Blog Tour Review: ‘Date Night’ by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this gripping psychological thriller. 

SYNOPSIS:

Returning early from a disastrous date night with my husband, I know something is wrong the moment the wheels crunch the gravel of our home. Inside, the TV is on and a half-eaten meal waits on the table. My heart stops when I find out little girl alone in the house and our babysitter, Sasha, is missing…

Days later, when I’m arrested for Sasha’s murder and torn away from my perfect little family, I’ll wish I had told someone about the threatening note I received that morning.

I’ll hate myself for not finding out who the gift hidden inside my husband’s wardrobe was for.

I’ll scream from the rooftops that I’m innocent – but no one will listen.

I’ll realise I was completely wrong about everything that happened that night…

But will you believe me?

Twisted and absolutely unputdownable, Date Night exposes what goes on behind the closed doors of a happy home and the dangerous truths we ignore to protect the ones we love. Perfect reading for anyone totally gripped by The Wife Between Us, Friend Request or Gone Girl.

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MY REVIEW:

Never in a million years did I see the way this fast paced, taut and twisty whodunit would unfold or its shocking conclusion. 

It starts with a note on Libby Randell’s car one icy autumn morning, telling her that her husband Sean is having an affair. She doesn’t want to believe it and tries to put it out of her mind as a malicious note or a sick prank, but she can’t shake the unease and suspicion that’s been unearthed. After weeks of denials, arguments and mistrust the couple decide to have date night as a way to get back on track. But it’s a disaster and after having the same old argument the pair arrive home early finding the TV on and their babysitter, Sasha, missing. Sasha is dependable, she’s Libby’s employee and friend as well as their babysitter, and Libby knows she wouldn’t just up and leave their daughter Alice alone and all her things behind. Something is terribly wrong…

Libby is a mess. She can’t think straight, can’t work and can’t stop worrying about Sasha. She’s also still convinced that Sean is having an affair. Sean tells her she has to get back to normality, not to worry and to trust him like she’s always done and it will be ok. But then Libby is arrested for Sasha’s murder. She vehemently denies any knowledge of her death or whereabouts but the police seem convinced she’s holding something back. Is Libby hiding something? Could Sean be hiding more than another woman? Or could someone else be to blame? 

This addictive mystery kept me guessing from the first page until the last. I could never decide what I thought had happened to Sasha, who was to blame or if I thought Libby or Sean were involved. I had a number of theories and not one of them came close to any of the bombshells the author dropped. 

The story is told in dual timelines, both of which are narrated by Libby. Libby was an unreliable narrator and I often felt like she was leaving things out, though I didn’t think it was deliberate some of the time. These things, alongside opening with her arrest, meant I was never quite sure if I could trust her despite her proclamations of innocence. She is a woman who has everything she’s ever wanted and her world is rocked when she receives the note about Sean. After that she becomes almost obsessed with the idea that he’s cheating, and most of his responses to her are far from helpful or reassuring. I found her easy to empathise with and relate to, particularly as the true nature of Sean’s character became clearer. 

I hated Sean. From the start he seemed unconcerned with allaying Libby’s fears and instead is angry in a way that seems over the top and that’s used to divert from actually talking about the issues.Though initially you don’t imagine it, he does become a great villain as over time his abusive personality and the way he gaslights Libby becomes more apparent. I won’t say more about it as it would mean giving away spoilers, but I will say that I was definitely rooting the Libby to leave him or for him to be guilty and sent to jail. 

One of the best parts about this book was the quality of the writing. Her vivid and imaginative descriptions brought the scenery to life and made me feel like I was seeing and feeling what Libby did. The author created a tense atmosphere full of mystery that made me want to not put this book down. Even when I was near the end I still couldn’t decide what the outcome would be, which is something I love in a book.

 Date Night is a fantastic, tense thriller full of twists and turns and with a jaw-dropping finale that left me reeling. The more I read of Samantha Hayes work, the more I love her and she is definitely a must-read author for me now. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Samantha Hayes for the chance to read this novel in exchange for my honest review and to Noelle Holten for my invitation to take part in the blog tour.

