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Blog Tour: Into The Woods by David Mark

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

Happy Publication Day David Mark! Thank you Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

If you go into the woods, you’re in for a dark surprise.
Thirty years ago, three girls followed a stranger into the woods. Only two returned. The surviving pair have never been able to remember what happened or what the fate of the third girl was. Local rumours talk of hippies and drugs and mystic rituals, but no one has learned the truth.

This story is just what Rowan Blake needs. He’s in debt, his journalistic career is in tatters – as well as his damaged body – and he’s retreated to the Lake District to write. Yet even Rowan isn’t prepared for the evil he is about to unearth, for the secrets that have been buried in that wood for far too long…


MY REVIEW:

“You can weave the most extraordinary tapestry out of lies but one loose thread and it all comes apart.” 

This is a story of decades-old secrets, missing teenagers, corruption, shamans, and maybe even murder…

Thirty years ago, three girls followed  a stranger into the woods. Only two returned. And they can’t remember what happened, only that everyone seems to want them to forget. Now pieces are coming back and one of them decides to search for the truth.

It’s just the story that down on his luck journalist Rowan Blake needs to reverse his fortune. But he is unprepared for the dark secrets he is about to unearth in the woods. Or what others will do to keep them there.

Dark, chilling, sinister and hauntingly atmospheric, this sent shivers down my spine from the start. It has a strangeness that I found fascinating, even if it did get a little too bizarre at times towards the end. The author’s eerie prose and vivid imagery drew me deeper into the story and compelled me to keep reading as I waited on tenterhooks to learn the truth about what happened in the woods thirty years ago.

The story is told in dual timelines: Rowan is our main narrator in the present, while Violet is the main voice we hear in flashbacks that tell the story leading up to the girls’ disappearance. I found both narrators intriguing, but Violet was the one who’s chapters I enjoyed most of all. I thought the author captured the voice of an antagonistic, troubled and angry teenage girl to perfection. We don’t meet Violet in the present day as more than an off-screen character for most of the book which gives her an air of mystery and allows us to really connect with teenage Violet. Rowan is equally unlikable but compelling; a man at his lowest ebb when we meet him. I enjoyed that the author was brave enough to make both main characters quite unlikable. It’s a risk as that can make it hard to enjoy the book, but he did it so well that it made it a more interesting read. 

Absorbing, eerie, twisty and suspenseful, this is a gripping thriller that I would recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5


MEET THE AUTHOR:

David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

His writing is heavily influenced by real life and have been universally praised for their originality, authenticity and heart. Industry bible Kirkus Reviews said that ‘to call David Mark’s novels police procedurals is like calling the Mona Lisa a pretty painting’. He has been championed by such industry luminaries as Val McDermid, Peter James, Mick Herron and Martina Cole.

He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, Scorched Earth and Cold Bones as well as two McAvoy novellas, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies, which are available as ebooks. His first historical thriller, The Zealot’s Bones, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. With publishers Severn House, he has written the critically-acclaimed The Mausoleum, A Rush of Blood, Borrowed Time and Suspicious Minds.

Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was Reader in Residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.

David’s Radio 4 drama, A Marriage of Inconvenience, aired last year. His first novel was adapted for the stage and was twice a sell-out smash in Hull. He has also written for the stage and has contributed articles and reviews to several national and international publications. He is a regular performer at literary festivals and is a sought-after public speaker. He also teaches creative writing.

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Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

She rolls over and reaches for her instinctively: her baby. Her hand hits air and flaps redundantly. She stumbles out of bed and switches on the light. But this only confirms it. The baby is gone. Someone has taken her.

Sixteen years ago, Lizzie Armitage woke to find her newborn baby gone. Just days later, Lizzie was dead.

