**Blog Tour** The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant @KillerReads @RachelSargeant3 #GuestPost #Review

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Today I’m thrilled to be hosting The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant blog tour. The Perfect Neighbours is a gripping psychological thriller that was published on the 15th of December by Harper CollinsKiller Reads, so just one “click” and it’s yours. I do have a review for The Perfect Neighbours which you can read further down this post.

To celebrate my stop on the blog tour Rachel Sargeant has written A day in the life of author…… post especially for the book review café, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as did.

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First of all I’d like to thank Lorraine for hosting my blog tour today. I’m so grateful for her interest in my new book The Perfect Neighbours and for letting it appear here.

My writing day begins at about 4pm after I’ve finished my day job. (I’m a school librarian.) After work I go for a swim. Although I walk the length and breadth of the school most days, my job is still fairly sedentary so it’s good to get in a hundred lengths at least three times a week. That isn’t as impressive as it sounds; it’s a small pool. I wrote my love of swimming into The Perfect Neighbours by making it my character Helen’s favourite hobby.

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Once I get home, I check social media to see whether authors I know have a new book out. Some I buy for my Kindle or order from the local library, and others – the ones I think I’ll want to keep – I buy from the town bookshop. I post reviews of books I’ve enjoyed on my blog and on the main social media sites. I keep telling myself that I should put down a couple of hours writing before I hit the book blogs but it’s like an itch; if I don’t scratch it I can’t settle to work.

An hour later I get down to business and commence editing a chapter of my current draft. If I’m editing on screen, I’ll be upstairs in the study, listening to the Ken Bruce show on iPlayer. If I’m editing a printout, it’s Smooth Radio in the lounge. I edit far more on the screen than I used to but find I still need to see the words on a piece of paper to capture all the changes.

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For most of the year I’m editing and barely write anything new. What works for me is to use the long school holidays for writing the first draft. The Perfect Neighbours started life as one of my summer projects even though a large part of the novel takes place in winter. For years, I had no idea what my daily word count was, just that I ended up with between sixty and eighty thousand words by September. This year I recorded my hours and word count in a lovely diary, a gift from my agent, Marilia Savvides at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. It turns out I produce an average of two thousand words a day, five days a week, and this can take me anywhere from five to eight hours a day. But I only keep this up for a maximum of eight weeks.

After dinner I may have some drafts from my writing buddies to read. I met some wonderful writers on my MA course and we continue to provide feedback on each other’s work. The Perfect Neighbours is dedicated to them for their endless encouragement and astute advice on many, many redrafts.

If there’s a decent crime drama on, I’ll round off the evening with an hour’s telly. I’m fond of re-runs of the very early Taggart. Writer Glen Chandler plotted the episodes brilliantly. Even though I go to bed far too late, I still read for at least half an hour. No day can end without a decent book.

About the book

Published: 15th December 2017 (HarperCollins Killer Reads)

‘Builds from a creeping sense of unease to a jaw-dropping climax and a denouement I defy anyone to see coming.’ Chris Curran, author of Her Deadly Secret

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.

Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.

Available from Amazon: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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There seems to be an influx of psychological thrillers that have the theme of neighbours at its core, and if I’m honest I’ve read a fair few that I have found a mediocre read so I did approach The Perfect Neighbours with some trepidation. From the off this book felt very claustrophobic, it’s bad enough having one difficult neighbour, but imagine have a street full of them! Within hours of moving into her new home, a street that houses fellow expat teachers from the local International School Helen soon realises her neighbours may appear “perfect” but something isn’t quite right.

As the reader is introduced to the assortment of neighbours I couldn’t help but feel disconcerted, in my opinion when people appear “too good to be true” they usually are. When I first began reading this book I immediately thought of The Stepford Wives as the woman of the neighbourhood play the part of the perfect housewife, doting on their far too perfect partners, it felt creepy and contrived. There are an array of characters in this book and it did take me a while to get a grips with them all and their back story’s. I must admit on the whole I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters, in fact they are the sort of neighbours I would definitely avoid at all costs, their arrogant, and controlling but there’s was a small part of me that was deeply intrigued by this bunch of misfits.