NEW Samantha Hayes author photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Hayes grew up in Warwickshire, left school at sixteen, avoided university and took jobs ranging from private detective to barmaid to fruit picker and factory worker. She lived on a kibbutz, and spent time living in Australia and the USA, before finally becoming a crime-writer. 

Her writing career began when she won a short story competition in 2003. Her novels are family-based psychological thrillers, with the emphasis being on ‘real life fiction’. She focuses on current issues and sets out to make her readers ask, ‘What if this happened to me or my family?’ 

To find out more, visit her website www.samanthahayes.co.uk

Or connect with Samantha on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaHayesAuthor

And she’s on Twitter @samhayes

Date Night - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: ‘Roam’ by Erik Therme ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Roam’. Thank you to Sarah Hardy at BOTBS Publicity for the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

SYNOPSIS:

When Kevin finds Sarah stranded by the side of the road, he’s more than willing to give her a ride. Young, beautiful and distraught—she’s everything a single guy could ask for in a girl. What he doesn’t know is that she already has a guy: an abusive, drunken boyfriend who left her there in a fit of rage. And when that boyfriend comes back and finds Sarah missing, a simple ride will turn deadly.

Like Josh Gaylord and Daniel Kraus before him, author Erik Therme explores the angst of disconnected youth in his enthralling and powerful Roam. Therme’s darkly tinged novel is an unforgettable tale of three errant souls brutalized by life’s cruel circumstances, and a remarkable night of discovery and violence that will change them forever.

MY REVIEW:

Sarah’s 21st birthday isn’t going the way she imagined. Instead of the perfect romantic evening with her boyfriend Matt, she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere after their car breaks down. Matt becomes increasingly angry and Sarah is scared of what he might do, so she finds an excuse to leave to get help; his threats ringing in her ears as she walks away. 

She’s soon spotted by Kevin who immediately offers her a ride. Though she fears the repercussions if Matt sees them, she decides to accept. We follow them over the course of the evening as a simple act of goodwill puts them both in danger and changes their lives in ways they didn’t expect. 

Roam is a character driven story that is a mix of the coming-of-age, thriller and romance genres. The author delves deep into the characteristics and back stories of our main characters, making them people you cared about and were rooting for. All of the characters are lost and damaged souls, people fighting battles and scars both past and present. They were interesting and very raw. This is the first time I’ve read one of this author’s books but I already get the impression he has a knack of writing these kinds of people

Sarah is naive, spontaneous, lacks confidence and, frankly, is a bit annoying at times. Despite her lack of confidence she’s stronger than she thinks. Despite being terrified and being conditioned to accept abusive relationships, she walks away from Matt and is determined to end things. She is tired of walking on eggshells and knows she deserves better than his violence and verbal abuse. Kevin was my favourite character. He’s an old soul, wise, mature and kind. He is a character that is trying to overcome his bad childhood and rebellious years. He wants to do good, pay it forward and make something of his life. Kevin is a budding writer, this part of his character inspired me. The reminders about having to go after what you want couldn’t have been more timely. 

There were a number of secondary characters but Scotty, one of Sarah’s oldest friends, ends up becoming another main character even though we don’t meet him until about a third of the way through the book. I didn’t like Scotty. I tried to. I understood his problems and that he’d been through a lot, but I just couldn’t take to him. He was an angry and bitter person, and even Sarah is fearful of him when she sees him that night. I didn’t initially see how Scotty would fit into the story but the author slowly reveals more until all is clear and we learn what a vital role he will play. 

Kevin is instantly attracted to Sarah, but it takes her a little longer to realise she likes him. While this got a little cliched at times I was rooting for them to get together and enjoyed how they slowly connected more deeply as the night went on. 

But alongside this sweet love story is the rising tension.The night becomes increasingly perilous and I couldn’t read fast enough, needing to find out if everyone would survive. I loved how the author brought it all together and ended the book. It was dramatic, surprising, and perfect. 

Thank you to Thecker Books, BOTBS Publicity and Erik Therme for my ebook copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out now. 

