Tag Archives: Summer Reads

**Making a dent in my book shelf** #MiniReviews #BookChallenge part 1

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One of my bookshelves

Like every book blogger in the country I have numerous books sat on my bookshelves 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😂🙈).

All the books mentioned were bought by myself in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

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Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. 

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. 

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. 

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wildfire (21 Feb. 2019)

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A disturbing story of toxic relationships, manipulation, desire and betrayal, I raced through Blood Orange by debut author Harriet Tyce. I genuinely enjoy a Psychological thriller that delves into the complexities of toxic relationships. I can genuinely say I loathed every character in this book. Alison appears to have it all, but it’s not enough, here’s a woman whose hell bent on pushing the ‘self destruct’ button. 

I’m afraid I lacked empathy for Alison, mostly because of her reckless behaviour, but such is the power of the author’s writing, I ended up hoping she would find a way to turn her life round and rid herself of the unhealthy relationship She had with her husband, and her lover. The men in Alison’s life are manipulative, bullies, and unpleasant,  any woman in control of her life would see the warning signs and run for the hills! And yet I really enjoyed this book, there’s an overwhelming sense of dread, as Alison’s life begins to unravel, and the all important tension increases all the way to the hugely satisfying finale. Highly recommended to those who enjoy unsettling, dark domestic noir. 

One Last Pray For The Rays by Wes Markin 

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School should be the safest place in the world. Not this winter.

Detective Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.

But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers change him forever?

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As anyone who follows my blog will know I do love a crime thriller that veers towards the dark side, and One Last Prayer by Wes Markin fitted the bill perfectly, it’s brutal, gritty with more than a touch of the macabre. One Last Prayer For The Rays opens with a hell of a bang, and from that moment on the author holds you in his clutches with a gripping story, that’s shocking, gory, and so deliciously twisted

The story centres on 12-year-old Paul Ray who disappears from school, from a distance the Ray family could be seen as a generation of pig farmers, and nothing more, but delve into their murky and flawed family tree and you will find generation upon generation of depraved psychopaths, the kind that emit evil from every pore, where violence is the norm, and remorse is a word that doesn’t feature in their vocabulary! Dysfunctional doesn’t even come close to describing this family, but one things for sure their a family you won’t forget in a hurry.  One Last Prayer For The Rays is a strong police procedure,  fast paced read that gets darker and more tangled with each turn of the page. which made for a compulsive and thrilling read.  

If you are looking for a cosy Murder mystery then this definitely isn’t the book for you, but if you’re a crime thriller whose not adverse the the occasional gory scene then this one’s definitely for you. An incredibly strong debut and one to read with the lights on. This is the first book I read by Wes Markin, but it definitely won’t be my last. 

My thanks to Shell Baker at http://bakersnotsosecret.blog for recommending One Last Prayer For The Rays to me. 

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (29 Jan. 2019)

The Holiday by T.M. Logan 

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Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence. 

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. 

One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined. 

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

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If you were thinking of going on holiday with your closest friends, you may want to think again! The Holiday by T. M. Logan serves as a warning that it’s just possible that your best friends could also be your worse enemies! As three families, four friends,  find out when they spend a week together in Provence. This book is very much character driven, no fast paced plot here, but it certainly made for an intriguing read, shrouded in subterfuge each member of the family has something to hide. As the author reveals secret after secret each character comes under close scrutiny, all the characters have their flaws some have very unpleasant traits, to be honest they are a pretty unlikable bunch, but never the less this also made them more intriguing.

You never quite know who to trust as Kate tries to uncover which of her friends is having affair with her husband,  and the author doesn’t help by tantalising the reader with red herrings along the way. As the temperatures in Provence increase so does the tension between the four friends, what first starts out as a simmering niggle  develops into boiling rage of emotions that ends in tragedy. The plot is an interesting one which explores themes such as secrets, parenting, loyalty and betrayal. The Holiday is the perfect summer read for those who enjoy a slow burning psychological thriller. 

  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Zaffre (25 July 2019)

 

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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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager #BookReview #SummerReads @riley_sager @EburyPublishing @penguinrandom

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Riley Sager’s latest book Lock Every Door. read on for my thoughts but first the book description…….

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You’ve been offered a luxury apartment, rent free. The catch: you may not live long enough to enjoy it…

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents. 

These are the only rules for Jules Larson’s new job as apartment sitter for an elusive resident of the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile private buildings and home to the super rich and famous.

