Book Review: The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett | @RachelAmphlett @BOTBSPublicity #TheFriendWhoLied

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About the Book

What she doesn’t know might kill her…Lisa Ashton receives a last-minute reprieve from death two weeks before her birthday. Regaining consciousness, she is horrified to learn one of her friends has been killed – and saved her life.

As she recovers, she uncovers a trail of carefully guarded reputations, disturbing rumours, and lies. Soon, Lisa begins to wonder if one of her friends is hiding a terrible secret.

Because five of them entered the escape room that day, and only four got out alive.

And someone is determined to cover their tracks before she can find out the truth.

Can Lisa find the killer before someone else dies?

 

My Thoughts

The Friend Who Lied follows Lisa, who as the book opens is just regaining consciousness and she has no idea what has happened. The novel then opens out as we follow the four friends as the secrets and lies that bound their group together may be about to break them apart!

The opening to this book is brilliant because we see things through Lisa’s eyes as she begins to come round, and for a moment I wasn’t sure what was happening! I wondered if she was being held somewhere but it quickly becomes clear that she is in hospital recovering from surgery that saved her life. We soon learn that five friends have been to an escape room but something has gone horribly wrong and one of them died.

Lisa’s friends are behaving oddly, they’re not visiting her as often as she would have expected and when she does see them she feels they’re keeping things from her. Then the police turn up asking questions about what happened in the escape room but Lisa can’t remember anything.

Lisa is the main character in this novel but we get the different perspectives of all four friends, and this made for a fascinating read. They have been friends since university, and I’m always intrigued by groups of people that remain friends long after they leave school/university as I never maintained my group of friends from that time because our lives moved in different directions. I’m in touch with some of them but not as a group. It seems this group of friends have things in common that will always bond them and I wanted to know more! The novel is mainly set in the present but there are chapters from their university days and that really ramps up the tension in this book as you start to understand who they are.

I didn’t trust anyone in this book – Hayley, David and Bec all seemed like they were out for themselves and very focused on how things would reflect on them. They all I loved how the focus shifted from one to another though because just as I thought I’d got to grips with what might be going on I got another viewpoint and my thoughts shifted again.

As you get further into the book you do feel the claustrophobia of the police closing in on this group as the investigation goes along. I thought it was really clever how these friends had done an escape room – a game where they were locked in and have to try and escape – and what happened there has led to them being in a real life escape room where their actual freedom is at stake!

I did have a growing suspicion about one of the characters as I got further into the book and I was proved right about them but there is more than one reveal as this book reaches its climax and I was stunned by most of them!

The Friend Who Lied is such a gripping thriller that had me hooked from start to finish! It was my first Rachel Amphlett novel but it absolutely won’t be my last, I can’t wait to read more from her! The Friend Who Lied is fast-paced, suspenseful and unputdownable; an all-round brilliant thriller!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Friend Who Lied is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Before turning to writing, USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor and English Spy Mysteries espionage novels and theDetective Kay Hunter British police procedural series.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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#BookReview: Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald | @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #WorstCaseScenario

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About the Book

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

 

My Thoughts

Mary is a probation officer and she works hard but she’s fed up and moody at dealing with all she has to put up with. Liam is a man who was put in prison for the murder of his wife but he’s about to be released and Mary is to be his probation officer. Liam becomes something of a fascination for Mary and this leads to trouble!

I’m going to start this review at the beginning… the opening line to Worst Case Scenario is this:

Every time Mary tried to relax in the bath, a paedophile ruined it.

and I was hooked from this very moment on! How can you not be intrigued? And how can you not want to know more? It’s one of the best openings to a book that I’ve ever read and I just knew this was going to be a riot of a novel!

I love Mary Shields! She’s moody and annoyed and she’s dealing with the menopause and all that comes with that; her patience is at rock bottom and on top of that she barely even cares that it’s so! I’m at the very beginning of this menopause journey but I could so identify with Mary and the short fuse that she seemed to be permanently on. I know that I care less and less what people think these days and Mary is that to the Nth degree!

Worst Case Scenario is a dark book but it’s also hilariously funny. One minute I was horrified at what I was reading and the next I was properly laughing out loud. Helen Fitzgerald really captures how hard I imagine it must be working in the probation service when people are expected to take on more and more work but do it in less and less time whilst making sure that no one is re-offending. We see the seriousness of this and it’s never belittled but Mary goes down a dark path in her growing obsession with Liam and this is where the dark humour comes in!

