Book Reviews: The Wayward Girls | The Silent Ones | The Last | The July Girls

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Today I’m back with some more mini book reviews of some thrillers I’ve read in recent weeks!

 

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

This is a novel that I was both desperate to read and majorly apprehensive about as I’m a total wimp when it comes to haunted house stories! I am so glad that I picked this one up though as it was such a good read and I read it all in one sitting! It follows sisters Loo and Bee in 1976 who live in the middle of nowhere in a ramshackle house that seems to have quite a few people coming and going. It alternates with the present day as we follow Lucy going back to her childhood home with a group who are investigating paranormal activity! I was gripped by this novel from the very beginning even though it did give me chills at times with the creepiness! I was so intrigued about what was going on in this house, especially as I grew up in a house that seemed to be haunted. I went back and forth about what I though might be happening in this novel – whether it was ghosts or if someone was playing mind games on the family. The conclusion when it comes is so utterly perfect, I loved it. It has made this a book that is really staying with me and I whole-heartedly recommend it!

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The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

I listened to The Apartment by this author a few months ago and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this book. I’m pleased to say it lived up to my hopes for it. The Silent Ones follows the immediate aftermath of an elderly lady being assaulted in her own home and two ten year old girls being arrested on suspicion of the attack. Neither girl will speak about what happened. The two girls are cousins and have grown up very close with their mums being sisters. The family dynamics are fascinating and tense as this book progresses. The parents of the sisters side with one over the other and we gradually find out what has happened in the past. Alongside this the two cousins begin to talk about what happened. The tension builds to such a level in this book that I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how everything was going to unfold. I really enjoyed this book and absolutely recommend it!

 

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this book for review and I’m ashamed at how long it’s been on my TBR. I had a paperback but I downloaded the audio book from my library and part-read and part-listened to it. I found the premise of this book so intriguing – twenty people in a hotel in an isolated location when nuclear war causes large swathes of the world’s population to be wiped out. Then a body is found in the hotel and it’s clear that one of the guests is a murderer! I found this book gripping enough that I read it in just a couple of sittings but I did feel that it was a bit too meandering at times and that the tension wasn’t maintained throughout. It just lacked something, but because I thought it was building to one ending it kept me turning the pages. Unfortunately the ending wasn’t what I thought it might have been and it was a little disappointing.  As I said before though it did keep me turning the pages so I can say I did really like the writing style and I will definitely look out for another book by this author.

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The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

This was my first Phoebe Locke book but it definitely won’t be my last as it was such a brilliant read! This is a thriller that is set to the backdrop of the 7/7 bombings in London. Every year on this date a woman has gone missing and so far only one body has been found. Ten year old Addie begins to have suspicions of her father when he comes home covered in blood. She begins to look into things and it’s fascinating to see this story unfold from her perspective because due to her young age she doesn’t always grasp what she’s finding out. As she gets a bit older we see her navigate life with only her older sister to rely on and things aren’t easy. The mystery at the heart of this novel gradually unravels and the pace ramps up. I was holding my breath during parts of the book as it built towards its conclusion. It’s a brilliant crime thriller and I loved it. I highly recommend this one!

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey @dianefjeffrey

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About the Book

She says she’s innocent.

WOULD YOU BELIEVE HER?

2013

Melissa Slade had it all: beauty, money, a successful husband and beautiful twin babies. But, in the blink of an eye, her perfect life became a nightmare – when she found herself on trial for the murder of her little girls.

PRESENT DAY

Jonathan Hunt covered the original Slade Babies’ case for the local newspaper. Now that new evidence has come to light, Jon’s boss wants him back on the story to uncover the truth.

With Melissa’s appeal date looming, time is running out. And, as Jon gets drawn deeper into a case he’d wanted to forget, he starts to question Melissa’s guilt.

Is Melissa manipulating Jon or telling him the truth? Is she a murderer, or the victim of a miscarriage of justice?

And if Melissa Slade is innocent, what really happened to Ellie and Amber Slade?

 

My Thoughts

I wanted to read The Guilty Mother as soon as I saw the cover, it really caught my eye and I’m really pleased to say that the novel more than lives up to it.

Melissa is in prison for killing her twin daughters and her appeal is about to be heard. Her first husband Simon, with whom she has a teenage son Calum is convinced she is innocent and is fighting for justice. Melissa’s second husband, the father of her twins, isn’t so convinced. Jonathan works for the local newspaper and along with Kelly, a young woman who is still learning in the journalism world, is tasked with looking into Melissa’s case.

I very much enjoyed this novel, it had me gripped from start to finish. I found reading about Melissa’s experience as a new mother to twins really believable. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be and how different it must have been to when she had her son years previously. Michael is very unsympathetic to Melissa, he misses the high achieving wife that Melissa was before and seems to make no allowances for how much life has changed since they decided to start a family together. This set up is so good in a novel though because it made me suspicious of Michael because it seems he would rather have his old wife back than have to deal with how she is now. It also made me wonder whether Melissa could have harmed her babies due to how fatigued and unsupported she was in the midst of her low mood and struggle.

It was great to have the journalist’s perspective too as we get to take a step back from being inside Melissa’s life and see it from an outsider’s point of view. Jonathan has had real sadness in his own life and as a father to two boys he can’t see how anyone would harm their own children. I enjoyed learning more about him and seeing how he tried to separate his own life experiences from Melissa’s. In Jonathan’s office is a new team member to the newspaper, Kelly, and she ends up being Jonathan’s side-kick. I loved Kelly, she’s clearly a bit green but in some ways that allows her to see things that Jonathan doesn’t see and she brings so much to his story (and to the novel).

Diane Jeffrey is an excellent writer – she explores Melissa’s story with such sensitivity whilst also keeping the novel thrilling so that you find yourself reading at every possible opportunity in order to find out what the truth was. There are twists and turns along the way and things I didn’t see coming… and the ending is brilliant!

The Guilty Mother is a novel that keeps you on your toes all the way through! I kept changing my mind about whether Melissa was guilty, and also changing my mind about who else might have done it. The story is so engrossing and impossible to put down! This is the first novel that I’ve read by Diane Jeffrey but it absolutely won’t be the last, I’m intending to buy everything she’s ever written now! I highly recommend this book!

The Guilty Mother is out now and available here

 

Review: Gone by Leona Deakin | @LeonaDeakin1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist this book when I read the blurb, it sounded so intriguing and I’m so glad I picked it up! Gone is a novel about four strangers who have all disappeared after receiving a card asking them if they dare to play. Psychologist Dr Augusta Bloom and ex detective Marcus Jameson are tasked with looking into one of the missing people and find that things are more serious and involved than they ever could have imagined!

Gone is such a good psychological thriller and is something a bit different. I loved following Augusta and getting her psychological insights into what might be going on. I was also really intrigued as we meet some of the families of the missing people. I couldn’t work out what they could possibly have in common so felt like I was tailing the investigation and trying to figure it all out.

I loved how prescient this novel is with the way it looks at how the game these strangers were invited to play might have been set up. It explores the idea of how people can use quizzes on social media that people fill in to find out what cartoon character they’d be (for example) can be put together with other easily discovered info on the same sites to see who would be a perfect target for this game. I’ve always been really suspicious of quizzes on FB and this book proves I’m right to be! I’m definitely not going near them now!

I loved the exploration of who the type of person behind the game might be, and also who the people who were invited to play the game were underneath. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and this book is so much about what makes a person tick, what makes someone do the things they do. It was brilliant to see psychological ideas applied to the missing people and then as the book went on to wonder about those traits in other characters. It made for such a good read!

It turns out that nothing is quite as it seems in this novel and there is so much more underneath the surface than you see at first. I found it quite a slow-burn to begin with but this was perfect because it allowed me to be curious about what was going on before I was pulled right in to a novel that becomes an unputdownable rollercoaster of a read!

This was such a fascinating psychological thriller and I very much enjoyed it! I’m already looking forward to reading more from Leona Deakin (and also hoping we might get more about Dr Augusta Bloom in the future…!). I recommend this one!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and Anne of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Gone is out now in ebook here and also available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Recommended Summer Thriller Reads! #MiniReviews #BookReviews #Thriller

MONDAY MINI REVIEWS 20 MAY

I seem to be reading more books than I’m reviewing again so I thought I’d share a selection of mini book reviews today of thrillers that would make great summer holiday reading!

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The Blame Game by C. J. Cooke

C. J. Cooke is one of my favourite authors so I always look forward to a new book from her and I’m happy to say her latest book was fab! It follows a family who are on what seems to be a dream holiday but odd things start to happen. They feel they are being watched, and something just isn’t quite right. Then on their way home an accident happens and from there things begin to unravel. The novel is told in two timelines – the present day and then 22 years ago when Helen and Michael met and a tragedy befell their group. I was equally hooked on both timelines and was desperate to find out how these two events were connected. It’s a thrilling read, and a real page turner. I think what I loved most though was that at its heart it’s a novel about why we keep the secrets we do, and the power they can have over us when perhaps things might have been different if we’d not kept quiet at the time. I love books that are thrilling but also give me pause for thought and this book certainly did both! I recommend it!

 

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The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

I read and enjoyed Mel McGrath’s previous novel so I was thrilled to get approved to read this latest book on NetGalley. I’m so happy to say that it more than lived up to my expectations and I loved it! A group of friends get together in a remote holiday home in the present day and the book goes back and forth between here and a few months previously when they all went to a festival together and witnessed something that changed everything! I loved how this book went back and forth in time like this but also how the present day is told going forward, and the story of what happened at the festival goes backwards from the end of the night to the start. This made for a really gripping read as you piece together who did what and when, and how it all connects to the bigger picture. This is a group of friends who seem to be desperately trying to hang on to (or possibly re-create) their younger days and it feels like they don’t have a huge amount in common anymore. It fascinates me to read novels where people remain friends with a group of people from earlier in life as, for me, it doesn’t seem possible for a whole group to retain a closeness over the years. The characters in this novel aren’t particularly likeable either but I just couldn’t stop reading about them! I really did enjoy this book and highly recommend it!

 

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Don’t Turn Around by Amanda Brooke

I was really pleased when I got an email to say I was pre-approved to read this from NetGalley as I’ve enjoyed previous books by the author. I have to say that I think this book is her best yet, I found it hard to put down. The story is about a family’s bid to prove what they believed really happened to their daughter Meg. Meg died by suicide ten years previously but her family always believed her boyfriend had more to do with her death than was ever found. Meg’s parents and her cousin Jen set up a charity helpline to try to help other people who felt like Meg, and one night get a call from a young woman who they think might be the new girlfriend of Meg’s boyfriend. This leads to a tangled web as Jen becomes increasingly involved in trying to solve the mystery. The first two thirds of this novel were so tense and it was a hard book to put down. I did feel the end fell a little flat to me because I’d worked out what had happened to Meg earlier on in the book and was really hoping to be proved wrong. That said I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book because it had me gripped from start to finish!

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Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

I really enjoyed this crime thriller novel. The story features private investigator Ted and his sidekick Amanda as they investigate the disappearance of a child. I didn’t realise going into this book that it’s the third book in a series but I followed the story perfectly fine. I did love Ted and Amanda so much that I’m definitely going to go back and read the previous two books though, they are such brilliant characters and they really made this book for me. The case they are investigating is a missing child, who was left alone along with a group of other kids of a similar age, who has disappeared from a hotel. There is no evidence that the child left the hotel either alone or with someone so the crime becomes ever more mysterious. I didn’t work out where this book was going so the ending was a shock to me.  I recommend this one!

#BookReview: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke @CJ_Cooke_Author @HarperCollinsUK

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About the Book

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

My Thoughts

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When CJ Cooke offered a few copies of I Know My Name to bloggers on twitter I immediately asked if I could have one as the book sounded so good. It didn’t click with me until later that CJ Cooke wrote one of my favourite ever books, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, so when I found that my copy of I know My Name was signed I actually squealed with delight and was even more thrilled.

I’m so happy to say that I Know My Name doesn’t disappoint, I would go so far as to say that it’s the best psychological thriller that I’ve read this year. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and it really got under my skin.

I Know My Name is told in two strands. One is on a remote Greek island where a woman is washed ashore, she doesn’t know her name or where she came from or how she got to be there but she is lucky to be rescued by a group of writers that are staying on the island. The second strand is set in London where a man is called to come home from work by a neighbour as it seems his wife has gone missing leaving their two very young children behind.

