Review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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SYNOPSIS:

THE DEUBUT NOVEL FROM THE CREATOR AND WRITER OF HIT TV SHOW THE KILLLING.

As the leaves fall, he’s coming for you…

One October morning in a quiet suburb, the police make a terrible discovery.

A young woman is found brutally murdered with one of her hands missing.

Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.

Examining the doll, Forensics are shocked to find a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

Can a new killer be the key to an old crime?

And will his spree be over when winter arrives – or is he just getting started?

MY REVIEW: 

A chilling, grisly, haunting book that’s brimming with tension, The Chestnut Man is the perfect autumn read. From the opening pages there’s a malevolent atmosphere, like evil is lurking in the shadows just waiting to strike. 

A young mother is found in the children’s playground behind her garden. She’s been savagely tortured, mutilated and murdered while her son slept inside unaware of the horror. It’s like nothing the officers investigating have ever seen before. And there, hanging on a beam above the playhouse, is a chestnut doll that contains a clue with links to the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old girl last year that was thought to be solved. 

When another young mother is killed in a similar way, the same chestnut doll at the scene, it becomes clear they are in pursuit of a sadistic killer who’s only just getting started. Now, the urgent chase is on to identify and stop him before more lives are taken – and to discover his connection to the year old murder case.

Not for the faint hearted, this was a warped, gruesome, eerie and riveting thriller. Complex and layered, the writing is sharp and atmospheric with nail-biting tension throughout. I found it impossible to predict and loved how the author slowly strung the pieces together to create the startling final picture. Its starts strong, with the grisly back-to-back murders that had my heart pounding, and I breathed a sigh of relief when there was a pause in them for a while. It felt a little slow in the middle and I did begin to wonder if focusing on so many different characters was a mistake, but he soon pulled it back together and had me on the edge of my seat.

The Chestnut Man is an outstanding debut and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next. 

Out now.

Blog Tour Review: The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Thank you Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour and to Bookoture and NetGalley for my copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

A SHOCKING DISAPPEARANCE. A VILLAGE FULL OF SECRETS.

Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murrary went missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after. But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return home to the village they grew up in when their mother is ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel disappeared, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could have ever imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

This twist-filled, page-turning psychological thriller from the million-copy bestselling author of Silent Child will keep you hooked until the final jaw-dropping pages. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and The Girl On The Train

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MY REVIEW:

I’ve enjoyed every one of this author’s books that I’ve read but this was the best yet! Addictive, fast-paced and heart-stopping, I devoured it in just a few hours. I was never really sure what would happen next and there were so many twists it made my head spin. I love a thriller where you don’t feel sure where it’s going and feel a bit bewildered when you’re reading it and this one did both of these things while keeping me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Moving flawlessly between dual timelines and told by two narrators, on the surface this is a mystery about what really happened the night Samuel Murray went missing. Heather has held suspicions about her sister Rosie’s involvement since that night but has never confronted her, instead allowing it to become a wedge between them and their relationship to drift apart. While that is a huge part of this story, this is also a book with many layers that also looks at the complicated relationships between sisters, family and friends, the damage caused by addiction and the grief of losing someone you love. 

The sisters each narrate a timeline so we get to know both of them pretty well. I liked that the author kept it to one sister per timeline as it created a greater sense of mystery about events in the present day as until we reached the climax we never knew what Rosie was thinking or what her involvement was the night Samuel went missing. There are numerous other characters in the story, some of whom are quite unnerving, some who seem to have an axe to grind, and all of them are well developed and well written. Of the sisters I felt most invested in the life of Heather. The author vividly conveys the agony of her complex feelings for both Rosie and Samuel and her torment over what to do for the best. While Rosie was the chaotic, troublesome child and seems to have a hard shell around herself, Heather was the good girl who always did the right thing and feels everything intensely. Not only is Heather’s world turned upside down after their mother’s death, but a lot of what she believes to be true begins to shatter when Rosie returns and she is left not knowing where to turn or what to think. Her pain was palpable and I found myself feeling everything along with her each step of the way.

Enthralling, atmospheric, suspenseful, creepy and brilliant, this book held me hostage right up until its jaw-dropping conclusion. For anyone who enjoys mysteries and psychological thrillers, Ms. Denzil is an author I highly recommend and I would say that this book is a great place to start. 

Out now

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B07TWSDVC9Social

Apple Books:  https://apple.co/2Xy2xTM

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xxn9kM

Googleplay: http://bit.ly/2JeKVIH

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather.