Her sister Paula swore she would do everything she could to find the child. If she hadn’t promised to keep Lizzie’s pregnancy secret, maybe the baby wouldn’t have disappeared. And maybe Lizzie would still be alive. But, in nearly a decade, Paula’s never found any trace. Until now

When Paula bumps into an old friend from the past, she realises she wasn’t the only one who knew about her sister’s child. Someone knows what happened that day. Someone knows where Lizzie’s baby went.

But can Paula find out the truth before another family is ripped apart?

A twisty, unputdownable psychological thriller that will keep you hooked until the last page. Fans of Behind Closed DoorsFriend Request and The Girl on the Train will love Her Sister’s Child.

MY REVIEW:

“But the baby is gone. Someone has taken her.”

Her Sister’s Child is a domestic thriller told from the point of view of three women – Paula, Charlie and Marian. Moving between timelines, it tells the story of a tragic death and the search to find out the truth about a baby who went missing sixteen years ago.

A quick and easy read, I flew through this book in just a few hours. Though there were some issues with the novel – it felt a little predictable and confusing at times as it shifted between characters and timelines – it captured my attention for the first page and held some surprising twists along the way.

The characters are well written and each of the protagonists are flawed and complex. There were times they’d pull on my heartstrings and others I’d want to shake some sense into them. Their connection might seem obvious, but the full picture of how these women are linked is more intricate than it first appears and there are plenty of shocking revelations as the full picture is slowly unveiled.

A moving, compelling and twisty thriller, this is a great read for anyone who enjoys this genre.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warning: Infant death, infertility, alcoholism

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born in the Cotswolds, Alison spent most of her formative years abroad. She studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after her two children to take a law degree. After a three-year stint as a criminal paralegal, Alison worked as a commercial copywriter and then a TV storyliner, before coming full circle to write fiction again.

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One By One by Ruth Ware

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Happy Publication Day to this entertaining cosy mystery. Thank you to Graeme at Vintage for my gifted copy.

SYNOPSIS:

Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

MY REVIEW:

“Of all the ways I was expecting this week to go, I never imagined this unfolding horror.”

After collecting all the author’s previous books only to have them languish on my shelves unread, I was excited to finally read a Ruth Ware book. Set in the exclusive French ski resort of Saint Antoine, the book opens with a BBC article reporting on the deaths of four Britons after an avalanche traps them in a ‘house of horrors’.

The story then goes back to five days earlier when the shareholders and staff of Snoop, the latest hot music app, arrive for a week-long retreat. But there are hidden agendas and it seems someone will do anything to protect their own interests. As the snow falls, all we can is do is watch as the nightmare unfolds and the guests are picked off one by one…

“She sent her in like a lamb to the slaughter. What she didn’t know was that she was no lamb.”

I’d heard some mixed reviews for this one so I went into it with a little trepidation. But I enjoyed this book, which I’d class as more of a cosy mystery than a thriller. Setting a story in a ski resort during an avalanche adds a great layer of tension and claustrophobia as there is no escape, making everything a possible case of life and death, even without the addition of someone murdering the guests.

I had a few ideas about who the culprit might be, but I think the author did a great job of including some convincing red herrings that avoided making their identity obvious. The characters are exactly who you’d expect to find working for a new techy company and I liked the author’s decision to make two of the characters who didn’t really fit in with that world the narrators. I liked Erin and enjoyed her chapters most of all, though Liz is someone who’s supposed to be a bit of an enigma and that you’re supposed to find hard to warm to.

I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an easy to read and enjoyable mystery.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway and The Turn of the Key have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. Her books have been optioned for both film and TV, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family. 

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The One Before by Miranda Smith

Published: November 4th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for The One Before which is a little late due to illness. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

I love him. I trust him… But what if I’m wrong?

Whisper Falls is a fresh start for Madison and her fiancé Cooper. The safe, quiet town on the shores of a beautiful lake is the perfect place to spend the rest of their lives.

But then Madison learns that Cooper’s high-school girlfriend Celia disappeared after a party. Three days later, her body was found in the lake.