Mary finds herself growing attracted to Liam as she reads sections of his book of letters but at the same time she’s infuriated at him, and the other men she is dealing with at work, and their inability to just do what is asked of them. She just wants to quit her job and be done with it. Her husband is an artist and has been discovered so it seems that she may be able to afford to give it all up soon. This leads to her caring even less about what people think of her professionally. Mary’s life increasingly spirals as the novel goes on. She drinks more and smokes more joints, she’s careless with her webcam and she just isn’t bothered.

I loved Worst Case Scenario! It’s so different to what I was expecting but it’s the most brilliant, messed up and hilarious book I’ve read in ages. It’s such a perfect book, it’s very funny but also moving at times. It does take things to another level in some ways but in others it’s a book that you can identify with or you find you know someone a bit like a person in the book. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable (rather like the menopause!) but it really will really make you laugh out loud too. It’s impossible to do this book justice, I simply adored it! Please just go buy a copy and read it, you absolutely won’t regret it!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of this book, and Anne for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Worst Case Scenario is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Helen FitzGerald is one of thirteen children and grew up in country Victoria. After graduating with honours in English and History she left Australia to go travelling, meeting and marrying Scots-Italian journalist, Sergio Casci, along the way. They live in Glasgow and have two children.

 

 

 

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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: Breakers by Doug Johnstone | @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir #Breakers @annecater

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About the Book

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

 

My Thoughts

Breakers follows Tyler, a seventeen year old boy, who is living in a really deprived area. His mum is a drug addict and incapable of looking after her family so Tyler is take care of his little sister Bean. He also has two older siblings, Barry and Kelly, who drag Tyler into their life of stealing from rich people’s homes. One night a burglary goes wrong and Tyler doesn’t know how to cope with what’s happened.

Early on in the novel Tyler is along with his brother and sister scoping out a home to burgle and Tyler had a bad feeling as soon as he starts going through the family’s belongings. Something isn’t quite right. Then the worst happens and the homeowner arrives home and Barry stabs the woman and leaves her for dead. At this point I was so angry with what they’d done but very quickly we see that Tyler has a conscience. He was forced to go along on the robbery and he tries to make right what has happened in the small way he can without implicating anyone. Tyler knows that if anything happens to him that his little sister will be taken into care and he refuses to let that happen to her.

This is a novel that shows the level of deprivation that people are living in, it was hard to read at times as Tyler has clearly taken on all responsibility for a sister that is only ten years younger than him. He hasn’t had much of a childhood and now at the point when he should be out with his friends and finding his feet in the world he’s having to be a parent to his sibling. He never begrudges anything that he does for Bean though, and she clearly trusts him to look after her so their bond is a beautiful thing in that shone through all the darkness in their lives. I never expected to feel so attached to Tyler. I soon had him weighed up and I was rooting for him all the way through this novel. There were moments when I could have cried for him, and moments when I wanted to swoop in and help. Mostly I was in awe of his ability to take care of his sister and his mum, and to never let his own fears and worries fall on their shoulders. He never loses compassion for his mum either, in spite of the mess she’s in and I found that incredibly moving. He gets frustrated with the situation she’s in but he never punishes her for it, he knows he might lose her to the drugs but part of him never lets go of the hope that she might one day find her way out.

Sometimes Tyler needs some time and space away from the weight of his family dramas and he breaks into houses for some peace, and to experience a short time of seeing what someone else’s family might be like. On one of these break-ins he meets Flick and they form a friendship. The contrast between Tyler and Flick’s lives was stark to begin with. Her family have money and Flick seemingly has everything she could possibly want. As the book goes on it’s apparent that they have more in common than it first appeared as both are looking for someone who understands them and accepts them for who they are. It seems like each may have found the person they need and I was willing for them to find a way to be together.

This is such a hard-hitting and devastating novel but it has such heart, which gives it a beauty that I wasn’t expecting. I knew I was going to like this book before I even started reading it but I didn’t expect that I was going to love it quite as much as I did. I finished reading this a few days ago and I feel like my love for it is just grown stronger. I keep thinking about Tyler and hoping he’s okay. It’s a book that gave me so much more than I was expecting and it’s left its mark on my heart. I now want to read everything that Doug Johnstone has ever written!