BLOG TOUR (8)

GIVEAWAY:

Erik is running two giveaways. The first is an International giveaway to win a digital copy of Roam.The second is open to UK & US readers and is to win an audio copy of Roam. Follow the Rafflecopter link below to enter:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/791a8c8f5/

Erik Therme Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa–one of only twenty-eight places in the world that UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ErikTherme.writer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErikTherme

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7831573.Erik_Therme

Blog: NAWebsite: https://eriktherme.com

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Roam-Erik-Therme-ebook/dp/B01MSAA345

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Roam-Erik-Therme-ebook/dp/B01MSAA345

Audible US: https://www.amazon.com/Roam/dp/B0722RN6WD/

Audible UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Roam/dp/B071DXVC73/

Review: ‘The Sixth Wicked Child’ by J.D. Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Review: ‘The Sixth Wicked Child’ by J.D. Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

SYNOPSIS:

In the riveting conclusion of the 4MK trilogy, Barker takes the thriller to an entirely new level. Don’t miss a single word of the series James Patterson called “ingenious”.

Hear No Evil.

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten, a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth he concealed for decades.

See No Evil.

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer – discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina – clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil.

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos – a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious MK4 serial murders, turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil.

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

MY REVIEW:

Oh. My. God. What an exhilarating, jaw-dropping, crazy and spectacular ride! J. D. Barker has ended the Four Monkey Killer trilogy on a bigger note than the gigantic one I was already anticipating. Not content with blowing our minds at the end of book two and leaving us wondering what on earth happens next for months, he now returns and takes everything you were thinking after the previous books’ revelations and pulls the rug from under you once more. I got book whiplash from all the twists and turns. Nothing you think you know is true. No one you trust is reliable. And you have no idea what to expect as you hold on for dear life while reading this final installment.

Picking up where book two ends we soon catch up with the events of the last book and are immersed in the gruesome and brutal 4MK serial killings, a threat to unleash a virus on the general population, and the hunt for the truth about the person, or persons, behind these events. As before the story is told by multiple narrators in the present day with flashbacks in the form of Anson Bishop’s diaries; though this time we don’t know if they are real or elaborate forgeries created to distract from the real Four Monkey Killer. We also now have two suspects – Anson and Detective Sam Porter. Sam has spent years obsessively hunting 4MK but new evidence suggest this may have been a rouse and he is more involved than his team want to believe. Both men protest their innocence. Both men point their finger at the other. But who is telling the truth and who is chasing who in this deadly game of cat and mouse?

Before you read this book it is vital you read The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth To Die as knowing what happened in the previous books is the only way to make sense of what happens in this one. When reading a book series, one of my favourite aspects is getting to know the recurring characters. Over the course of this trilogy I’ve particularly come to love Detective Sam Porter. He’s a well respected member of his team, dedicated cop and while he might bend the rules a little to catch the bad guy, you know he’s a good man and a good Detective. So it seemed anyway. One of the hardest parts of this book for me is having all that crumble as his true involvement with 4MK is questioned. The idea of him being the Four Monkey Killer sickened me and I honestly read this book dreading that outcome. I didn’t know who to believe and it remained that way right until the final sentence.

I’ve always liked the use of diaries written by Bishop to tell his backstory and even though these were unreliable in this book, they were still some of my favourite parts to read. Learning more about what the diaries claim happened when Bishop went into the foster system, his friends and budding relationship with Libby humanised him more than previous books. He wasn’t as cold, calculated and strange and I thought that was a great way to also make the reader unsure if he was 4MK or is innocent like he claims.

The Sixth Wicked Child takes you to some of the darkest corners of human nature, the despair, depravity and cruelty that lies hidden behind closed doors and the masks people wear every day. The writing and plotting is once again exquisite, cunning and captivating. The author is the master of the dark psychological thriller and has created one of the best book series I’ve ever read. I’m sad that it’s over but excited to see what he writes next. I know I will be first in line to read it.

Thank you to NetGalley, Hampton Creek Press and J.D. Barker for an ebook copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: August 27th.

Available to buy from your favourite bookseller.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

jdbarker

J.D. Barker is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His latest novel, The Fourth Monkey, released in June 2017. His third novel, The Fifth To Die, releases June 2018. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

 

Blog Tour Review: ‘Where I Found You’ by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this emotional novel. Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Emma Robinson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Your daughter will not speak…But can she teach you how to live?

