Tag Archives: Must reads 2018

The Key To Death’s Door by Mark Tilbury @Bloodhoundbook @MTilburyAuthor #MustReads

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Book description 

Looking for a dark and compelling psychological thriller?

If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

The Key to Death’s Door is a story of sacrifice, friendship, loyalty and murder.

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I’m a big fan of Mark Tilbury’s writing, his books are normally dark and disturbing and The Key To Death’s Door is definitely both of these things. I should mention this probably isn’t one for the faint hearted there is strong language and violence, but if you dare to read it I’m sure like me you will find it a riveting read. I’m not going to rehash the plot details as all you need to know is in the book description, but suffice to say with elements of the paranormal running throughout it made this book a highly original albeit a very disturbing read.

Mark Tilbury’s  imagination knows no bounds, he pushes boundaries, delves into the deepest corners of the human mind and comes up with the most original and twisted plots. The author takes the ugliest traits in humans and turns them into living, breathing characters, that you will end up despising for their cruelty to others, but you read on hoping that “karma” catches up with them! One of the characters actually made my skin crawl, they were the devil incarnated . I found myself screaming with frustration and anger at this vile excuse for a human being. When an author can evoke such intense emotions in me then they deserve high praise indeed.

A perpetual sense of doom radiates from the pages, I found myself constantly holding my breath as The Key To Death’s Door grew darker and more sinister at each turn of the page. Even though this book pushes the realms of credibility I was happy to immerse myself in this very disturbing and at times emotional read. Mark Tilbury has a unique knack of writing about the unthinkable but then adds moments of tenderness and humour which prevent his books from becoming a depressive read. I especially found the relationship between Lee and Charlie endearing, at times I couldn’t help but become emotionally involved in their relationship, now that was something I wasn’t expecting.

If you have been put of by the supernatural element I would urge you to think again, The Key To Death’s Door has so much more to offer, it’s thought provoking, gritty and at times very emotional. If I had to describe Mark Tilbury’s books using only one word it would have to be “unpredictable” no two books are the same, which make his books such a thrill to read. Highly recommended if you are looking for a gripping thriller outside the norm.  

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 361 pages

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (16 April 2018)

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving The Key To Death’s Door the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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**Blog tour** #Keeper by Johana Gustawsson #BookReview @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson #FrenchNoir

 

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Today it’s my absolute pleasure to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Keeper by the new queen of French noir Johana Gustawsson. You can get a kindle copy right now or pre-order the paperback which is published on the 28th April by the fabulous Orenda Books. If you love a crime thriller that’s dark, disturbing and intricately plotted then look no further this is the perfect book for you. Before I share my review here’s the book description to whet your appetite.

Book description

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

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There are some books I like, others I love and then there is the rare book that blows me away with an ingenious plot, incredible writing, and bucketfuls of suspense and Keeper by Johana Gustawsson fits the bill perfectly. Block 46 the first book in the series actually made it on to my top reads of 2017, so I couldn’t wait to read this one. Keeper sees the return of French true crime writer Alexis Castells Canadian profiler Emily Roy, I do like the author’s career choices for her two main protagonists, as it means the plot doesn’t feature heavily on police procedures, which I find can sometimes overwhelm a plot. There are a lot of characters in this book so it did take me a while to work out who was who, but this in no way distracted from the read. Keeper is told through past and present events, and suffice to say the author skips flawlessly between time lines. I must give a mention to Maxim Jakubowski who translated the book, he’s done a fantastic job.

Keeper has so much to offer it’s a crime thriller with a unique plot, the author combines crimes committed in both Sweden and the UK with crimes from the past, in this case the horrific and gruesome crimes committed by Jack The Ripper. I found myself trying to work out the connection (I failed miserably I should add) between the Jack the Ripper crimes in Whitechapel 1988 and the crimes committed in Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015, how the hell could the two connect? I thought I had a fairly vivid imagination where crime thrillers are concerned, but I couldn’t even begin to figure out where this book was heading. I should mention that this book does contain some pretty gruesome and disturbing scenes, but as it’s a crime thriller they are very much part of the plot.