This novel is thrilling, it’s unnerving and it gives you so much to consider as to what might have happened. But it’s so much more than that too. It’s a novel about how much you really know about a person, it’s about how much pain and damage people can hide from their loved ones and it’s about how easy it is to not see what is happening in your own home right in front of you.

I loved this book because it truly is a psychological thriller, it looks at a terrifying scenario of memory loss, of a creepy neglected island but also a look at how the mind works. The things people will do to survive, the things people sometimes have to do to survive.

I read this book in two sittings, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one is because I started reading late at night and fatigue overcame me. I immediately picked it up again the following morning and didn’t stop reading until I turned the last page. It’s now a few days since I read this book and I still find myself thinking about it, it really has made such a lasting impact on me and I know I won’t forget this story any time soon.

This is truly an outstanding psychological thriller that will unnerve you, it will give you the creeps and it will deeply unsettle you as it all begins to come together. It will grab you and it won’t let you go, even when you’ve finished reading it.

This is an incredible novel and I highly, highly recommend it. I feel certain that this book will be in my top books of this year!

I Know My Name is due to be published in paperback on 15th June.

I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queens University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.
I KNOW MY NAME is C.J. Cooke’s first psychological drama and was inspired by her creative work in mental health. It is being published in several other languages and a TV adaptation is in development.

C.J. Cooke lives by the sea with her family.

#BookReview: The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

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About the Book:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

It all started that night in the woods.

Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.

Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.

Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is – and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.

Bestselling author B A Paris is back with a brand new psychological thriller full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts:

The opening of this book properly gave me the creeps. The idea of driving down a dark lane on a rainy night, knowing you’re in the middle of nowhere, and then seeing a car parked up, or possibly broken down in a lay by, is really unnerving to me. Cass sees the car and is unsure what to do, she stops and tries to see if anyone is in the car. It felt like the opening to a horror movie and I was really on edge wondering what was going to happen next, whilst at the same time being nervous to read on. Cass makes the decision that I think a lot of people on their own on a night like that would make, and that is to drive on, but this decision has consequences that no one could forsee and it sets this novel up brilliantly!

The following day Cass’s husband tells her that a woman has been murdered in the lay-by and she can’t bring herself to admit to being there. Cass then becomes convinced that someone may have seen her that night and may now be watching her. She starts receiving strange phone calls and becomes increasingly anxious. The problem Cass has is like the old adage… just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. As a reader you’re aware that some of what Cass is anxious about is genuine because we’re in the know but other things we can’t be sure if she’s being paranoid.

The Breakdown is a book that’s fast-paced and easy to read but at the same time it does ramp up the tension, and it genuinely had me on edge at times. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down though because I really wanted to know what was going to happen and I read it in one sitting. This book does require suspension of disbelief at times, and I did work out the ending quite early on, but it’s such an engrossing read and it has many twists and turns that will have you second-guessing yourself all the way through. The ending is satisfying and does tie everything up nicely.

The Breakdown is out now and I highly recommend buying a copy!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview: The Escape by C.L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooks

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About the Book:

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

My Thoughts:

This book grabbed my attention from the first chapter and it didn’t let go until after I’d turned the last page. I read most of this novel on Saturday afternoon and my team were on Sky at 5.30pm – I was really looking forward to the match but I had 20% of the book left to read at kick off and I literally couldn’t stop thinking about the book so had to pick it up and finish it before I could fully watch the game (and I never,ever miss watching when my team are on TV!). That’s how much this book grabbed me!

I found Jo to be such an intriguing character. I really wanted her to have some fight about her but I could completely understand how she believed she was losing her mind and had to keep quiet in case she ended up in trouble. I think it’s hard to understand until you’ve been in a situation, or known someone in someone in a similar situation, to really grasp how possible it is for someone to become so anxious about life, and to really feel like someone is trying to hurt them but not be able to prove it. It’s like the old adage – just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Jo was a very believable character for me and I was on edge all the way through the book hoping that she would be okay in the end.

I had so many thoughts of what might be going on in this book, about who Paula was and whether she was the bad guy or whether it was someone else, or even a product of Jo’s anxious mind but I didn’t actually work out what was happening until shortly before it was revealed. I became convinced that someone was trying to get to Jo but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly was going on.

The tension in this novel is there from the very first chapter and the book moves at such speed that you find yourself  gripped and completely incapable of putting it down. There is potential danger around every corner and Jo is left not knowing what on earth to do to keep her child safe.

The Escape is very fast-paced and twisty and once it’s grabbed you it won’t let you go! I’ve read and loved all of C.L.  Taylor’s previous novels but I think I have to say that The Escape is her best yet.  It’s due to be published by Avon Books on 23 March and I highly recommend pre-ordering a copy now.

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve previously reviewed C.L. Taylor’s novel The Missing and you can read that here if you’d like to.

 

About the Author:

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C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. She started writing fiction in 2005 and her short stories have won several awards and been published by a variety of literary and women’s magazines. Cally has a degree in Psychology, with particular interest in abnormal and criminal Psychology. She also loves knitting, Dr Who, Sherlock, Great British Bake Off and Margaret Atwood and blames Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected for her love of a dark tale.

#BookReview: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

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About the Book

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

My Thoughts

I was really intrigued by the synopsis to this book and simply had to request it as soon as I spotted it on NetGalley. The initial sentence of the synopsis about making a list of all the possessions you consider essential to your life just made me want to read more!

This is such a fast-paced read, I flew through the first half of the book when I’d only intended to read a couple of chapters to decide whether this would be my next read. I love how the book is told in a dual timeline – the girl before Emma in the past and then Jane in the present day. It’s really well put together that we see Emma view the house and then we see Jane doing the same thing but each time we switch character the story advances a bit more and it really hooks you in. You want to know what happens to Emma and whether Jane will suffer the same fate.

The house in this book is a character in its own right, which was really interesting. I could picture the house so clearly and even though it sounded very cold and sterile the way Jane and Emma felt safe there made me intrigued. I’m not sure that I would have felt safe having every aspect of my home controlled by an app… having said that it did make me think about how much of my own home is wifi dependent.

A lot of the premise of this  book is down to control. The house is controlled by the owner, and therefore whoever lives there is at his mercy. There was elements of control in some of the romantic relationships the women were involved in. That was all great and I love the way the story hinged on control. The downside for me was the sex scenes; it all just felt a bit unnecessary. It actually seemed like Edward was written the way he was in a deliberate attempt to gain comparisons to Fifty Shades of Grey and it felt a bit gimmicky.

On the whole though this was a really good read. It did keep me hooked; you can’t beat a twisty thriller with unreliable narrators! I worked out what was going on before the characters did but I still wanted to keep reading to see exactly how it all panned out. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves a fast-paced thriller.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl Before is out now and available here.

#BookReview: While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

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About the Book

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

My Thoughts

I was intrigued by this book as soon as I saw the synopsis – the idea of waking up not knowing who is next to you and then finding that that person is dead is terrifying and such a great premise for a thriller.

I was immediately drawn into Tara’s story wanting to know why she was in Lee’s bed and whether she had anything to do with his death. The theme running through this book is secrets and lies and the damage they can do always makes for a thrilling read, and I was keen to find out what was going on under the surface of these characters’ lives.

I did find the plot quite far-fetched as it went on but once you realise that and are prepared to suspend your disbelief then this continues to be an enjoyable, intriguing read. It was one of those books that was an escape from my own life and I enjoyed it for that, it’s always nice to be taken out of reality whilst reading a book and this certainly did that for me.

This is a fast-paced read – I read it in just one or two sittings. It’s a gripping novel that really holds your attention all the way through.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While You Were Sleeping is out now and available from Book Depository or Amazon

#BookReview: Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

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About the Book

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

My Thoughts

I read and loved Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing when it first came out so when I heard about this new book I knew I had to read it as soon as I could possibly get my hands on a copy.

I have to admit here that whilst I love a good psychological thriller, I don’t like being scared! I’m such a wimp and there are certain things that set my nerves totally on edge. This book pushed all of those buttons for me and had me completely creeped out and I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t put this book down. I read the last third of it in bed late at night and I was so freaked out that if I wasn’t reading on my Kindle Voyage I may well have had to put it in the freezer (a la Joey in Friends) but at no point could I stop myself reading.

This book is not really a whodunnit, or even a whydunnit, it’s very much a howdunnit and it’s brilliantly done. I was literally on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion whilst reading this.

I loved how this book started off all quite normally with a house swap between two second cousins who had never met but their parents knew each other. Kate has been through terrible trauma a few years previously and this is her starting to spread her wings again to prove to herself that she can live a full life despite what happened to her. I’m fascinated by books where a character has suffered trauma as I’ve been through it myself so can say from experience that the way she is is very true and believable.

Corbin, Kate’s cousin, seems a little off from very early on and the story gradually builds up to why he seems off. From then on we’re left feeling very unsure about what his connection is to the murdered woman, who lives in the apartment next to him in Boston.

The story is told from a few viewpoints and at times we get part of the story from one character and then the same period of time is then narrated from someone else’s perspective. This was how the book creeped me out so much. The idea that you’re going about your life and feeling ok and safe but you have no idea what someone else is doing or where they are, even when they may well be very close by. Just the very idea of someone watching you when you have no idea that they’re there is enough to put anyone’s nerves on edge.

I finished reading this book in one day and I’m still thinking about it days later. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who loves suspense thrillers, and to anyone who loves Hitchcock’s films (this book would make a great film!).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Her Every Fear is out now and available from: Book Depository (Her Every Fear)

#BookReview: Lies by TM Logan

lies-by-tm-logan

About the Book

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? 

A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge.

When Joe Lynch sees his wife enter an underground car park in the middle of the day, he’s intrigued enough to follow her down.

And when he sees her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he naturally goes to her defence – and doesn’t for a minute believe the accusations Ben makes against her.

It’s pure misfortune that, just as the clash becomes violent and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s son has an asthma attack, and Joe has to take him to safety.

My Thoughts

I was initially drawn to the cover of this book and then once I read the synopsis I knew it was one I had to read.

Lies is the story of an average man, who lives an average life and is perfectly happy with his lot. Then one day he sees his wife somewhere that she shouldn’t be and the story ramps up from there.

I did work out how this novel going to end part-way through, apart from one aspect of it, but it was actually really satisfying to be right and thinking back over the novel it did feel like all the clues were laid out for me to figure it all out. Sometimes thrillers have an ending that it’s impossible to work out and it can leave you feeling like it was just plucked from the ether but not this novel. It has a satisfying ending too, which I appreciated.

None of the characters in this book were particularly likeable but that really worked within the story because it meant that I really didn’t know who to trust throughout the novel.

I did find myself getting a bit annoyed at certain points in the novel where a character (no spoilers) seems quite tech-savvy in one moment and then in the next misses a really obvious thing that they could do, which would really help them. It took me out of the story a little when this happened but it’s possibly just me being picky and maybe the character just isn’t thinking logically due to the stress of the situation.

This is a novel that makes you think about the things you put out on social media, and whether you can ever really know a person just by what they write on their Facebook page. It also makes you think about the decisions you make and how things may have ended up completely different if you’d just not seen something, or reacted in a certain way. It highlights how those decisions we make in an instant can have such far-reaching consequences. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

This is a very fast-paced thriller. The story moves forward in every chapter and it never slows down for a second. It did have me hooked and wanting to know what was going to happen next. This isn’t a complex thriller but it is fun, quick read that I would recommend and I’m looking forward to reading whatever TM Logan publishes next.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lies is due to be released in ebook format on 17 January, and in paperback on 4 May 2017.

#BookReview: Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson

everything-you-told-me

About the Book

You went to bed at home, just like every other night.
You woke up in the back of a taxi, over 250 miles away.
You have no idea how you got there and no memory of the last ten hours.
You have no phone, no money; just a suicide note in your coat pocket, in your own writing.
You know you weren’t planning to kill yourself.
Your family and friends think you are lying.

Someone knows exactly what happened to you.
But they’re not telling…

My Thoughts

A few weeks ago I received a taxi receipt in the post with a note asking if I’d dropped it. I’ll be honest, it initially made my heart race especially when this receipt had my address on it and was for £400! I then suspected (and hoped!) that it might be marketing for a book so I took to twitter to try and find out more. I eventually discovered that it was a brilliant marketing campaign for a forthcoming book, Everything You Told Me. So by this point I was eagerly anticipating the book arriving so I could find out more!