Recently heartbroken and practically homeless, Jules accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

Out of place among the extremely wealthy, Jules finds herself pulled toward other apartment sitter Ingrid. But Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her. Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story – but the next day, her new friend has vanished.

And then Jules discovers that Ingrid is not the first temporary resident to go missing…

Welcome to the Bartholomew…You may never leave.

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Lock Every Door is the latest book from author Riley Sager, I’m a huge fan of this author’s writing and really enjoyed his previous books Final Girls and Last Time I Lied  but I believe this is my favourite book yet. The author has moved away from his slasher, horror, YA vibe, and this book reads more like a gothic, thriller, chiller novel. This book is the perfect summer read (as in best read in daylight hours). Every page of Lock Every Door reinforces the readers’ feelings of trepidation and paranoia. **Beware the Bartholomew is a building full of dark secrets, ghostly happenings, and mysterious disappearances enter at your own risk**

You’ve been offered a luxury apartment, rent free, not only that you get paid to be a ‘house sitter’ sounds great, eh? But as the old and wise adage goes  ‘If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is’. Jules Larson ignores any misgivings and moves into one of Manhattan’s most high-profile private buildings the Bartholomew, home to the rich and famous. Within days of Jules moving in, the perfect job looses its shine, first there are the strict rules, and then strange and disconcerting events begin to occur.  The first half of Lock Every Door threw up so many tantalising questions, that I raced through this book desperate to uncover the answers. 

The Bartholomew itself is a character, an iconic landmark on the outside but step inside and it’s a building shrouded in rumours, ghost stories and urban myths, its history is one that whispers of a curse, ghostly happenings and tragic events. The atmosphere inside the building is one you could slice with a knife (no pun attended!),  it’s creepy and intense I couldn’t shake off a niggling feeling that ‘the worse was yet to come’, and I wasn’t wrong! The Bartholomew is home to an eclectic bunch of residents, and although I felt I only got to know them on a superficial level this no way spoilt my enjoyment of this read. Each of the residents featured adds layer upon layer of doubt to the story, so you are never sure who to trust.  As the tension rose so did my heart rate, and I’m sure it didn’t drop until I reached the hugely satisfying  conclusion. 

There is nothing more thrilling than being duped by the author, I really thought I had everything worked out, but then the author threw the mother of all curve balls that rendered me speechless! Some readers may find certain aspects of this book far fetched, I thought the direction the plot took was clever, devious and very satisfying. Riley Sager has a way of writing that makes his books come alive, it’s like you are watching a film rather than reading a book, the setting, the atmosphere, the plot make Lock Every Door an exhilarating read. Highly recommended to those who love a thriller, chiller with misdirection at every turn. 

***Please note the book featured in my photo is the USA version, UK version pictured below***

  • Print Length: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (25 July 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

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                                                          UK book cover

Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager #BookReview @penguinrandom @riley_sager #SummerReads

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Today I’m sharing my review for The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager another one of my most anticipated reads of the year, before I share my review here’s the book description

Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all… 

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Riley Sager is back with a cracker of a crime thriller,  I was a huge fan of his debut novel Final Girls , Last Time I Lied is intense, addictive, and such a Compelling read . I do love the way the authors books are written, they very much remind me of the 1980’s scarey  movies I was so fond of back in the day, minus the dramatic music of course! A word of **Warning** once you pick this book up prepared to drop everything else, full of misdirection and deceit it’s a book that’s nigh on impossible to put down. One thing I will say if you loved Final Girls for the horror/slasher vibe running through it, you may find The Last Time I Lied slightly disappointing as this book isn’t as dark, but never the less I still found it a really enjoyable read.

Years after Emma’s three friends went into the woods and disappeared, she returns to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale, hoping to find out what really happened to the three young girls. Oh how I absolutely adore an unreliable and troubled narrator, and boy does Emma fit the bill perfectly. Her story is one of teenage lies and mental illness, which make this book so unpredictable. Last Time I Lied is told  through past and present chapters, all I will say is the author is a master in deception, so good luck with trying to separate fact from fiction, as I didn’t even get close to working out where this tale was heading.  

Although some may consider the start to be a slow one, it’s definitely worth persevering, Riley Sager firstly sets the tone and atmosphere of the story helped along by Camp Nightingale the perfect location for a crime come horror thriller, with a cinematic narrative it feels like you are actually watching a movie rather than reading a book. With an underlying sense of menace running through its pages Last Time I Lied is definitely one to be read during day light hours. As a huge crime thriller reader there is nothing I like more satisfying than an author  taking me by surprise, now this could be an unexpected plot twist or something else entirely, and the author managed both, to the “why” or the “what” my lips are sealed. Highly recommend.