And the town thinks it wasn’t an accident.

Madison loves Cooper, but she can’t help wondering. She has to know the truth.

But if she starts asking questions, what other secrets will be revealed? Will she meet the same fate as the woman who came before her?

A dark, gripping psychological thriller with a brilliant twist, The One Before is perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter, Gillian Flynn and Rachel Caine.

MY REVIEW:

“I know he killed my daughter, and one day I’m going to make him pay.”

Madison has moved to her fiancé Cooper’s small hometown of Whisper Lake only to find it haunted by the ghost of his high-school girlfriend Celia who was found dead in the lake over a decade ago and full of the suspicions of those who still believe he was to blame. 

Helena is sure that Cooper Douglas murdered her daughter and has spent years biding her time, just waiting for the moment she can take her revenge. Now he’s back in Whisper Lake with his new fiancée, the time has finally come to make him pay. She needs to tell her the truth about what happened to the one before… 

Wow! What a twist! I did not see that coming! 

Told in the present day with flashbacks to the mysterious day that Celia died and Helena’s final memories of her daughter, the author weaves what appears to be a simple tale. Then just past the halfway point, this predictable but entertaining story turned into so much more as the author delivered an astounding twist that left my jaw on the floor. From that moment on I was captivated and unable to put the book down, reading into the early hours as I couldn’t rest without answers.

Madison, Helena and Celia are great focal characters with distinct voices. I particularly liked that Madison was a protagonist who followed the clues and investigated without a blind acceptance of what she was told and how she went in persuit of the truth no matter her fear or the consequences to her own life, which was on track to being perfect. I also liked how the flashbacks to Celia’s final day added a lot of tension and mystery to the story as it slowly unfolded.  

A cleverly crafted, layered and twisty novel, the author lurs the reader into a false sense of security during the slow-burning first half and then keeping them on the edge of their seat for the second half, not letting go until the final pages.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Miranda Smith writes psychological and domestic suspense. She is drawn to stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Before completing her first novel, she worked as a newspaper staff writer and a secondary English teacher. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband and three young children.

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The Night Away by Jess Ryder

Published: November 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller

It’s a little late due to illness, but welcome to my stop on the tour for The Night Away. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

It was just one night away. I had no idea how devastating it would be…

My sister said I deserved a break. She offered to babysit so that my husband and I could have one night away, remember who we used to be before the sleepless nights.

But the next morning my phone rings. My sister is hysterical. Mabel’s cot is empty. My little girl is gone.

I race home with a horrible sick feeling flooding my stomach. The little sleepsuits still hang on the radiator but there is no gurgling or cooing on the baby monitor – just silence.

Now the police are questioning everyone. My sister, my husband, the girls from my baby group.

I want my little girl back more than anything and I will do whatever it takes. But I have a secret… Could the darkness in my past have put my baby at risk?

A truly gripping psychological thriller of manipulation and betrayal from bestselling author Jess Ryder. The Night Away will have you hooked until the final devastating revelation. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train or The Woman in the Window.

MY REVIEW:

“She has no idea that I’m in the park opposite, hiding in plain sight amongst the joggers and dog-walkers, the pram-pushers and duck-feeders. Watching.”

It was one night away just for her. A night to refresh and replenish herself from the stress and strain of new motherhood. But when her baby daughter Mabel is snatched from her cot while the babysitter sleeps, every parent’s nightmare becomes a reality for Amber.

This book jumps straight into the action as someone watches Amber, judging her parenting and calling her daughter ‘my little precious’. There is an immediate air of intrigue and foreboding that fills you with heart-stopping tension as you read helplessly as the mysterious person waits for their chance to strike. The author keeps up that knife-edge tension even after the abduction as we then try to figure out who took Mabel and why.

“Amber has never felt so lonely. She’s standing on an island, surrounded by a treacherous sea of secrets. Nobody can reach her.”

