Tag Archives: Must reads 2019

The book review café book of the month **November 2019**

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Can you believe it’s the second day of December? As I’m growing older the years seem to be getting shorter or is it just me? As anyone who follows my blog will know I’m not a fan of winter, but I do love Christmas and the build up to it, so it’s the only month I don’t mind the darker nights, anyway is digressing here!

Today is my final book of the month for this year, later this month I will be sharing my books (not in a million years could I choose just one book) of the year post, that’s if I can compile a list without having a major meltdown, I have read so many amazing books this year, it’s going to be difficult to compile a top reads list, but I will give it my best 😂.

Anyway a big round of applause to myself…..I kept my pledge and have only chosen one book every month this year, in previous years I’ve had two or even three top books of the month, and yes once again I have ONE book of the month, go me!

How do I choose my book  of the month?

I go for a book that I find 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.

So without further ado here’s my book of the month for November and it’s a Cracker………

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

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I loved the Erika Forster series but Dark Elms takes the authors writing to a whole new level of amazing. Dark Elms ticks all the boxes for me it’s dark, gory (I grimaced at more than a couple of the authors descriptive crime scenes) and features a serial killer who will send shivers down your spine, if Hannibal Lecter gave you nightmares, be prepared for a few disturbed nights! you can read my full review here……..Nine Elms by @robertbryndza @LittleBrownUK @BooksSphere #NineElms #MustReads #BookHangoverAward

Highly recommended

You can read my full reviews here……A Dark matter by Doug Johnstone (Skelfs #1) #BookReview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir

First Blood by Angela Marsons #BookReview @WriteAngie @Bookouture #BreakingNews #TeamKimStone #FirstBlood #Surprise

Violet by SJI Holliday #BookReview @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks #Violet #BookHangoverAward

Books I’m hoping to read in December

I’m hoping to start making a dent in my January 2020 ARC’s, I live in hope 😂😂

And tomorrow I will be revealing my new Christmas feature, which I’m so excited about, but until tomorrow my lips are sealed 🤐, excuse the pun but it’s a cracker.

Thats it for now folks and don’t forget to check out my books of the year post later in December.

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Violet by SJI Holliday #BookReview @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks #Violet #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m sharing my review for Violet by SJI Holliday, Violet is published by the fabulous Orenda Books. What I love about this publishers books is the fact no two books are the same or even similar in plot. Read on for my thoughts about Violet but first the book description…….

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When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, an intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending … a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

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Oh, how I loved Violet by SJI Holliday, what an intense, psychological thriller this novel turned out to be. Sometimes strangers come into our life’s, and it seems like fate, they become friends, a confidant, someone who we will feel better for knowing,  this appears to be the case for Violet and Carrie when they meet by chance in a Beijing Hotel. On impulse Carrie invites Violet to take the place of her friend and accompany her on the Trans-Siberian Express. The more sensible amongst us would think twice, after all you have to take a stranger at face value, how do we  know they are who they say they are? they could be an axe murderer or drug trafficker, but both girls are young, living for the moment, the worlds their oyster and where we perceive danger they see adventure! So we the reader accompany them on their journey aboard the Trans Siberian Express, a journey that darkens with every country that passes. 

This story tale is narrated from Violets POV, the ‘wary’ part of me immediately went on high alert, there was something about Violets story that set alarm bells ringing, her story seemed to have a lot of holes, she skirts certain subjects, and there was always a niggling feeling that she was keeping something back, she came across as being very intense and a little bit creepy. There are also sporadic emails from Carrie sent to her best friend Laura, she shares her inner thoughts and feelings, these could easily be dismissed as ramblings but it’s only later you realise there importance. SJL Halliday expertly allows each of her characters to raise suspicion in the reader’s head, whose telling the truth? Violet? Carrie? Or neither? 