Johana Gustawsson has an incredible knack of writing in such a descriptive way that it doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the images she writes about, from the poverty stricken Whitechapel, to the gruesome crime scenes that sent shivers down my spine you can’t but help but become immersed in her writing. Without a doubt the author has created a dark and unsettling read, Johana Gustawsson has such a vivid and creative imagination she takes you to the darkest places, explores the most gruesome crimes and then brings all the elements together to create one of the best crime thrillers I’ve read this year. I really can’t wait to see where the twisted imagination of the new Queen Of French noir takes her readers next. Highly, highly recommended, and yes this compelling crime thriller will be on my top reads of 2018 without a shadow of a doubt.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving Keeper the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page and plus this one gave me a #Major #BookHangover something I don’t suffer with very often!

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Buyinng links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 276 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (15 Feb. 2018)

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Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of Keeper in exchange for an unbiased review and also for the opportunity to take part in this fabulous blog tour.

 

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Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza #MustReads2018 @RobertBryndza @Bookouture

 

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Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a HUGE fan of crime author Robert Bryndza, and that my reviews for his Erika Foster series can be a tad over enthusiastic to say the least 😂. So you can imagine my excitement when I received an ARC of Deadly Secrets the sixth book in this series. Before I share my review here’s the book description….

Book description

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.

On an icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

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Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza is the sixth book in the Erika Foster crime series, at this point in a crime series I find it’s sometimes the pivotal book, in other words the book where my love affair with a series ends. I read so many books that I just haven’t got the time to invest in a series that’s lost it’s lustre, but fortunately once again Robert Bryndza has written another fabulous and worthy addition to the Detective Erika Foster series, and yes I loved every damn page of this unmissable crime thriller.

One thing I will say for Robert Bryndza he certainly knows how to write an opening chapter that is guaranteed to pull the reader in, if I mention a blood-soaked body frozen to the ground you will get my drift. From the off you enter the dark and disturbing world of a chilling killer, whose MO is unusual to say the least! But then I expected nothing less, the author has such a vivid imagination I just knew he would come up with something disturbing and spine chilling.

Deadly Secrets isn’t as fast paced as some of the previous books in the series, but don’t let that put you off, as the author still manages to deliver a cracking crime thriller that is both gripping and multi layered. Erika Foster is probably one of my favourite fictional Detectives and her character has grown as the series has progressed, but this book delves more into Erika’s character than ever before, the reader is privy to her struggles as a detective, family member and as a woman of a certain age, which give her character an air of credibility very often lacking in fictional detectives.

Delivered in short snappy chapters Deadly Secrets is one you need to read with no interruptions, not because the plot is so complex that you need to concentrate, it’s just so darn good you just want to read it in one “do not interrupt” deliciously satisfying sitting. Deadly Secrets is layered in lies, deception, and obsession, and as always Robert Bryndza writes in such away you are lured into his stories with a devilishly twisted plot and writing that engages the reader from the start.

I must congratulate the author I can pretty much sniff out a twist before it happens, but no not this time, I’m sure my jaw hit the ground when I reached this point in the book, it was definitely an “OMG” moment but so cleverly done. I may have mentioned this before but the reason I love this series so much is the author’s ability to make each book completely different, so the series doesn’t feel like “the same old”, and just in case you haven’t already guessed I would highly recommend Deadly Secrets to anyone and everyone who enjoys a dark and suspense filled read.

Pre-order links:       Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 270 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (13 April 2018)

Link to other books in this series

 

Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner #Unsub2 @DuttonBooks @MegGardiner1 #MustReads

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Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, especially after reading the first book in this crime series Unsub, which by the way is already on my top reads of 2018. Before I share my review I would like to say thank you to fellow book blogger Janel who blogs over at the fabulous https://keeperofpages.wordpress.com/ (if you don’t already follow her blog it’s a MUST) for her overwhelming generosity in sending me her copy of Into The Black Nowhere, just because she knew how much I loved Unsub. Before I share my review here’s the book description to whet your appetite…….

Book description

Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, an exhilarating thriller in which FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer

In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

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Into The Black Nowhere opens with the chilling and shocking disappearance of mother Shana, and from there on in Meg Gardiner keeps the reader in her clutches. Into The Black Nowhere is the second book in the Unsub and although it could be read as a standalone I would urge you to start at the beginning as it has all the hallmarks of an unmissable crime series. I’m not going to rehash the plot as pretty much all you need to know is in the detailed book description, suffice to say Caitlin Hendrix is back and now working as an FBI Profiler tracking the Saturday Night Killer in Austin, Texas, where women keep disappearing. Caitlin with the help of a legendary FBI profiler piece together a profile that will lead them to focus on one particular suspect.

Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, Meg Gardiner manages to create a serial killer who is charming, confident, and yet is merciless when it comes to his victims, very much in keeping with Ted Bundy’s MO this fact alone makes the killer all the more credible which in turn made this book all the more chilling to read. Caitlin is a character who intrigues me, a character with many sides she’s committed to her job, but you sense a darker side to her character which I hope the author explores further at some point.

Although not as fast paced or as heart pounding as Unsub, which is partly due to the fact the killers identity is revealed fairly early on in the book, Into The Black Nowhere has its own merits the author ramps up the tension tenfold with a game of cat and mouse between Caitlin and the killer, making this a very worthy addition to the series. If anything the change in pace and direction actually make you more excited about the Unsub series, as you aren’t sure which direction the author will take with the next book in the series.

Unlike most crime thrillers Into The Black Nowhere stands out because the focus is on profiling rather than police procedures. It’s a subject that really intrigues me, and Meg Gardiner’s impeccable detailed explanations regarding profiling integrated with a suspense filled plot with believable characters make this one of the best crime thriller books I’ve read this year, and I’m already excited to see where the author takes the Unsub series next. Highly recommended.

Buying links :   Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: Dutton Books (30 Jan. 2018)

 

The Fear by C.L. Taylor #BookReview #Mustreads2018 @AvonBooksUK @callytaylor

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If you are looking for a dark and twisted thriller, I may just have the book for you. The Fear by C.L.Taylor was published by Avon on the 22nd March 2018, read on for my thoughts…

Book description

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

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There are a handful of authors books I would happily pick up without reading the book description and C.L. Taylor is one of them, she has the ability to turn a well used subject in fiction and turn it into the most twisted and extraordinary tale. The Fear is no different, Shocking, compelling, fraught with tension and guaranteed to keep you turning the pages as if your life depended on it.

Anyone who is a parent with a teenage girl will immediately be struck by a sense of unease when they pick up this book as it deals with the uncomfortable subject of a grooming, although it’s very much part of the plot it never felt unjustified and the author shows a great deal of sympathy and understanding towards the victims. Told from three POV Lou, teenager Chloe and the mysterious Wendy the author has an uncanny knack of breathing life into her characters so much so you feel their emotions and their pain but most importantly they are very credible. Lou and Chloe both take the same path, and “fall in love” with a predator, they are each at different points in their life, and yet they still share so many of the same emotions guilt, hatred and fear to name but a few.

Another character who deserves a mention is Mike how I detested him, he literally made my skin crawl. Poor Lou and Chloe both starved of affection and desperate for attention as children made them the perfect “victims” for Mike. It makes you realise how driven and manipulating pedophiles are in their pursuit of their prey, and how vulnerable girls are drawn into harmful relationships. What made this book an original read were the different characters perspectives of their relationship with Mike and the exploration of the after-mass of such damaging relationships and the complex emotions involved.

The second half of the book takes an ominous turn and I’m sure some readers may find this part of the book “far fetched” I just thought “who knows what we would do if we found ourself in a similar dilemma” so I was happy to go along with the direction C.L. Taylor took The Fear. The telling of Lou and Chloe’s story is imaginative, compelling and shocking, it’s a story that those who enjoy a book with moral dilemmas will find thought provoking, but at the same time a highly engrossing read. Highly recommended.

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Avon (22 Mar. 2018)

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Where The Missing Go by Emma Rowley #BookReview @orionbooks @BenWillisUK @emma_rowley #MustReads2018

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Today I’m delighted  to be sharing my review for Where The Missing Go by Emma Rowley, and what a fabulous and surprising read it turned out to be.

Book description

MY NAME IS KATE.

I volunteer at a missing persons helpline – young people who have run away from home call me and I pass on messages to their loved ones, no questions asked.

I don’t get many phone calls, and those I do are usually short and vague, or pranks.

But this evening a girl named Sophie called.

I’m supposed to contact her parents to let them know their child is safe.

The problem is, Sophie isn’t safe.

AND SOPHIE IS MY DAUGHTER.

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Picking up up a new book is rather like opening a box of chocolates you never know what you are going to get until you sink your teeth it to it, sometime you are left feeling disappointed and yet other times you find the perfect combination and it leaves you wanting more, rather like Where The Missing Go. What a breathtakingly brilliant psychological thriller this one turned out to be I absolutely loved every twisted page. I feel I should mention it’s Emma Rowley’s debut novel, but what an exciting new voice in the psychological thriller genre and definitely an author to watch out for in the future.

