Tag Archives: #BookShelfReads

#Inborn by Thomas Enger #BookReview @EngerThomas @OrendaBooks #BookShelfReads

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for Inborn by Thomas Enger. This is the first book I’ve read by the author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. You can read on for my thoughts….

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When a teenager is accused of a high-school murder, he finds himself subject to trial by social media … and in the dock. A taut, moving and

chilling thriller by one of Nordic Noir’s finest writers.

.When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

.Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

.But can we trust him?

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I have a confession to make **whispers quietly** I have never read a book by Thomas Enger! So yes maybe I’m late to the party where this author is concerned, but what an entrance. I absolutely loved Inborn, it’s a novel that’s intense, deliciously dark and each page is filled with a mystery that captivates the reader. This is one of those books that should come with the tagline **Assume nothing, question everything** my favourite kind of read, this nothing more satisfying than reading a book where the author misdirects the reader at every opportunity, where nothing is as it first seems, and where each character placed in the spotlight adds to the growing sense of mistrust. 

Inborn is set in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim, when the local high school becomes a murder scene, the finger of suspicion is directed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, Evan finds himself judged on social media, everyone in the insular village has an opinion, ‘guilty to proven innocent’ seems to be the general consensus. As Even tries to unravel the truth and clear his name, it becomes clear that some villagers have hidden secrets, ones they would prefer to stay very much hidden. Inborn is narrated In alternating story lines, one focuses on the courtroom with Even testifying, and the other follows the events after the murders leading up to the trial. Both of the storyline’s merge perfectly, drawing the reader further into the author’s tangled web whilst maintaining a sense of trepidation that continues to grow as the story unfolds.

Thomas Enger has created a fascinating bunch of characters, Even especially is one of those characters you are drawn to, he’s a young man whose whole life comes crashing down, once popular and liked by all, he finds himself the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons, speculation is rife and Evan is left bewildered, angry and scared. Although I wondered if I could trust Evan, after all “there’s no smoke without fire” so they say, or was I been directed by the whispers of the small-minded townsfolk?  Chief Inspector Yngve Mork who leads the enquiry, is another character I felt a deep connection to, he’s haunted by grief after loosing his wife whose recently died of cancer.

Inborn is a relatively short read, at 276 pages but “the best things come in small packages” and what it lacks in pages, it more than makes up for in content and drama.  A small Norwegian village is the perfect setting for this novel, it feels claustrophobic, a place where gossip becomes the truth, and the relationships of the townsfolk are shrouded in lies and deceit. This book is so many things, courtroom drama, a crime thriller, merged with mystery and lashings of suspense. The author is now definitely on my “must read” authors list,  and in case you were wondering “yes” it’s a book I would recommend to anyone who’s looking for a crime read that’s different on so many levels.

  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (22 Jan. 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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#TheFive by Hallie Rubenhold @HallieRubenhold @DoubledayUK #thefivewomen #iamPollyAnnieElizabethKateMaryJane

Today I’m sharing my review for The Five, the untold lives of the woman killed by Jack The Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. I’ve recently started reading historical crime  novels and I must say I found this book to be a fascinating read. Read on for my thoughts…..

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Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.

Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London – the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper

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I have read many true crime books over the years, and they have always focused on infamous killers with little thought given to the victims. I’m sure you can all think of a list of infamous killers, but can you remember any of the victims’ names or their life stories? Probably not I know I can’t, which is desperately sad. This book provides the reader with an incredible insight into the five victims of Jack The Ripper, Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane. Yes, they were victims of the most atrocious crimes,  but Helen Rubenhold’s The Five finally gives these women a voice. Beautifully written the author brings 1888 London to life, but more importantly she brings to life the five women, giving them back their dignity, which for almost 150 years they have been cruelly denied.

As a reader of true crime I have read many books on Jack The Ripper and many of them describe the five victims as prostitutes, a fact that obscured the truth about the women’s real life’s, (only one of the five women sold her body for money). Even back in 1888 the victims of Jack The Ripper were blighted by ‘here say’ and speculation, they were shaped and embellished to make the crimes more newsworthy (sound familiar?).  As most of the victims had no permanent roof over their heads or a husband to protect them, they were seen to be outcasts and so considered to be corrupt and impure, they faced violence, abuse, lived day to day, hungry, cold and unloved, was it any wonder every single one of the woman had struggled with alcohol addiction.