Ever since Ruby was tiny, she has been unique. Her smiles are magically rare, and she likes things done in a very particular way – her blocks are always colour-coded and her toy animals stand in regimented lines. She is also the daughter of Sara’s dreams – even on days when being a mother to a three-year-old is exhausting.

Not everyone understands Ruby like Sara does though. Not Sara’s husband Mike, and certainly not her disapproving mother-in-law, Barbara. So when circumstances force their family to move in with Barbara, Sara knows it’s going to make motherhood even harder.

Then Ruby’s pre-school suggests that her behaviour and refusal to speak might be the first signs of a bigger issue, in the same week that Mike walks out on them. And Sara’s world is blown apart.

Facing life as a single parent and trying to work out Ruby’s needs is more than Sara can face alone. There’s only one person she can turn to for help – Barbara.

But Barbara knows something Sara doesn’t. She knows what can go wrong if you don’t look after your children right. And she’s determined not to let Sara make the same mistakes she did.

An emotional page-turner about motherhood, friendship and family. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of A Boy Made of Blocks, Jodi Picoult and JoJo Moyes.

MY REVIEW:

A beautiful, moving and compelling story about a mother’s love and how she’d do anything for her child. It’s also a story of family, friendship, letting go and about how there is often so much more going on underneath the surface than we know. This book will break your heart, make you angry and challenge you. Can you paint a different picture and see all the different shades of colour that are waiting to be found?

This was my first time reading this author’s work but it won’t be my last. I’ll admit, part of my interest in this book was the comparison to my favourite author, Jodi Picoult, and I think that is an accurate description of Emma’s beautiful writing style. I was quickly immersed in the story and characters and felt invested in Sara and Ruby.

Sara loves her daughter and loves being a mother. She didn’t have a great upbringing so she’s determined to give Ruby everything she didn’t – which is mostly love and security. She as a difficult time making friends, feels anxious and like everyone is judging both Ruby and her as a mother and is very defensive. She hopes to finally make friends after the move and I enjoyed seeing her find her confidence in herself and her abilities as a mother as she found some lovely friendships over the course of the book. I particularly loved her friendship with Leonard from the art gallery and the positive effect this had on their lives and Ruby’s too.

Reading how Sara felt as she realised something might really be wrong with Ruby and how helpless she felt was heartbreaking. As a mother I could relate to some of what she was feeling.Though I’ve not ever had to go through the trauma of battling to get a diagnosis for my child’s autism – my stepson is autistic and had an easier journey to diagnosis – I do know the helplessness of not knowing how to help them when they’re struggling to deal with their illness and that feeling of loving who they are while aso wishing they weren’t born with something that makes their life harder. I also know the pain of their being something wrong with your child that  you can’t fix. My son was diagnosed with a hole in his heart at a few days old and I’ll never forget coming home from the hospital with a list of what to do if he turned blue or grey and sitting in tears watching him sleep in his moses basket convinced I’d lose the baby I’d struggled to conceive and carry. Thankfully he is fine now but you don’t ever forget those feelings or lose the desire to protect you children.

I didn’t like either Mike or Barbara from the start. Mike is a useless, selfish deadbeat dad. His refusal to ever really parent Ruby was sadly familiar and while I hated him for abandoning his wife and child, I also think the are better without him so I was rooting for Sara to find her strength and realise she’s a better mother without having to walk on eggshells and essential parent him too. Barbara was the typical disapproving mother-in-law who can’t let go of her adult child. My heart went out to Sara having to deal with all her judgments and sly shenanigans, how she ignored Ruby’s problems and wanted to control everything. There was a lot of deja vu for me in her character and I’ll be honest in saying I know that made me dislike her more than I would have otherwise. Even so, I did begin to warm to her after Mike left and I hoped that she would support Sara how she needed.

The characters in this book were multilayered and the author reminds us that there can be reasons for a person’s behaviour, however bad it may seem, by showing us what’s behind the mask. While I liked that this is a reminder that no-one is dimensional or just good or bad, I must admit that I did think that giving Sara the answers to almost everyone’s behaviour difficult to accept. Not everything gets tied up in neat bows and we are often left without closure or an answer for the wrongs others do to us or the reason they aren’t good people. Not everyone will see a problem with their behaviour and make amends, and while we did see this in the book too it was to a lesser extent.