Everything I Told You is a domestic tale with a psychological thriller angle and I raced through it. I am always intrigued by novels that have an element of memory loss, and I love books with an unreliable narrator – this book had both and I love the way it kept me on my toes.

Sally has no idea how she ended up in Cornwall but she is sure that someone tried to harm her. She has no proof but she soon begins to work out what she think has happened. The problem is that because she has no evidence the people around her just think she is very unwell and so no one believes her. Her family rally round to look after her thinking she is just struggling through lack of sleep and the stress and worry that goes with having a young baby.

I did work out what was going on in this book quite early on but I still enjoyed how the plot unfolded as I raced to the end to see if I was right in my theory. There was still a surprise or two at the end of this book for me, which I didn’t see coming and I’m not sure if it was possible to work out that it was going there but I still enjoyed the last twist.

I always enjoy Lucy Dawson’s novels. I find them very fast-paced, easy reads that keep me hooked all the way through. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys domestic fiction with a thriller edge to it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Everything I Told You is out now and available from all good book shops!

#BookReview: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough #WtfThatEnding

behind-her-eyes-by-pinborough-sarah

About the Book

Only two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

It’s said that the only people who really know what goes on in a marriage are the couple themselves. But what if even they don’t know the truth?

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He’s a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

Louise, David’s new secretary, is intrigued. But as Louise gets closer to each of them, instead of finding answers she uncovers more puzzling questions. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise could never have guessed how wrong things really are and just how far someone might go to hide it.

My Thoughts

I finished reading this book at 2am – I was so tired but I simply couldn’t stop reading! This book is genuinely the most compulsive, twisty and thrilling book I’ve read in a long time!

I requested Behind Her Eyes because I’m a big Sarah Pinborough fan but also because I kept seeing the hashtag #WTFthatending and I was intrigued. I read a lot of psychological thrillers and so often can see the ending coming so this book felt like a bit of a challenge – would I be able to figure it out? The answer is a resounding no! As I was reading I would feel like I was on the cusp of seeing what was coming but then I would be proved wrong every single time. I then got so caught up in the story as I was reading and as it was happening that eventually I wasn’t even trying to figure it out, I just wanted to know how the whole mess of these three peoples lives was going to end!

This book starts off with David and Louise having met in a bar, and then the next day at work it turns out that not only is he her new boss, he’s also married. Louise can’t help but be intrigued by David, and in turn by his wife Adele when they bump into each other in the street one day. Then so begins a novel where the three parties lives become more and more intwined, and more and more twisted, and eventually you are so engrossed in the novel that you have no idea what will happen next.

I have to mention that the title of this book is so completely and utterly perfect, there is a line in the book that brought that home to me and then when I reached the climax of the novel I had a wry smile to myself. Perfect, perfect, perfect!

This novel endlessly shocked me, and I loved that! It’s rare to find a novel that is genuinely dark and twisty and messed up but this is that novel! I will be recommending this book to everyone… along with the warning that you may never sleep again once you’ve read it! My heart was racing so fast when I got to the end that I couldn’t fall asleep for ages but that shows what a brilliant and unique thriller this was.

Behind Her Eyes is due to be published on 26 January 2017 in the UK and can be pre-ordered now!

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview: The Gift by Louise Jensen @fab_fiction @Bookouture

the-gift-by-louise-jensen

About the Book

The perfect daughter. The perfect girlfriend. The perfect murder?

Jenna is seriously ill. She’s lost all hope of getting the heart transplant she needs to live. But just as her life is ebbing away, she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie.

Who was Callie and how did she die? Jenna is determined to find out.

The closer Jenna gets to those who loved Callie, the more questions arise about her untimely death. Someone knows what happened to Callie. Why won’t they talk?

Jenna is about to uncover the truth, but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

My Thoughts

This book is such a compulsive read – once you start it you’ll find it incredibly hard to put down again until you’ve finished it!

I very much enjoyed this novel. It’s a fascinating idea to centre a novel around, the possibility of cellular memory – where people who’ve had a heart transplant retain the memories of the organ donor. I’ve seen documentaries about it and know it’s something that is being researched so this novel was one I couldn’t resist. It’s refreshing to read a thriller that has a different premise to any I’ve read in a long time.

Jenna has had a heart transplant and then breaks up with her long-term boyfriend as she doesn’t want to be a burden him. She then begins having vivid nightmares that feel real to her and starts to wonder if the nightmares are actually her donor Callie’s memories. This sets Jenna down the path of wanting to meet Callie’s family and to discover if there’s more to what happened to Callie than is being said.

It was also interesting to read about STS – Secondary Traumatic Syndrome as I’d not heard of that before. I have suffered with PTSD in the past and I know how anxious and terrified I felt all the time, and that was without the additional fear that Jenna has that someone really is trying to get to her because of her investigation into Callie’s death. I was willing someone to take her seriously but at the same time I kept trying to work out if it could all be just paranoia on Jenna’s part. At times I felt I was right there with her and my heart was thumping so hard as I read on to see if something awful was about to happen.

I love the way that nearly every chapter ends on a mini cliff-hanger – it kept me turning the pages late into the night and eventually I decided I simply couldn’t go to bed until I knew the truth!

I was kept guessing throughout this novel which was great. I read a lot of thrillers and often figure out the end well before it happens but this book got me. There were parts that I’d worked out but I didn’t manage to put the whole thing together and I loved that it shocked me and yet all made sense once I knew.

I’d highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good psychological thriller that really will keep you guessing until the very end!

The Gift is due to be published on 16th December and can be pre-ordered now!

I received a copy of The Gift from Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

louise-jensen

Louise Jensen is a best selling author of psychological thrillers.  Her debut novel ‘The Sister,’ reached No. 1 in the UK and Canadian Amazon chart within 3 weeks of release, No.1 in Apple’s iBooks and is listed as a USA Today Bestseller.

‘The Sister’ is a book about a grieving girl who thought there was nothing as frightening as being alone – she was wrong.

‘The Gift’ is Louise’s second book, due for publication on the 16th December 2016.

Louise also writes flash fiction, and features and articles for both magazines and online publications. Louise specialises in writing about mindfulness, chronic pain and mental health.

(Bio taken from Louise Jensen’s website)

 

#BookReview: Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

About the Book:

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

My Thoughts:

I have to start by saying that I love Sharon Bolton’s novels – the Lacey Flint series is one of my favourites so I was very keen to read another standalone by her.

I loved this novel! Once I started reading I found that I didn’t want to put it down – it’s one of those books where I begrudged real life interfering in my reading time! I found both of the main characters utterly compelling. I wasn’t sure what to make of either of them. I could never decide whether Hamish was a psychopath or if he was an innocent man – the writing is so clever because it really leaves you with an understanding of the conflict people must have in real life cases. I was fascinated by Maggie Rose, the true-crime writer who has cleared other people of heinous crimes whether she believes they are innocent or not. She was a such complex character because she felt like an enigma to me through a lot of the novel while always remaining believable as if she were a real person.

I had no idea where this novel was going to take me and I ended up stunned by the end. It gave me a book hangover for a few days because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, which is always the sign of a great read!

I actually loved this novel so much that I bought a copy for my Mum-in-law who also loves psychological thrillers/crime novels and once she’d read it we had a chat about it and she agreed with me that it was impossible to work out where this was going until it was just about to happen.

I’d recommend this novel to anyone who loves crime thrillers, especially ones set in brilliant locations and that leave you feeling a bit unsettled once you’ve finished reading. I can’t wait to see what’s next from Sharon Bolton!

I received this book from Random House/Transworld via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

sharon-bolton

Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

 

(Bio taken from the author’s website: www.sharonbolton.com)

#BookReview: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

About the Book:

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora, but one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents, but the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family, a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

My Thoughts:

The Couple Next Door was one of those books that I had on my pre-order list and was practically counting the days until it was released so when I got a chance to read a review copy ahead of release I couldn’t say no! This book is worth all of the hype – it grabs you from the opening chapter and it doesn’t let you go until the very end.

The premise of the book just hooks you right in – the idea of a couple who are prepared to leave a young baby home along whilst they go to a dinner party at their neighbour’s house is shocking. Yes they took a baby monitor with them and they planned to check on the baby every half an hour but that doesn’t make it okay in any way, shape or form. So from the beginning I didn’t particularly like the two main characters and I wasn’t sure whether I could trust either of them, they both felt unreliable to me and I love that in a novel.

The Couple Next Door has twist after twist, shock after shock and you won’t be able to put the book down until you get to the end and finally discover what is going on.

I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a twisty psychological thriller that really will keep you on the edge of your seat and feeling like you have no idea who to trust. I now can’t wait to read whatever Shari Lapena writes next!

I received a copy of this novel from Random House/Transworld via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

shari-lapena

 

 

 

 

Shari Lapena is a Canadian author, born in 1960. She previously worked as a lawyer and an English teacher. Her novels include Things Go Flying (2008), Happiness Economics (2011), and The Couple Next Door (2016).

#BookReview: The Sister by Louise Jensen @Bookouture

The Sister by Louise Jensen

About the Book:

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words, the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

My Thoughts:

This is a book that is quite difficult to review as I’m wary of accidentally giving away any spoilers so for that reason I’m going to keep this review quite short.

I very much enjoyed this novel and it’s one of those books that once started is very difficult to put down. I read it in a couple of sittings and in the time I wasn’t reading I was very keen to get back to it as soon as I could.

I loved reading about the close friendship between Grace and Charlie. It was obvious how much Grace loved her but also clear that something was gnawing at Grace and I was so keen to keep reading to find out what had happened.

I did feel that Grace was too trusting and forgiving, and it was a little hard sometimes to not want to have a way to push her into dealing with the people and situations that she wasn’t comfortable with. Having said that, the fact that she was grieving for Charlie adds the dimension of believability as grief can, and does, make people far less able to make decisions and to deal with things and this is what drew me to feel for Grace.

The further I got into the book and the more Grace began to question herself, the more I started to get swept up in her mindset and found myself feeling as if I was right there with her in the story. It became hard to figure out who could and couldn’t be trusted as I was absolutely seeing things through Grace’s eyes. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller which will sweep you up in the story and will hold you right to the end! This is a great debut novel and I can’t wait to read Louise Jensen’s next book!

I received this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Sister is out now!

About the Author:

louise-jensen

Louise Jensen is a best selling author of psychological thrillers.  Her debut novel ‘The Sister,’ reached No. 1 in the UK and Canadian Amazon chart within 3 weeks of release, No.1 in Apple’s iBooks and is listed as a USA Today Bestseller.

‘The Sister’ is a book about a grieving girl who thought there was nothing as frightening as being alone – she was wrong.

‘The Gift’ is Louise’s second book, due for publication on the 16th December 2016.

Louise also writes flash fiction, and features and articles for both magazines and online publications. Louise specialises in writing about mindfulness, chronic pain and mental health.

(Author bio taken from her website: LouiseJensen.co.uk)

Author Interview with Cat Hogan #TheyAllFallDown

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing an interview with Cat Hogan to share with you today. Cat’s new novel They All Fall Down is out now!

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself

My name is Cat and I love books! When I’m not writing them, my nose is constantly stuck in one. I’ve just released They All Fall Down- it’s my first novel and so far, so good. It has sprouted wings and has been spotted all over Europe lazing on beach towels.

When I’m not writing (content by day and madmen by night) I am Mam to two little mischief makers- Joey (11) and Baby Arthur (3).

We live in beautiful Wexford on the South East coast of Ireland.

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I’ve always written- short stories, poetry, diaries, letters- you name it. My first serious dive into the world of writing was when I set up my own business as a content writer for businesses. I have an honours degree in Law, and a degree in Business Studies- so it made sense to me to do this. That kind of writing is very structured and very formal. I had They All Fall Down in my head for a while before I got down to actually writing it. Once I began in earnest, I couldn’t stop- I had the first draft written in about six months.

 

What is your book about?

They All Fall Down is a dark psychological thriller exploring the depths of flawed human nature, the thin line between love and obsession and the destructive nature of addiction. They story revolves around six characters- their lives, their motivations and the consequences of each of their own actions on each other. It’s set in Ireland in a fictional fishing village.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Music plays a huge role in my life. It always has done. My partner is a musician- originally from Newcastle Upon Tyne. He came to Ireland with his band to tour, I spotted him at his first gig and I guess the rest is history- he came for the music and stayed for love! We listen to a lot of music in our house and I find inspiration for lots of stories through lyrics.