Breakers is fast-paced, gritty and dark but there is hope at its centre. I found this novel impossible to put down and I’m in awe of how good it is. I highly recommend it, it’s absolutely brilliant!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

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

 

 

About the Author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His ninth novel, Fault Lines, was published by Orenda Books in May 2018. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Novel, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run (2012) which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

Doug was recently Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He currently plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

 

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Book Review: Past Life by Dominic Nolan | @NolanDom @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #PastLife

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About the Book

Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.

Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.

Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.

Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?

 

My Thoughts

Past Life is about Abigail Boone who is suffering from amnesia following a traumatic incident where she was abducted and held for days before being found. Doctors haven’t been able to treat her memory loss so now she’s just trying to pick up the pieces of her life and to move on as best she can. She’s lost her career in the police, and her relationship with her husband and son is floundering as she has no memories of either of them. Boone decides that the best thing she can do to find herself is to get back to trying to find the young woman she was searching for at the time she herself went missing.

Abigail Boone is such a brilliant character. She has her flaws – she’s stubborn, she doesn’t listen to advice and she throws herself into situations without really considering the consequences but I loved her fierce determination! She tries so hard but can’t seem to find a way through to her past and so focuses on the here and now and what she can do. I really admired this trait.

‘Identity can be proved with papers, but how do you prove self? How do you measure a person, seek evidence of what they might be? Only in the past, Boone concluded, and in that thing constructed by the past that we call a mind.’

Boone is trying to find Sarah Still, who has been missing for a long time now but Boone feels sure that she was on the right track to finding Sarah before she was attacked. This leads Boone to meet Roo, the woman she was held with, and I adored the relationship that grew between these two women. They are so different to each other and there is something of a language barrier at times but the way they overcame this and developed a respect for each other was so great to read about. The friendship they have, along with Boone’s friendship with Tess (a woman Boone helped while still in the police force and has kept in touch with), were the anchors that Boone needed in a time where she no longer connected with the people she was close to before.

I felt that Boone’s stubborn need to find Sarah, rather than being home and trying to connect with her family, perhaps came from the fact she now knows what it is to be missing. Boone is there but she’s not there; she doesn’t know who she was before and the only reference points she has are what other people have told her. Sarah is physically missing from her life but the person she left behind wants her back as much as Boone’s husband Jack and son Quin want Boone back.

This is a gritty novel, and it’s very dark in places but it’s so believable and it’s very well written. There is an air of melancholy that runs through the novel but it never feels depressing. The brilliant Boone, along with Tess and Roo, keep you hooked and I felt like I was right along with them throughout this story. I so badly wanted all of them to come out of it and be okay.

Past Life is such a brilliant and gripping crime thriller but it’s also an excellent exploration into what makes a person who they are. What is left to cling to when you’ve lost who you are, or when you’ve lost the person you love. There is so much depth in this book, and there were moments that felt so profound to me that I had to put it down for a few moments just to process what I was reading. My disability took my physical abilities from me so while I still know who I am, I can’t be who I was before so I felt something of an affinity with Boone. This book came to mean such a lot to me and I know it’s one that will stay with me. It’s very rare for me to connect so much to a crime thriller but Past Life is something special.

This is one of those really compelling books that you just can’t put down – I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out for Boone! She’s such a real, authentic character that I felt bereft when I turned the last page of this book. I still keep thinking about her and wondering how she’s getting on. This is a book that I won’t forget and I think Past Life may well make my best books of the year come the end of December! It’s gritty and gripping, thrilling and very difficult to put down… plus Boone will steal your heart! I highly recommend this book!

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

Past Life is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Dominic Nolan was born and raised in north London. PAST LIFE is his first novel.

 

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#BookReview: Tubing by K. A. McKeagney @RedDoorBooks @kamckeagney

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About the Book

Polly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead end job on a free London paper… life as she knows it is dull. But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train. The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires. But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing , an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains. In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde. Seething with jealousy, she watches them together. But something isn’t right and a horrific turn of events make Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

Can she get out before it’s too late?

 

My Thoughts

Tubing is about Polly, who one night has a random and unplanned sexual encounter with a stranger on a tube and this leads her into an initially thrilling but ultimately dark world. This is a thriller but it’s different to anything else I’ve read.

