very differently.

I found Sea of Lies to be a faster paced book than Thicker Than Water, with a lot of toing and froing from the village going on. I devoured the first half of the book in just a couple of hours before real life dragged me away.

I said it in my review for Thicker Than Water (which you can read here) and I stand by my comment, these books would make a seriously good TV series!

Although Sea of Lies is the sequel to Thicker Than Water, it can also be read as a standalone novel as enough of the action from Thicker Than Water is included for everything to make sense to a new reader, but not so much that someone who has read Thicker Than Water will be bored by it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mcleanMy name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean? In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Book Review

Thicker Than Water – Rachel McLean

Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of Rachel McLean’s Division Bell trilogy, so I was so excited to be given the opportunity to take part in the blog blitz for another of her books. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with my copy of the book.

BLURB:

Six years after floods made her family homeless, Jess Dyer has found safety on the wild North Yorkshire coast. Her sister-in-law Ruth is forging a role as doctor to their community of refugees and the rock around which the family revolves.

But the family is haunted by memories of the journey north and the loss of their mother Sonia. And their community is under attack from the local population.

When Jess answers a distress call at sea, she brings strangers to their village and puts Ruth in jeopardy. Jess must calm the community, mount a rescue mission and keep her brother Ben from tipping into insanity.

Will she succeed? And will she find Ruth before it’s too late?

‘Thicker Than Water’ is a gripping thriller about family, belonging and revenge.

TTW v3.1

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

When you read and love a trilogy by an author, you are always a bit nervous to pick up a book that falls outside that series, just in case your hopes are too high and it is disappointing. The good news is, Rachel McLean continues to triumph with this book. Although a complete departure from the political intrigue that had me hooked on the Division Bell trilogy, Thicker Than Water is just as gripping. In fact, if it hadn’t already been quite late in the evening when I started reading, I am quite sure it would have been a “read in one sitting” kind of book, especially as it’s one of those books with really short chapters so you can keep telling yourself, “Just one more chapter. One more won’t hurt,” and then suddenly it’s 3:00 in the morning!

Once again Rachel’s writing is so scarily near the mark of reality, as we watch the horror stories on the news of communities being devastated by the storms, earthquakes and tsunamis that are happening around the world.

From the instant the flood waters start to rise there is a sense of unease that runs right through the book. The displaced community is populated with people who have all left secrets behind them in their previous lives, some of which are threatening to come back to haunt them. On top of this, they are totally isolated within their community, unwanted by their near neighbours, and left to struggle and scavenge for their survival. All of this is before the real action of the book even begins, so I am sure you can see why I was reluctant to put the book down and go to sleep!

When strangers enter the community, that is when the unease develops into full blown danger. There’s not much I can say without giving things away that I am sure you would much rather discover for yourself. Let me just say, allow yourself plenty of uninterrupted reading time, because once you start you won’t want to stop.

I loved this book so much that I went hurrying off to look up the sequel to pre-order. I was in such a rush that I almost forgot that I am reviewing it next month on release day. I hope you will be as excited by that as I am. Oh, and if anyone wants to join me in mounting a campaign to get this made into a TV series, I am totally up for that. It would be perfect!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mcleanMy name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Book Review

Divided We Stand – Rachel McLean

At long last I can tell you all about the final book in the Division Bell Trilogy! If you haven’t read the first two books, can I suggest reading them before you read the rest of this post because otherwise there will be spoilers aplenty. You can read my reviews of A House Divided and Divide and Rule here.

BLURB:

Britain is a country under surveillance. Neighbours spy on neighbours. Schools enforce loyalty to the state. And children are encouraged to inform on their parents.

Disgraced MP Jennifer Sinclair has earned her freedom but returns home to find everything changed.

Rita Gurumurthy has been sent to a high security prison. When a sympathetic guard helps her escape she becomes a fugitive, forced to go into hiding.

To reunite her family and win freedom for her son and her friend, Jennifer must challenge her old colleague and rival, the new Prime Minister Catherine Moore.

Will Catherine listen to reason and remove the country from its yoke of fear and suspicion? Or will Jennifer have to reveal the secret only she knows about Catherine, and risk plunging the country into turmoil?

Divided We Stand Ebook

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say. I am a little sad that I have now reached the end of the Division Bell Trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed every book, and the finale certainly did not disappoint. Rachel McLean continues to create a grim picture of the state of the UK in the early 2020s, writing in a way that makes you feel that this story could really be the newspaper headlines in the not too distant future.