But this cleverly written book isn’t as easy to predict as it first seems. I was confident that I had this figured out early on, only for the author to throw me for a loop with a surprising reveal. But that was ok, I had it with my second guess. I knew the culprit this time. Wrong! With another shocking reveal she pulled the rug from under me. I was left totally clueless and scrambling to figure it out. I loved this as it put me in the same position as Amber, who has no idea who could be behind her daughter’s abduction. It is also clear that Amber is keeping some secrets that she’s terrified of being revealed. Could these secrets hold the key to her daughter’s abduction?

This was my first book by this author and I loved not only the intelligence and tension in her writing, but the emotion too. You feel the raw fear, heartache, anger and desperation radiating from the characters at each turn. I liked that every character was flawed and that they each had something that made you feel for them, even the abductor.

The Night Away is a compelling and twisty thriller that had me hooked from beginning to end. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little anticlimactic after the high tension of the rest of the book.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jess Ryder is the author of five psychological thrillers – ‘The Ex Wife’, ‘Lie to Me’, ‘The Good Sister’, ‘The Dream House’, The Girl You Gave Away’ and her latest, published November 2 2020 – ‘The Night Away’. All titles are published by Bookouture. She also writes as Jan Page. With many years’ experience as a scriptwriter, she loves watching television crime drama. Jess is a passionate reader and particularly enjoys thrillers.

Jess lives with her partner in London, UK and has four grown-up children.

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Gone Before by Sam Hepburn

Published: October 12th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction.

Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook arc.

SYNOPSIS:

‘My name is Phoebe Locklear. I think I’m your daughter.

I rehearse the words as I walk up the path, clutching a faded old photograph of a little girl with thick dark hair.When I knock, the door opens, and there she is: the woman I believe is my mother. The woman whose five-year-old daughter disappeared fifteen years ago.Had I known what would happen next, would I have knocked on that door? Would I take back the lives I’ve destroyed?But now that I’ve started, there’s no going back. I can’t stop until I find out who I really am.Even if the truth could kill me.

Twisty, addictive and utterly unputdownable, Gone Before asks what happens when your whole life turns out to be a lie. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Gone Girl and The Silent Patient.

MY REVIEW:

“Kay and Roz. Two mothers, two enigmas, two damaged women who each lost a child… Phoebe and Maya. Two little girls, both gone before their time.”

When her mother Roz dies, everything Phoebe Locklear has ever believed to be true is shown to be a lie. Faced with the realisation that the woman who raised her did nothing but deceive her, she tracks down Kay Duncan, the woman she’s now told is her real mother. But instead of answers, all Phoebe finds is more questions. So she goes in search of the truth, delving deeper into Roz and Kay’s past and the disappearance of Kay’s daughter Maya in the hope of solving not one, but two mysteries; what really happened to Maya Duncan, and who Phoebe really is.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

“If I’m not Phoebe Locklear and I’m not Maya Duncan, then who the hell am I?”

At the heart of this story is the question of identity. Phoebe is already feeling lost when she discovers that what she’d believed about her birth mother and the reason Roz had raised her was a lie, but when she finds out she isn’t Maya Duncan she is cast further adrift, with no clue whatsoever about her real mother or identity. Who we are is the core of our being, a vital part of our sense of self, and through Phoebe we see the emotional trauma and turmoil that is experienced when someone has lost that part of themselves and examines whether identity is something that is a part of our character or what we are told about ourselves.

Gripping and fast-paced, Gone Before combines mystery with a journey of self discovery that is full of twists, turns and shocking revelations. While parts felt a little predictable, there were also a lot of surprises, the author keeping me on my toes right until the unexpected conclusion.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sam Hepburn read modern languages at Cambridge University and, after a brief spell in advertising, joined the BBC as a General Trainee. She worked as a documentary maker for twenty years and was one of the commissioners for the launch of BBC Four. Since then, she has written several books, including psychological thrillers Gone Before and Her Perfect Life, and novels for young adults and children. She won the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham Short Story award and has been nominated for several other prestigious prizes, including the CILIP Carnegie Medal for her YA thrillers.

