Tag Archives: Must Reads 2020

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd #BookReview @samlloydwrites @TransworldBooks #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Memory Wood, it’s the debut novel from Sam Lloyd, but first here’s the book description.

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Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

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When I read a book it normally falls into two categories, books I’ve really enjoyed, and then there’s the rare gem, it’s a book that finds its way into my my heart, a book that lingers in my thoughts long after I’ve reached the last page, a book that evokes many emotions, The Memory Wood is one such book. The debut novel from Sam Lloyd is a book that I would describe as ‘creepily atmospheric, unforgettable, a horrifying account of child abduction. Beautifully told, the author has written a book that reads like the darkest fairytale, where monsters roam the woods, and evil lurks. This isn’t your ‘run of the mill’ child abduction story by any means there’s so much more to the plot than you can ever imagine. 

The story is mostly told from three perspectives, Elissa an abducted 13 year old, who finds herself shackled, abused, neglected and held captive in the ‘gingerbread house’ a deserted cottage in the woods. Elijah, a boy who finds Elissa in the cellar, he’s her only hope for survival, but is he trustworthy, or is there something far more sinister at play? Then there’s Mairead a detective, whose determined to bring Elissa home, but to what cost? The characters are so well drawn they leap from the pages. The relationship between Elissa and Elijah captivated me, on one hand you have Elissa brave, defiant, clever and  resourceful and then you have Elijah, who appears immature, and naive, their friendship is one built on mistrust and deception. 

The authors vivid descriptors bring the The Memory Wood and the gingerbread house to life, creating an atmosphere that’s both sinister and ominous. I swear I could smell the damp cloying earth, feel the dark and the cold, and sense the evil and dark aura that surrounds her abductor. At first I made assumptions about Elissa’s captor, but any such thoughts were soon turned on there head, as the author deftly reveals more details, each turn is more twisted, and shocking in its delivery.  I expected The Memory Wood to be a disturbing read, after all the plot is based on a child’s abduction,  what I wasn’t expecting was a read that was harrowing, and ultimately heartbreaking, I must admit I finished this book with a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat. Sam Lloyd has written a book that’s compelling, and one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended.

And yes in case you hadn’t already guessed I’m giving The Memory Wood 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.

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  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (20 Feb. 2020)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Please note this book was bought by myself, and not given to me by the publishers.

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Killing Pretties by Rob Ashman #BookReview @RobAshmanAuthor @BOTBSPublicity #BlogTour 

Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers taking part in Killing Pretties by Rob Ashman blog tour. If you are a fan of the authors this is probably his darkest book yet, and you are going to love it. If Rob Ashman is a new author to you and you enjoy a dark gritty crime thriller then look no further.  Before I share my review here’s the book description…..

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Detective Sergeant Khenan Malice is a rubbish ex-husband, a crap father but a damned good detective. It’s a shame he spoils his only redeeming quality by being a bent copper.

Detective Kelly Pietersen joins the team to help find a missing woman. But Kelly has a secret…

Damien Kaplan is a leading criminal barrister and a keen amateur potter. He also happens to be a serial killer with a chilling approach to creating his art. He’s married to Elsa, though she considers him more of a possession than a husband. She controls those around her using sex and procures men and women for her husband to play with but only after she’s finished with them first.

Killing Pretties is his passion, having sex with them is hers. It is difficult to say which one is worse.

The missing woman brings all four crashing together – an incendiary mix that doesn’t end well.

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’OMFG’ God The ‘king’ of twisted crime thrillers is back! Rob Ashman is one of my ‘turn to authors’ when I’m looking to read a dark crime thriller and Killing Pretties is unquestionably his darkest book yet! The authors latest heart thumping crime thriller has all the elements I enjoy, a protagonist whose beyond twisted, gory crime scenes, a tense plot, and a style of writing that is sharp and to the point. The authors draws the reader in with a shocking opening chapter, that’s full of promise and sets the dark tone of the book. The good news is this is a brand new series featuring DS Malice, so there’s no backlog of books to catch up on. 

There’s no need for me to give a recap on the plot, as the book description pretty much covers it, so let’s move on to the characters, starting with Detective Sergeant Khenan Malice. I have a feeling Malice is a character reader’s will have a love hate relationship with,  he wouldn’t win a father or husband of the year award, he’s considered to be a good Detective but he’s also bent. Normally in a crime thriller Detectives are sterotyped, ‘the conventional good guys’, so it makes a change to have a character who will freely cross the line, it means that Malice is unreliable, and unpredictable. 