Although the subject matter of the entire trilogy could, and perhaps should, make for uncomfortable reading, Rachel’s writing style is such that you just cannot stop reading. Divided We Stand is one of those books that you can’t help but read quickly to see what happens (and to find out if there is any hope for redemption for our country), but at the same time you find yourself trying to read more slowly so that it lasts just a little bit longer.

Over the course of the trilogy, I had become attached to a number of characters, and I was pleased to see that Rachel gave each of these characters their own conclusion and I wasn’t left wondering about anyone’s fate, be that good or bad.

Having said earlier this year that political thrillers were not my usual choice of genre, it is safe to say that the Division Bell Trilogy has well and truly converted me, and I look forward to seeing what Rachel comes up with next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

My thanks go to Rachel for allowing me to part of the blog tours for all three parts of this fantastic trilogy, and for providing me with my copy of the books, and also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for making it so easy to take part.

Book Review

Divide and Rule – Rachel McLean

Regular readers will have seen my review of the first book in the Division Bell Trilogy early this month (you can read it here if you missed it) and will know how much I was looking forward to sharing part two with you all. Well, today is that day! Quick warning – anything passed this point WILL contain spoilers for book one if you haven’t read it!

Divide and Rule e-book

BLURB:

Jennifer Sinclair’s fight to save her political career, her family and her freedom has failed. Traumatised by prison violence, she agrees to transfer to the mysterious British Values Centre.

Rita Gurumurthy has betrayed her country and failed the children in her care. Unlike Jennifer, she has no choice, but finds herself in the centre against her will.

Both women are expected to conform, to prove their loyalty to the state and to betray everything they hold dear. One attempts to comply, while the other rebels. Will either succeed in regaining her freedom?

Divide and Rule is 1984 for the 21st century – a chilling thriller examining the ruthless measures the state will take to ensure obedience, and the impact on two women.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

It is hard to find the words to describe Divide and Rule without giving too much away about the story. I found it to be quite an unsettling read, I think largely because it didn’t take an awful lot of imagination to picture the state of Britain portrayed in it becoming a reality, although I hope it is one that never comes into existence!

The tactics used at the centre to control the “patients” are shocking, from mind games and public humiliation, to vicious beatings and more, and it is disturbing to read about the lengths the Government is prepared to go to to control people who it sees as dissenters. Rachel McLean’s writing style skilfully weaves an atmosphere of fear and distrust amongst all the Centre’s occupants.

I am probably making this sound like a difficult read, but it is far from it. From the very first page, I found it almost impossible to put down, as I just couldn’t wait to see what was coming next for Jennifer and Rita. Despite the subject matter of the book, there is an underlying sense of warmth between the “patients” at the centre, and this gives an added depth to the story that I didn’t expect.

I am looking forward to reading the final instalment of the trilogy to see what the future holds for Jennifer and the friends she made whilst in the centre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Many thanks to Rachel McLean, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of today’s blog blitz, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

Book Review

A House Divided – Rachel McLean

I have a second review for you all today, this time for A House Divided by Rachel McLean. This book is the first in the Divided Bell Trilogy and I am very excited about it. Keep your eyes peeled for more on this brilliant trilogy throughout the rest of the year.

BLURB:

Jennifer Sinclair is many things: loyal government minister, loving wife and devoted mother.

But when a terror attack threatens her family, her world is turned upside down. When the government she has served targets her Muslim husband and sons, her loyalties are tested. And when her family is about to be torn apart, she must take drastic action to protect them.

A House Divided is a tense and timely thriller about political extremism and divided loyalties, and their impact on one woman.

You can read an extract of A House Divided here.

AHD ebook cover (small)

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Living in rural England, I can’t even begin to comprehend the extent of racial tensions in our cities. Even though you hear about it on the news, it always feels slightly removed from my life. As such, reading this book served as a real eye opener for me. The stark realities presented within it mean that is not always a comfortable read, but it is an important one. Whilst obviously written as a work of fiction, it feels a little scary to read something that seems so close to the reality that we are living in.

I found it particularly interesting to read a book of this nature told from the perspective of a white woman, married to a Muslim man, working within the government. Her personal struggle with loyalty to her country, and her fellow Ministers, conflicting with love for her family felt very real. For me, her actions and reactions felt very relatable, as her life spirals out of control around her, and she is surrounded by betrayal and lies.

A House Divided is a fascinating read, if somewhat unsettling, and I am looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds through the rest of the trilogy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Many thanks to Rachel McLean, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

A House Divided Full Tour Banner

Extracts

A House Divided – Extract from Chapter One

AHD ebook cover (small)

Hayley Price was dead, and Jennifer Sinclair was going to get the blame.