The parent in me wanted to shake Violet and Carrie so intent are they at ‘having the time of their life’ they take unnecessary risks with their own safety, drugs, drink, talking to strangers, but maybe all the time danger lays much close to home!  To begin with Violet and Carrie’s new found friendship seems to thrive, but as their journey progresses, it turns into something much more intense, it begins to feel uncomfortable, it’s a friendship that’s based on manipulation and obsession, it’s one that’s toxic in its making, this adds a darkness to the story, along with a growing sense of dread. 

The attention to detail in this book is evident, SJI Holliday writes in such a descriptive way, it’s easy to conjure up images of the country’s the two girls visit, the atmosphere, the train journey, and the people they meet along the way. There are so many psychological thrillers on the market, it’s difficult to find one that stands out from the crowd, but Violet does just that, and for all the right reasons it’s deliciously dark, slightly creepy, with unreliable characters. It’s a book that will keep you guessing until the devious author decides to reveal all. Exquisitely written, Violet makes for an all-consuming read, one that begs to be read in one hugely satisfying sitting. Highly recommended 

Yes you’ve guessed it I’m giving Violet my shiny Book hangover award, 

What criteria does a book need to meet to win this award?

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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  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (14 Sept. 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

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The book review café’s **book(s) of the month** September/October

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Can you believe we’re in November already? Where has the year gone? It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago I was sunning myself in warmer climates. I’m not a winter person in fact I hate this time of year, the dark nights, cold, wet and miserable (a bit like myself😂). I do love Christmas though and have an extra special  feature running through December, which I’m really excited about but for now my lips are sealed 🤐.

I’m digressing here the whole point of this post is to share my book of the month with you, the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed I didn’t post one in September, so I have cheated and combined two months September and October books. I can’t believe I’ve managed to get to November and haven’t broke my pledge…….to choose only one book a month. Yes I have two books  this month BUT they are for September and October so I’m still keeping to my side of the bargain 😂🙈

How do I choose my book  of the month?

I go for a book that I find 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.

So without further ado here’s my book of the month for September and October…….

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

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The tension that reverberates through Blood Song never looses momentum, each short chapter leaves you craving more, urging you on to its conclusion. This book has so much to offer the reader, with a gripping plot, moments of heartbreak, vivid scenes, and characters that will remain with you long after you’ve reached the final pages. With themes of fertility, child abductions, and child abuse the author has created a dark and disquieting story, and one that spans years of violence and abuse.  Blood Song is a ‘must read’ for any crime thriller love, and although it could easily be read as a stand-alone I would suggest you read the series in order you won’t be disappointed I promise. Highly recommended. You can read my full review here………Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael J Malone

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The the author has taken a brave decision, in writing a book that explores a taboo subject matter, that’s seldom discussed so fixed is the stigma attached to this subject. In some author’s hands this would have just made for a shocking read, but Malone strikes the right balance and has produced a masterpiece, it’s subtle, sensitivity written, wrought with emotion and has to be one of my most captivating, heartbreaking reads EVER! Michael Malone is one of those rare author who appears to be able to write in any genre and turn what could be an interesting read, into something extra special, definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time to come. In The Absence Of Miracles is certainly a contender for my book of the year and one I will be recommending to anybody and everybody. You can read my full review here….In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone @OrendaBooks #BookReview #MustReads #BookHangoverAward

Highly recommended

Full reviews can be found here……..

The Lost Ones by Anita Frank #BookReview @Ajes74 @HQstories #HalloweenRead

The Family by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @HQStories @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #BookReview #WelcomeToTheFamily

Here To Stay by Mark Edwards #HereToStay #BookReview @mredwards @AmazonPub #MustRead

Gone by Leona Deakin #BookReview #Gone @LeonaDeakin1 @HJ_Barnes @PenguinUKBooks #MustReads

THE JULY GIRLS BY PHOEBE LOCKE @PHOEBE_LOCKE @WILDFIREBKS #REVIEW #TheJulyGirls #SummerMustReads #BookHangoverAward

Nine Elms by @robertbryndza @LittleBrownUK @BooksSphere #NineElms #MustReads #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m over the moon to be sharing my review for one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza. Nine Elms is the first in a brand new crime series and I have a feeling this book is going to be a huge hit with crime thriller lovers. Before I share my review here’s the book description……..