From the opening chapter I found myself instantly “rooting” for Kate to find her missing daughter Sophie, here was a woman grasping to make sense of her daughters disappearance, as a parent myself I felt her ever emotion, the constant need to find answers and her overwhelming sense of guilt, constantly questioning her abilities as a parent, something I’m sure we have all done as a parent over the years. Through out Where The Missing Go Kate’s desperation is palatable, as the reader you can’t but help becoming emotionally involved in Kate and Sophie’s story and praying for a positive outcome.

It’s not very often a character in a book consumes my every waking moment but I found myself constantly thinking about Sophie as Emma Rowley reveals snippets of the events surrounding Sophie’s disappearance. I found my imagination running wild, why did she disappear? Was there something more sinister behind her disappearance? Should I jump to the ending to find out? I never but oh the temptation was overwhelming at times. Throughout Where The Missing Go there are subtle clues and red herrings, some you may not pick up on to reach the final conclusion, personally I love it when an author is able to keep you engaged throughout and my god Emma Rowley manages this with finesse. There were a couple of “big surprises” that when I reached them I’m sure my jaw hit the floor, which certainly added to the overall tension and suspense.

There is so much I would like to say about this book, the twists, those OMG moments, the plot, see I could go on and on but in doing so I would certainly spoil the enjoyment of this read for others. This is one of those psychological thrillers that has all the elements needed to make it stand out from a saturated genre, fantastic characters, a complex and devious plot and most importantly the author leads the reader astray at ever opportunity, in case you haven’t already guessed I loved this book and I will certainly be reading the next book by the author without hesitation. Highly recommended.

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 304 pages

Publisher: Orion (8 Mar. 2018)

 

Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell #MustReads @Caroline_writes

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Hope you are all keeping safe and warm, before I head off out into the snow (I’m not looking forward to it I must admit🙈) I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell. 

Book description

Emma’s darkest secrets are buried in the past. But the truth can’t stay hidden for long.

Emma is a loving wife, a devoted mother…and an involuntary killer. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

It’s a secret that might have stayed buried if only her life had been less perfect. A promotion for Emma’s husband, Alex, means they can finally move to a bigger home with their young son. But with a buyer lined up for their old house, Emma can’t leave without destroying every last trace of her final revenge…

Returning to the shallow grave in the garden, she finds it empty. The body is gone.

Panicked, Emma confesses to her husband. But this is only the beginning. Soon, Alex will discover things about her he’ll wish he’d learned sooner. And others he’ll long to forget.

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Holy flipping moly Caroline Mitchell has only gone and written another fabulous psychological thriller that’s worthy of all the stars, it’s a MUST read. Darkly deceptive, chilling and thrilling Silent Victim has gone straight on my top reads of 2018 list. I’m a huge fan of this author I love her style of writing and her attention to detail. Whether it be crime or psychological thriller Caroline Mitchell knows how to grab the readers attention and this book is no different, from the “OMG” prologue to its nail biting conclusion I was well and truly hooked.

I do love an unreliable narrator and the author gives you two for the price of one, the story is told mostly from Luke the teachers POV and Emma a loving wife, and devoted mother, it’s shared between the past and the present. I found myself constantly looking for inconsistencies in their stories, wondering who was the more reliable of the two, which heightened the sense of unease that radiated from the pages. Reading the chapters from teacher Luke’s POV made my blood run cold, not because they were graphic, but because they give an insight into the mind of a deviant predator. As for Emma she’s one mixed up lady as the plot gains momentum Emma’s life seems to spiral out of control. Either Luke or Emma is lying and Caroline Mitchell weaves one hell of a tangled web you really don’t know who to trust.

I’m not going to go into plot details as all you need to know is in the book description, it’s really one of those books where the less you know the more thrilling the ride. I must mention I was tempted to read the last chapter at one point as I was desperate to see where the plot was leading, I never ever do this but the more I read the more anxious I became to find out the truth. Caroline Mitchell takes familiar themes such as betrayal, infatuation, and manipulation, but like any good author she works her magic to provide the reader with a highly original and gripping psychological thriller that will literally keep you on the edge of your seat. Would I recommend this book? Yes without a shadow of doubt especially if you enjoy a psychological thriller that’s very twisted.

P.S Thank you to Caroline Mitchell for naming a character in Silent Victim after me, and also for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Print Length: 325 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (1 Mar. 2018)