Where I Found You is a wonderfully written book that will stay with me. Though I wouldn’t describe this as a twisty book, it did contain some surprising twists. I thought these were fantastically written and helped create an even greater depth to the book. I loved how it reminds us that life doesn’t work out how we planned or pictured it but that’s okay, we just need to paint a new picture and make the most of the life in front of us. I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have some tissues handy when you read it.

Out now

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WHERE TO BUY:

AMZ: https://geni.us/B07SQRSP1XSocial

Apple Books: https://buff.ly/2Kvr4ph

Kobo: https://buff.ly/33tz9lT

Googleplay: https://buff.ly/2yX4nUl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

emmarobinson

Emma Robinson is the author of three novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.

Her fourth novel  – Where I Found You – is available to preorder now and will be released on the 16th August 2019.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

Website: http://www.motherhoodforslackers.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/motherhoodforslackers

Twitter: @emmarobinsonuk

Instagram: emmarobinsonuk

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Book review – ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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This month’s #frydayfavourite – where we post a 5 star read from before bookstagram – is one of the last books I read before I joined. I did write a full review as at that time I’d started reviewing on Amazon and Goodreads but I realised I’ve never posted it on here. 

Also, I know I’m nearly two weeks late getting this post up on the blog. I will make sure the #frydayfavourite is posted here on the same day as on Instagram in September.

SYNOPSIS:

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life.

She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy.

Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything……

REVIEW:

Eleanor lives a secluded and strictly scheduled life. She seems to have no friends but says she’s “fine”. Social rules and graces are very important to Eleanor and she laments at the decline of manners and people skills in today’s society. She is also immensely naive about life and wonders why she’s seen as weird when, to her, everyone else is strange. She is the regular butt of the office jokes, talks to no one besides the shopkeeper every weekend, has had no visitors to her house in a year and is tremendously lonely. Eleanor also has secrets about her past that she seems unwilling to face herself and the reader is given just small glimpses of what is haunting her nightmares.

The author paints a vivid picture of Eleanor’s colourful and quirky personality from the start. I found myself creasing with laughter and cringing with second hand embarrassment at her antics and misunderstanding of what to us are normal aspects of life. I was rooting for her even when she was wrong, getting angry at the way “Mummy” talks to her with such venom and hoping she will find the love and happiness she deserves.. Eleanor isn’t your typical heroine, and that’s why you’ll fall in love with her; she’s socially awkward, doesn’t get cultural references and, is unashamedly herself despite it leading to others calling her weird. I found her both frustrating and oddly endearing. The writing was so emotive that Eleanor became real to me. I was living in her and my heart broke with hers.

A phenomenal and powerful story about loneliness, how we are able to survive the worst of times and how a little kindness and love can transform a person’s life.

As I neared the end of this book I couldn’t foresee what the ending would be. I was sad to say goodbye to Eleanor and am (not so secretly) hoping for a follow up. Whether or not that happens I am sure I’ll return to her again between the pages of this book.  

Review: ‘Mother Knows Best’ by Kira Piekoff ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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SYNOPSIS:

A mother’s worst nightmare, a chance at redemption, and a deadly secret that haunts a family across the generations.

There’s only room for one mother in this family.

Claire Abram’s dreams become a nightmare when she passed on a genetic mutation that killed her little boy. Now she wants a second chance to be a mother, and finds it in Robert Nash, a maverick fertility doctor who works under the radar with Jillian Hendricks, a cunning young scientist bent on making her mark – and seducing her boss.

Claire, Robert and Jillian work together on the world’s first baby with three genetic parents–an unprecedented feat that could eliminate inherited disease. But when word of their illegal experiment leaks to the wrong person, Robert escapes into hiding with the now-pregnant Claire leaving Jillian to serve out a prison sentence that destroys her future.

Ten years later, a spunky girl named Abigail begins to understand that all is not right with the reclusive man and woman she knows as her parents. But the family’s problems are only just beginning. Jillian, hardened by a decade of jealousy and loss, has returned–and nothing will stop her from reuniting with the man and daughter who should have been hers.

Past, present and future converge in this mesmerising psychological thriller from the critically acclaimed author Kira Peikoff.