From the opening chapter the reader knows something bad has happened to Helen, but as to the why Rachel Sargeant entices the reader by slowly and deftly scratching away at the surface until the neighbours dark and deadly secrets are revealed in all there ugly glory. At times I would say the plot seemed a little far fetched but I’m of the opinion if you pick up a fiction book then it’s possible a books going to push the boundaries, and that’s fine with me as long as there are credible elements within the read. All in all I enjoyed The Perfect Neighbours and I would recommend it to those looking for a psychological thriller that’s very much character driven

 About the author

Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children. To learn more about the author and her writing, please visit her website: www.rachelsargeant.co.ukhttps://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3https://www.facebook.com/rachelsargeantauthor/

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen #OmgthatTwist @panmacmillan

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Book description

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

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I’m one of those readers that is always sceptical when I come across a book that’s receiving a lot of hype on social media, and if I’m honest I normally avoid them like the plague, as I nearly always find the hype doesn’t quite meet my expectations and I’m often left wondering what all the fuss was about. Well I must say The Wife Between Us deserves all the hype surrounding it and much more, in fact this is one of those books that you want to shout and scream about to all and sundry. It’s one of those books that will make you question everything you read and everything you think you know, it will have you flipping back through the pages making sure what you read was correct, it’s expertly executed and such an addictive read.

Some books come with such lengthy book descriptions that give far too much away, but fortunately that’s not the case here, despite the vague book description I still made assumptions from the opening chapter, assumptions that surprisingly were way off the mark. I’m not usually one for giving away spoilers, but I must confess it’s one of those books you want to reveal all just so you can discuss every minute detail of this deviously plotted tale. You may think a story about a husband, wife and a mistress is hardly original and I would agree with you there, but authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have written one of the most original psychological thrillers I’ve read in a long time. The tension in The Wife Between Us is intense and it pretty much stays that way to the last jaw dropping chapter.

Hand on heart The Wife Between us is one of those book you just have to read “just one more” chapter, extremely well written the authors have created a psychological thriller that stands out from the norm, its twisted, deviously plotted and one that is full of surprises, It’s not often a book can keep me guessing right up until the last chapter, and I think that’s why I enjoyed this book so much as the authors constantly wrong foot the reader by throwing in well placed twists. This is one book that certainly lives up to its hype, I’m convinced this will be one of the best psychological thrillers published in 2018, a bold statement I know, but it’s not often I get so excited about a book, just in case you haven’t already guessed I loved this book and will be recommending to anyone and everyone.

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Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 352 pages

Publisher: Macmillan (2 Jan. 2018)

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd #Review.

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Book description

A young schoolteacher falls for a man on Death Row whom she believes is falsely accused, only to begin wondering after their marriage – and his release.

Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm – the filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry Danson and campaign, as his wife, for his release.

But when the campaign is successful, and Dennis is freed, events begin to suggest that he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?

My review

When I read the book description for The Innocent Wife I knew it was one I had to read. I’ve often wondered about the woman and men who write to prisoners on death row, and then go on to fall in love with them. I’m sure the reasons are complex and way beyond my comprehension, but intriguing never the less. If you are a fan of true crime documentaries then this is a book you won’t want to miss, as it’s a story which reads very much like a true crime story.

As you will see from the book description The Innocent Wife is a thriller about Samantha who strikes up a friendship with Dennis a prisoner on death row. What start’s out as a relationship based wholly on writing to each other, soon escalates into something far more intense. The author has created a very intriguing but flawed set of characters, I found myself sympathetic to Dennis’s predicament one minute, and then a couple of chapters later I found myself questioning his innocence and his motives for marrying Sam.You would think a character who has spent twenty years on death row would be the only flawed character, but no Sam is just as flawed, she’s obsessive with HUGE trust issues, not a good combination and doesn’t bode well for “a happy ever after”.

The Innocent Wife is told mostly in a documentary style, eye witness accounts and documents which gives the reader an in depth look into Dennis life and his personality. The plot is very much based on did he do it? Or not? So throughout the book has a sinister and threatening feel to it. I did think this book lacked any real drama or excitement, but then the focus is very much on the did he or didn’t he? conundrum. The author kept me guessing right up until the last few chapters, which is always a bonus and guaranteed to heighten my enjoyment of a book. Twisted and compelling The Innocent Wife is well worth a read if your looking for an original thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the final chapter.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 356 pages

Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (6 Oct. 2017)

When You Disappeared by John Marrs #BookReview

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Book description

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing–except him.
Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth–about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.
And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

Revised edition: Previously published as The Wronged Sons, this edition of When You Disappeared includes editorial revisions.