Polly is already a damaged soul and the world she gets into initially forms an escape for her. She is in a settled relationship but feels stifled by her partner and his close relationship with his sister, and she can’t seem to find the thing that would make her feel whole. She has a decent job but begins to let things slide as she becomes quite obsessed with finding the man she encountered on the tube. Polly does make some silly decisions and she was hard to like a lot of the time but there was something intriguing about her, and about why she becomes so fascinated by the world of tubing that made it impossible to not read on.

As Polly’s fixation with the man from the tube grows she finds herself in an increasingly scary situation. One day she witnesses something that is terrifying and soon finds herself spiralling into paranoia and anxiety. The book really ramps up the tension from this point on as you feel really unsure how much of her how she feels is just paranoia, or whether she really is in danger or if it’s even a mix of the two.

For the first half of this book I felt it was more focused on the erotic aspects and I was wondering if this is a book that I would classify as a thriller but the second half of the book was so fast-paced, intense and disturbing that it most definitely is a thriller. It got to a point where I just couldn’t put this book down as I just had to know how it was all going to end. The denouement of this novel was not what I was expecting, which I really appreciated. I do love it when a thriller surprises me!

Tubing is a book I’d recommend to anyone who is looking to read a dark, disturbing thriller with a sexy side to it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Tubing is out now and available here!

 

About the Author

K.A. McKeagney studied psychology in Bristol before completing a Masters degree in creative writing at Brunel. She won the Curtis Brown prize for her dissertation, which formed the basis of her first novel Tubing. She has worked in London as a health editor writing consumer information as well as for medical journals. Her writing has been commended by the British Medical Association (BMA) patient information awards.

She is currently working on her second novel.

 


 

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Mini Reviews: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, After I’ve Gone by Linda Green, Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath & In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

 

This week I’m sharing some mini reviews on my blog in order to catch up before Christmas! I’ve not been able to write many full reviews in recent weeks due to my energy and strength being used on Christmas preparations but I hope these mini reviews will still give you a flavour of the books.

 

 

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I’m such a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing so grabbed a copy of The Surrogate as soon as I saw it. I didn’t need to even read the synopsis because I knew it would be good… and it was so very, very good! I think this may be my new favourite of her novels and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. Kat and Nick had been trying for a baby for a long while and eventually turned to look at adoption. When this didn’t work out it leaves Kat devastated so when an old friend turns up and offers to be a surrogate Kat shrugs off her concerns regarding how they fell out years ago and agrees. This book has so many twists and turns, and actually had me gasp in surprise at one of them, that I honestly couldn’t predict how it would all turn out. The denouement when it comes is shocking and chilling and so utterly perfect. This is definitely a thriller not to be missed!

 

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After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

This is such a refreshing take on a thriller and I devoured it! Jess checks her Facebook on an ordinary January day and discovers that the updates are all from 18 months into the future and her friends and family are mourning her death. This grabbed me from the off as I can’t recall another novel told in this way. Jess initially thinks it’s a joke and then begins to question her own sanity. It leads her to make decisions in order to try and get some of the same outcomes she’s reading about but without it leading to her death. Things get really tough for Jess when she realises how she dies and it becomes apparent that she may not be able to get away. There are elements to this book that I wasn’t expecting and the controlling relationship was one of them. It is so well done though and really shows how easy it is for ordinary, intelligent people to become trapped in an awful situation. I was rooting for Jess all the way through this novel and hoping she could re-write her future just enough to get the good and then to escape. This is a really good thriller and one I recommend.

 

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Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

This is a novel that really got under my skin. Cat Lupo suffered psychosis around her first pregnancy so when a devastating secret about her husband is revealed, it gradually leads to people close to her questioning her state of mind. I loved this novel. It was interesting to be unsure whether Cat was ill again or whether she was right to be so paranoid about what was going on with this child that has turned up in their lives. The tension in this book really did reach that point where I was literally on the edge of my seat reading as fast as I could because I simply had to know how things were going to turn out. If you’ve not already read this, I highly recommend it. I’m already eagerly anticipating what Mel McGrath writes next!

 

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In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

The premise of this book drew me to it as soon as I read it – the idea of meeting someone on a bridge late at night and then two weeks later receiving an unexpected gift just grabbed me right away! I’m pleased to say that the book didn’t disappoint. The cottage in the wood is such a creepy location and it’s something in books that sets my nerves on edge so this book had me in it’s clutches. The novel didn’t end up being as scary as I was thinking it might be but it definitely had me feeling a bit jumpy in places. I also loved that while I thought I had it all worked out there was a twist that blindsided me, which was great! This is a book that’s definitely worth checking out on these cold winter nights.