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahadenzil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahdenzil

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marmiteandbooks/

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com/ 

The Liar's Secret - Blog Tour

Blog Tour Review: Postscript by Cecelia Ahern ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the long-awaited sequel to PS, I Love You. Thank you to Harper Fiction PR for the invitation to take part in the tour, and to Harper Collins UK and Cecelia Ahern for my gifted copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life. 

She’s proud of all the ways in which she’s grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world she worked hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of the people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever.

MY REVIEW:

“In one second, almost two and a half million emails are sent, the universe expands fifteen kilometres and thirty stars explode, a honey bee can flap its wings two hundred times, the fastest snail travels 1.3 centimetres, objects can fall sixteen feet, and ‘Will you marry me?’ can change a life. Four babies are born. Two people die. One second can be the difference between life and death.”

Poignant, emotive and uplifting, Postscript is a story of life, death, love and hope. Exquisitely written, it tackles the difficult topics of death and grief with sensitivity and candour, and also gives hope in its message of the power of love and healing. 

The story picks up seven years after the death of Holly’s husband, Gerry, and six years after she read the last of the ten letters he left for her to read after he passed. Holly is now working at a vintage clothing shop, Magpie, with her sister Ciara and trying to move on with her life. She’s been dating Gabriel for two years and he recently asked her to move in with him. She worries she’s using him as a stop-gap until she can be reunited with Gerry once more. But that isn’t who she wants to be. So she agrees to move in and move forward.

“We all have something that unexpectedly derails us when we are motoring smoothly, blissfully, ardently. This encounter with the club is mine. And it hurts.”

Meanwhile, Ciara has a podcast series called How To Talk About and has asked Holly to take part in the episode How To Talk About Death. Reluctantly, Holly agrees. The crowd are particularly interested in Gerry’s letters and some people express that they wish their loved ones had left them letters like he did for Holly. One lady in particular is keen for Holly to keep sharing her story and maybe even write a book. She keeps coming into the shop and Holly tries to evade her thinking she’s a bit of a stalker. When she learns the woman is part of something called the PS I Love You Club she’s had enough. But in time she begins to connect with the small group and help them as they try to leave behind a small piece of them for their loved ones to cherish, changing not only their lives, but hers too as she begins to re-examine what Gerry’s letters meant and what they could continue to mean. 

What a book! I read PS I Love You when it was first released and was both thrilled apprehensive when I learned that there was to be a sequel. Would it live up to the emotive power of the first book? It didn’t take long to realise that my concerns were unfounded. Postscript exceeded all my expectations and now has the distinction of being one of the very few books to make me shed a tear. While reading I fell in love with this author’s writing style – she knows how to stir emotion, how to break your heart one moment, and then make you laugh the next. The vivid imagery and metaphors were spectacular and I couldn’t put this book down. 

“We want to control our deaths, our goodbye to the world, and if we can’t control it, we can at least control how we leave it behind.” 

For me, the best parts of this book were Holly’s interactions with the members of the PS, I Love You Club. They are an eclectic group whose commonality is they’ve all been diagnosed with a terminal or life-long, degenerative illness. Joy has MS and is preparing for life in a wheelchair, losing her ability to communicate and needing a feeding tube, Bert has emphysema, Paul is in remission from a brain tumor for the second time but is preparing for it possibly returning, and teenager Ginka has cervical cancer. They all have their own reasons for wanting to leave parts of themselves behind and each teach Holly something different about life, love and grief. Amongst this group Holly slowly finds a safe harbour where she can talk about Gerry without worrying she’s making them uncomfortable or having to edit what she says. 

The story and character that touched me the most was Ginka. She’s just sixteen-years-old and is a single mother to baby Jewel. She has no family – they disowned her after she announced her pregnancy and cruelly told her that the cancer is God’s punishment for her sins – and lives with the heartbreak of knowing there’s no one who knows to care for Jewel and tell her about the mother who adored her. She’s practically a child herself yet is facing more pain and hardship than most of us can imagine. As a mother the idea of strangers raising my children would be terrifying. The relationship that develops between Ginka and Holly was my favourite and I loved their scenes together. Her story is just one example of this author’s magnificent talent for writing characters and stories that reach into your soul.

This novel was a truly breathtaking read that reminded me why Cecelia Ahern is such a beloved author.  She tackles a difficult subject in a beautiful and powerful way and reminds us to cherish every moment with those we love. I would recommend this book and don’t think you need to have read the first one to enjoy it.