Towards the end of their short life’s circumstances for each woman changed, either through bad choices or misfortune.  Perceived to be either “broken women” or  “fallen women” It’s at this point they were treated with contempt,  and even in death the rumour mill spewed false accusations and showed little sympathy for the Ripper’s victims. None of the women were treated as individual victims in death, but were banded together as victims of “an unfortunate class”, which made me angry and incredibly sad. For the first time ever someone has taken the time to share their stories, they are desperately sad and harrowing but at the same time we see them as wife’s, daughters, and mothers, who faced adversary, and poverty, where every day was a struggle for survival, sometimes wrong choices were made, but then the choices these women had were very limited by circumstances.

Helen Rubenhold’s descriptions of a London in 1888 are vividly described, the sounds, the smells, the doss houses, overcrowded slums, the pubs, transport you back to an age where poverty, malnutrition and disease were rife. It’s obvious the author has extensively researched her subject. Although some parts are speculative, she has incorporated as much factual detail where ever possible. I should mention, if you’re expecting gruesome details of the murders of these five women, or another theory to the ripper’s identity then this book won’t be for you. If you are looking for a powerful book, that blends true crime and one that’s rich in historical detail, that gives a voice to #FiveWoman, Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, then The Five is definitely a book I would recommend.

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (28 Feb. 2019)

Buying links :  Amazon UK 🇬🇧   Amazon US 🇺🇸

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#TheSting by Kimberley Chambers #MustReads2019 @KimboChambers

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Sting by Kimberley Chambers, a stand-alone gritty crime thriller. Read on for my thoughts…..

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Best friends Tommy Boyle and Scratch always had each other’s backs. Dragged up in care, and cruelly betrayed by everyone they trusted, they made a pact to fight their way out of the gutter – together.

TWO SIDES OF THE LAW

Old loyalties die hard on the streets of London. Tommy throws his lot in with the notorious Darling family – even if it means leaving Scratch to the wolves. She’s destined for a different path, reinventing herself as copper Kim Regan.

ONE DEADLY SHOWDOWN

Now they’re on opposite sides of the law. Running Operation Sting, Kim will rip the heart out of the Darling’s empire – and only her old pal Tommy stands in her way.

As gritty and dangerous as the London streets in which it’s set, this is No.1 bestseller Kimberley Chambers at her best. Get ready for a shocking read with a STING in the tail . . .

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If I had to choose only one author’s books to read if I ever got stranded on a desert island, without hesitation I would choose Kimberley Chambers. The author writes what I consider to be the most gritty crime thrillers out there; they pull no punches, their raw, authentic and gripping. It’s obvious that the author puts her heart and soul into writing each book, and it shines through in her writing. The Sting is no different, in fact this has to be one of my favourite books so far. It’s exciting, fast-paced and features an array of characters, some you will love, others you will hate but each and everyone of them added to my enjoyment of this book. The Sting is a sometimes shocking but an outstanding tale of betrayal, love, and belonging.

Tommy Boyle’s life may not be perfect, but as long as he has his mother and sisters, it’s a life he’s happy with, then one day everything changes as Tommy finds himself taken into care. It’s here he meets Scratch, and they become inseparable, after being cruelly betrayed by everyone they ever trusted, they make a pact to make a better future for themselves once they reach sixteen. Unfortunately for the pair circumstances change and Tommy joins the notorious Darlings firm and Scratch joins the police, as you can imagine this doesn’t bode well. Neither knows the devastating consequences of their actions that lie ahead.

Yet again Kimberley Chamber has created characters that are vibrant and larger than life, the characters are so well developed you can’t help but invest in their life’s. I loved Tommy’s character from a young boy he suffers the worse kind of abuse, he’s betrayed by his own family members and my heart went out to him. Although Tommy was a “bad boy” I found myself making excuses for his behaviour, and as the author revealed the full of horror Tommy’s story, I found myself in tears, which surprised me, and that’s a testament to the author’s writing skills. The Sting is set in the 1970s through to the 1980s and the author’s attention to detail is incredible and well researched, the songs, the clothes the trends all add a sense of authenticity to the story and also made me nostalgic for the era I grew up in!

