The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins #BookReview @lucyatkins @quercusbooks

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Book description

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

img_1258The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins is one of those books, where you come to the end and feel a sense of loss, I loved every page, every chapter of this intricately plotted novel. Taut with tension from the off this is definitely one book that’s begs to be read in one sitting. The story centres around Olivia a high-flying TV presenter and historian, and the rather creepy Vivian Tester a socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper who becomes Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. what follows is a tale of deception, ambition and manipulation.

This book captivated me from the very first chapter and I found myself immersed in the complex tale of two very different women. Olivia and Vivian are far from likeable, they are as different as chalk and cheese, but scratch the surface and there are similarities between the pair, it’s these similarities which make them such unlikeable characters. Vivian is definitely the most despicable out of the two, she literally made my skin crawl, her obsessive, deluded and manipulative traits make her very difficult to like, but still what an intriguing character she made. 

The authors writing is beautifully descriptive and almost from the start of The Night Visitor you get a sense of foreboding, as she describes settings and the characters so convincingly. The attention to detail is impeccable whether it be the characters, setting or the description of beetles, which for me made this a hugely compelling read. As animosity between the two women bubbles away the plot began to feel very sinister, malice radiated from every page, and yet I found myself desperate to find out more about the toxic relationship between Olivia and Vivian.

The Night Visitor is very much a character led psychological thriller, it isn’t an edge-of-your-seat hardcore thriller. If you read it with that expectation, you just might be slightly disappointed. For me personally The Night Visitor made a refreshing change from the usual crime read, I found it to be a riveting and unnerving read, beautifully written with characters you won’t forget about in a hurry. I would highly recommend The Night Visitor if you are looking for a book that offers something different from the norm.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Quercus (4 May 2017)

My thanks to Linda Hill over at http://www.lindasbookbag.com for sending me her spare copy of The Night Visitor

He Said She Said by Erin Kelly #BookReview

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Book description

Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark

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When I first started reading He Said She Said by Erin Kelly I was surprised that this book had so many five stars and rave reviews , I found it to be a slow starter and the constant changing between narrator and time lines took a while to get used to, but around the 120 page mark everything clicked into place and this turned from a mediocre read into a book that actually made for an intriguing read.

At the centre of the plot are four characters whose live’s become entangled after a chance meeting during an eclipse, the story is told from two perspectives, Kit and Laura’s. After witnessing a brutal attack during an eclipse, the couple do what anyone would do if they found themselves in a similar predicament and call the police, but little do they realise life will never quite be quite the same for them again. As events unfold it soon becomes apparent that nothing is quite as it seems, the characters credibility plays a major factor in this tale, and the reader is led a merry dance to get to the truth.

I’m sure at this point I’m going to get some shocked gasps but here we go, although I enjoyed He Said She Said I did have some issues with this book. At times the plot felt drawn out and there were chapters that didn’t necessarily add anything to the read, but actually distracted from the story, if I’m honest I actually found the whole eclipse thing a bit tedious after a while, although in the authors defence I can see why it was included in relation to the plot, it just didn’t work for me.

On the positive side come the last half of He Said She Said I was pleasantly surprised at how crafty Erin Kelly had been, I don’t want to give anything away that might spoil the read for others, but suffice to say the conclusion to this book absolutely threw me, as did the surprises along the way. If I were to sum this book up I would say it’s got a great premise, a brilliant second half, but I’m afraid this one struggled to keep my attention. I definitely think I’m in the minority with my thoughts on this book as it’s received so many fabulous reviews and in this case it maybe one you need to read for yourself.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧          Amazon US 🇺🇸
Hardcover: 416 pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton  (20 April 2017)

 

Sweet Pea by C J Skuse #Bookreview #Guestreview by @JoannaLouisePar @HQStories

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Today Jo is sharing her review for Sweet Pea by C J Skuse. This ones on my TBR pile, but I’m in two minds about reading it as from the reviews I’ve read it’s very much a “marmite” book, but after reading Jo’s review I may just read it to see which camp I would fall into. My thanks to Jo for her fab review and so without further ado…….

Book description

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder.