The author takes a bold step and reveals the serial killer Damien Kaplan from the off, and ‘oh my giddy aunt’ twisted doesn’t even cover it! Sick, depraved, and warped spring to mind. Kaplan is enigma on one hand he’s smart, funny, clever and  sought after crime barrister, and then there’s the dark side of his character. He has a disturbing relationship with his wife Elsa, let’s just say it’s a ‘match made in hell’, a relationship that reminded me of the infamous Rose and Fred West, spine chilling to say the least! The nature of this book made for an uncomfortable read, and yet at the same time I read on with morbid curiosity, I’m a sucker for a well depicted serial killer! Killing Pretties is fast-paced, gruesome, and shocking, there are so many ‘OMFG’ moments that I’m sure I read most of the book with my mouth open! 

Thank god for Rob Ashman’s twisted imagination, he has such a vivid and dare I say fertile imagination I do wonder how he manages to sleep at night!  No one can ever say his books are ‘boring’ that’s for sure! This isn’t a book that I would recommend to those of a nervous disposition, as there are sexual scenes (although not in the romantic sense) included. But if you aren’t averse to a dark crime thriller with blood and guts, and you enjoy a dark, twisted read then it’s one I would happily encourage you to buy.

  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to a Rob Ashman and Sarah Hardy for an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the author

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Rob is married to Karen with two grown up daughters. He is originally from South Wales and after moving around with work settled in North Lincolnshire where he’s spent the last twenty-two years.
Like all good welsh valley boys Rob worked for the National Coal Board after leaving school at sixteen and went to University at the tender age of twenty-three when the pit closures began to bite. Since then he’s worked in a variety of manufacturing and consulting roles both in the UK and abroad.

It took Rob twenty-four years to write his first book. He only became serious about writing it when his dad got cancer. It was an aggressive illness and Rob gave up work for three months to look after him and his mum. Writing Those That Remain became his coping mechanism. After he wrote the book his family 
encouraged him to continue, so not being one for half measures, Rob got himself made redundant, went self-employed so he could devote more time to writing and four years later the Mechanic Trilogy was the result. 

Rob published Those That RemainIn Your Name and Pay the Penance with Bloodhound Books and has since written the DI Rosalind Kray series. These are Faceless, This Little Piggy, Suspended Retribution and Jaded which are also published by Bloodhound.

His latest work sees the introduction of a new set of characters – DS Khenan Malice and DC Kelly Pietersen. The first book in the series is titled Killing Pretties and the second is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Lies. Both books will be published this year.

When he is not writing, Rob is a frustrated chef with a liking for beer and prosecco, and is known for occasional outbreaks of dancing.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Ashman-Author-1428800800468097/

Website: http://robashman.com/

Twitter: @RobAshmanAuthor

**********

Sarah Hardy

Book On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo
Twitter: @BOTBSPublicity

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The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel #BookReview @amyengle @niamh_anderson @HodderFiction #AuthorInterview #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Familiar Dark by Amy Engle. If you enjoyed the authors debut novel The Ronake Girls, then you definitely need to read this one. I’m also sharing an author interview that Amy kindly agreed too.

Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description.

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‘In other places, the murder of two little girls would have blanketed the entire town in horror. Here, it was just another bad day.’

Eve Taggert’s life has been spent steadily climbing away from her roots. Her mother, a hard and cruel woman who dragged her up in a rundown trailer park, was not who she wanted to be to her own daughter, Junie.

But 12-year old Junie is now dead. Found next to the body of her best friend in the park of their small, broken town. Eve has nothing left but who she used to be.

Despite the corrupt police force that patrol her dirt-poor town deep in the Missouri Ozarks, Eve is going to find what happened to her daughter. Even if it means using her own mother’s cruel brand of strength to unearth secrets that don’t want to be discovered and face truths it might be better not to know.

Everyone is a suspect.

Everyone has something to hide.

And someone will answer for her daughter’s murder.

From the bestselling author of The Roanoke Girls, The Familiar Dark is a spellbinding story about the bonds of family as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home. The Familiar Dark will blow you away.

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The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel opens with an unusual start to this harrowing tale, it begins at ‘the end’, it’s a powerful and haunting start to the book, and leaves the reader in no doubt that it will not be a ‘happy ever after’ kind of read. The authors poetic prose seem almost at odds with this stark plot, that features drug abuse, rural town poverty and abuse, and yet the two blend perfectly together creating a spellbinding story about the complexities of family relationships, and how even the most dysfunctional families can pull together in the face of adversary.