Sam has worked and travelled widely in Africa and the Middle East, and is a trustee of the Kenyan’s children’s charity, I Afrika. She now lives in London with her husband and children.

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Dead Woman Crossing (Detective Kimberley King Book 1) by J. R. Adler

Published: September 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Audio, Paperback
Genre: Crime Thriller, Crime, Series

Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and the eBook arc.

SYNOPSIS:

She threw open the door, running to the crib. When she looked inside, she gasped. The world around her went silent. Inside, there was nothing but a small stuffed elephant. Where was her baby?

When young, single mother Hannah is found murdered by the banks of a twisting Oklahoma creek, her one-year-old daughter sleeping in a stroller near her body, the small town of Dead Woman Crossing reels in horror.

Detective Kimberley King, recently relocated from New York to Oklahoma, with her young daughter Jessica, can’t ignore the similarity of Hannah’s death to the case of Katie James, the woman that the town of Dead Woman Crossing is named after. Katie was murdered in front of her small daughter in 1905, on the banks of the same creek, and it seems that someone is drawing inspiration from the crime. Could this killer be a copycat?

But as she interviews suspects, Kimberley is met with blank faces and closed lips. In a small town, people won’t talk and when she pursues a promising lead, her own family turn their back on her. Kimberley isn’t afraid to ask questions, but when she receives a threatening note, she realises that, as a single mother to a young daughter, she might be putting herself dangerously in the killer’s sights …

A gripping, atmospheric crime thriller inspired by true events, about a town on the edge of collapse and a murder that shakes the community. Dead Woman Crossing is perfect for fans of Rachel Caine, Lisa Regan and Jane Harper.

MY REVIEW:

Dead Woman Crossing is the first in a new crime series featuring Detective Kimberley King. 

The story opens with Kimberley and her 16-month-old daughter Jessica moving from New York to small-town Oklahoma. Kimberley is making the move to be closer to her mother and so she can work regular hours and spend more time with her daughter. 

But, just days into her new position, the town of Dead Woman Crossing is rocked when a young woman is found murdered in the same spot as the victim in the infamous unsolved case from which the town got its name. Could they have a copycat on their hands? And was it a stranger passing through or someone they know that killed the young mother? 

This book was a slow burner and nothing much happened for the first third. It plods along steadily, introducing us to the characters and laying the groundwork for the series. But when the young mother’s body is found, the pace quickens and I found myself pulled into the story as I tried to figure out who could have committed such an evil crime. 

From the start the author perfectly captures the claustrophobic, small-town vibe of Dead Woman’s Crossing and I could feel Kimberley’s struggle to adapt to living in a place that’s the polar opposite of New York; where no one is anonymous and everyone knows your business. When she discovers that it aso seeps into her police work, she is left frustrated with small town politics and gossip. 

While she was relatable, I did find Kimberley hard to warm to and found her quite spiky. But as more of her past was revealed, I found I enjoyed her more as a protagonist. She had that classic mix of independence, strength and determination, and a backstory that slowly unveils. Although at first the flashbacks that told her backstory seemed a little choppy, after a while it became clear that she is trying to process some serious trauma. She spent her childhood trying to avoid the wrath of her alcoholic father and is still grappling with her mother’s passive role. In addition, she is plagued by her flashbacks and nightmares of her last case in New York when a brutal serial killer left her taunting messages and evaded capture. It’s this case that gives her an increased determination to catch the person responsible this time around. 

Tense, twisty and intriguing, this is a great start to a new series. I loved that the author kept me guessing about the identity of the killer right up until the end. If you like mysteries that are more steadily paced and character-focused, then this is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Originally from Wisconsin, J.R. Adler currently lives in Ithaca, New York with her husband, Drew, and her English Bulldog, Winston. When not writing, you can find her reading, playing board games, travelling, and binge watching The Office for the umpteenth time. 