IMG_1712To the outside world Rhiannon seems like a shy, retiring girl. Just a normal girl working in a job where she isn’t appreciated, has friends that she hates and her boyfriend is cheating on her. Everyone thinks she is a real Sweetpea. However hiding just beneath the surface, Rhiannon is very angry. Angry at rude people and loud noises. For Rhiannon hides a dark secret, she is a serial killer, killing those who dare to annoy her or try to cause her harm and who knows who her next victim will be?

This was a fairly unusual book for me as I found myself actually feeling sorry for the serial killer. Rhiannon is very funny and some of her observations/ comments had me laughing out loud. She has a very astute way of looking at the world and telling things exactly as they are. At first you think her comments are unfair or unjustified but as you learn more about her life, both past and present, you realise that there are good reasons for her being like she us. As you learn more about her, you start feeling sorry for her and hoping that she will gave a happy ending. It was interesting  to get inside the mind of a serial killer and find out more about what makes them tick and what motivates them to kill.

The book is written in the easy, intimate style of a diary which helps trick the reader into thinking that they are reading a normal persons diary. This helps the murdersceens seem more shocking and violent. Fair warning some of these scenes are quite gruesome with what’s happening to the victims being described in vivid detail. Some of the language throughout the book is a bit offensive so if you are easily offended it might be best to avoid.

This is quite an easy to read book. The general tone and flow of the book means you are able to read it quite fast. The fact that the main character is quite likeable, despite being a serial killer, means that you want to keep reading to find out what will happen next. I loved the ‘kill lists’ or summaries at the beginning of each chapter, it made it easier to keep up with everything that’s going on.

There is quite a lot of tension throughout the book which increases as more murders are committed and the story hurtles towards its conclusion. I was constantly wondering what would happen next and worrying she was going to get caught. The twist towards the end really took me by surprise as I really wasn’t expecting it. I think the ending was a very good and appropriate way to end the book, though it wasn’t the way I wanted it to end!

The blurb describes this book as a cross between Bridget Jones and Dexter which is a really good description of it! This is the debut book from this author and I look forward to reading many from her. Thank you to Anna Baggaley and HQ stories for my copy of this book.

Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQ (20 April 2017)

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**Blog tour** Child Taken by Darren Young #BookReview @DARRENYOUNGBOOK @REDDOORBOOKS

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Book description

How could such a thing happen?

But it did happen.

I wasn’t one of the others, observing.

It happened to me.

One hot summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won’t give up hope that her daughter is still alive.

How can she?

Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what’s been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.

img_1258Child Taken is the debut novel from Darren Young, and I’m pleased to report it’s a hell of a debut, it’s twisted and definitely makes for an intriguing read. As the book suggests two year old Jessica Preston disappears on a day out with her family. Twenty years later another missing child gets the attention of trainee journalist Laura Grainger, which leads to questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston? What follows is an intricate tale shrouded in mystery and deception.

There are have been numerous books that deal with this theme, but what sets this book apart was the authors decision not to concentrate on one particular character, he deftly explores the long term impact on everyone involved, after all each character involved lost something when Jessica was taken. At first I found the style of narrative confusing to follow as the story is told from four POV, but once I got into the swing things I realised just how cleverly woven the narrative is as it follows the journey past and present of the abductors and the family whose child was taken.

The author presents the reader with a tangled and intriguing tale which draws the reader in from the very first chapter. As a parent myself I found my sympathies lay very much with Jessica’s mother, as the author describes her thoughts and feelings at loosing a child with conviction and empathy. As for the abductors I couldn’t raise an iota of sympathy for their predicament, but to see why I felt like this you will just have to read the book for yourself, as in explaining my reasons I may give away major spoilers which is never my attention. I had one small niggle with Child Taken I did feel this book could have been shorter, as at times it felt the author was padding out the story and wasn’t really relevant to the plot.

I really thought I had Child Taken figured out around the halfway mark, but OMG Darren Young deviously leads the reader a merry dance, and I can honestly say I never thought for one minute the novel would end the way it did. This is a dark, twisting thriller that shows all too well how you can never escape the sins of your past. Child Taken is a terrific, gripping, page-turning debut by a talented new voice in suspense. A great read that I would highly recommend.