  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (12 July 2018)

 

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧          Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Her Name Was Rose By Claire Allan #SummerReads @AvonBooksUK

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Today I’m sharing my review for Her Name Was Rose Allan a psychological thriller, which I have a feeling is going to be a big hit this summer, read on for my thoughts  but first the book description…….

Book description 

Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

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The old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” constantly sprung to mind whilst reading Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan. Emily becomes obsessed with Rose’s life after witnessing a tragic hit and run accident which leaves Rose dead. Emily then spends every waking minute learning more about Rose’s life through her Facebook page, friends and work colleagues, she  realises she wants Rose’s “perfect” life for herself. As you can imagine as this is a psychological thriller nothing is as it first seems, with an unreliable narrator and untrustworthy characters it’s one that will keep you guessing and questioning your own assumptions. 

Emily is very much a “marmite” character I can see reader’s being divided, at first I felt some sympathy for her, but as the story progressed and she planted herself firmly into Rose’s old life I couldn’t help but become irritated by her choices, don’t get me wrong she’s not a bad person, misguided maybe, needy definitely,  and you can’t help questioning how reliable she is as a narrator. Never the less Emily’s story made for a compelling read and I pretty much read this book in a couple of sittings.  

Her Name Was Rose is a psychological thriller that’s predictable in parts, but in the author’s defence I should point out I do read a lot of books in this genre so where I guessed what was coming next plot wise, other readers may miss the signs and be surprised by the twists. Claire Allan tackles some difficult subjects, but she does so with sensitivity,  it never felt like she was exploiting uncomfortable subjects to make the story more thrilling. I’m sure Her Name Is Rose is going to be a very popular read this summer, and I can see why it has all the hallmarks of best seller with themes of jealousy, abuse, obsession and secrecy at its core. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers with a leaning towards domestic noir then Her Name Is Rose is definitely one to add to your TBR pile.  

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; edition edition (28 Jun. 2018)

 

Buying links:       Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

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In The Dark by Cara Hunter #MustReads @CaraHunterBooks @penguinrandom @PenguinUKBooks

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Today I’m sharing my review for In The Dark by Cara Hunter and what a gripping crime thriller it turned out to be, read on for my thoughts, but first the book description

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY’RE HIDING IN THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR?

From the author of the massive bestseller CLOSE TO HOME, comes the second pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive.

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

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Last year I read Close To Home the debut novel from Cara Hunter which I thought was a pretty amazing crime thriller.  In The Dark the second book in the DI Fawley series has made this an unmissable series. Yes it can easily be read as a standalone but because this is shaping up to be a such a gripping series it’s definitely worth starting at the beginning.  In The Dark opens with a belter of chapter, A young woman and a child are found locked in a cellar, William Harper the owner is an elderly man who  appears to be confused, and is unable to remember how they got there. Neither of the victims can speak due to trauma they suffered. Which means DI Fawley and his team start an investigation where they find themselves literally working “In The Dark” who is the woman?  how did she end up in the cellar of a quiet Oxford street? These are just some of the questions that are at the forefront of this gripping and compelling crime procedure thriller. 

Cara Hunter has a gift for writing crime books centred around police procedures, she not only tells a story in the conventional way, but adds police interviews, forensic reports, social media post and newspaper articles to make the reader feel they are right there amid the investigation sifting through the clues. This way of sharing the information gives the plot a present day feel but it also makes the whole investigation feel very credible. It’s very cleverly done in my opinion as it adds a sense of urgency to the plot, the need for answers to the why and how,  keep the reader fixated.

Creating a character whose confused to say the least, who also happens to be the main suspect was sheer genius on the author’s part. Although there is some character development of Fawley and his team, the investigation is definitely at the forefront of this book, so no time is wasted on unnecessary chapter filling, which made this book even more enjoyable to read. There is nothing more satisfying than being surprised by a book, and boy did Cara Hunter surprise me! At one point I thought the author was rehashing a well used plot in crime thrillers but when I least expected it she threw in the mother of all curve balls, it truly was a “OMFG I never seen that coming” type of moment.  Definitely one of the best crime thrillers I’ve read this year, with a compelling narrative, twists galore and oodles of deceit, I have a feeling In The Dark is going to be a HUGE success and one of this summers MUST reads. Highly recommended.

This is going to come as no surprise but I’m giving  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 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 reached the very last page.

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  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (12 July 2018)

Buying links:     Amazon UK 🇬🇧           Amazon US 🇺🇸

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