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Playdate by Alex Dahl

2020-07-18-17-31-34

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover.
Now it’s an abduction.

Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight.

That was the last time she saw her daughter.

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation. Who has taken their daughter, and why?

MY REVIEW:

When seven-year-old Lucia begs her mother to be allowed to have a playdate with her new friend Josie, Elisa agrees. When she later asks to have her first sleepover Elisa can’t turn down her excited daughter and drops round her overnight things. But when Lucia’s father goes to collect her the next day the house is empty, there is no furniture and no sign of the family living there. Where is Lucia and why did someone take her?

This story is every parent’s worst nightmare. All I could think of is the many playdates and sleepovers I’ve sent my own children on, getting chills at the idea of them not coming back the next day. This made it easy for me to relate to Elisa and feel everything she did. But  from the start I had a sense that she was hiding something important that could be the key to finding who took Lucia, though I had no idea at all what it might be, increasing the mystery and tension. 

Told in multiple voices, including Lucia herself, we are offered a glimpse into their inner thoughts and fears. The story is very character-driven so this insight into their psyches is what drives the narrative and helps solve the mystery of Lucia’s abduction. Complex, intricate and layered, it is hard to see how all the pieces fit together at first. But through many twists and turns the author slowly unveils the truths being hidden to reveal the answer everyone has been searching for: why. 

Gripping, suspenseful and terrifying, Playmate is a cleverly crafted psychological thriller about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys character-driven thrillers.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alex Dahl was born in Oslo, Norway, and is half American, half Norwegian, fully Francophile, and London resident. Alex is the author of The Boy at the Door, published world-wide in 2018.
She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, as well as an MSc in Business Management. Alex loves to travel and has previously lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland and Bath.

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The Bad Mother’s Virus by Suzy K. Quinn

2020-07-04-15-54-28

Published: May 30th, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Media
Format: Kindle
Genre: Humourous Fiction

Thank you to Megan at Ed Public Relations for the invitation to read this book and the gifted eARC.

SYNOPSIS:

100% of net profits donated to coronavirus healthcare initiatives (details below)

Laugh out loud for your immune system with this parenting comedy
Single mother, Juliette Duffy, is getting married. Again. And this time, she is determined to make it all the way down the aisle. But you never know what’s around the corner, do you?

Follow Juliette as she tries to plan a wedding that may never happen, cheers up a grandmother quarantined on a cruise ship and experiences self isolation hell with her dramatic ex-partner and his mother.

If you’re feeling gloomy and fed up, and looking for a REALLY good laugh and the ultimate feel-good book, download on Kindle Unlimited and laugh your way to better immunity.

A note from your author
I think we all need a bit of cheering up. There are so many real, human funny and heart-warming stories in the midst of this pandemic, and that’s what this book is about. But there’s a serious side to all this too, that hasn’t been forgotten.
THANK YOU EVERYONE who donates to healthcare heroes by reading this book. You are contributing to many good causes AND hopefully laughing and feeling good, even if things feel scary or uncertain.
We’ll get through this everyone!
Huge love,
Suzy xxx

MY REVIEW:

“But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s to expect surprises.”

The Bad Mother’s Virus is the fifth installment in the popular Bad Mother’s series. In this book Juliette Duffy is starting 2020 in a positive mood. She is planning her wedding to Alex and declares that 2020 will be the year of health and wellness, not banking on the coronavirus derailing not only her plans but the lives of the world. The story follows the early days of the virus, its spread to a global pandemic that sees Juliette attempt to navigate panic buying, homeschooling and life in quarantine while fighting a custody battle with her ex.

