Tag Archives: New Author To Me

My TBR pile for January & February 2020 (so far) #BookBlogger #PartOne

Today I thought I would share something a little bit different with you all. I was checking on my TBR pile and realised that despite it only being October I have some amazing ARC’s sat waiting to be read.

So I thought I would give you a glimpse of what sound like some amazing books being published in January and February 2020……….my dilemma now is which one to read first? 

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

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Every town has its secrets. Lesley Kara knows them all .

From the author of 2019’s biggest crime thriller debut, The Rumour, comes an addictive new novel . . .

It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.

Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.

But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.

Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .

Pub Date 9 Jan 2020

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

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Inspired by a terrifying true story, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota town where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed—violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.

Pub Date 1 Jan 2020

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell

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She thought they wanted her baby. But they won’t stop there.

Roz is young, penniless and pregnant. All she wants is to be the perfect mother to her child, but the more she thinks about her own chaotic upbringing, the more certain she is that the best life for her baby is as far away as possible from her hometown in Ireland.

Determined to do the right thing, Roz joins an elite adoption service and can’t believe her luck. Within days she is jetting to New York to meet a celebrity power couple desperate for a child of their own. Sheridan and Daniel are wealthy and glamorous—everything Roz isn’t. Her baby will never go hungry, and will have every opportunity for the perfect life. But soon after Roz moves into their plush basement suite, she starts to suspect that something darker lurks beneath the glossy surface of their home.

When Roz discovers she isn’t the first person to move in with the couple, and that the previous woman has never been seen since, alarm bells start ringing. As the clock ticks down to her due date, Roz realises her unborn baby may be the only thing keeping her alive, and that despite her best intentions, she has walked them both into the perfect nightmare…

Pub Date 14 Jan 2020

The Murder House by Michael Wood

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They were the perfect family. It was the perfect crime.

The new gripping DCI Matilda Darke crime thriller about the dark secrets that lie within a perfect family. For fans of Patricia Gibney and Angela Marsons.

It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

The Knock by Jessie Keane

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For some, being on the wrong side of the law is the safest place to be . . .

Dora O’Brien had a good start in life, but things went bad when she began to mix with the wrong company. When her daughter Angel is born, Dora is already under the influence of drink and drugs.

Growing up in the shadow of her mother’s abusive relationship, Angel is nothing like her mother, but when matters turn murderous, Angel is forced to grow up fast and survival becomes the name of the game.

No one uncovers the underworld like Jessie Keane.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

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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 . . .

Pub Date 23 Jan 2020

The Dilemma by B A Paris

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The million-copy bestselling author returns with another breath-taking book …

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever, The Dilemma is the breath-taking, heart-breaking new novel from the million-copy-selling, Sunday Times bestseller, BA Paris

Pub Date 9 Jan 2020

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donahue

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Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…

In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.

Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and uneasy consequences.

Pub Date 20 Feb 2020

The House On The Lake by Nuala Ellwood

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No matter how far you run . . .
He’s never far behind

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.

What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

Pub Date 20 Feb 2020

The Perfect Kill by Helen Fields

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He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

Pub Date 6 Feb 2020

Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph

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Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was the first victim of the now notorious Magpie Man. 13 murders later and this serial killer is still at large with no clue as to his identity. He kills every 9 months. It’s almost time for his fourteenth victim.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to warm up the case that has turned cold.  The world is watching her every move. And so is the Magpie Man.

Pub Date 6 Feb 2020

 

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The brand new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

It starts with a party.

On a remote island, 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.

It’ll end in murder.

Pub Date 20 Feb 2020

Well what do you think? Have any of these books caught your eye? Is there a book you are desperate to read in 2020? Please feel free to leave me a comment.

The Child Of Auschwitz by Lily Graham #BookReview #BlogTour @lilygrahambooks @Bookouture #HistoricalFiction

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Child Of Auschwitz by Lily Graham, not my normal kind of read by any means, but I do like to mix up my genres once in a blue moon. Before I share my review here’s the book description…..

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She touched the photograph in its gilt frame that was always on her desk, of a young, thin woman with very short hair and a baby in her arms. She had one last story to tell. Theirs. And it began in hell on earth.’

It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent there six months earlier.