 

 


 

 

I received copies of the above books from the publishers via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

All four of these fab thrillers are out now!

#BookReview: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia #BlogTour @MejiaWrites @MeadOlivia

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About the Book

Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives, Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the Hattie behind the masks, and what happened in that final year of her life. . .

My Thoughts

This novel opens with Hattie in an airport trying to get a flight out of her hometown. She fails in her endeavour and ends up alone in her car upset and trying to work out what on earth she will do next. From then on the novel has three narrators – Hattie, the local Sheriff Del, and Hattie’s teacher Peter. The book flits back and forth in time as we see what Hattie was up to in the months leading up to her death, and also in the days following her murder as the Sheriff, and others in her life, try to figure out who killed her and why.

A picture is gradually built up of Hattie and it’s very apparent that in many ways she was a typical teenage girl but also that she is much more ambitious for life than her peers. Hattie wants to move to New York and become an actress, and it’s this ambition that ultimately leads her astray. She joins online forums, and in her naivety about the way other people can hide themselves online, gets chatting to a man. This sets in motion a series of events that Hattie feels she is orchestrating but she doesn’t fully grasp that it’s not only her life that she is playing with.

The town Sheriff, Del, has known Hattie her whole life as he is very good friends with her father. This leads to us seeing Hattie through his eyes as a detective but also as a father-figure. It shows Hattie’s innocent side, and the depth of feeling that people had for her.

Peter’s narration is enlightening. He gets pulled into Hattie’s game but you never stop forgetting that he is her teacher and should take more care of her. He notices what she is doing with other people but doesn’t allow himself to truly see it, or perhaps doesn’t want to really to see it.

The title of this book is so perfect. Hattie’s last acting role is in Hamlet, where her character wears a white dress and ends up covered in blood, which is chillingly prescient, and behind the scenes she is pulling the strings to make things go her way. It feels like Hattie was a doomed character from the start- there is a real sense of fate in this novel, that she stepped on a path and it led her to her death. She wants to be an actress and spends her whole life playing the part that other people want her to be. She is one person with her friends, and another with her boyfriend. She doesn’t seem to know who she really is, while at the same time appearing all-knowing. This made me feel so sad for her, and even though you know from the beginning of this book that Hattie will be murdered, I couldn’t stop myself wishing that someone would notice something, would pull her off the path she was on, would save her. She really got under my skin and I feel like Hattie will stay with me for a long time to come.

I also loved the way that this novel bought the location of the book to life and the way that all the characters, even the more peripheral ones, felt real to me. By the end of the book I felt like I’d been to this town, that I knew these people in real life. The writing is beautiful and I already can’t wait to read what ever Mindy Mejia writes next.

This isn’t a fast-paced thriller but it is completely and utterly gripping and compelling. I read this in two sittings (and I really begrudged needing sleep otherwise I would have read it in one go!) and I still feel haunted by Hattie now, over a week after I finished reading.

I highly recommend The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman! The novel is out now and available from here.

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

About the Author

Mindy Mejia

Mindy received a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MFA from Hamline University. Apart from brief stops in Iowa City and Galway, she’s lived in the Twin Cities her entire life and held a succession of jobs from an apple orchard laborer to a global credit manager.

She’s currently working on a project set in Duluth and the Boundary Waters that may or may not be a trilogy.

(Taken from author’s website: MindyMejia.com

 

You can follow the rest of the Hattie Hoffman blog tour at the following dates and blogs:

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#BookReview: Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

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About the Book:

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

My Thoughts:

This is such a well-written, accomplished debut domestic noir and I very much enjoyed it. I loved that it is set in such a normal, every day situation so that this story initially felt like it’s something that could happen to any one. Rachel sees Jack’s iPad light up with an email notification late at night and she feels compelled to glance over and read it. From then on she tries to find out what the email meant and skirts around the issue with Jack, as she doesn’t want to outright admit to reading his emails. I felt for a while that Rachel was reading too much into things, and was being a little paranoid but then I started thinking that Jack was acting a bit strangely so switched to thinking that he must be hiding something major. I was kept hooked by my inability to pin down what was going on.