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: RedDoor Publishing (18 May 2017)     Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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Darren Young lives in Nottingham with his wife, Luisa and their two children, Alessio and Emilia.

Away from writing, he has a background in financial services and an MBA from the University of Wolverhampton and helps organisations to improve their customer service, whilst also being involved in producing papers and a weekly blog on the subject. He wanted to write something different; a story he’d like to read, one about ordinary people thrown into extraordinary positions and had the ideas but wasn’t sure that there was enough time, or coffee, to fit it into his already busy life. However, he started working on Child Taken in 2014 and found that there was. He’s currently working on a new version of the book he wrote for ‘practice’ before embarking on Child Taken and after two years writing about child abduction, he wanted to explore something a little lighter; heart transplants.

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Follow Darren on Twitter @darrenyoungbook

you can follow the rest of the blog tour here….

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Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens #BookReview

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Book description

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

img_1258I’ve been a huge fan of Chevy Stevens since I read her first novel Still Missing way back in 2010, so as you can imagine I couldn’t wait to start reading Never Let You Go. As I would expect this novel has all the hallmarks I have come to expect from this author, suspense, intrigue and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader captivated. Never Let Yo Go is a disturbing and insightful study of domestic abuse with dark and dangerous undertones running throughout, which certainly made for a gripping read

This isn’t the most original plot Lindsey flees and abusive relationship, and years later thinks she’s being stalked by her ex husband, I’ve read numerous books with the very same theme running through them, but thanks to this authors descriptive writing and her ability to build skilfully on the suspense she manages to deliver an extremely disturbing tale. I should point out some readers might find this book distressing due to the scenes of domestic abuse.

The narrative goes back and forth between past and present and alternates between Lindsey and her daughter Sophie’s POV’s. The author uses this to good effect and the reader gets a sense of foreboding from the first chapter. Another factor that added to my enjoyment of this book were the different points of view of both Lindsey and Sophie, as you get different perspectives of events and characters.

Chevy Stevens expertly builds on Laura’s paranoia which in turn lead to the reader seeing each character as someone not to be trusted, as events take a sinister turn I had many a “heart in your mouth moments”. I became so engrossed in this story it was a difficult one to put down, as you reach the end of each chapter the tension is taut, and the sense of foreboding is overwhelming. With red herrings a plenty the author skilfully keeps the reader in suspense right up until the last few chapters which isn’t an easy task. If you enjoy a psychological thriller that explores obsession, jealousy, and relationships then I would recommend adding this one to your TBR pile.

Print Length: 415 pages

Publisher: Sphere (14 Mar. 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧          Amazon US 🇺🇸

**Blog Tour** Block 46 by Johana Gustawasson #BookReview @OrendaBooks @JoGustawasson  

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Book description

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

img_1258Nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared me for Block 46 by Johana Gustawasson, if you are looking for a unique, nail biting and gripping tale look no further than this book, it’s going to sound cliched but it literally left me speechless (not an easy task let me tell you!). Block 46 has been translated seamlessly from the original French by Maxim Jakubowski, and it’s so well translated you don’t think for one minute it’s been written in anything but English. 
Block 46 begins with the death of a young jewellery designer. When a young boy’s body is discovered with similar wounds, it seems that there is a deviant serial killer on the loose, but how do the murders link to the 1940s Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany? From the outset Block 46 is a dark and disconcerting tale that begs to be read in one sitting. The narrative moves effortlessly between the present day investigation and 1944. The chapters told from Buchenwald Concentration Camp bring the sheer barbarity of what happened there to life, heartbreakingly realistic the author describes the scenes vividly but with great empathy. It was impossible to work out how the author could possibly bring the two timelines together, but she does in the most spectacular of fashions.

The author has created one hell of an antagonist, their the worse kind of monster, and one that will send shivers down your spine, and yet I couldn’t help wanting to learn more about this twisted and depraved soul. Every location is expertly depicted, steeped in atmosphere, horror and suspense, which made for a thrilling read. Despite this book being a dark and disturbing read I was surprised that the writing is both descriptive and beautiful, you really don’t expect that with a crime thriller, but it works, in fact I think it made the book all the more chilling.