But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the camp comes crashing down upon her. As she lies heartbroken and shivering on a thin mattress, her head shaved by rough hands, she hears a whisper. Her bunkmate, Sofie, is reaching out her hand…As the days pass, the two women learn each other’s hopes and dreams – Eva’s is that she will find Michal alive in this terrible place, and Sofie’s is that she will be reunited with her son Tomas, over the border in an orphanage in Austria. Sofie sees the chance to engineer one last meeting between Eva and Michal and knows she must take it even if means befriending the enemy…

But when Eva realises she is pregnant she fears she has endangered both their lives. The women promise to protect each other’s children, should the worst occur. For they are determined to hold on to the last flower of hope in the shadows and degradation: their precious children, who they pray will live to tell their story when they no longer can.

A heart-breaking story of survival, where life or death relies on the smallest chance and happiness can be found in the darkest times. Fans of The Choice and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will fall in love with this beautiful novel.

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This is the first book I have read by Lily Graham,  I feel it’s improper to say I enjoyed a book based on an appalling time in history, but I found it to be a compelling read. It’s exquisitely written, a bittersweet tale, which recounts the story of Eva, one of thousands of women held captive in the death camp Auschwitz. The story shifts between two timelines, when Eva and Michael first met, and the troubling times that led up to the war and persecution of Jews,  and the second focuses on Eva’s time at Auschwitz, and her search for Michael, and the birth of their child. The Child Of Auschwitz is a remarkable tale of endurance, love and friendship, and the worse and best of humanity. 

The novel is set against the harrowing backdrop of Auschwitz, personally I think any author who uses a concentration camp as a location hasn’t chosen an easy path. When ever I pick up a fictional book about this location, I always worry an author won’t be able to get the balance right, I generally find Auschwitz has been used as a setting to shock and sell books, and lack empathy for the real victims of Auschwitz, or the story overshadows just how horrifying these concentrations camps were. I think Lily Graham manages to get the balance right; she doesn’t shy away from describing the severe conditions or the cruel treatment of Eva and her fellow prisoners, but neither is this her primary focus, it’s very much  a character driven novel about friendship, lost, survival and hope.  

It was heartwarming to see the developing friendship between Eva and Sophie blossom, a friendship so deep that they willing forego their own moral compass to help each other through sickness and starvation. When Eva gave birth my heart broke, It’s almost impossible to imagine that babies were born in Auschwitz let alone survived, their mothers experienced a life of starvation, forced labour, and infectious diseases, which hardly gave these innocent infants the best start in life. I found this read incredibly sad as fact blended with fiction, at other times my heart lifted at the strength, determination and camaraderie between the prisoners shone through. 

The Child Of Auschwitz is a reminder that even in the darkest of places its possible to find happiness,  it may be only have been for a few seconds, before it crumbled to dust, but it was moments like this that gave prisoners hope and the will to survive.  Whilst reading The Child Of Auschwitz I found it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction, Eva’s story could be any number of women who had the misfortune to end up in Auschwitz in fact the story was inspired by Vera Bein who gave birth during her time in Auschwitz. The Child Of Auschwitz is a moving story that’s emotive, horrifying, and heartbreaking, you can’t help but think of the millions of prisoners who suffered, and died in the concentration camps. Highly recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction

  • Print Length: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Bookouture (8 Nov. 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Lily Graham grew up in South Africa, and is a former journalist. She lives now in the Suffolk coast with her husband and English bulldog, Fudge.

She is the author of six novels, published by Bookouture, including the bestselling, The Paris Secret and The Island Villa. 

Her latest novel The Child of Auschwitz published 8th November 2019 by digital publishers Bookouture.

My thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for my ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Follow the blog tour………

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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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**Making a dent in my bookshelf** #MiniReviews #BookChallenge part 2

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Like every book blogger in the country I have numerous books sat on my book shelves I’ve been meaning to read for ages. So I decided to set myself a mini challenge and read as many books as I can from my own personal collection between now and the end of December (which December? I’m not sure yet😂🙈).

I have read six books in total from my own bookshelves (Mind you it helped that I had two weeks holiday this month)…whohoo go me, and the months not over yet only 1,56789 books to go😂📚📚📚📚📚

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

 

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In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. 

Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building. 

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

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Every now and then I do like to mix things up a bit and read something that’s different to my normal crime reads.   Victoria Hislop is one of the author’s I turn to I do enjoy historical fiction especially when it’s blended with true events.  The Island centres on the clashes between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which came to a head in 1974, resulting in a Greek coup and Turkey invading Cyprus, and Famagusta.

Although I knew little about the civil war I wasn’t aware of the Famagusta, which  is now a deserted town surrounded by barbed wire, within its walls  there must lie stories of devastation and heartbreak caused by a war where the citizens of the town were forced to flee, never to return. The author manages to capture the tone, atmosphere and the fear of a civil war perfectly, but then I would expect nothing less from an author’s whose research is impeccable.

I really enjoyed learning more about the history of Cyprus and the events that led up to the invasion. Victoria Hislop blends fact and fiction to create a compelling read, and her descriptions are so vivid it took look little imagination to conjure up images of Famagusta, before the days of cheap package tours, a town which was wealthy, visited by the most affluent, on the flip side it was horrifying to imagine the city devastated by war, a resort left barren. Although I enjoyed The Sunrise I can’t say I loved it, for me the book felt contrived in parts, and only partly fitting to the history of the people who lived there. I must admit I struggled to feel any connection to the characters, many of them appeared to superficial and  lacking in emotion. Although I read The Sunrise in a couple of sitting. I must admit  It’s not my favourite book by the author, but there again I think I compared it to The Island a very different story, but one I loved.

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (4 Jun. 2015)

I Found You by Lisa Jewell 

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Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (14 July 2016)

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I have read a couple of books by Lisa Jewell now and I’m impressed by her ability to produce a compelling plot, that drags you in from the first page and before you know it you are halfway through the book, not even stopping for a coffee break (unheard of!) I Found You made for a riveting read, full of misdirection, suspense. At first I Found You looked as if it would be a simple and straightforward story. A new husband disappears on his way home from work,  a man turns up on a Yorkshire beach and has lost his memory, man gets his memory back and all sorted! But that’s not the case here the story twists, turns, and intertwines creating a throughly nail biting read.

The characters all spring to life especially Alice, I do find a character far more likeable if they have credible flaws, no ones perfect after all! Alice is adorable, always looking to rescue people, animals and friends, and despite her tops turvy life style she still manages to be the best parent she can.  The plotting is incredibly complex with the author drip feeding  little details slowly and tantalisingly the reader. At one point, I thought I knew where it was all heading, but epic fail! When the author finally revealed all I couldn’t help but gasp, Lisa Jewell well and truly left me stunned. I Found You is my perfect kind of psychological thriller, fast paced, fascinating characters and misdirection at every turn.  

The Chain by Adam McKinty

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain. 

  • Print Length: 369 page
  • Publisher: Orion (9 July 2019)

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The Chain by Adam McKinty is one of the most talked about books on social media this year, bloggers, authors, publishers are raving about it, and then there’s me! The plots definitely an original one, based on Chain letters, the author takes this one step further,  your child gets kidnapped, so in turn you have to kidnap a child, if you break the chain your child will be murdered. I throughly enjoyed the first part of The Chain it’s fast paced, riveting and as the reader you live and breathe events as they unfold through the characters eyes. The chapters are short, and precise adding tension to the overall plot. 

The second part of the book is more about the beginning of The Chain , and it’s creators I didn’t enjoy this part as much, the pace slowed, the tension ramped down a couple of notches, and the plot became far more predictable. Don’t get me wrong this book has much to offer the thriller lover and I can see why readers are raving about The Chain. Personally I think because I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews for The Chain before reading the book so I may have set my expectations too high for this book, which left me more than a little disappointed.

I must admit as a mother I felt for the victims, but not enough to care about the outcome, for me the victims were to quick to pick out a victim, without thinking about the consequences, this made them appear cold hearted and not particularly likeable.  The Chain was a great first half, with plenty of promise but the second half was a let down, at this point I found I felt no sympathy for any of the characters or the predicament they found themselves in, and my interested waned to the point where I wasn’t particularly interested in the outcome.

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

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Gone, a debut Psychological  thriller from Leona Deakin.