Being close to the sea is a constant source of inspiration to me. We are blessed to live so close to the beach and the countryside. Just getting out for a walk to clear the noise out of my head is good- I carry a notebook everywhere and even write down snippets of conversations I eaves drop on!

I’m a people watcher. There’s nothing I love more than sitting outside my local coffee shop and just watching. (In a non-creepy way of course)

 

What is your writing routine?

The reality is, I’d love to have a writing routine but I don’t. I work from my kitchen table at home- we live in a small house and since Baby Art has gone into his own little room, my office is the kitchen table. I usually write at night when the boys have gone to bed. I have tried getting up at stupid o clock in the morning when they are all asleep- it doesn’t work for me. I’m a night owl, always have been. I would love a little space ( a she-shed would do) that’s just mine, with no distractions. That said, the library and the beach are good spots for writing- I do all my original drafts, ideas and notes long hand.

 

What has your journey to publication been like?

Swift! I was published less than a year after I first got my agent. I finished They All Fall Down in June 2015. In August, I signed with my agent, and by November, I had a two book deal with Poolbeg Press. They All Fall Down was published on July 1st and I was delighted to hit the Irish Times Best seller list a couple of weeks later. It’s been an absolute whirlwind and now the real pressure is on to promote the first book and get the second written to the September deadline- I love every minute of the madness!

 

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus and I’m about to start ‘The Panda Theory’ by Pascal Garnier. Stephen King is never too far out of reach. My TBR pile is getting out of hand and I have a weakness for book shops- I just can’t stop buying them. I also have a habit of doing an Amazon blitz here and there.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

I’ve been thinking about this question for about an hour- it’s a good one! I have finally decided on Stephen King. He has a huge volume of work and all of his characters are so diverse- from possessed cars, to vampires. You would never be bored- you might be terrified out of your mind- but entertained. His book ‘On Writing’ is an absolute must read for any aspiring authors.

 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

One question rarely asked in interviews is about how nerve wrecking it is to publish a book and put your baby on a shelf for all the world to see. The answer is: it’s absolutely petrifying.

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

I’m a Twitter and Facebook lass. I think I have Instagram and Snapchat accounts but I rarely use them. Come find me for the chats on Twitter @kittycathogan and over on Facebook @catherinahoganwordsmith.

I love both platforms and am always there ready to chat!

 


About the Author

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Cat Hogan was born into a home of bookworms and within spitting distance of the sea. Her father, Pat, a lightship man, instilled in her a love of the sea and the stars. Her mother, Mag, taught her how to read before she could walk.
Writing, storytelling and a wild imagination is part of her DNA.

The beautiful County Wexford, Ireland is home to Cat, her musician partner Dave, two beautiful sons Joey and Arthur, and her tomcat Jim Hawkins. There they live a life of storytelling, song and adventure. The other love of Cat’s life is food. A self-professed foodie, there is nothing she loves more than feeding a houseful of friends round her kitchen table.

When she is not conjuring up imaginary friends, she can be found supporting local musicians and writers of which there is an abundance in her home town. One of her first endorsements for her novel is also her favourite and comes from fellow Wexfordian of Artemis Fowl fame.

‘If the Gone Girl met the Girl on the Train, they would have come up with They All Fall Down’ -Eoin Colfer.

They All Fall Down is Cat’s debut novel and two weeks within publication, it powered it’s way onto the best seller list.


 

Cat has recently been featured in the Irish Times, which you can read here:
She has also featured on a radio podcast which can be listen to here:
Cat is also appearing on other blogs throughout August and you can follow those posts here:
Cat Hogan Poster

Book Review: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker #NotForgotten

 

FINAL cover

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

I was beyond thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review this novel. I had heard a few things about it on social media and was so keen to read it.

All is Not Forgotten is an unflinching look at a very traumatic attack on a teenage girl and the aftermath of that. Wendy Walker is a great writer and doesn’t shy away from anything in this novel and that makes it feel very real, I felt like I was in amongst the characters in this book and even though I finished reading it weeks ago, it is still very much with me.

My main reason for wanting to read this book was when I heard it was about erasing memories after trauma. The idea of a treatment to remove traumatic memories has always been fascinating to me. I’ve suffered with PTSD in the past and whilst I consider myself recovered after many years of counselling and CBT etc I do still remember what happened to me and I still have to be on my guard in certain situations in order to keep anxiety at bay. I do believe, based on my own experience, that people can move on from trauma and have perfectly normal, happy lives but it takes a lot of work. I love the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where people can have memories of failed relationships removed but All is Not Forgotten is even more interesting because it is focused on trauma. I liked how this treatment was groundbreaking and yet it had its flaws, the fact that Jenny is left with a ghost of a memory of what happened to her – like an itch that she can’t reach to scratch. It’s not a complete cure and she is then left in a horrible position of having to decide how she can put right the treatment that she had – it isn’t an easy thing to reverse as she will have to have intense therapy to help her remember what happened to her.

I was drawn into all aspects of this novel though, it is about so much more than a treatment to erase memories – it’s actually about the way people act to protect themselves and their families. The way that jumping to a conclusion about someone can lead to so many unforeseen consequences, the way that people don’t always try to help you for the right reasons and can sometimes have an agenda of their own. So many people end up caught up in the aftermath of the attack on Jenny and it’s horrifyingly fascinating to see it all unravel.

I loved how this novel was narrated; at first I wasn’t sure who was narrating and then as I realised and saw how the person narrating was also like a conductor in an orchestra and it was so brilliant to read. Sometimes the reader is ahead of the narrater and can work out what comes next so you think you’ve got it worked out but then it all moves in a different way and the rug is pulled from under you again.

I loved this book, it is an incredible read! It was edgy and twisty and just utterly fascinating to watch the unravelling and revealing of all the hidden memories – not just Jenny’s! I will be recommending to everyone I know and I’m sure it will be a huge bestseller.

All is Not Forgotten is out now and available from all good bookshops.

Thank you to Cara at Harlequin for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


 

I was recently very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Wendy Walker as part of the blog tour for All is Not Forgotten and you can read that here if you’d like to.

 


About the Author

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Wendy Walker is a practicing divorce attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten.

 

Blog Tour | Q&A with Wendy Walker, author of All is Not Forgotten

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker and I have a brilliant interview with the author to share today.

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

My name is Wendy Walker and I live in Connecticut, which is just northeast of New York City. I went to college at Brown University and law school at Georgetown University. I spent one year at the London School of Economics and I got to travel all around Europe. I have had many jobs from waitressing to investment banking at Goldman Sachs, to commercial litigation and now family law. I have three teenage sons and a large extended family.

How did you first come to be a writer?

After I had my first son eighteen years ago, I decided to stay home to raise my children until they were all in school. I felt lucky to be able to do that and so I took the job very seriously! But after about a year, I started to feel unfulfilled so I started to write whenever I had free time (which was not very often!). I had two more children in five years and all the while I kept writing. I even wrote in the back of my minivan while waiting for them at pre-school! It was a long road and 17 years getting to the writing and publication of All Is Not Forgotten. During that time, I published other novels, edited, and eventually went back to work as a lawyer (after 14 years away from the field). The work I found was in the area of family law and it was a wonderful fit for my life experience. I practiced for five years, eventually opening up my own practice, which focuses on consulting. But I never gave up the dream of making a career as a writer. I used to tell my boys that it was important to always have a dream, but to also be responsible. I kept on writing whenever and wherever I could. I am so glad that my children may get to see my dream come true (fingers crossed) so that they will believe what I told them about having dreams and never giving up.
What is your book about?

All Is Not Forgotten is about a teenage girl whose memory of a violent assault is erased with a controversial drug. In the aftermath, her family and the small town where she lives struggle with the inability to find her attacker and also with the emotional memory that still rages inside her.
I’ve suffered with PTSD so I was fascinated by the treatment concept in your novel – where did your inspiration for this come from? 

I read an article years ago about the emerging theories in memory science and the treatment of PTSD with drugs that can lessen the emotional impact of a trauma memory. I thought at the time that this could lead to significant moral, ethical and legal questions if such techniques were offered to victims of crime. When I decided to write a psychological thriller in 2015, I thought this concept would offer readers a great deal of substance and a real world issue that would be a talking point beyond the plot of the book itself. I started to do research and discovered that this area of memory science had just exploded and that drugs were now being developed with the hope of mitigating, reconsolidating and even erasing trauma memories. I developed the characters and plot in a way that I hoped would explore this fascinating topic.

What is your writing routine?

When my kids are in school, I start writing as soon as they are out of the house and I try not to stop until I have to pick them up! Sometimes, life gets in the way, especially because I work from home. But I have learned to be very disciplined about my time and I can write for 6 hours straight before I start to go a little stir crazy! I do not entertain writers block, and will always try to get something onto the page even if it doesn’t feel great at the time. I like to keep moving the plot forward and then revise as needed to flesh things out or improve the narrative.

For All Is Not Forgotten, I wanted to create a totally unique structure for the narrative. I designed it to move in different directions, backwards and forwards and sideways, but in a fluid, conversational way. It was my goal to grab the reader, make him or her stop everything else, put away computers and phones and televisions, and focus on the characters and the story and emotions they contain. So I used coloured notecards for each of the characters and their plot lines and then layered them carefully into each chapter so they would move forward but at points in the story where they fit organically. All Is Not Forgotten attempts to create that feeling of total escape by telling the story in a way that is new, but that feels as seamless as an engrossing conversation with a friend.

What has your journey to publication been like?

It has been wonderful and busy and everything you can imagine after 17 years of writing! Certainly, there have been BIG moments, like signing a film option with Warner Brothers and speaking with Reese Witherspoon about producing the movie. But mostly, I am working as hard as I can to write another engaging thriller, and to connect with readers about All Is Not Forgotten.

What are you reading at the moment?

Nothing but the draft of my new novel which is in the revision stage! I find that I cannot read while I am writing because I get the tone and cadence of the other book in my head and it’s hard to get it out! But I have a pile of books waiting for a short vacation in August. Can’t wait!

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

Right now, I am loving Mary Kubica’s work which is dark and suspenseful but also full of complex characters and family dynamics.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

I am rarely asked what it feels like to be a writer after spending most of my life in more traditional jobs. I have some amazing author friends who also came to this world later in life and who manage children and homes and a writing career. And we laugh about the reality of our lives compared to the perceptions we sometimes come across. It is not at all glamorous and at times can be incredibly stressful! The thing about writing is that you do need blocks of time and rest and some stillness in your mind, and these things are very hard to find when you have children and work at home. It is also a lonely occupation filled with tremendous self-doubt each and every day. To sit in a room, alone, pulling thoughts from your mind and then turning them into words on a blank page, hoping they will be of interest to other people, is a very strange process! Being an attorney, you develop a certain amount of confidence that you know what you’re doing and that you are doing a good job. Writing does not afford that luxury. I don’t think I will ever stop worrying about whether my story is good, whether it will resonate with readers, whether it will find its audience. And yet, I would not want to be doing anything else!

How can people connect with you on social media?

I have an email which can be found via my website: wendywalkerbooks.com

Twitter handle is @Wendy_Walker

Facebook is: Facebook.com/WendyWalkerAuthor

Instagram is: Instagram.com/wendygwalker

 


 

I’ve read All is Not Forgotten and it’s a brilliant novel – I highly recommend it! My review will be posted soon on my blog. The novel is out now and is available from all good book retailers.

You can find the rest of the stops on this blog tour on the poster below:

 

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Blog Tour | Review: My Girl by Jack Jordan

MY GIRL BOOK COVER

Paige Dawson: the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man. 

She has nothing left to live for… until she finds her husband’s handgun hidden in their house. 

Why did Ryan need a gun? What did he know about their daughter’s death? 

Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to unearth her husband’s secrets. 

But she has no idea who she is up against, or that her life isn’t hers to gamble – she belongs to me. 

I started reading My Girl without really knowing much about it but it immediately hooked me in. I read the whole novel in one sitting because I simply had to know what was going on!