The Sting felt very different to her previous reads; the emphasis is on Tommy and Scratch’s relationship, and their own difficult past,  with the gangland crime element being secondary to the plot. This book deals with some tough subjects childhood abuse and domestic abuse, and although the author isn’t afraid to tackle them head on she does so with sensitivity, the abuse is fundamental to the plot, and the abuse the two main characters suffer very much defines the adults that they become. The Sting didn’t end the way I was hoping, but never-less it was the more authentic conclusion. Once again the queen of gritty crime thrillers Kimberley Chambers has written a blinder of a book which I know will reach the top of the book charts. Highly recommended by me

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧   Amazon US 🇺🇸

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The Teacher by Katerina Diamond #Review

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Book description

You think you know who to trust? You think you know the difference between good and evil? You’re wrong…

The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.

Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.

As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.

But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.

And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?

 

I must be one of the few book bloggers on the planet who hasn’t read The Teacher by Katerina Diamond, but I’ve finally rectified that. Prior to publication of The Teacher, I remember there was a lot of hype on social media regarding this book, add to that a tag line definitely “not for the faint-hearted hearted” and you would think I would have bought it straight away but no me being me I decided to wait until all the hype had died (excuse the pun!) down, also with a huge TBR pile I just never found the time I’m afraid.

My review

I really have mixed feelings about The Teacher it was a book I really enjoyed reading, but there was a small part of me that was expecting something far more gruesome, now this could be because I read such a large amount of crime books I’ve become accustomed to descriptions of murders that might turn other readers stomachs, but I really don’t think it was that disturbing or gruesome. On the other hand if you don’t like well described murder scenes this may not be the book for you I’m afraid.

To begin with I admit I found myself confused each chapter introduces new characters, so by the half way mark there were an array of characters that I found difficult to keep tabs on, but then it happened! The Teacher began to make sense and I realised just how clever the author had been, she set the scene and then cunningly bought all the characters together in a dark and troubling tale. From the title I pretty much had the plot worked out in my head, but rather like the book nothing was as it seemed and it wasn’t long before I realised I had been pretty much misdirected by the blurb.

The Teacher introduces a new partnership DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles, and I’m intrigued by the pair as I’ve come to expect in a crime thriller they both appear to be messed up, but I’m interested to see how there partnership will evolve over the series. The Teacher is very much about good V evil, I never expected to have any sympathy for a killer that could do such awful things to other people, but I did, as to the reasons why, well I’m not about to giveaway spoilers so you will just have to read the book and see.

Although I enjoyed The Teacher I did find it a slightly disappointing read, I think because of all the hype surrounding this book I expected something more, but in fairness that’s my problem and not the authors. I do think The Teacher was a great start to a new crime series, deliciously dark with an eclectic mix of characters and I will certainly read the next two books in the series at some point.

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Avon; UK (10 Mar. 2016)

When You Disappeared by John Marrs #BookReview

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Book description

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing–except him.
Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth–about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.
And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

Revised edition: Previously published as The Wronged Sons, this edition of When You Disappeared includes editorial revisions.

My review

Imagine one day your husband disappears, you have no idea what has happened to him, as time passes you grieve, you go on to build a life without him and then when you least expect he turns up on your doorstep, I’m sure you would be shocked to say the least! and even more so when he reveals what he’s been up too! And this is pretty much the premises for When You Disappear. The story opens with the day Simon left and follows the impact this has on his family, and on Simon himself, when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he really is, and that’s when the book gets really interesting as there are shocks and dark buried secrets galore. 

I absolutely loved The One by John Marrs so I really wanted to read When You Disappeared the author’s debut novel. Although it made for a good read I did have mixed emotions regarding the book as a whole some parts I really enjoyed and other parts I struggled with. Personally I felt this book read more like a mystery until just over the halfway mark when the psychological thriller element kicked in. I do have to mention Simon what an evil, cold hearted individual John Marr’s has created he doesn’t have one endearing feature, and at times he literally made my blood boil, sometimes I think having strong feelings for a character even if they are negative ones can actually heighten my enjoyment of a book, but unfortunately I disliked him so much it actually distracted from my enjoyment of When You Disappeared.

When You Disappeared is told in alternating chapters past and present from the two main characters POV, unfortunately I did find the constant change sometimes made the chapters feel disjointed. Although I can see why the author used this ploy I did find it slightly distracted from my enjoyment of this book. I would describe this book as a Character driven family drama and so I found the pace quite slow, although I do feel the author builds on the suspense and tension as he slowly reveals Simon’s darkest secrets. There is no doubt the author has written a captivating tale that many readers will enjoy with an original plot. It’s an impressive debut and one I’m sure many readers will enjoy.