Though I have two of the other books in this series, this was the first time I’ve read any of the Bad Mother’s books. When I was contacted asking if I wanted to read and review a copy and learned that Suzy was donating all profits from the book to finding a coronavirus vaccine and healthcare heroes, I jumped at the chance. Despite taking my first foray into the lives of the characters five books deep, I never felt confused about their backstories as the author succinctly catches the reader up with past events in the early pages of the book.

Though it is full of humour, there are some emotional and more serious topics covered in the book too. As someone who’s fought custody battles that element of the story is very real and brought back some unwelcome memories for me. I felt a camaraderie with Juliette and was rooting for her every step of the way. In fact overall I found the characters to be compelling, real and relatable and laughed most at Nana Joan’s antics. 

An entertaining, quick and easy read that offers a relatable look at our current crazy times. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzy K. Quinn is the author of feel-good romance and page-turning thrillers and published her hilarious parenting memoir Lies We Tell Mothers last year. She wrote The Bad Mother’s Virus exclusively during the lockdown, while juggling homeschooling, the inevitable extra cleaning and cooking, and generally not having a moment’s peace! Suzy’s books have sold over three quarters of a million copies worldwide and have been translated into 7 languages. Suzy is also a journalist and has previously written for The Guardian, Perfect Wedding Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine and The Sun. Suzy currently lives in Essex with her husband Demi and two daughters, Lexi and Laya and is available for interview and to write features.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Lies I Tell by Joel Hames

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Published: June 9th, 2020
Publisher: FFS Publishing
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour and Happy Publication Day Joel Hames. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and FFS Publishing for the ebook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

SHE’S WATCHING YOU
BUT WHO’S WATCHING HER?

From the bestselling author of Dead North, a tense, claustrophobic psychological thriller perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Claire McGowan and Clare Mackintosh.

Meet Polly. Meet Emily. Meet Belinda.

They’re all me. My name is Lisa and I’m an identity thief. If I’m not inside your system stealing your money, I’ve probably already stolen it. I’m your friend. I’m a thief. I’m gone.
I’m in control.

Only now, the tables have been turned. I’m in danger. My son is in danger. And I don’t know where that danger’s coming from.

Any friend.
Any enemy.
Any stranger.

Anyone from the past I’ve been trying to outrun for years.

NOBODY CAN BE TRUSTED.

MY REVIEW:

When she fled her tragic childhood home at the age of fifteen,  Lisa Atkins shed her first identity and became someone else. Ever since she has invented new identities in order to outrun her past and to scam her targets.

But now the tables have turned and she is the target. Realising that she and her son, Simon, are in danger, Lisa frantically tries to find the source of the danger. But they remain illusive. Will the past she’s been trying to outrun for two decades finally catch up with her?

This readable and intriguing thriller captured my attention quickly. The story is told in chapters that alternate between the past and present with flashbacks revealing the terrible homelife she endured and the trauma that has cast a shadow over her whole life. In the present day we watch her keep track of her various identities and scams while also being a doting mother to four-year-old Simon. It provides a shocking and thought-provoking reminder of how our modern-day love of technology and social media can be used against us by those with the knowledge to do so. Personally, I could only think how being so many different people must be exhausting. Just reading all she had to do to keep on top of her many identities left me feeling like I needed a nap!

One of the things I liked most about this book was Lisa’s nuanced and layered character. Lisa isn’t supposed to be someone we like. She’s a con artist and a thief who takes pride in what she does, but she is also a loving mother and someone with a tragic past. There is something about her that was endearing to me from the start and I couldn’t help but like and root for her. The flashbacks to her childhood were certainly a contributing factor to this as the story went on as it was impossible not to be moved by what she had gone through.  

Another thing I enjoyed about this novel is that I found it hard to predict. I had no idea who was targeting Lisa or what turns the story would take next. My only issue with this book, and the reason I have given it 3.5 stars instead of 4, is that about a fifth of the way in the tension wanes and doesn’t pick back up for quite some time. But overall this was a fascinating, twisty, and enjoyable thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.

After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family chose to let him).

Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

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Joel Hames