REVIEW:

This compelling page-turner jumps straight in with the action and tension not missing a beat before the reader is drawn into the strange, mysterious and reclusive world of Claire, Michael and Abigail Burke. Today is their annual outing into the city to commemorate Claire’s late son Colton’s birthday. It’s the only time they venture into the city, and one of the few times Claire will leave the house, for fear of being recognised after a decade-old scandal saw Claire thrust into the spotlight. All she cares about is protecting her daughter, even though ten-year-old Abby has no idea about the true circumstances surrounding her birth, or that her parents are in hiding and in fear of discovery from not only the law, but a woman who is determined to have her revenge.

But they weren’t counting on a school project that would lead to Abby asking questions they aren’t prepared to answer, or her secretly looking for answers when she is sure her parents are lying to her about something. She has no idea that she’s the world’s first child of three parents, illegally created to avoid inheriting Claire’s mitochondrial DNA that carries the disease that killed her first child. What will happen if she learns the truth? And can her parents keep her safe from the third parent out for vengeance?

What a spectacular book! Full of tension it had me reading with bated breath in anticipation of what would happen next. I loved the use of dual timelines told in parallel and the choice to have the story narrated by Claire, Jillian and Abigail. Giving a voice to three very different characters increased the atmosphere and helped the reader bond to what each of them is going through and their motivations for actions that otherwise might have seemed to not make any sense.

Claire is a Mama Bear. She’ll do anything to protect her child. She’s been through the agony of losing a child after watching them suffer from illness and went to extraordinary lengths to protect her next child suffering the same fate. She then commits to a life in hiding so that her daughter doesn’t become a freak show and can live a normal life. As a mother I always understood her motivations, even if I didn’t agree with them.

Abby doesn’t know how she was created so all she sees is an agoraphobic, anxious, panicky, over-protective mum who won’t go to her games or let her have a smartphone. She can tell she’s being lied to but understandably wants to know what they’re hiding from her. I worried for Abby, for how she’d handle the truth, especially as it was possible she’d not find out in a calm way with her parents explaining things to her. She’s only ten so I didn’t blame Claire and Michael for not having told her yet, although I did think it might have been wise to do so when they learned of the school project.

Jillian was a great villain and was so much fun to read. She’s highly intelligent, ambitious, manipulative, delusional and certifiably insane. She is one of those people you’re very glad are a work of fiction and that you love to hate. Her obsession with Dr Nash and venom towards Claire were both scary and it was no wonder Claire was terrified of her tracking them down. I loved the scenes with Jillian in part three and four most of all as it’s when we see her at her most crazy.

While this is at its heart a story about family it is also a story about a controversial topic. While I can say that I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with the idea of three parents, I do understand the desire to remove the chance of a child possibly inheriting a disease that causes immense suffering and death. As explored in the book this isn’t a simple issue, but as someone with a non-fatal illness that causes pain daily that is now thought to be hereditary, I don’t know if I’d have chosen to have a child if I had known. I would certainly have jumped at the chance to remove that risk if it had been available. Taking into account how Claire’s first child suffered before succumbing to his illness makes me completely understand everything she did, even if I am uncomfortable with the idea of three parents.

This fast-paced book was full of twists, some I predicted, others that took me by surprise. But all of them were revealed in a way that brought the storylines together perfectly as the tension built to a crescendo. And that conclusion! Wow! My jaw was on the floor and I couldn’t read fast enough. Mother Knows Best is a thought-provoking, compelling, sharp and electrifying thriller that I highly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and Kira Peikoff for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: September 10th

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kira Peikoff is a graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism. She also holds a Master of Science degree in bioethics from Columbia University. Her articles have been published in a variety of major media outlets, including The New York Times.

Since 2017 she has been the Editor-in-Chief of leapsmag, a digital publication that cover innovation and ethics in the life sciences for a mainstream audience. Peikoff lives in New Jersey with her husband, son and the world’s cutest dog.

 

Blog Tour Review: ‘Take It Back’ by Kia Abdullah ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this spectacular debut novel. Thank you to HQ for my copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Take It Back is a gripping courtroom drama, perfect for fans of Apple Tree Yard, He Said/She Said and Anatomy of a Scandal.