On top of this Rachel is also hiding the reason why she quit medicine. This part of the plot was also great to read. I did work out early on what might have happened with her patient but I really liked that in the build up to the reveal we got to see her thought process and to really understand why she did what she did.

My relationship with my husband started off in a whirlwind – we’ve pretty much lived together since the very day we met – so I totally understood how Rachel and Jack had connected so quickly and how they fell in love so deeply in such a short space of time. It seemed strange to me at first that they weren’t sharing their pasts with each other but then as I read more I could see how that could happen. Rachel was grieving for  her mum, and for the loss of her career and adjusting to being pregnant; while Jack was only meant to be living in Newcastle temporarily for work and is really busy with his career plus trying to make time to get back up to Oban to visit his family.

I did find Rachel’s actions quite shocking at times, it was hard to think of someone behaving how she did but within the context of the plot it kind of made sense. Of course you’d want to know if the man you’re having a child with has skeletons in his closet, and because she had time on her hands and was in a stressful mindset she became quite fixated on having to know at any cost.

This book started off quite slowly and then it just builds and builds and builds until you simply can’t put it down. I finished it really late at night because I just had to know what was going on! I highly recommend this book, it’s such an accomplished debut and I really can’t wait to see what Gillian McAllister writes next.

This is an incredible debut that will have you staying up all night to find out what happens next. Don’t miss it! Everything but the Truth is due to be published on 9th March and can be pre-ordered here.

I received a copy of this book from Michael Joseph/Penguin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview: Last Light by CJ Lyons @cjlyonswriter @canelo_co

Last Light by C. J. Lyons

About the book:

A brutally murdered family… a wronged man in prison 

1987: Lily Martin is horrifically murdered along with her young child in Texas.

Today: Life should be easy after leaving the FBI –  but not if you’re detective Lucy Guardino. Lucy has always seen herself as a normal mum who happened to have a job chasing the worst of the worst. But after a violent predator targets her family and she’s injured, Lucy sacrifices her career at the Bureau.

She joins the Beacon Group, a firm that specializes in cold cases. Lucy fears she’s traded the elite for shepherding a team of amateurs.

She is sent to rural Texas to investigate a case that’s already been closed with the killers behind bars for twenty-nine years.

But who really killed Lily Martin and her infant daughter? Why was an entire family targeted for annihilation? What price will Lucy pay when she fights to expose a truth people will kill to keep buried?

My thoughts:

I very much enjoyed reading this novel. I especially loved that there were two really strong female characters in this novel and both were interesting. Lucy has a warm personality but is a very steely investigator. On a personal note, it was interesting to read about her AFO – I wear a similar leg brace (although my disability is very different) so I had real sympathy when she had no nice shoes to wear with her new work outfit. I have to wear men’s velcro trainers two sizes too big with mine as nothing else will go over it! TK is also a character that I’m looking forward to learning more about as this series progresses – she’s a former marine that has obviously had a very traumatic time whilst serving but her record is classified so not much is known. She’s fascinating though as she’s very good at aspects of her new job but is also slightly hot-headed at times so is far from being perfect.

I did find this to be a novel of two halves in a way – the first half was really interesting as we learn about the team of investigators, and find out more about the crime and the man who was convicted of the murders. It almost felt like it could be a real life murder case. I felt that in the second half I had to suspend my disbelief a little bit as it did feel like some things were ramped up in a way that was great to read and it was still well written and so fast-paced. I couldn’t put the book down and read this half of the book in a couple of hours, I was so keen to find out if the suspect was really the killer and if they would be caught and punished.

This is the first in a new series – the Beacon Falls series – but I believe Lucy’s career in the FBI was another series in its own right so I’m tempted to go back and read all of those now too as I enjoyed this novel so much. Last Light had me engrossed from the prologue all the way through to the end. It’s a fast-paced and tense read that you’ll find very hard to put down once you’ve started reading!

This is a brilliant start to a new crime thriller series and I can’t wait to read the next book!

I received a copy of Last Light from Canelo via Ed PR in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author:

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CJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge. New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

A story-teller all her life, CJ has always created stories about people discovering the courage to make a difference. This led her to coin the term: Thrillers with Heart.

Her novels have won the International Thriller Writers prestigious Thriller Award, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Golden Gateway, Readers’ Choice Award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

(Biography details and photo taken from CJ Lyons’ website)