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A DETECTIVE WHO WOULD STOP AT NOTHING

Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and with a keen sense of justice, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

UNTIL A KILLER STOPPED HER IN HER TRACKS

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her sharp instincts couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

NOW, HE’S BACK FOR MORE

Sixteen years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

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**This review does includes a health warning**

Robert Bryndza is a danger to my health, that’s a fact! I read Nine Elms the first instalment in a brand spanking new crime series, whilst on holiday in Greece. I became so engrossed whilst reading it I forgot to reapply my sun tan lotion and ended up with slightly sunburnt legs! Very painful let me tell you! Was Dark Elms worth a restless and uncomfortable nights sleep because of my burnt legs? You bet it was! I loved the Erika Forster series but Dark Elms takes the authors writing to a whole new level of amazing. Dark Elms ticks all the boxes for me it’s dark, gory (I grimaced at more than a couple of the authors descriptive crime scenes) and features a serial killer who will send shivers down your spine, if Hannibal Lecter gave you nightmares, be prepared for a few disturbed nights! 

I’m sure lovers of the Erika Forster series will be wondering how the author could top this series, rest assured if Nine Elms is anything to go by, this will be a hell of a series. I instantly connected with Kate, the complexity of her characters lies deeply seated in her dreadful past, there’s an air of fragility about her, but at the same time she is determined not to let her past define her, which is easier said than done especially when her past comes back to haunt her in the most horrifying way.

Luckily for Kate she has a cast of supportive and very likeable characters to help her on her journey. As for the serial killer, there perfectly depicted, chilling, cunning and yet you can’t help but become drawn into their backstory story, its one that’s original and disturbing to say the least. As to their killing techniques Robert Bryndaza, has come up with something stomach churning (best read on an empty stomach) Without giving too much away the killer in question is surrounded by evil forces, who tap into their disturbed psyche, urging them on to commit even more horrific crimes. These evil people are in need of serious therapy,  but such a brilliant combination. I won’t deny I found them fascinating, but at the same time I felt sickened by their behaviour. 

I really liked the fact that Nine Elms isn’t a regular police procedural novel, Kate has the skill set of a police detective but isn’t hindered by procedures or led by rules and regulations, so she’s more likely to bend the rules making her unpredictable. At every turn of the page Nine Elms crackles with apprehension and a growing sense of dread, it’s a fast-paced, exhilarating read that I found impossible to put down even for a few minutes. Robert Bryndza can transport the reader to the crime scenes with vivid descriptions, that make you realise just how depraved the killer is, although some scenes are stomach churning, they never felt superfluous. Once again Robert Bryndza has confirmed why he is one of my favourite crime thriller authors EVER, Nine Elms is a cracking book and an exciting start to a compelling new series, I’m definitely looking forward to the next book and the one after that….. Highly recommend to all crime thriller lovers.

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And yes in case you hadn’t already guessed I’m giving Nine Elms my shiny Book hangover award, 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.

 

  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (1 Nov. 2019)

Buying links:

The hardback will be released Tuesday 5th November 2019 in the US and on Thursday 16th January in the UK. 

Amazon UK Kindle Edition

UK Hardback Edition

Amazon USA Kindle Edition

USA Paperback Edition

USA Hardback Edition

Kobo Ebook

iBooks Ebook

Google Play Ebook

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The Lost Ones by Anita Frank #BookReview @Ajes74 @HQstories #HalloweenRead

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Happy Halloween to all my followers 👻🎃🧙‍♀️ Today I’m reviewing the perfect read for Halloween The Lost Ones by Anita Frank. I was looking for a book to read that was a little bit different from my normal crime thriller read, and thankfully I spotted The Lost Ones by Anita Frank, part historical fiction and part ghost story, this book sounded the perfect read  with Halloween approaching. It’s published today so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy. First the book description….

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Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.