Without hesitation this book has already made it to my top reads of 2017. Why? Because it’s a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil, good versus bad, death versus life, it’s complex, fast paced, and disturbing, all the elements that make a crime read stand out from the norm. Gripping from the first page, Block 46 will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to its shocking conclusion, that I can guarantee.

I’m sure it won’t come as much of a shock but I will be giving Block 46 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 good 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. Personally I will be waiting for Johana Gustawasson’s next book with baited breath, I’m just hoping we don’t have to wait to long. 
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My thanks to Karen over at Orenda books for giving me the opportunity to read this superb book.

Print Length: 300 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (5 Feb. 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Born in 1978 in Marseille, France, and a graduate of Political Sciences, Johana Gustawsson was a journalist for television and French press. She now lives in London, England.

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http://johanagustawsson.com/category/johana-gustawsson-en/

you can follow the rest of the tour for reviews, giveaways and guest posts

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Dead To Me by Lesley Pearse #BookReview @LesleyPearse @MichaelJBooks #LoveLesley

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Today I’ve been asked to share my review of Dead To Me by Lesley Pearse, which I posted on my blog.  Today Dead To Me is published in paperback.  I’m a huge fan of this author so I was very happy to oblige.

Lesley Pearse is the author of 24 incredible novels, with over 10 million copies sold world-wide, Lesley is a masterful storyteller, weaving gripping storylines and unforgettable characters.

Book description

Spring 1935. Two girls meet by chance on Hampstead Heath. To an outsider, they could not appear more different. Verity is well-mannered and smartly dressed, living with her parents in a beautiful house close to the heath. Ruby is dishevelled and grubby, used to a life of squalor where she is forced to steal to survive. Yet there’s an instant affinity between them, and when their fortunes are shockingly reversed, it is the strength of their friendship that keeps them resilient to the challenges and hardships they face.

As Britain prepares for war, Ruby finds herself in Devon with the world at her feet and enjoying her first taste of romance. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, Verity is forced to leave behind everything she has ever known and a shadow from the past threatens her chances of a new beginning. But through it all, the girls are always there for each other. Until the day Verity does the one thing that will break Ruby’s heart.

In a country torn apart by fighting, will Verity and Ruby survive long enough to find a way back to each other? Or do some betrayals go with you to the grave . . .?

img_1258Despite being a huge crime and thriller fan, (I would say 95% of the books I read are of this genre), I do love a Lesley Pearse book, I’ve read every and I mean every book she has ever written and she never fails to let me down. Dead To Me begins in spring 1935 and tells the story of Verity and Ruby, Its suffice to say the book description tells you all you need to know.

This is a story of friendship, resilience, challenges, hardship and most importantly the bond between two friends. Lesley Pearce has an extraordinarily talent, she is able to create such well developed characters you feel like you actually know them inside out, by the time I reached the end of Dead To Me I felt like I was saying “goodbye” to old friends. As Verity and Ruby suffer one traumatic event after another I felt so many emotions I laughed, I cried and felt so much empathy for these two characters, as I rooted for them to find their “happy ever after”.

Lesley Pearce always delivers on the plot, her story lines are well developed and flow seamlessly, rich in detail Dead To Me transports you first to the 1930’s and then to the blitz. I was captivated by the story of Verity and Ruby, as we follow their journey to adulthood, they face adversity that will test their friendship to the limits. Different as chalk and cheese Verity and Ruby life’s are changed dramatically by circumstances they have no control over, through tragedy and heartache, their friendship goes through many phases, which adds a sense of authenticity to both characters and their relationship. This is fairly long book at 512 pages, but it certainly never felt like it, as I found Dead To Me to be a compelling read, yes some parts of the story were predictable, but this in no way distracted from my enjoyment of this novel.

I really enjoyed this compelling story, the plot has plenty of depth to it with some suspense thrown it. Dead To Me is a heart-warming and evocative tale that is a real delight to read, if you are looking for a book to escape the demands of every day life for a few hours I would highly recommend you read Dead To Me.

Hardcover: 512 pages

Publisher: Michael Joseph (14 July 2016)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

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