Buying links:   amazon UK 🇬🇧     amazon US 🇺🇸

Length: 350 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (13 July 2017)

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite #BookReview @BCopperthwait @Bookouture

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Book description

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

My review

This is pretty much how I must have looked when I finished Her Last Secret……

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OMG I must applaud Barbara Copperthwaite what a fabulous and twisted psychological thriller Her Last Secret turned out to be. Christmas is a time for families, to make memories, surrounded by unwrapped presents and feeling uncomfortable from eating too much rich food, but then I picked up Her Last Secret and all those Cosy thoughts were obliterated before I even got to the first chapter. Her Last Secret opens when the police are called to the Thomas’s London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

The reader is taken back a few days before the tragedy, and through various family member’s POV you learn of the disturbing secrets they kept from each other. The Thomas’s  appear to be the “perfect” family living the “dream”, but then the author peels back the layers and reveals a very different picture, some of the characters turned out to be flawed, weak and very unlikable, this is a family whose life was awash with untold secrets and resentment. Some of the characters I loved and some I loathed but they all had one thing in common at different points through this book I found I didn’t trust any of them, (well apart from the adorable Mouse, who deserves a mention because she was just so damn cute) which made for a very disconcerting read.

I do enjoy a book so much more when I find myself experiencing numerous emotions throughout the read, and even better when the emotions are ones I wasn’t expecting to feel. There are many  emotive themes running through this book, you can’t help but feel overwhelming  saddness at what happens  when you are unable to share your thoughts and fears  with those closest to you.

This isn’t a fast paced book by any means, but I’m glad it wasn’t as Barbara Copperthwaite spends time intricately unravelling the mysteries of this family, which in turn heightens the suspense of what’s to come, you know it’s going to be bad, but to the why and wherefore’s, well let’s just say they were definitely worth the wait. I do enjoy a book that challenges me to guess the outcome, just when I thought I had it all figured out Barbara Copperthwaite threw an almighty curveball that left me reeling. Shocking, sad and very twisted this is definitely a book I would highly recommend.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 408 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (13 Oct. 2017)

 

Small Talk by Robert T. Germaux @RGermaux 

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Book description

A serial killer has the people of Pittsburgh on edge, and Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad are working feverishly to solve the case before more innocent lives are lost. But the killer proves to be a formidable foe, whose viciousness appears to be matched only by his ability to elude capture.

Throughout “Small Talk,” the reader is given glimpses into the mind of this cunning and sadistic murderer, an individual who seeks a face-to-face confrontation with his pursuers, a confrontation Daniel is only too willing to provide.

IMG_2357I’m not sure what a psychologist would make of me, although there again I could probably hazard a guess! I admit I do enjoy reading a crime thriller that features a serial killer, you never quite know “who” you are getting. I’m always hoping to find a “unique” serial killer (not literally may I add quickly!), as I read so many crime thrillers they need to be different and stand out from the usual “serial killer on a rampage” kind of novel. Set in Pittsburgh I had high hopes for Small Talk by Robert T. Germaux as I always find crime thrillers set in the USA seem darker and bolder.

Detective Daniel Hayes is leading the investigation alongside his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad (SAS) as they attempt to find a ruthless serial killer who stalks and brutally murders young women. Robert Germaux has created a well developed and credible bunch of characters, Hayes especially has an unique background which makes him a very interesting character. The dynamics of the group also add an air of credibility to Small Talk, as the investigation intensifies each member of the teams commitment to the case shows no bounds, adding a sense of urgency to the read.

I did have one small niggle the “romantic element” between Hayes and Lauren, yes I know everyone’s allowed to have a love life! But when I read a crime thriller I much prefer to concentrate on the nitty gritty and not get waylaid by chapters focused on relationships, I find it slightly distracts from my enjoyment of a book, that’s only my opinion of course and Small Talk still made for a very compelling read.

Although the chapter related to the serial killer made for an intriguing read, I wouldn’t say they made for a disturbing read, I was expecting them to be darker and make for a spine chilling read, unfortunately they felt “diluted” almost as if this author didn’t want to make them to gruesome or upsetting to readers. Perhaps because I read so many books in this genre I’ve come to expect these sort of novels to be darker and more disturbing than normal, but that’s my problem not the authors. Yes I did enjoy Small Talk it’s a very accomplished crime thriller with great characters and a decent plot line and well worth a read if you prefer a crime read that isn’t to dark or gruesome.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 266 pages

Publisher: Robert T. Germaux (4 Mar. 2015)