Never mind that Hayley took her own life. Never mind that someone in Bronzefield Prison had provided her with the tool. And never mind that the prison staff had taken their eyes off a woman on suicide watch.

As far as the media was concerned, Hayley’s death was the fault of Jennifer Sinclair, Prisons Minister.

Today Jennifer would be making a statement in the House of Commons, explaining why Hayley had been allowed to die. And it needed to be good. The prison governor’s job was at stake – of course – but so was her own.

It was five am, and Jennifer was up early, taking advantage of the quiet of her London flat. Little disturbed her from outside: the milkman making his way along the street below, a couple of late night revellers ending yesterday instead of beginning today. Inside, all was quiet. Her husband Yusuf hadn’t stirred when she’d slipped out of bed and her two sons were fast asleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor, staying in London for a special occasion.

She sat on the floor of the kitchen, the only uninhabited room, and stared at the sheet of paper. Her civil servants had insisted on drafting a full speech, but she knew she’d do better with notes. Thinking on her feet had got her this far; hopefully it wouldn’t fail her now.

She glanced at the oven clock. Not long before Hassan would wake to realise it was his tenth birthday. She didn’t want him to find her sitting on the floor.

She pushed herself up, rubbing her cramped legs, and crept towards the bedroom. It was a treat having the whole family here – normally they’d be at home in her Birmingham constituency – but the timing of this crisis was far from ideal.

She reached the door to the bedroom and heard movement behind her.

“Mummy?”

She looked round. Hassan was sitting up, rubbing his eyes. His older brother Samir was still snoring.

She pushed the speech from her mind. “Morning, darling. Happy birthday.”

His eyes widened and he let out a shriek. He threw off the sleeping bag and jumped up, pushing past her to wake his dad.

“Daddy! Wake up!” he cried. Jennifer followed him into the bedroom.

Yusuf sat up in bed and feigned a yawn.

“Hello? Why would anyone want to get up this early on a Wednesday?”

“Daddy!” Hassan repeated, and jumped on him. Grunts came from beneath the duvet. Jennifer sat on the end of the bed and gave Hassan a hug. 

Yusuf leaned in and wrapped his arms round both of them. “Anyone would think it was a special day,” he groaned, pulling back and throwing Jennifer a wink.

Hassan shrieked. “Daddy! It’s my birthday!”

Yusuf threw back the quilt, grabbing Hassan in one swift movement and tickling him. Hassan shrieked with delight. 

Yusuf laughed. “Go and get your brother, Mr Early Waker.”

Hassan nodded and sprang for the door, confident in the knowledge that when he returned, there would be presents.

Five minutes later he dragged Samir into the room.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming,” Samir moaned, yawning.

“You can’t sleep in on my birthday,” Hassan replied.

Samir shrugged. Four years older than his brother, he was becoming skinny, gangly even. His skin was pale with fatigue and he had dark circles under his eyes. He would have been up late watching YouTube videos on his phone, Jennifer knew. He tried to hide it but the glow from beneath his duvet – or sleeping bag – was a dead giveaway.

“Hello, love,” she said, reaching out towards him. “Come and sit with us while Hassan trashes the place.”

She shifted into the middle of the bed, making room. Samir glanced at her then perched on the edge of the mattress. He pulled his sleeping bag around his shoulders.

Jennifer pushed aside the stab of rejection and shifted her attention to Hassan, who was scrabbling under the bed for presents. Samir dived onto his brother, pretending to grab the presents first. Hassan pushed him off.

“Come on Samir,” said Yusuf. “It’s Hassan’s day.” 

Samir scowled and Hassan emerged from under the bed, his face flushed. He passed a present to his brother. “It’s OK. He can help me.”

Jennifer threw Yusuf a smile. That was just like Hassan, always wanting to share with his brother.

“Go on then,” she laughed. “Get ripping.” Yusuf lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her fingertips, his eyes fixed on her face. The boys ignored them, intent on tearing open wrapping paper. Yusuf squeezed her hand, then dropped it and joined in with the boys, pushing wrapping paper to the floor. Jennifer sat back and watched, smiling to herself. Seeing her boys enjoy moments she’d never had as a child felt like an accomplishment.

Then her eyes glazed over and she turned away, the boys’ cries fading. 

She couldn’t stop thinking about that damn speech.

Thank you so much to Rachel McLean for allowing me to share this extract with you all. I hope it has tempted you to check this great book out for yourselves.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com