Set in the small rundown down town of Barren Springs in the Missouri Ozarks, tells the heartbreaking and brutal story of Eve, a young mother whose daughter is one of two 12-year-old girls found murdered in the towns dilapidated park.  The only way Eve can stop herself drowning in grief is to seek vengeance for her daughter’s Junie’s murder, a path that leads Eve to the town’s seedy criminal underbelly. A path that will open up old childhood wounds, as Eva’s own traumatic past comes back to haunt her. Eve’s relationship with her mother is based on neglect and abuse, she’s always been determined  to become her mother’s daughter, but without Junie, and with vengeance firmly on her mind, Eve finds that she is more like her mother than she cares to admit. 

The author vividly describes the experience of growing up in Barren Springs, a dirt poor town, where people live in trailers, patched up with tape, it’s town people are mostly drug addicts, and people live hand to mouth, living for their next fix of crystal meths and heroin. The town is as much a character as Eve. The town feels claustrophobic, seedy, and unclean, it’s a town everyone wants to escape from, but poverty and addiction keeps them in its clutches, it’s a place where the life is sucked out of you. Eve is a character that immediately finds her way into your heart, as her grief takes her through a spectrum of emotions, you feel her anger, and her pain, and her need for vengeance, these emotions are raw and intense, The relationship between Eve and her mother is a difficult one, and yet a bond is created through grief and wanting to do the right thing in the most appalling situation.

Despite its subject matter this book has a hidden depth, it explores the complexities of relationships, and dysfunctional families with sensitivity and incredible insight. Amy Engel’s visceral style of writing makes each of her novels memorable, The Familiar Dark and Eva’s tragic tale will stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. If you are looking for the ‘usual whodunnit’  then this may not be the book for you. If you enjoy a book that is very much character driven, with a dark heart then look no further. Highly recommend.

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (31 Mar. 2020)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Hi Amy I’m thrilled to welcome you to the book review café. The Familiar Dark revolves around such a difficult subject matter – a mother grieving for her daughter, lost in the worst of circumstances. As a mother yourself, how did you find the writing process? 

I had a hard time writing this book, I’m not going to lie. My daughter is only a few years older than Junie and there were times I had to walk away from the book for hours or even days at a time. It was incredibly stressful and painful to put myself in the shoes of Eve and imagine the aftermath of losing a child, especially in such a brutal and senseless way. 

As a former criminal defence attorney from a small town, how much of what you write comes from what you have lived?

I’m actually not from a small town; I was born in Lawrence, Kansas, but lived the vast majority of my childhood and adult life in cities. But my mom was from a very small town in Kansas and her grandparents lived there until I was in college, so I spent a lot of time in that environment and it served as fodder for my previous nove, The Roanoke Girls. The Missouri Ozarks, the setting of The Familiar Dark, is also a place I’ve spent a lot of time. It’s important to me that my books be set in places I know well. I like the settings to feel almost like another character in the story. I want readers to really be able to picture the environment, even if it’s someplace they’ve never visited.

The Familiar Dark is your second adult novel, coming after your bestselling The Roanoke Girls and fantastic young adult series The Book of Ivy. Did you prefer the writing process for young adult or adult fiction?

For me, the writing process wasn’t that different between genres. I always start with characters, and that doesn’t change whether I’m writing for adults or young adults. I do think, however, that adult novels allow for a little more exploration of the dark side of life, which seems to be my wheelhouse. 

Who is your favourite author?

Stephen King, hands down. And I love Tana French, as well. And Dennis Lehane. This list could go on forever.

What are your future writing plans?

I’m working on a new novel right now. It’s dark psychological suspense set in rural Kansas and involves a woman who is serving a life sentence for the murders of her entire family when she was a teenager. 

About the author

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Amy Engel is a former criminal defence attorney living in Missouri with her family. Her debut adult novel, The Roanoke Girls, was a #1 ebook bestseller, a Richard and Judy book club pick and has sold 100,000 copies across formats to date. The Familiar Dark is her second adult novel.

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review, and my thanks to the author for her interview.

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten #BookReview @nholten40 #BlogTour @KillerReads @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity @HarperCollins #MustReads

Today I’m over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten. One of my most anticipated reads of the year, was it worth the wait?  you can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……

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The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…

They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…

But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.

Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…

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I have been impatiently awaiting Dead Wrong, the second book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series, it seems like forever since I read Dead Inside by author Noelle Holten. The author knows how to draw the reader in from the off, even more so when you realise one of Raven’s victims is named after you! I would forgive you for thinking this could sway my review, but you would be dead wrong! (See what I did there?). Personally I think Dead Wrong is even better than the first book in the series, it’s what I would describe as a ‘heart-pounding, page-turner with a dark, gritty heart’.

Raven, admitted he killed three women and is serving a life sentence for his crimes, but fast forward to present time and body parts of his said victims start turning up, so he must be innocent right? And Raven makes an appeal to the courts to be set free, so begins a nightmare for DC Maggie Jamieson’s, as she attempts to solve the case once and for all. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a crime thriller that features a chilling but intriguing serial killer, and Raven is one such character, he lacks remorse, he’s callous, a master of manipulation, and a pathological liar. The heart of the plot focuses on Raven toying with Maggie, is he lying? Or is he mentally ill? Was he coerced by Maggie, admitting to crimes he didn’t commit? So many questions, but for those of us who love playing the amateur detective, it’s the perfect crime read to get those brain cells working. 

Hallelujah! DC Maggie Jamieson isn’t your standard stereotype you often find in a crime thriller, she’s not an alcoholic, nor is her character bogged down by personal problems or a shady past which makes a refreshing change. That doesn’t mean Maggie lacks depth, on the contrary her character is continuing to develop, she’s relentless in her pursuit for the truth, committed,  and has literally no personal life, I’m sure there are a lot of DC’s who can relate to that!  It’s obvious the author has an incredible insight into the justice system and the way different agencies work together, which adds an authentic feel to the plot, I find some crime thrillers lack this vital ingredient, mostly because authors have relied heavily on research, rather than personal experiences. 

Dismembered victims turning up in pieces made for a gristly read, but these scenes are paramount to the plot, and add a profound sense of tension to the overall plot. Like any good crime thriller there are many read herrings, and well-plotted twists, and that ending! Let’s just say it will leave readers desperate for the next book in the series. Noelle Holten’s writing goes from strength to strength, her writings bold and confident, she has a vivid imagination, her plots are exciting and gripping. If ever there was someone who was born to write crime thrillers, it’s this author. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a crime thriller. 

  •  Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: One More Chapter (14 March 2020)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

About the author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast.

Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the book love via her blog. 

Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson. 

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:

Twitter: (@nholten40) https://twitter.com/nholten40

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelleholtenauthor/

Blog FB page: https://www.facebook.com/crimebookjunkie/

Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

Website: https://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk  

Bookbub Author page : https://bit.ly/2LkT4LB

My thanks to the publishers and the author my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

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The book review café book of the month **February 2020

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Whohoo March is here, and spring is in the air! (Well hopefully it is). It feels like I have spent the WHOLE winter, coughing and sneezing, and feeling generally unwell.  I’m seriously thinking of hibernating next winter!

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As usual I’m digressing but as it’s March it means it’s time to choose my book of the month for February. I read some cracking books in February, but if I’m honest the book I’ve chosen was always going to be a contender for my book of the month, and it’s already one of my top reads of the year so far.

How do I choose my book of the month?

I choose 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. So without further ado here’s my book of the month for February.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech

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Louise Beech is such an extraordinary author, she doesn’t just write a book; she gives each book a heart, a heart that gives life to her stories and her characters. I Am Dust takes you on a journey of magic and murder, love, ambition, jealousy and loss. It’s a ghost story entwined with a murder mystery, but it’s not the kind of ghost story that’s outside the realm of possibility, it’s plausible, heartbreaking, unnerving and creepy. You can read my full review here…I Am Dust by Louise Beech

Highly recommended

Full reviews can be found here…

The Other People by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #MustReads

The Guest List by Lucy Foley #BookReview #TheGuestList @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin #BookReview @Orionbooks

Liar Liar by by Mel Sherratt @writermels @AvonBooksUk #BookReview #BlogTour #LiarLiar

The Dilemma by B A Paris #BookReview @BAParisAuthor #TheDilemma @HQstories

The Murder House by Michael Wood #BookReview @MichaelHWood #CrimeFiction @0neMoreChapter_ #TeamDarke @HarperFiction #MustReads2020

Books I’m hoping to read in March

I have a couple of books to read for book blog tours, but apart from that I’m hoping to read some up and coming book releases, plus a couple of my own book shelf reads.