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Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.

DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear? 

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I was sent a card in the post wishing me a “happy first birthday’ which immediately had me intrigued, but then reading the greeting inside YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.DARE TO PLAY? I must admit intrigue turned to excitement, like a fool I’m always the first to volunteer for a ‘dare’ but as they normally end in tears, I had my reservations about this one! That’s not the case for the four missing strangers in Gone by Leona Deakin, they jump in feet first with no thought of the consequences of playing a game they know nothing about! Despite my initial reservations Gone turned out to be a dark, psychological thriller, with lashings of intrigue and suspense.   

I must admit to begin with I wasn’t certain that Gone was a book I would enjoy as there are two simultaneous stories that run alongside each other, the first focuses on the missing persons, the other on a disturbed child called Seraphine. There are also several characters that are introduced to the reader fairly early on in the book, but once I had them sorted in my head, I found it a difficult book to put down as curiosity got the better of me. This isn’t your ‘typical’ missing person case, no one’s  been kidnapped or taken against their will, in fact the people who have disappeared seem to have gone voluntarily, leaving behind families, friends and family, without a backward glance. Why? How are they connected? How are they singled out? Are they victims or are they something far more sinister? What are the rules of the sick, twisted game? Are all questions Dr. Augusta Bloom a Psychologist who frequently works with the police and Marcus Jameson who worked for MI6 are intent on finding the answers too. 

I did feel the author barely scratched the surface of the main protagonists characters, but to be honest it didn’t matter one iota as my interest very much lay with the missing people and their story’s. Although in main the story is a hunt for the missing people, I found the most intriguing part revolved around the people who were invited to play.  It came as no surprise to find out the author is a psychologist, her knowledge shines through as she explains the psychological aspects of the game, and gets inside the heads of those playing. These are the characters I found this most intriguing, the most disturbing, and yet the most fascinating. 

With an imaginative plot and a fascinating psychologist-cum-private detective Gone made a refreshing change from most books in the genre, and although some may not enjoy the slower pace of this book, I would urge you to give it a go especially if you enjoy books featuring psychopaths that involve profiling (I found these bits a fascinating read). Although I guessed the ‘twist’ by the halfway mark, I still enjoyed how the author brought all the threads together.  A word of advice to those who fill out those inconsequential social media questionaries, Gone will definitely make you think twice about filling them out in the future, however harmless they may seem! Despite the slow start Gone turns into an accomplished first novel, and I’m looking forward to reading further books by Leona Deakin. 

  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (9 Aug. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to Penguin publishing for my Arc of a Gone in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The July Girls by Phoebe Locke, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this summers top reads. You can read on for my thoughts……….

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Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost. 

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives . . .

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I’m not going to beat about the bush here, I absolutely loved The July Girls by Phoebe Locke, this is the first book I’ve read by the author, although I have since bought her debut novel The Tall Man. If from the book description you thought this was a run of the mill ‘serial killer thriller’ you couldn’t be more wrong. This book has so much more to offer the crime thriller lover, it’s a book that’s superbly written, an extraordinary and highly original tale, told through the eyes of a brilliantly drawn character, ten-year-old Addie.

Set in London, The July Girls tells the story of two sisters, Jessie and Addie, whose lives become unintentionally entangled with a serial killer. Every year, on the 7th of July, a young girl is snatched from the streets of London by the killer, leaving behind no clues or forensic evidence. The story begins with The devastating event of 07/07 terrorist attacks, for many, lives will never be the same, and unfortunately for Jessica and Addie so begins their worse nightmare, as on the same night their dad comes home covered in blood and when they find items in their home belonging to a missing woman believed to one of the victims of the ‘Magpie’ killer. Addie’s sense of confusion, distress and loss are palatable throughout The July Girls, making for a disquieting read.