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

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

Someone is lying.

Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.

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?

REVIEW:

“You will always care what people think of you – that’s just the way of the world – but you can decide how you act in return you can choose to be cruel like them to make yourself feel tall, or you can treat others with kindness to balance out the shortfall.”

This fast-paced, gripping, powerful and provocative novel is so much more than the typical courtroom drama. Dealing with issues such as religion,, race, disability, everyday sexism, drug misuse, rape and simply wanting to fit in. It is hard-hitting from the start and packs a punch right up until the last page. 

Told from multiple points of view, we follow former barrister Zara Kaleel, now working at a sexual assault referral centre, as she helps Jodie Wolfe navigate the criminal and legal process after she accuses four Muslim boys of rape. We also hear from the boys’ perspective as they protest their innocence and fight for their futures. Throughout the book I had no idea who was telling the truth and was overcome with sadness at knowing one side had to be telling the truth; either a vulnerable young girl was raped or that girl lied and tried to get four innocent boys put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. Which one of those is the best outcome? Of course the answer is neither but instead all I could do was hope that the truth would out and justice would prevail.

“Women aren’t born warriors; we learn to fight because we have to.”

I still can’t believe that this is a debut novel. Intelligent, tense, dark, twisty and compelling, I found this almost impossible to put down and got completely involved in the characters and the story. My mother’s heart was so torn as my mind went into overdrive to try and figure out who was telling the truth. I never did. 

The characters in this book are all full of depth, raw and very human, and are both likeable and unlikeable, which adds to the honesty of this novel. On the surface, Zara is simply a former barrister that wants to do good in the world. But when you peel away the layers you see the many other things she is too: a Muslim that lives a more westernised life, the black sheep of the family, scarred by her father’s death, afraid of commitment and using substances to handle the problems she’s unwilling to face. She is also strong, determined and stands up for what she believes is right. 

“A single moment of weakness would not define his entire life. The mistake would be righted and they’d all move on – and surely that would be soon. After all, it was four against one”

Jodie Wolfe has facial deformities because of neurofibromatosis. All she’s ever wanted is to fit in, to feel like everybody else. She has a tough home life with her alcoholic mother who blames her for everything wrong in her life and is one of the few characters in this book that I felt nothing but venom towards. Jodie’s deformities give her an extra battle in her rape case as lots of people look at her and wonder why four handsome boys would want to touch her. Even her mother and best friend think she’s lying. It highlights one of the many uphill battles faced by people who report rape and my heart broke for her and what she was subjected to during her testimony and her victim statement brought tears to my eyes.

One of the things I liked best about this book is how we also get to know the four accused boys and how they are shown as whole people, not just hooligans and criminals. They deny the allegations and the author gives the reader a glimpse of each boys’ interview and interaction with their father. It was a great way to humanise them instead of simply portraying them as the big, bad, mysterious wolves. It also gave me a lot of empathy for their families as we see the effect their arrest has on them and their struggle to make sense of their children being accused of such a terrible thing.

“Did Zara really owe more to her community and its nebulous idea of loyalty than a beleaguered young girl who so clearly needed help?” 

Many times I had to remind myself this was a work of fiction as it is a premise you can imagine actually occurring. It is a commentary on issues prevalent in today’s society. It was very hard to read at times and opened my eyes to what it can be like being a Muslim and an immigrant in Britain today. The hateful vitriol and threats towards Zara for apparently betraying her community by helping Jodie was awful and devastating. Her story in particular opened my eyes in a big way and I can’t imagine living in England in 2019 and being under threat of such tyranny and harm from people in your own community. 

As we sped towards the finale my heart was in my throat and I had no idea how it would end. I read the revelations with disbelief and horror, my heart quickening, holding my breath in  anticipation of what would come next. This book is worth every bit of the hype it’s receiving and I can not wait to see what the author does next. Sharply and expertly written and paced, I would recommend that anyone who enjoys legal or crime thrillers read this book. 

Out now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

kia-abdullah   

Kia Abdullah is an author, journalist and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, and Channel 4 News, and most recently the New York Times commenting on a variety of issues affecting the Muslim community. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog atlasandboots.com, which receives over 200,000 views per month.