 

 

 

The Other People by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #MustReads

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! You can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description…

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She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

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It’s not often these days I read a book in “one sitting” but that’s what happened with The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I knew was what I read in the book description, ‘A man travels up and down the motorway, searching for a car that took his young daughter Izzy’, which meant I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! The Other People is a thriller that captured my imagination, it’s dark, very creepy, and completely gripping.

I’m not going to rehash the plot details, for me this book held so many surprises,  I would hate to spoil the read for others. Gabe is a character that I honestly felt for, he’s a man drowning in grief, after losing his daughter Izzy, his grief is palatable, as he clutches at the proverbial straw, he’s convinced he’s seen his little girl’s face in the rear window of a car. No one believes him,  but he’s determined to keep looking come hell or high water. I felt my heart pounding as Gabe’s own investigation took him into ‘danger territory’, the tension grew tenfold, my nails took a beating as I nervously bit on them in anticipation of what lay a head.

The Other People is told from multiple POV so it’s evident all the characters have a connection someway or another, all I will say ‘is the best of luck working out how they fit together’. The author moves flawlessly between the different POV, never sharing too much, so the reader is left second guessing where the plot is headed. This book has so many elements it’s Part mystery/suspense, with a hint of the supernatural, all these elements fit perfectly together creating a creepy, thought-provoking and very clever, and riveting read. 

Like other books from the author it has a supernatural element running through it, but it’s not the main focus,  but  hell the ‘ Clickety, clack’ sent shivers down my spine, and that’s all I’m saying! Some reviews I read have compared The Other People to the The Chain . I have to disagree, this book is so much better,  the story is frighteningly plausible, the tension never waivers, and the characters are far more likeable. I found I was fully immersed and totally intrigued until the very last page. A brilliant read that has more twist and turns than a roller coaster, my recommendation? Buy yourself a copy and buckle up for a hell of a ride.

  • Print Length: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Jan. 2020)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley #BookReview #TheGuestList @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for The Guest List by Lucy Foley, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this year’s hits. Read on for my thoughts but first the book description…….

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A REMOTE ISLAND. AN INVITATION TO DIE FOR.

A gripping, twisty murder mystery thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.

Past grudges.

Happy families.

Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.

One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.

One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

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Welcome to the wedding of the year.…I love a wedding, the romance, the chance to wear a new outfit and enjoy celebrating the union of two people,  but I’m so glad I didn’t receive an invitation to this wedding! No sooner have the celebrations begun, the unthinkable happens, a murder of all things! I’m not sure about you but I’ve been to some weddings that might have got a touch out of hand, but I can’t say I’ve ever attended one where there’s been a murder, so much for the ‘happy ever after’ it’s more of a case of ‘death do us part’. The Guest Party is the latest offering from Lucy Foley, and what an extremely entertaining, atmospheric murder mystery this book turned out to be.

The Guest List follows the high profile wedding of television presenter Will Slater and online magazine publisher Julia Keegan, the setting is a storm-swept island off Irish coast. The island gives the book an ominous atmosphere, it’s a bleak setting and one that’s shrouded in ghostly folklore. The story moves from the present to the past and back again. It is told from the perspective of multiple characters, this could have made the plot a muddled one, but this style of storytelling works really well I thought it added tension and mystery to the read. Like any wedding there are guests that are unpleasant, in this case it’s the ushers who are a bunch of arrogant bullies, entitled private old-public schoolboys who have a dangerous pack mentality,  not the most endearing qualities I have to say, but it’s their fears, secrets, lies and amidst the drink and drug fuelled wedding festivities which add an ominous air of impending doom.

There’s a mounting sense of unease as secrets from the past mix in a cauldron of anger, resentment, guilt and jealousy. There are a number of suspects, which made this book even more enjoyable to read, I felt like Mrs Marple as I discounted one suspect after another, although I must  admit I wasn’t surprised when the killer was unveiled. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this novel is the fact the murder victim isn’t revealed until the last few chapters, the author leads you down many a dead end, before we reach that point. The Guest List is a slow burner, but like any good author Lucy Foley uses this time to give the reader the background and dynamics of the characters, which builds on the tension and suspense.  I really enjoyed this deliciously dark murder mystery, it’s one I will definitely be recommending to fans of this genre. 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (20 Feb. 2020)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

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