This novel is about Paige Dawson whose daughter was murdered and her husband has recently committed suicide as he just couldn’t cope anymore. Paige is in a really bad way – she is drinking heavily and taken a lot of medication to try and numb her devastation but it’s not keeping the emotions at bay. She is desperate to get more pills and will do anything to get them. This part of the book was quite shocking at times as we read what lengths Paige goes to but it’s more shocking how she is treated by others. People take advantage of the mess she is in and use her in awful ways. It was really difficult to read at times but at the same time I wanted to know where the story was going. Paige does have people in her life who want to help her but no one seems able to pull her back from the brink. She is just a very broken woman who can’t get over the loss of her child. She clings on to the past because it’s all she feels she has left. It’s very well written because I my heart was breaking for her as if she were a real person.

This novel is chilling at times, for more than one reason, and even though it was a tough read, it is a novel that I couldn’t put down. If I’m to be completely honest the only slight criticism I have is that I wish the second half of the novel had been longer. The first half is paced really well and gives such a sense of Paige’s despair but the second half lacked just a little of the character development of the first half. I just wanted to know more and for it to be expanded a little but this is only a minor point. It still works very well though and it wouldn’t stop me recommending this book.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Jack Jordan but I’ll definitely be buying his other novel Anything for Her and will be looking out for whatever he writes next.

I rated this novel 4 out of 5.

My Girl is due to be published on 4th July worldwide and is available for pre-order now.

I received a copy of My Girl from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Here is the blog tour poster so you can visit the other blogs on the tour:

MY GIRL BLOG TOUR POSTER

Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice by Eileen Cook

A teenage girl wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend–only what if the accident wasn’t an accident?

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

I saw this book mentioned in a blog post recently and I liked the sound of it so much that I immediately requested it on Net Galley! I’m so glad I did as it’s a really good read.

I was drawn into this novel very quickly – the opening lines are really gripping (see my Book Beginnings post for more about the first few lines) and it becomes impossible to just read a little bit of this book. The novel is narrated by Jill, who has no memory of the accident, which makes her very unreliable and I do love an unreliable narrator! I was curious about her from the start; she seemed like an ordinary, hard-working student who got caught up in a horrible accident through no fault of her own. As the novel progresses though a web begins to be woven and you find yourself  questioning things about Jill. Throughout the book there are snippets from social media and blogs, and transcripts from some of the police interviews, which really lead you to wonder how much Jill can be trusted – just as in real cases like this, we get swayed one way by one news report and then a different way entirely by another.

There are clear echoes in this novel of the murder of Meredith Kercher and the trial of Amanda Knox. In particular I could see how the author had taken the way the media presented that case and fictionalised it in this novel.

I think there are other novels about female friendship gone awry that are perhaps more deeply developed than this one but this is a real page turner – it’s a really enjoyable read and one that is very hard to put down. I rated it 4 out of 5 and would recommend it.

I received With Malice from HotKey Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

With Malice is due to be published on 9th June in the UK.

Book Beginnings: With Malice by Eileen Cook

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Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep

I’m not a morning person. Understatement. My hand couldn’t seem to muster the energy to turn off the alarm. It picked at the covers. The blanket felt wrong.

Scratchy. Thin.

This isn’t my bed.

I recently requested this book on NetGalley after reading a review that had me intrigued by it. I haven’t read the synopsis as I like the idea of reading novels without knowing too much about them in advance. I have to say that the opening lines of this novel have me wanting to read more immediately! This opening has a real sinister feel to it and it straight away feels like something bad has happened to the protagonist. There is also the possibility that the narrator has just crashed for the night somewhere and had momentarily forgotten so there is a lot of scope for what might happen next. I don’t think this book will be on my TBR for very much longer!

*Please note that this quote is taken from an ARC of the novel

What do you think of the opening? Does it make you want to read further?

Book Beginnings: The Trap by Melanie Raabe

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Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

I am not of this world.

At least, that’s what people say. As if there were only on world.

I am standing in the big, empty dining room I never eat in, looking out the large window. It’s on the ground floor. You look onto the meadow behind the house, and the edge of the woods. Sometimes you see deer or foxes.

It is autumn, and as I stand here gazing out, I have the feeling I’m looking in a mirror.

I am really intrigued by the opening paragraph of this book and already I want to just keep reading to find out more. There isn’t a lot of information given in the opener – we don’t know if this character is male or female or why they feel so out of place – but at the same time I feel like we’re being given a real insight into their state of mind. It seems to be someone who feels very outside of their own life. They describe looking out but then tell us what *you* see and not what *I* see, which is very interesting.

I treated myself to this book yesterday and I don’t think it’ll be on my TBR for long!

 


 

What do you think of this opening paragraph? What do you think is happening? Does it make you want to read on?

 

Review: The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

 

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity—that she, in fact, is Lydia—their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past—what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

I have avoided buying The Ice Twins for so long because I was convinced it was going to be too scary for me (I openly admit that I’m a complete and utter wimp!) but I’ve continued to be intrigued by it so when I saw it in a recent Kindle book sale I decided to buy it.

I started reading it straight away just to see what it was like and I literally didn’t put it down again until I’d finished reading! This book is so fast-paced and has so many twists and turns that there really isn’t a good place to stop, and to be honest nor did I really want a stopping place as I was desperate to know the truth about which twin had died!

I found this book intriguing from the start; the idea of giving birth to two completely identical twins and there being no way at all to tell them apart is such a great basis for this novel. Sarah was encouraged by a nurse to have one of the twins subtly tattooed with a small dot just so they would always know which one was which but Sarah and Angus, understandably, didn’t want to mark either of their perfect daughters in any way. So, they decided to always dress them in at least one item of clothing of a particular colour – so one twin always had a yellow item and the other always had a blue item. The sense of foreboding from this early point on in the book was great though because it is quite obvious that as soon as the twins were old enough they would love playing tricks on people and swapping clothes etc, which is what they had begun to do during the summer in the year that Lydia died.

This book does require the reader to suspend disbelief a little because when you have two young children who have enjoyed swapping identities and one of them dies, it seems very odd to me that you would take the word of the surviving twin about who had died. Children are unable to fully comprehend death or the idea of forever so cannot be trusted in a situation like this because to them it could all be a game. I was happy to suspend disbelief though as I wanted to see where the novel went from here.

The family decide to move to a very remote island that Angus has recently inherited. It’s a very bleak, atmospheric place that needs a lot of work doing to it, and works perfectly for this novel. The sense of isolation and despair mirrors perfectly the grief and conflicted emotions that Angus and Sarah, and Kirstie were feeling at this point in time.

It’s hard to review this book without giving any spoilers but what I loved was the way all the characters played their part in the confusion about which twin died so as the layers of the story were gradually pulled back I was never sure who to believe. It seemed plausible that these parents had actually buried the wrong child but it seem equally likely that Kirstie was just continuing on with her childhood game and didn’t understand the terror she was causing in her parents.

I loved the psychological elements of this book, the idea of identity and how it isn’t necessarily a fixed thing. It was great how the family were being haunted by Lydia, or Kirstie, whichever one of them was  actually dead, but it was written in such a way that this could have been a ghost story, or it could have been sheer hysteria that they got swept up in, or it could have been a mix of the two. At times it was a little like a modern day Turn of the Screw – the way that someone could be being haunted, or they could be mad or, and this is perhaps the most scary idea, they could be experiencing both. Just because someone is paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not right about the strange, seemingly unexplained things that are happening around them.

It was brilliant how, as the novel began building towards the climax, I began to question absolutely everything, I was so wrapped up in it that I felt I was right there with the characters and unsure what was real and what was not. The interchanging personality of the surviving twin, be it Kirstie or Lydia, just heightened it. The ending of the novel was brilliant, it’s one of those endings that will stay with me for a really long time.

The Ice Twins is a very creepy, unnerving novel and once it has you in its clasps it won’t let go until long after you’ve finished reading! I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

The Ice Twins is available to buy from all good book shops.

Review: Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

“She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car.” Limerick, Ireland: the O’Brien family’s driveway. American Oscar Harvey opens the trunk of his hosts’ car and finds the body of a woman, beaten and bloody. But let’s start at the beginning. 

Kate and Mannix O’Brien live by Curragower Falls in Limerick, in a lovely house they can barely afford. Their son Fergus is bullied at school, and their daughter Izzy blames herself, wishing she could protect him. Kate decides that her family needs a vacation, and is convinced her luck’s about to change when she spots a gorgeous Manhattan apartment on a home-exchange website.

Hazel and Oscar Harvey and their two children live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Though they seem successful and happy, Hazel has mysterious bruises, and Oscar is hiding things about his dental practice. They, too, need a change of pace. Hazel has always wanted her children to see her native Limerick, and the house swap offers a perfect chance to soothe two troubled marriages. But this will be anything but a perfect vacation. And the body in the trunk is just the beginning.

I hadn’t heard of this book before I was offered it to review but as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis I knew I had to read this as soon as possible!

I found Twisted River to be one of those books that once you start it, it’s nearly impossible to put down. I was hooked from the opening pages right to the very end. This is one twisty book – just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the rug gets pulled from under you all over again. I found this a refreshing read as I read a lot of psychological thrillers but this one was different to any that I’ve read recently.

The novel is narrated by the four main characters: Kate and Mannix O’Brien, and Oscar and Hazel Harvey, and each time the point of view changes the story gets moved on a bit further and another layer is added on top of the section read previously. I found that I was reading one character’s viewpoint thinking I had things all worked out and then I’d read the next chapter with another character’s viewpoint and I was left unsure what to think all over again. I loved this aspect of the book, it worked brilliantly well.

I was convinced fairly early on in the book that I knew who had killed the woman Oscar found in the trunk of his car at the very start of the novel, but once the killer was revealed I was completely stunned. I was sure that there was going to be another twist and this had me on the edge of my seat for the rest of the book wondering if I was right and whether justice would be done. I’m not saying anymore about this as I don’t want to give spoilers.

There are little mysteries linked to most of the characters in this novel and some become part of the bigger mystery and some don’t. This meant that I never felt that I completely knew which characters were trustworthy, and I was never quite sure whether I even liked any of these people. I could never get a grip of who the good guys and who the bad guys were but it all added to the unsettling nature of the novel and worked very well for me.

This is a gripping, nerve-jangling thriller of a novel and I loved it. I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it.

Twisted River is out now and available from Amazon.

I recently interviewed Siobhan MacDonald as part of the blog tour for Twisted River, you can read that Q&A here.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

They say every marriage has its secrets.

But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.

And sometimes those doors should never be opened…

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

I was really pleased when my request for Between You and Me was approved on Net Galley as this was a book I was very keen to read. I found it to be an engrossing novel – it was one of those books that I kept thinking about when I wasn’t reading it and I wanted to get back to it to find out what would happen next.

I absolutely applaud the author for tackling domestic violence in the way that she did – there are no holds barred in this novel, leading to some of the scenes being quite difficult to read because of the intensity of the abuse and the way it takes place. The descriptions are so realistic at times, but it’s obviously been well researched and is very sensitively handled. I think issues like this being handled in this way in fiction is important as it really helps to give an understanding of how people end up in abusive relationships and why they stay in them.

I did have a few niggles with the first person narration in this novel as there are occasions when a character tells us that they don’t see another character doing something, and this was jarring because if you don’t see someone doing something, how do you know they were doing it? You need an omniscient narrator for that. It jolted me out of the story when I wanted to be kept engrossed. It bothered me enough that I felt a need to mention it but it wasn’t so bad that it spoiled the book.

I didn’t see this novel as having a twist as I happened to read the book in the ‘twisted’ way from the start. I have to say that I still enjoyed the book despite this because the issues in it are handled very well. Even though the twist wasn’t there for me, it’s still a novel that gave me real pause for thought. I think for readers who don’t see the twist until it happens, it will really cause you to catch your breath! On the whole though, I commend the author for writing the novel in the way that she has, it must have been tough at times and for the most part it’s done well.

Between You and Me was a really good read; for the most part it kept me hooked, and the tension gradually builds throughout the novel and it left me almost holding my breath with nerves at times! It’s a gripping, page-turner of a novel and I look forward to seeing what Lisa Hall writes next!

Between You and Me is out now and available from Amazon.

I received a copy of this book from Carina via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Q&A with Siobhan MacDonald (author of Twisted River)

 

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Siobhan MacDonald’s Twisted River. I’m pleased to be able to share my interview with Siobhan.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m the eldest in my family and was raised in a busy home. Growing up in a large family, there was a premium attached to being able to tell a good story. My mother taught speech and drama and was a proficient story-teller. She spent many childhood nights in air-raid shelters in the north of England during the Second World-War and she could make a mundane trip for groceries sound like a scene from ‘The Bourne Identity’.