My review

Imagine one day your husband disappears, you have no idea what has happened to him, as time passes you grieve, you go on to build a life without him and then when you least expect he turns up on your doorstep, I’m sure you would be shocked to say the least! and even more so when he reveals what he’s been up too! And this is pretty much the premises for When You Disappear. The story opens with the day Simon left and follows the impact this has on his family, and on Simon himself, when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he really is, and that’s when the book gets really interesting as there are shocks and dark buried secrets galore. 

I absolutely loved The One by John Marrs so I really wanted to read When You Disappeared the author’s debut novel. Although it made for a good read I did have mixed emotions regarding the book as a whole some parts I really enjoyed and other parts I struggled with. Personally I felt this book read more like a mystery until just over the halfway mark when the psychological thriller element kicked in. I do have to mention Simon what an evil, cold hearted individual John Marr’s has created he doesn’t have one endearing feature, and at times he literally made my blood boil, sometimes I think having strong feelings for a character even if they are negative ones can actually heighten my enjoyment of a book, but unfortunately I disliked him so much it actually distracted from my enjoyment of When You Disappeared.

When You Disappeared is told in alternating chapters past and present from the two main characters POV, unfortunately I did find the constant change sometimes made the chapters feel disjointed. Although I can see why the author used this ploy I did find it slightly distracted from my enjoyment of this book. I would describe this book as a Character driven family drama and so I found the pace quite slow, although I do feel the author builds on the suspense and tension as he slowly reveals Simon’s darkest secrets. There is no doubt the author has written a captivating tale that many readers will enjoy with an original plot. It’s an impressive debut and one I’m sure many readers will enjoy.

Buying links:   amazon UK 🇬🇧     amazon US 🇺🇸

Length: 350 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (13 July 2017)

**Blog tour** Beneath The Skin by Caroline England #GuestPost @CazEngland

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Today I’m thrilled to be the next stop on the Beneath The Skin by Caroline England blog tour. To celebrate the occasion The author has written a special guest post for the book review café. Before I get to the post I should mention this is the author’s debut novel and was published by Avon on the 5th October 2017 so you don’t even have to wait to buy a copy. I thought I would include some of the comments about this book to pique your interest.

‘I loved Beneath the Skin. It’s so beautifully written and kept me hooked right to the end. Caroline England knows her wonderful cast of characters inside out. I didn’t want this book to end.’ LIBBY CARPENTER, AUTHOR OF 99 RED BALLOONS

‘I was gripped immediately and I couldn’t wait for it to finish – perfect for fans of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins’ KATERINA DIAMOND, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE TEACHER AND THE SECRET

‘Gripping, immersive, horribly believable, Beneath the Skin asks can we trust our friends? Should we believe our lovers?’ SANJIDA KAY, AUTHOR OF BONE BY BONE

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If Beneath the Skin was made into a film…

Who would I cast? This is a fun question but surprisingly difficult!

Firstly there’s Antonia, beautiful, perfect, flawless on the outside, but on the inside… Physically I always picture Alesha Dixon in my mind, but an actress who’d be perfect is Thandie Newton. Remember her playing DCI Roz Huntley in Line of Duty? The way you didn’t really know what was going on behind her fine eyes? Yup, that’s Antonia!

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Her husband David… Big, posh and gregarious on the surface. Not a trouble in the world; everyone’s friend. He’s probably a little too young, but James Norton could act his socks off as David. Or Rupert Penry-Jones, he’d fit the bill nicely.

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Then we have Irish Mike. This is tricky. So many dark haired handsome Irish actors around. Colin Farrell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Cillian Murphy, to name a few. But which actor can play someone who is thoughtful and introspective as well as being a joker with a great smile? Well, it has to be Aidan Turner, hasn’t it. I’m thinking more Mitchell in Being Human than Ross Poldark! Aidan played the many layers of Mitchell so brilliantly, he could certainly nail the complicated Mike.

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Mike is married to Olivia. Her feisty character doesn’t necessarily match her pale, pretty and petite looks. Carey Mulligan could play her strident and intelligent personality perfectly. She suits an elfin-style hair cut too!

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Sami is charming, swaggering and vain! He’s also drop-dead good looking. The obvious contender would be Idris Elba, but perhaps he’s a little too jaded. Did anyone watch Marcella? Nicholas Pinnock, who played Marcella’s not-so-nice husband? Remember his chiselled good looks, his confident stride? And he looked great in a designer suit!

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Then there’s Sophie. I’m struggling to cast her. She’s acerbic but fun, always the centre of attention. Not traditionally beautiful, but the force of her personality shines through her emerald eyes. Geri Halliwell in her plumper days? Or maybe ask Kate Winslet to dye her hair auburn. I’m sure she could pull off any role.