The reason I enjoyed this book is very much down to the innocent narrative of Addie, which compliments the sinister undertone that runs through the book’s pages.  The relationship between the two sisters is superbly depicted, by the author it’s impossible not to become involved in the lives of her characters. Jessica is thrown into the position of surrogate mother, she adores Addie and will do anything to protect her, even if that means lying to hide the shocking truths hidden beneath the surface of their dysfunctional family. You can’t help but admire Addie from a young age through to her teens she retains Addies her integrity, her sense of ‘right from wrong’ even though this will cause her stress and upset. Addie is a troubled ten-year-old, there are things she has seen that she can’t forget, they keep her awake at night, they are things that niggle at her conscious and force her to question the very person who she should be able to trust, her own father. Is everything at it seems? or does Addie have a over active imagination like many a ten-year-old? I’m not saying as you really need to read the book to find out! 

Phoebe Locke shows that you don’t need to write graphic crime scenes to capture the reader’s imagination, it’s a disturbing story but subtle, leaving the reader to summon up their own vivid scenarios! Although I wouldn’t consider this to be a fast paced read, the beauty of The July Girls is the author’s incredible ability to build on the tension and suspense, whilst giving the reader an incredible insight into the life of her characters. The author takes familiar subjects such as family dynamics, relationships and turns them into a compelling, extraordinary read, and one that’s impossible to put down even for a few minutes. I’m still not sure I have conveyed just how good this book is, but it’s definitely one of my top read this summer. So on that note if you only buy one book this summer, you should definitely consider The July Girls,  it’s a book I will be happily  recommending to anyone and everyone.

And yes I’m giving The July Girls 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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  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wildfire (27 Jun. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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Take It Back by Kia Abdullah #BookReview #SummerReads @HQstories @KiaAbdullah

Today I’m sharing my review for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah, a powerful and emotional court drama. Read on for my thoughts but first the book description……

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The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

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Take It Back by Kia Abdullah is a modern day story that explores some pretty tough but current themes, sexual assault, racial tensions, prejudice, and poverty. Some readers may give this book a wide berth because of the subjects mentioned, personally I would ask you to think again, its one of those books that offers so much more, it’s a book that’s thought provoking, a relevant if not disturbing tale of our times. This is one of those books that would make the perfect book club read, it explores current and relevant topics that will make for lively, thought-provoking discussions.

Sixteen-year-old Jodie Wolfe enters a sexual referral centre, wanting to share her story,  she reveals an appalling tale to lawyer Zara Kaleel, a horrific crime has been committed and Jodie firmly points the finger at four Muslim boys. This sets the scene for an explosive courtroom thriller, where no one could foresee the far-reaching consequences for Jodie, Zara, four teenage boys, their families and the local Muslim community. It’s very much a case of ‘she said’ versus ‘they said’ but whose to be believed? Jodie a young girl who is bullied and tormented for her facial deformities, dragged up by an alcoholic mother? Or the four teenage boys, handsome, popular and from decent hardworking families? The odds aren’t stacked in Jodie’s favour that’s for sure! 

Jodie Wolfe couldn’t foresee her case would develop into a high profile one,  steeped in controversy, where everyone has an opinion, and sides are taken. Kia Abdullah ensures the reader is kept captivated, with a cast of unreliable characters,  it’s nigh on impossible to know who to believe. Truth and lies become blurred, the opinions of professionals, the evidence from witnesses, I found my thoughts constantly changing throughout the court scenes, making for a tense and unpredictable read. 

Characters are such an essential part of a well-told story, and the author has created some exceptional ones, Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds appears strong and determined but look under the flawless, public front and you will find a woman burdened with guilt at not being the perfect ‘Muslim girl’ that her family want her to be. Then you have Jodie who will pull at your heartstrings, dragged up by a mother who resents her, bullied and ridiculed by her peers for being disfigured, her story is desperately sad and yet very credible. There are other characters that will make your blood boil, or rouse sympathy but one thing I can guarantee you, you will question each one’s variation of the truth!  

The author keeps the reader on tenterhooks almost to the very last page, there were many surprises hidden within the pages that were unexpected but added to the over all tension. I have seen reviews that compare Zara Kaleel‘s writing to that of best seller Jodi Picoult, in many ways I would have to agree, the format feels the same, but I think the author has created her own style, the court scenes felt far more tense and hard-hitting, and I found the characters to be more relatable, the plot to be far from predictable.  Take It Back is a touching and powerful novel that makes for a disquieting read but it’s one I would highly recommend to those who appreciate a count drama, with a challenging storyline. 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQ (8 Aug. 2019)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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