As a child, I recall dark winter’s nights driving home through the Knockmealdown mountains from visits to my grandmother. Instead of playing “I Spy,” we kids would sit in the back and would each have to tell a story. My Irish grandmother was a good storyteller too, often telling me tales of the ghosts she had seen.

When I graduated from university I left an Ireland in the throes of recession to write for the technology industry in Scotland. I worked for a variety of companies in Scotland and also France before settling back in Ireland where I now live with my husband and two sons.

In between injuries I enjoy social tennis, am a lapsed Bridge player, and like to have a handle on current affairs.

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

The process of becoming a writer happened over time.  I can’t recall when telling stories and committing stories to paper wasn’t part of my life. In my teenage years I wrote poetry and scripted one-act plays that I and a friend performed in competitions. When I graduated I looked for a job that would allow me to write. I used to take annual leave to write short stories. This provided an antidote to the constraints imposed by technical and business writing,

 

What is Twisted River about?

Twisted River is a chilling tale of ‘domestic noir’ that describes what happens when a seemingly ideal house-swap goes horrendously wrong.  In this thriller two families come to an arrangement about swapping homes on either side of the Atlantic, one – a quirky house at Curragower Falls in Limerick, Ireland, and the other – a smart Manhattan apartment at Riverside Drive, New York. They have never met in person, only on the Internet.

On the face of it, both families are alike. The Harveys and the O’Briens are both professional couples with two children. Both families need a break from their problems. Seeing each other as ideal house-swap partners, Hazel Harvey and Kate O’Brien strike up a conversation on a home exchange website. The two families make the fateful decision to exchange homes over the Halloween school holidays, each wife hoping a vacation will help her troubled family.

However, rather than ditching their woes, each family unwittingly walks into the dark spaces their exchange partners have left behind. And when American Oscar Harvey opens the trunk of his hosts’ car to find the body of a woman, beaten and bloody, the secrets holding each family together start to come to light.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

My inspiration comes mainly from the world at large. Real-life everyday unsolved mysteries fascinate me. I tend to extrapolate from the snippets of stories I hear around about me.

 

What is your writing routine?

I like to write in daylight hours, in natural light, so that when I look up from the screen I’m able to see the sky and the trees and birds outside. At the moment I’m writing in the afternoons. But I hit the keyboard first thing in the morning if an idea has occurred during the night. I’m afraid that it may disappear if I don’t commit it to paper straightaway.

 

What has your journey to publication been like? 

The traditional route, which unfortunately still takes rather a long time.  I firstly secured the support of a very well-respected agent in a long established London agency who fell in love with and believed in my work. My agent set to work to secure good homes for my writing and I am now in the fortunate position of having Twisted River placed with a number of publishing houses – some long-established and others innovative and new on the scene.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

Kimberley McCreight’s ‘Reconstructing Amelia’ which is a super read.

 

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

Assuming I’m stranded on a desert island due to nothing more sinister than striking air-traffic controllers, covered in factor 50, sporting a panama hat, and drinking a skinny latté on a sun-lounger, then I’d like to read a range of books also set in the sun. Robert Harris’ ‘Pompeii’ comes to mind. Another choice would be the exploits of Mma Ramotzwe in Alexander McCall’s ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ or Sally Andrew’s ‘Recipes for Love and Murder’ which I haven’t yet read but I’ve marked for the perfect beach read.

 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? 

Now that we’ve finished chatting, can I get you a Mojito or a Margarita?

What’s your answer to that question?

Both.

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter: siobhanmmacd

Website: siobhanmacdonald.com


About the Author:

siobhan macdonald

Siobhán studied in Galway and pursued a successful career as a writer in the technology industry, working in Scotland, France & Ireland.

Siobhán has published her first novel TWISTED RIVER in the US & Canada with Viking Penguin, and in the UK with Canelo.

Siobhan lives in Ireland with her husband and two sons.

 


About the Book:

Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

“She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car.” Limerick, Ireland: the O’Brien family’s driveway. American Oscar Harvey opens the trunk of his hosts’ car and finds the body of a woman, beaten and bloody. But let’s start at the beginning.

Kate and Mannix O’Brien live by Curragower Falls in Limerick, in a lovely house they can barely afford. Kate decides that her family needs a vacation, and is convinced her luck’s about to change when she spots a gorgeous Manhattan apartment on a home-exchange website. Hazel and Oscar Harvey and their two children live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Though they seem successful and happy, they too need a change of pace, and the house swap offers a perfect chance to soothe two troubled marriages.

But this will be anything but a perfect vacation. And the body in the trunk is just the beginning. … A riveting page-turner for fans of Paula Hawkins.

Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald is published on 18th April by Canelo, price £1.99 in eBook.


 

Guest post by Heidi Perks on Marketing her Debut Novel Beneath the Surface

It’s a real pleasure to welcome Heidi Perks to my blog today.

Marketing your book without the big budget

I am a marketeer. In fact I spent fifteen years in marketing before turning my hand to writing four years ago, so the thought of marketing my own book didn’t bother me one bit. In fact I thought I would love it. To an extent I have but I quickly realised that when you’re effectively marketing ‘yourself’ it’s a whole lot harder than marketing a product.

For a start marketing yourself and your own book is a very personal thing to do. You’re basically putting yourself out there and telling everyone you know (and plenty you don’t) to buy your book, the words you have spent years pulling together, everything you have poured your heart into. You battle with all the what if’s (or at least I did): What if no one buys it? What if none of my friends like it? How can I say ‘you absolutely have to read my book – you’ll love it’ when they might not? But somehow I had to get over this because if I wasn’t fully bought into the package I was selling then how I could I expect anyone else to be?

A few months back my stock answer to ‘Are you a stay at home mum or do you work?’ was always ‘I don’t work – well actually I am doing some writing at the moment.’ This would always lead on the next question – ‘What are you writing?’ and I soon realised that many people were incredibly interested in what I was doing. The more I told the story the easier it became to portray the enthusiasm and love for my writing that until that point had been a very private thing.

So my first point is that when you’re marketing yourself you need to be confident. You might not always feel it – I certainly don’t – especially when things don’t go to plan. But what inspires us more than someone who really believes in what they are talking about?

By the time I was ready to put my book out there I was happy with it and knew that I’d made it as good as I hoped and so I had to take a deep breath and tell myself (and other people) that yes, I had actually done something great – I had written a whole book whilst bringing up two small children and I was proud of it.

So, you’re now confident (or at the very least pretending to be.) What next? There are many clever authors out there who are marketing themselves brilliantly and I certainly don’t profess to be one of them. However, there are a few key things I have learnt that I can share with you from my personal experience.

1. Carefully choose which publisher you’d like to work with. I was lucky enough to be taken on by Red Door and love working with them. Personal relationships should never be underestimated and with Red Door they have great people who know a lot about the industry and who have helped me promote my book a lot.

2. Get reviews. There are plenty of ways to do this, some you can pay for, others you don’t. Personally I recommend approaching the wonderful people who are book bloggers. I cannot recommend them enough, and found them all (bar none) to be highly professional, friendly and a pleasure to talk to. Three months prior to my release date I wrote a long list of book bloggers I wanted to approach – those who liked the kind of book I had written, were open to requests and whose reviews I enjoyed. I had a hugely positive experience and when the reviews started coming in I was delighted and also given another surge of needed confidence. Getting reviews in the lead up to or on release day are crucial.

3. Approach local magazines, newspapers and books stores. People love a local interest story and you’d be surprised how many want to help either by writing an article or having you in for a book signing.

4. Hold a book launch. You can do this in many ways – I opted to host an evening in a local restaurant and invited family and friends. You can do it cheaply or throw money at it; invite local press; local authors or keep it personal – but my aim (as well as celebratory) was to spread the word about my book, sell it to friends and ask them to help by giving me an honest review.

5. Be present on social media. I chose Twitter and Facebook as my main routes to communicate but they are all powerful tools to interact with readers, other authors and bloggers. I have also seen authors successfully promote themselves via Instagram but I chose not to use this for fear of spending all my time on social media.

6. Follow other authors who promote themselves well and see what they do. There are always new ideas and ways of doing things or reaching people so learn from them. I’ve taken a lot from the authors who make sure they reply to every single person who messages them or who are gracious enough to ‘like’ even the most awful of reviews and it’s easy to pick up hints about reaching readers from people who have been in the business for a while!

This is the first step of my publishing journey but I’m glad I invested the time to spread the word about my book prior to and around launch, and if anyone wants to share their experiences I’d love to hear from you.


About the Book:

Beneath the Surface by Heidi Perks

I donʼt know where you are…
I donʼt know what Iʼve done…
Teenager Abigail Ryder is devastated when she gets home from school to find her family gone.
Nothing makes sense. Things are missing from the house and her stepsistersʼ room is completely empty. But the police think sheʼs trouble, and when grandmother Eleanor tells her to forget them all and move on, thereʼs no choice other than face the future – alone.
Fourteen years on, Abi and Adam are a happy couple on the verge of parenthood. But when the past comes back to haunt Abi, the only way forward is to go back and uncover the truth – and reveal the dreadful secrets a mother has been hiding all these years.


 

About the Author:

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.
Heidi is now writing her second novel.

You can buy Beneath the Surface here.

You can find Heidi’s website here.

 

Review: In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

Your husband goes out to buy a newspaper. He never comes back. 

Months later, an unexpected phone call puts you and your daughter in unimaginable danger. 

Even if he were still alive, your husband can’t save you now. 

He told you way too many lies for that.

I was thrilled to receive a copy of In Too Deep via The Book Club. I have read a couple of Samantha Hayes books in the past and really enjoyed them so I was very much looking forward to starting this one.

From the first pages of this novel I was completely hooked. In the opening chapter a man and a woman argue, one pushes the other and it appears that the one who fell is dead. From this point on this book is near impossible to put down!

The premise of In Too Deep is great, the idea of someone’s husband going out for a newspaper one morning and never coming back is immediately intriguing. I was suspicious about most of the characters in this book at one point or another as none of them seem to be completely honest and you don’t know who is keeping the biggest secrets. I wondered how much I could trust Gina and what she was saying about her relationship with her husband because as the book goes on we find out snippets about their relationship that don’t quite tally with what she says. Their daughter Hannah has secrets of her own that she seems determined not to share with anyone, and because her mum is so wrapped up in her dad’s disappearance she doesn’t really notice what’s going on in Hannah’s life. Susan was an intriguing character too but because we don’t know anything about her to begin with it wasn’t easy to weigh her up for a good while. 

Rick’s disappearance was the second trauma to befall this family. A few years earlier their son Jacob had been killed in a hit and run, and the driver was never found. This increases the mystery of this novel as it adds another level of intrigue to the twists and turns within the story.

I read a lot of psychological thrillers, and I’m finding it increasingly easy to work out what is going on but I have to say that with this book even as I reached the halfway point I still hadn’t worked it out and I loved that! Any thriller that can keep me in the dark for that long is a winner in my opinion. Once I passed the halfway point I did start being able to piece things together and my suspicions about certain characters, and what might really be going on began to grow. I couldn’t read this book fast enough to find out if my suspicions were correct. 

I thought the ending of this book was brilliant; it fitted the story perfectly and allowed the characters to remain true to who they had been throughout the whole book and I appreciated that.

In Too Deep is fast-paced, unpredictable and utterly thrilling! I rated this book 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley via THE Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

In Too Deep is due to be published by Random House on 5th May.

Review: When She was Bad by Tammy Cohen

when she was bad tammy

You see the people you work with every day.

But what can’t you see?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years – they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ….

Now, there’s something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?

 

I love Tammy Cohen’s writing and was so pleased to receive an early copy of this through Net Galley. I started reading it one night thinking I’d just read a couple of chapters and I ended up being awake half the night reading – it’s one of those novels that’s near impossible to put down once you’ve started it.

I was intrigued from the start of this book as I’d avoided reading the synopsis, I’d requested it based on how much I’d loved Tammy Cohen’s previous novels, so I had no idea what was coming. It’s such a well thought out novel because it focuses on a number of people and it felt like I got to know all of them – there wasn’t more of a focus of any one person in the office. The multiple points of view all helped with this and added to the rapidly building tension.