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Though he can be grumpy at times, Charlie’s a good soul. He’s a bit set in his ways and has always looked older than his years. Toby Jones is a fantastic actor, he’d do a great job.

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Charlie’s wife Helen is a no-nonsense academic who’s often inadvertently blunt. She doesn’t give two hoots about her appearance, but she’s not unattractive. Helen McCrory is such a versatile actress, she would be perfect.

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Book description

Presenting a stunning debut psychological thriller about a life-changing lie.

Caroline England’s, Beneath The Skin is a tense and compelling read, exploring truth, friendships and betrayal.

No-one remembers your past. But you do.

‘Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’

It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets. Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.

Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth.

Antonia is safe. Isn’t she? The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?

Buying links:     Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Impress Prize 2015, in the Pulp Idol 2016 finals and long listed for the UK Novel Writing Competition 2017.

Follow the blog tour…….

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The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst #BookReview @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg

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Book description

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.
Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

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My review

I do love a creepy and disturbing psychological thriller and The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst fits the bill perfectly. When a child is portrayed in a book as someone evil and not to be trusted I always find the read somewhat more creepy, I think it’s because children are seen as sweet and innocent you never expect them to scare the life out of you, but Jenny Blackhurst has created a character who gave me the heebie-jeebies. From the start this book made for a chilling and genuinely disturbing read that took me by surprise at every twisted turn.

Rather like the book description for The Foster Child I’m not going to go into plot details I think the vagueness of the description helped to make this book all the more thrilling as you weren’t sure what to expect. From my first introduction to Ellie I wanted to believe in her and I found myself hoping that “the bad things happening” to the people who upset her were a coincidence rather than something far more disturbing. As the story progresses you can’t help but feel for Ellie, a child who is bullied relentlessly and “whispered about by children and adults alike.

Malice and discord bubble away throughout making every chapter chilling,  I found myself becoming very anxious and increasingly unsettled as the author weaved her twisted tale. I’m very impressed by the author’s ability to create an imaginative and throughly creepy novel that messed with my over active imagination to such an extent that every creak, every noise in the house made me jump! The market is saturated with Psychological thrillers at the moment, but personally I think Jenny Blackhurst has done a fantastic job in making sure The Foster Child stands out, it’s unpredictable, compelling and genuinely disturbing.  Definitely a book I would highly recommend as it kept me guessing right up to the last thrilling, heart stopping chapter.

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Headline (21 Sept. 2017)

 

 

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite #BookReview @BCopperthwait @Bookouture

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Book description

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

My review

This is pretty much how I must have looked when I finished Her Last Secret……

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OMG I must applaud Barbara Copperthwaite what a fabulous and twisted psychological thriller Her Last Secret turned out to be. Christmas is a time for families, to make memories, surrounded by unwrapped presents and feeling uncomfortable from eating too much rich food, but then I picked up Her Last Secret and all those Cosy thoughts were obliterated before I even got to the first chapter. Her Last Secret opens when the police are called to the Thomas’s London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

The reader is taken back a few days before the tragedy, and through various family member’s POV you learn of the disturbing secrets they kept from each other. The Thomas’s  appear to be the “perfect” family living the “dream”, but then the author peels back the layers and reveals a very different picture, some of the characters turned out to be flawed, weak and very unlikable, this is a family whose life was awash with untold secrets and resentment. Some of the characters I loved and some I loathed but they all had one thing in common at different points through this book I found I didn’t trust any of them, (well apart from the adorable Mouse, who deserves a mention because she was just so damn cute) which made for a very disconcerting read.

I do enjoy a book so much more when I find myself experiencing numerous emotions throughout the read, and even better when the emotions are ones I wasn’t expecting to feel. There are many  emotive themes running through this book, you can’t help but feel overwhelming  saddness at what happens  when you are unable to share your thoughts and fears  with those closest to you.

This isn’t a fast paced book by any means, but I’m glad it wasn’t as Barbara Copperthwaite spends time intricately unravelling the mysteries of this family, which in turn heightens the suspense of what’s to come, you know it’s going to be bad, but to the why and wherefore’s, well let’s just say they were definitely worth the wait. I do enjoy a book that challenges me to guess the outcome, just when I thought I had it all figured out Barbara Copperthwaite threw an almighty curveball that left me reeling. Shocking, sad and very twisted this is definitely a book I would highly recommend.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 408 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (13 Oct. 2017)