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The Lost Ones is the exquisite debut novel from Anita Frank, it’s a historical, gothic novel, that’s haunting and steeped in atmosphere. Set in the latter days of the First World War Stella Marcham returns from the battlefields of France a broken woman following the recent death of her fiancé. Whilst recovering Her brother-in-law asks her to travel to Greyswick Hall, (along with her maid Annie Burrows), to keep her pregnant sister Madeleine company. On arriving at the imposing Greyswick, Stella realises all is not as it should be. Madeleine is far from ‘blooming’, she appears apprehensive and terrified, she believes she can hear a child crying at night, but how can that be? When no child lives there. Stella experiences what can only described as supernatural incidents and she finds herself convinced the house is haunted. 

Greyswick is a house that bears many secrets, they are as much the fabric of the house as the bricks and mortar.  As we step into Greyswick alongside Stella, the house immediately feels claustrophobic, a growing sense of creepiness wraps itself around you, and the tale grows darker in tone. This isn’t a “jump out your skin” ghost story, it’s much more subtle, it’s more like a classical ghost story, never-less it’s creepy, intense with a very dark, horrifying tale at its core. 

The author has created well-drawn characters, especially  ‘plucky’ Stella and her ‘creepy’ maid Annie, despite their different upbringings and class, there’s a tie that binds the two. Stella with the aid of Annie investigate the strange events, are the ghostly occurrences caused by malevolent spirts looking for justice or retribution? Or is there something more sinister behind the occurrences? The second part of the book was the part I enjoyed the most, it’s here the story takes a menacing turn, shocking revelations come to light, and Anita Frank deftly weaves the threads of The Lost Ones together. The Lost Ones is an emotional, haunting mystery that I found tragic, yet compelling. I really enjoyed this book in case you haven’t already guessed, it’s definitely one I would  recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction and traditional ghost stories. 

  • Print Length: 462 pages
  • Publisher: HQ (31 Oct. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch #BookReview #BlogTour #GripLit @andrewshatch @serpentstail #ThisLittleDarkPlace

Today I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch. I’m a huge lover of psychological thrillers, but after reading so many it’s difficult to find a book in this genre that stands out, did this one hit the mark? Read on for my thoughts. 

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How well do you know your girlfriend?

How well do you know your lover?

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.

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If you decide to read This Little Dark Place by A.S. go in blind, Don’t read any reviews (apart from mine and other book bloggers on the blog tour of course, as they contain no spoilers!). I knew nothing about this book and it made the reading experience far more enjoyable as I had no idea, where the author was leading the story. It’s a story that twist and turns, with its tale of obsessive love and betrayal. This Little Dark Place is narrated by a compelling voice, it’s original, and made for a dark read.

Daniels story is narrated through a series of letters which I felt worked really well, it gives an ominous feel to the book, a feeling that grows as Daniel reveals more about his life, we learn about his closest relationships, with his mother, wife Victoria and Ruby a prison pen pal.  The letters are written to Lucy, who is the mysterious Lucy? it’s a question that is central to the plot, and will put your head in a spin as you try to fathom out her connection to Daniel. This book held so many questions, but thankfully the author slowly and deftly reveals all the answers. 

At first Daniel appears to be your ‘average’ bloke living a fairly predictable life, that some would consider to be boring, he doesn’t appear to have any dreams, or inspirations to better himself. It’s only as A. S. Hatch peels away the layers of Daniels life that you realise that here’s a character whose not without flaws. Through the letters you can’t help but feel a degree of sympathy for Daniel, your privy to his every thought and emotion, as the reader you feel Daniel is writing the letters to you, pulling you into the tangled web that his life has become, but is Daniel a reliable narrator? That’s for you to read the book to find out! When we meet Ruby I found myself constantly questioning her motives wondering just how trustworthy she was, her introduction feels ominous, and gradually builds until I found myself holding my breath in anticipation. 