There are two timelines to this novel and they slowly come together. The novel starts off in the present day with psychologist, Anne Cater, who switches on a UK news channel and is horrified at what she sees. At this point we don’t know what’s happened, just that is something terrible and shocking. This strand of the novel then goes back in time and follows a young Anne Cater as she gets her first big case working with two siblings who have come from a very damaged home life. Anne works with the girl, who demonstrates behaviours that concern Anne. 

Most of the book is focused on the present day in an office setting in the UK with a number of characters who are all, on the surface, nice, ordinary people, but over the course of the novel it becomes apparent that there are increasingly simmering tensions in the office, and that some characters have deeper issues. 

It’s apparent that the two stories are going to converge at some point but you don’t know how until it happens. It’s so cleverly done because throughout the novel I had my suspicions about every single character – there were moments where I felt quite smug because I had it all worked out and then something else happens and I was back to  the drawing board! I love novels like this. Tammy Cohen is so brilliant at throwing you off the scent and she does it numerous times in this book. All of the people in the office seem to have either a motive for revenge, or they have a dark side to their personality or unexplained injuries etc so it really could have been any one of them that is the bad guy.

I did work out part of the plot but, because there are many aspects to this story, I didn’t work all of it out, and I’m not sure anyone could. The reveal when it comes makes absolute sense though and as soon as you know, it all clicks into place as you think back over the novel.

Tammy Cohen really is a master at this type of novel – she weaves such a tight web that captures you so tightly and doesn’t let go until long after you’ve finished reading.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

When She Was Bad is due to be published on 21 April in the UK. 

I received a copy of this book from Transworld via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear, knowing that whoever has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

I was keen to read this novel from the moment I first saw the great cover image so I was really pleased when my request was approved on Net Galley.

I found that the opening chapters of The Good Mother really hooked me in. It worked very well that when Suze wakes up in the strange room, the reader knows no more than she does. This makes for a very intriguing read and had me guessing along with her about where she might be and what might have happened to her. She senses that her daughter Cara has been taken with her but has no proof of this to begin with. In time she hears Cara in the room next to her and they begin to communicate by passing notes through a grate. The notes are interesting at first because they show Suze’s conflicted state of mind as she frantically tries to think of ways to keep Cara safe but at the same time she needs her to be able to help them try to escape. Cara is understandably terrified and struggles to find the emotional strength needed for the two of them to attempt to get away.

Unfortunately the book fell a little flat for me in the middle section; it felt like I was in limbo just waiting for something to happen. The notes keep being passed, Suze keeps on trying to come up with a plan; it felt a little padded out and I just wanted to see more progression of the story. It soon starts to pick up again though as Suze realises that she knows her attacker from somewhere and slowly she begins to piece together who he is. The novel really begins to gather momentum after this as we see how the kidnapper reacts to Suze’s realisation and we also find out more about what happened to Cara in the run up to the kidnapping; in fact it becomes so fast-paced at this point that I didn’t put the book down again until I’d finished reading it!

I love an unreliable narrator and Suze is certainly that. A protagonist who has been kidnapped and repeatedly drugged is not able to know the truth let alone tell is so it worked very well for this novel.  The Good Mother is told from two perspectives  – Suze is the main voice but we also get the perspective of the kidnapper. This aspect of the book fascinated me because in parts I started to wonder if we were really getting the kidnapper’s viewpoint or whether Suze was imagining what he was getting up to and this is discombobulating in a good way. 

There wasn’t a lot that came as a shock to me in this novel in terms of what was really happening with Suze but even though I was expecting the big stuff, there were smaller elements within the twists that were actually very shocking in terms of behaviours and the way certain characters were treated. I also found the reality of what happened to Suze really quite disturbing. The very end of the novel was properly shocking albeit it made sense in terms of the character in question after what we’d learnt about them earlier in the book, but it was still horrifying. As I could sense what was about to happen it was like being in an accident and everything feeling like it’s going in slow motion and high speed at the same time. I wanted it to be so different for the character because they deserved something better, but sometimes damage done is so great that wheels are set in motion that can’t be altered and it felt like that’s what happened in this book. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give any spoilers.

For the most part, this was quite a fast paced, engrossing novel and while there were some parts that didn’t absolutely work for me, overall I rated it 4 out of 5 and I would recommend it.

I received a copy of The Good Mother from Carina via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Good Mother is out now and available from all good bookshops.

Review: The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

It’s summer, and for teachers Ed and Natalie Steele this means six weeks off work with their young daughter Molly. Their lives are predictable and uncomplicated — or at least they were until they meet the Faulkners.

Suddenly, glamorous Lara Faulkner, a former actress leading an eccentrically lavish lifestyle, is taking Natalie under her wing and the stability of summer takes an exciting turn. 

But are there hidden motives behind this new friendship? And when the end-of-summer party at the lido is cut short by a blackout, Natalie realizes that she’s been kept in the dark all along.

This novel has such a stunning cover that immediately made me want to pick it up and start reading, and once I started this book I didn’t want to put it down! 

Natalie and Ed are happily married with a teenage daughter, Molly. They have a quiet, steady life and have fallen into an easy rhythm within their family unit whereby their lives run very smoothly. The couple are a bit too earnest at times and while this grated on me a bit in the beginning, I came to understand that it was important for the story that the reader really understands how Ed and Natalie view things. Natalie, in particular, is influenced by her good friend’s opinion of her and has often turned to her for advice over the years. Natalie is a very over-protective mum and seems to need reassurance and guidance from her long-standing friend. Molly is aquaphobic after an incident in a pool when she was younger but Natalie seems to have a tight rein on her daughter at all times, not just when she is around water.

One hot summer the local lido re-opens thanks to a campaign by the glamorous Lara Faulkner and Natalie immediately feels drawn to her. The two quickly become friends and Natalie soon begins to imitate Lara and to lose all sense of herself. She spends more and more time at the Lido with her new friend and basks in the attention she gets from being there with Lara. Her relationship with Ed begins to show strain but by this point Natalie is too intoxicated by Lara to care too much.

The stifling atmosphere in the book as the heat rises is so well written. I was reading this book on a cold, dark and rainy day but I could sense the heat emanating from the pages! It gave this book such a claustrophobic feel, and made for a great catalyst for Natalie to temporarily lose who she really was.

There is a simmering tension running throughout this book. The novel goes to and fro in time, mainly throughout the course of one summer in the present day, which really adds to this building sense of foreboding as we gradually learn more about Natalie and her past. I loved how the strands of time built up to form a picture of what led these characters to where they ended up. There are a few chapters mixed in from another hot summer in 1985 when Natalie was a teenager and we slowly learn about what she and her then best friend got up to. It gives a real insight into how Natalie came to be the person she is as an adult and perhaps as to why she is so protective of her daughter. There is tension in these flashback chapters as you wonder how much it relates to the present day; it is apparent to the reader quite early on in this novel that there are secrets being kept by more than one person and that things are slowly building to a big conclusion. The final acts of this novel are so good, and while not everything that happened was a shock to me, it was all so well done that I was still on the edge of my seat.

I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it. This book will make a perfect beach read – just make sure you start it when you have an empty day ahead of you as once started you will struggle to put it down!

The Swimming Pool is due to be published on 5th May 2016 in the UK.

I received a copy of The Swimming Pool from LoveReading in exchange for an honest review. (The review seen here is a longer version of the one I submitted to LoveReading).

Review: You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

you sent me a letter

At 2 a.m. on the morning of her fortieth birthday, Sophie wakes to find an intruder in her bedroom. The stranger hands Sophie a letter and issues an threat: open the letter at her party that evening, in front of family and friends, at exactly 8 p.m., or those she loves will be in grave danger.

What can the letter possibly contain?

This will be no ordinary party; Sophie is not the only person keeping a secret about the evening ahead. When the clock strikes eight, the course of several people’s lives will be altered for ever.

IMG_4133

 

A few weeks ago I received a wedding invitation in the post and it completely baffled me for a minute or two as I racked my brain to think of who Sophie and Marc were. It slowly dawned on me that it must be a marketing campaign for a book and I was excited to see what happened next. A few days later I received You Sent Me A Letter in the post and all began to come clear!

Be warned that once you start reading this book you will not be able to put it down! I picked it up on Saturday afternoon while waiting to watch the football on TV with my husband and I got so engrossed in the book that I missed the match completely! 

The novel opens with Sophie waking up to find an intruder in her bedroom; he gives her a letter and tells her she has to open it at 8PM at her 40th birthday party. Sophie is immediately panicked about who would want to frighten her in this way.

I loved how this book was very linear – it follows Sophie throughout the course of this one day leading up to her birthday party but even though the story stays with her, the tension ramps up nicely and the story never waivers and never falls flat. There are many layers to this novel, and it’s so well put together. I suspected quite early on that who Sophie believed was behind the letter was probably not really the culprit but I wasn’t sure about who it was until shortly before it was revealed. 

Lucy Dawson has made this whole novel believable when it could easily have become far-fetched. Sophie has a very eventful day where lots of things happen but because it was all in the lead up to her birthday party/secret wedding it made sense within that plot. Those days are always stressful and it does become hard to think clearly, and once you add the scary intruder into the mix it’s easy to understand why Sophie isn’t always rational in her behaviour. I was completely engrossed in Sophie’s story and felt like I was right there with her. 

This was the first novel I’ve read by Lucy Dawson but I’ll absolutely be buying her previous novels and excitedly awaiting her next! You Sent Me A Letter is fast-paced, engaging and thrilling! I rated this novel 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Corvus in exchange for an honest review.

You Sent Me A Letter is out now and available from all good book shops.

Review: Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

 

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

 

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

Viral is a very modern thriller, and a cautionary tale for the social media age we now live in. I think that for teenagers and young adults today it must be so tough growing up in the social media age, where everything that you do and everything that happens is posted online instantly. This novel is an extreme example of what can happen to young women when they let their guard down and someone takes advantage in more way than one by filming the situation.

Su-Jin is the adopted daughter of Ruth and Bernie; she is the apple of her mother’s eye as she is very academic, and has recently been accepted to a top university to study medicine. Su’s sister Leah has always been jealous of Su seemingly due to all the attention that she gets from their mother. However, when Su and Leah go on holiday to Magaluf life begins to unravel for Su.

The opening line of this book is shocking; it actually made me pause for a second to wonder what kind of book I was reading! The shock factor really works though because it gets the reader into the mindset of the shock that Su feels on not only what happened to her, but how it’s gone viral so quickly. It seems like the whole world is watching the distressing video of Su in the nightclub.

Over the course of the book we get to see things from different points of view and the picture is gradually filled in about what happened leading up the video being filmed. I was quite sure from the beginning that Leah had had a huge part to play in the horrible incident but actually my views on her changed as the book went on because we get to understand more about why she is the way she is.

The way Ruth behaves is possibly the most shocking thing in the book because it is as if she has lost her mind in the way she decides to avenge what happened to her daughter. There is an element of black humour running through some of her sections of the novel, which simultaneously lighten the book, and make what she’s doing seem so much worse.

As the book neared its end, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it would all end but I never figured out how it was going to turn out. I love that it kept me in the dark until I actually read the final scenes. It all gets tied up so brilliantly.

I did find some of the things that happened in this book a little hard to believe at times but once I suspended my disbelief I raced through the book. It’s very fast-paced and hard to put down.

The novel is such a brilliant mix of seediness, black humour and revenge. I rated it 4 out of 5.

Viral is out now and available from Amazon.

Many thanks to Sophie at Faber and Faber who sent me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

I loved Alex Marwood’s previous novels, particularly The Wicked Girls, so I was thrilled to win a copy of The Darkest Secret last month. This is the first novel I’ve read in 2016 and what a way to start a new year… all the other books I read this year now have a lot to live up to!

The Darkest Secret is a dark and, at times, very claustrophobic novel about the secrets a group of friends keep. The novel is told over two weekends – one in 2004 and one in the present day. Over the course of a summer bank holiday weekend in 2004, a group of friends gather for Sean Jackson’s 50th birthday and by the end of the weekend his daughter is dead. In the present day, Sean has been found dead and some of his remaining children and all of his old friends from that holiday weekend gather together for his funeral.