This Little Dark Place is a relatively short read at 283 pages, but sometimes the ‘best reads come in small packages’ and this book proves that. Like many psychological thrillers the story is very much character led, so at times the pace is much slower, not that it matters as the author slowly draws you into a well drawn, captivating read. I loved the fact that every time I thought I knew where the story was heading A. S. Hatch misled me at every turn. The author has written an exciting psychological thriller, it’s original in its writing, with an  unreliable narrator and more than enough surprises to keep the most avid psychological thriller lover entertained. Highly recommended by me of course! 

  • Print Length: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent’s Tail; Main edition (10 Sept. 2019)

Buying link:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to Serpent’s Tail and the author for my ARC in exchange for a honest and unbiased review. 

About the author

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A.S. Hatch grew up in Thornton-Cleveleys, a small town near Blackpool. After graduating in 2007 with a degree in journalism he moved to Taipei, Taiwan where he taught English as a foreign language for two years before moving to Melbourne, Australia. Andrew returned to the UK in 2013 and now lives in London where he works in political communications.

He began writing fiction at university. His novel Los Gigantes was shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Prize in 2013 and his short story Flies was chosen by WyrdBooks Ltd as their short story of the month in October 2012.

Catch up with the blog tour…….

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Here To Stay by Mark Edwards #HereToStay #BookReview @mredwards @AmazonPub #MustRead

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After spending two weeks in glorious Rhodes, I think I’ve had the holiday blues, and left my reading mojo on a beach somewhere in Greece. I’ve picked books up, read a chapter, and put them back down again! Not good when you run a book blog that mostly relies on reviews to keep it going! Thankfully as I scrolled through my kindle I spotted the recently published Psychological thriller Here To Stay by Mark Edwards. Did Here To Stay help me find my lost reading mojo?  Read on to find out, but first the book description……

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A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.

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Once again Mark Edwards has written a scarily believable book, for me the authors strength lies in his ability to take the must ordinarily situations and turns them into something extraordinary, something horrifying, something chilling, but they make for the most brilliant reads. Here To Stay is the perfect example, in-laws moving in with you for a couple of weeks, ‘where’s the harm in that’? You might think but however much you love your in-laws I guarantee you will think twice or ban them from overnight visits for ever after reading this book! 

Elliot appears to have the perfect life. He runs a successful business teaching science to underprivileged children, married to Gemma Robinson who he adores. But when life appears to be perfect, there’s always a chance that fate will throw a curve ball, and that once perfect life becomes a distance memory. Everything changes for Elliot when he agrees to let Gemma’s parents stay for a few of weeks, unfortunately for Elliot his in-laws are the curve ball that turn his perfect life into his worse nightmare! 

The Robinsons what a family! Perfectly depicted by the author. At first they appear slightly odd, crass, bordering on the annoying, but within a few of chapters of being introduced to them, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up! It turns out the Robinson’s are the in-laws from hell, their conniving, secretive, parasites, and despicable. There’s something strange about the family, their behaviour, their actions and reactions all hint at the fact the family are hiding some terrible secret.  

Mark Edwards teases the reader, just revealing enough to leave the reader feeling an overwhelming sense of trepidation that is palatable throughout Here To Stay, you know something dreadful will happen, but what? Well, let’s just say you will race through the pages to find out! As the animosity and tension between Elliot and his in-laws increases I found my intense dislike of the Robinson family growing by the second, at the same time I had a great deal of sympathy for poor Elliot, a man who’s pushed to the limits by his in-laws behaviour. 

By the time I got to the second half of Here To Stay my nerves were frazzled, as the plot progresses Elliot’s home becomes a smouldering pot of mistrust, resentment and paranoia. As Elliot tries to take back control of his life and his home, the story takes an ominous turn, at this point I was reluctant to put this book down even for a few minutes. Like any good psychological thriller Here To Stay has more than its fair share of twist and turns, some are more obvious than others, but there were still enough surprises to keep me captivated. As psychological thrillers go this has to be one of my all-time favourites this year, and thanks to Mark Edwards my reading mojo has been found, hallelujah

  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (1 Sept. 2019)

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧  Amazon US 🇺🇸

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