This novel is brilliant; it’s a real character-led novel, with multiple narrators – all of whom seem very unreliable and most of them are deeply unlikeable. The way these adults behave and the things they do is vile and selfish, but it’s such a compelling novel that although you at times want to look away, you just can’t. I enjoy novels where I don’t like the characters because it takes you completely away from anything you know as in real life as you would never associate with people you hate; I also love unreliable narrators as they add to the unsettling atmosphere in a novel.

This novel isn’t so much about trying to work out whodunit, it’s more a novel of how people behave and why they did the things they did. For me, it was refreshing because this novel wasn’t trying to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller; it is, as Alex Marwood’s novels tend to be, a very disturbing look at the levels people will go to in order to get what they want or to cover up what they’ve done, and it’s brilliantly written.

Maria Gavilla was the most unnerving character for me. The way she coldly and calmly stage-managed all of her friends throughout the novel; she was always at the centre almost conducting events to suit her own ends. Maria appears friendly and caring but everything she does is in her own interest. I found it strange how she worried about her step-daughter Simone attracting the attention of the leery member of their group of friends and yet everyone else, including Simone’s peers, knew that she had a crush on Sean and yet Maria never said a word about that. There was something monstrous about her; I felt very disturbed by her.

Sean’s daughter, Mila, from his first marriage, and Ruby, from his second (twin to the missing Coco) are the only likeable characters in the book, but the damage done to them is telling. Mila doesn’t get close to people, and Ruby is kept a virtual prisoner by her overprotective mother. The redeeming aspect of this novel, although in no way due to the adults, who remain despicable, is that it felt like these two half-sisters had begun to form a relationship with each other that would last, I like to think that they would begin to heal from the damage together over time.

The Darkest Secret is incredibly intense, and the level of horror at the way these people behave just keeps being ramped up as the novel goes on. I couldn’t put this book down and I highly recommend it.

I rated this novel 5 out of 5.

I received a copy of this book from Little Brown via Net Galley and also won a proof print book from Sphere.

The Darkest Secret is out now in ebook, and is out in print on 7th January. Available from Amazon.

Review: Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Freddie is fed up with her life, she is trying hard to make it as a journalist but has spent three years writing for free and is desperate to find a way to get paid for her work. One day while working a shift at a coffee shop she spots an old friend, Nas, in amongst a group of people. Freddie finds a way to follow Nas and ends up in the middle of an horrific murder scene. Nas covers for Freddie but she ultimately gets found out, though when the murder appears to be linked to twitter Freddie ends up being hired by the police as a social media consultant.

The killer tweets as Apollyon. He tweets coded messages and initially only follows one person despite his follower count growing at an incredible rate. The murders were gruesome and made me feel really quite sick. Freddie’s shock at each of the crime scenes, and the terror she felt each time apollyon tweeted was tangible, there were times when I felt like I was right there with her and I could hardly breathe either.

I expected this book to be terrifying, I was actually a little scared to even start reading it if I’m being completely honest. I’ve been on social media for years, I’ve shared details of my life on there so the idea of a serial killer finding their next target on twitter sounds so scary. This novel was actually more creepy than terrifying but it really does get under your skin as the tension ramps up. It was very unsettling and unnerving and it does get more scary as it goes along. It’s cleverly written because you initially think this would never happen to you because you’re careful with what you tweet and then you begin to see how Apollyon is finding his victims and it’s insidious how the fear gets to you.

None of the characters in this novel were particularly likeable but I don’t think characters have to be likeable for a book to be great; it works really well in this novel because it causes you to become suspicious of everyone. I have to admit that I did develop a soft spot for Freddie over the course of the novel; it felt like she was so brash because it was her way of protecting herself and pushing people away but as a result she was often misunderstood, which then led to her being more brash. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I did guess who the murderer was before it was revealed but only a little while before, and even then I was doubting myself as there are so many red herrings and twists and turns that it’s impossible to be sure about who the killer is. I think I’d suspected just about ever person in this book by the end! I had to keep reminding myself to breath whilst reading the last few chapters, it was incredibly tense!

This is the such a good, contemporary psychological thriller and I highly recommend it. I rate this book 4 out of 5.

Follow Me is due to be published on 3rd December but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.

I received this book from Avon via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Beginnings (6 November) Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

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Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line, or few lines, of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

every fifteen minutes

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

I’m a sociopath. I look normal, but I’m not. I’m smarter, better, and freer, because I’m not bound by rules, law, emotion, or regard for you. I can read you almost immediately, get your number right away, and push your buttons to make you do whatever I want. I don’t really like you, but I’m so good at acting as if I do that it’s basically the same thing. To you. I fool you. I fool everybody.

The opening lines to this novel are really short statements and very cold, it’s chilling to read them because this person is telling the reader that they are a sociopath and you really do feel that emanating from them. I deliberately haven’t read the synopsis on this book because I want to read it without knowing much about it but the opening lines certainly make me want to know more about this person and who it is they are fooling. I’m intrigued and I’m looking forward to reading more very soon.

Every Fifteen Minutes is due to be published on 19 November 2015.

Review: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 mins

Wow, what a stunning book! I finished this book a little while ago and just had to sit quietly for a while to catch my breath and gather my thoughts.

Tasha is pulled from the icy cold river; she has been dead for thirteen minutes. The medics manage to revive her but she is left with no memory of what happened, or how she ended up in the river. Her two best friends Hayley and Jenny rush to be by her side to support her, along with her childhood friend Becca.

This is a brilliantly constructed YA psychological thriller. Sarah Pinborough absolutely nails the tension, jealousy and rivalry that goes on between female friendships, and the added intensity within the cliques that teenage girls often form. The drama that unfolds between these girls is extreme but it stays rooted within the realm of possibliity: It is absolutely plausible that this could happen in reality and that’s what makes it so chilling to read. I found it near impossible to put this book down. The underlying hatred that lies underneath seemingly close relationships is tangible in this novel; it was such a tense read that at times I actually had to remind myself to breathe.

This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a very long time. It builds and builds, constantly heightening the tension; there are twists and turns within the story that quite often seem small but some are building to something bigger and others are leading you in the wrong direction. You’re never quite sure who to trust, it’s a deeply unsettling read. Sarah Pinborough is a master of this type of book.

13 Minutes is an outstanding novel, one you absolutely shouldn’t miss! I can already say for sure that this will be in my top reads of this year, if not the very top. I cannot recommend it highly enough – go pre-order it now, you won’t regret it!

I rate this book 10 out of 10 – I’d give it 100 out of 10 if I could!

I received this book from Orion Publishing Group / Gollancz via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

13 minutes is due to be published on 18th February 2016 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Review: The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

the girl with no past

The Girl With No Past is the story of Leah, a thirty year old single woman who lives a very sparse and solitary existence; she has no friends, she doesn’t see much of her mum, she has no possessions apart from her books. She has no past. Leah has a job in a library and is making enough money to stay in her tiny, dingy flat but she is getting by not living. Then one day she receives a card on the fourteenth anniversary of the terrible thing that happened and her life begins to unravel.

The novel is told mainly in the present, with some chapters going back to the past. It’s a novel about how the feelings teenagers have can become so magnified that they believe they are justified in doing whatever want. It’s about how falling in love for the first time can make someone blind to the nastiness a person is demonstrating. It’s about how you can’t run from your past mistakes and how karma will always get you in the end.

I really enjoyed this book, I started it yesterday evening and ended up being very late to bed as I couldn’t stop reading. It’s quite a fast-paced book and every chapter moved the story on so that there was never a place that felt right to stop reading – it was brilliant!

I couldn’t make up my mind how I felt about Leah; sometimes I quite liked her and could see she was a nice girl who was just easily led. I felt sorry for teenage Leah and how besotted she was with Adam; she would have done anything to make him happy and that was her downfall. I could never quite relax into liking her in the present day though because I was constantly on edge wondering what she had done in her past. I did swing from having sympathy for her to then wanting to shout at her to wake up to what was going on; the only thing I really liked about her was her love of books! It’s quite refreshing sometimes to read novels where I don’t fully warm to the main character, it can make for a more interesting read and that was certainly the case here. I wanted to see if she ever redeemed herself, it kept me completely hooked!

I was very shocked when it was revealed what had happened all those years ago, I wasn’t expecting it to be what it was and it was horrible to read. It was cleverly written though because I absolutely believed that although I knew Leah was a nice girl, the build up had been there for her to follow her boyfriend into anything.

The ending of the book didn’t come as a complete shock to me, I’d began to suspect that this might have been what happened but it was still incredibly disturbing to read it. It made me go cold! Once I’d turned the final page I had to just sit quietly for a while to mull it all over, it left my head spinning and I love when a book leaves me feeling like that.

I highly recommend this book; it’s a fast-paced thriller that will keep you reading until the small hours of the morning! I rate it 9 out of 10.

The Girl With No Past is out today and is available from Amazon.

I received this novel from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: 24 Hours by Claire Seeber

24 hours

24 Hours should really come with a warning about just how addictive it is! I started reading it this morning thinking I’d just read a couple of chapters while I drank my coffee and I ended up so engrossed that the next thing I knew I’d finished the book and it was lunch time! This is such a brilliant thriller; it’s impossible to stop once you start reading!

24 Hours is the story of Laurie Smith; she has been caught up in a fire in a hotel and believes her best friend is dead and that her daughter may well be in grave danger. She is now in a race against time to find her.

The novel is told in alternating chapters – one from the past that gradually leads up to the present day, and one from each of the 24 Hours that Laurie is frantically searching for her daughter, Polly. It’s so well written because you’d think that the chapters told over the 24 Hours would be the most intense but the chapters set leading up to this day become increasingly more unsettling and there reaches point where there is such tension in every chapter that you almost can’t breathe.

Each of the 24 Hours is brilliantly plotted, you can almost feel Laurie’s increasing tiredness and exhaustion as the hours draw on and the way she starts to question herself and what she thinks she knows because she is almost delirious with fatigue, it begins to feel like you’re in it with her and you’re as unsure as she is. It’s such good writing.

I rate this book 10 out of 10 and highly recommend it. I read a lot of psychological thrillers and this one just felt so refreshingly different to a lot of others that I’ve read of late. Go buy this, you won’t regret it!

24 Hours is published today and is available from Amazon.

I received this book from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Beginnings (9th October)

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Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 mins

Ophelia. She was young. No more than eighteen. Probably less. Her hair could be blonde or brown, it was hard to tell, soaked wet in the gloom. She was wearing white, bright against the dark river, almost an accent to the fresh snow that lay heavy on the ground. Her pale face, blue lips slightly parted, was turned up to the inky sky. She was snagged on twigs as if the bent branches, bare of leaves and broken by winter, had grasped to save her, to keep her afloat.

What an opening! This is the best opening to a novel that I’ve read in a really long time, I just want to keep reading right now! The short staccato sentences at the very beginning, and then the longer ones that are almost like a list are wonderfully intense and give so much information. I want to know who this girl is and how she got in the river. Did she drown? Was she murdered? Has there been a terrible accident? The description is so vivid, and I can’t stop thinking about the branches that appear to have tried to save her. How beautiful and how tragic at the same time. I cannot wait to read more of this book and I’m certain it’ll be one I read in one sitting.

Review: The Lies We Tell by Meg Carter

the lies we tell

I can never resist a new psychological thriller so this caught my eye immediately! The premise of the book is very intriguing; two teenage girls, Jude and Kat, become best friends as teenagers and then one day, on a school trip, something happens and Kat never saw Jude again. Until, that is, twenty years later when Jude suddenly gets in touch, and her reappearance coincides with a series of increasingly strange and unsettling things that start happening to Kat and the people closest to her.

This was a very good debut novel; it had quite a few twists and turns, and moments that were very unsettling and made me feel on edge, which all good thrillers should do. I did work out quite early on who was involved with the mystery in the  present day but I was left gobsmacked by one of the twists, which totally made up for me working out the other elements.

The parts of the story set when Kat and Jude were teenagers was the most unsettling part of the book for me. There was just a real sense of something sinister lurking beneath their friendship; the tension hanging between them was radiating off the page and making me feel like I couldn’t breathe at times. There is often an unspoken rivalry between teenage friendships and Meg Carter got this perfect and heightened it further. The scenes set on the heath were really creepy, and it was written in such a great way that I couldn’t work out what had happened that day or how it had led up to the present day. It was so good!

I rate this book 8 out of 10.

The Lies We Tell is out now and available from Amazon.

I received this book from Canelo via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.