Available September 19th from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.

To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.

Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.

Cecelia’s next book is a collection of 30 short stories about 30 women, titled ROAR. ROAR will be published in the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2018 by HarperCollins UK, and in Spring 2019 in the US by Grand Central Publishing.

“At the age of 19 I experienced a difficult time in my life, and as I have done since childhood and throughout my teenage years, I turned to writing to process my feelings. PS I Love You was born from my feelings of sadness, fear and loss of my identity. I poured my heart into the story of a woman suffering from grief after the loss of her husband, a woman who had hit the lowest point of her life and was struggling with both the desire and the ability to find her way out of the fog. Writing Holly’s journey helped me find my own path, writing PS I Love You brought both Holly and I to a more positive place in our lives and that is what I continue to do with my novels.

The thread that links my work is in capturing that transitional period in people’s lives. I’m drawn to writing about loss, to characters that have fallen and who feel powerless in their lives. I am fascinated and inspired by the human spirit, by the fact that no matter how hopeless we feel and how dark life can be, we do have the courage, strength and bravery to push through our challenging moments. We are the greatest warriors in our own stories. I like to catch my characters as they fall, and bring them from low to high. My characters push through and as a result evolve, become stronger and better equipped for the next challenge that life brings. I like to mix dark with light, sadness with humour, always keeping a balance, and always bringing the story to a place of hope.”

Blog Tour Review: ‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the shocking new thriller from Linwood Barclay. Thank you to HQ, NetGalley and Linwood Barclay for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and to HQBloggers for the invitation to be part of the blog tour.  

SYNOPSIS:

“You should read ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay as soon as possible. It’s one hell of a suspense novel” STEPHEN KING 

It all begins on Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds non-stop to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in offices across the city refuse to leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find out.

Pulsing with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible..and will chill readers to the bone.

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MY REVIEW:

Wow! What a spectacular, breathtaking, terrifying and thrilling ride! As I’m writing this, it’s been over a day since I finished reading this book and I’m yet to pick up my jaw from the floor. 

Chaos. Panic. Fear. Sabotage. Murder. The ingredients are all there for an electrifying thriller and Linwood Barclay has delivered his best yet. I’ve never had a problem with elevators, my health problems mean I need to use them and the last few years it’s been a fun game finding which ones bear my nephew’s name – Otis. But now I will never look at one the same and whenever I get in one I know  I will be apprehensive, thinking of this book and wishing I could take the stairs…

On Monday office tower in Manhattan is the scene of a terrible accident. Four people are killed when an elevator seems to malfunction and plummets to the ground. On Tuesday another elevator loses control leaving one person dead. Officials are concerned. Elevator deaths are rare and two in two days seems like more than a coincidence. On Wednesday two more are killed in another elevator incident and it’s now obvious that someone is deliberately sabotaging them. With no idea where they might strike next, New York is in chaos as officials search for the culprit and the reason for the attacks. Also looking for answers is reporter Barbara Matheson. What does the perpetrator want, what will it take to stop them, and how many will have died before someone does?

With a multifaceted plot and numerous characters, a lot of the first part of the book was a little slower paced as they were introduced and the scene was set. As the tension ramped up the pieces slowly began to fit together and the picture began to emerge. My mind was a whirl of questions as I tried to figure out who was terrorising the city and why. In the jarring prologue he sets the tone for what he will make you will feel. It was like I was there with the characters and I felt every bit of the crushing panic and terror as they realise they’re trapped, the desperate hope of rescue, the horror and dread as they accept there’s no way out and, finally, the hope to simply survive.

Masterfully plotted, gripping, taut and twisty, this had me on the edge of my seat. As we got closer to the finale I couldn’t read fast enough, the suspense almost painful as I waited for the perpetrator to be unveiled. I was sure I knew who it was only to be blindsided when the identity was revealed. 

It was the little things that I enjoyed most reading this book.I loved the depth he brought to his characters, especially those who play a larger role. They each had a complex honesty about them that made them feel real and I even cared about the fate of those I didn’t like. That’s how good he is! The author has a talent for being able to connect you with a minor character instantly that was used to perfection. We would be given little snapshots of their lives and watch as those everyday, mundane decisions you think nothing of, were leading them unawares to catastrophe. As the crisis spread we followed people affected in different ways, saw people fleeing landmarks fearing they’d be targeted next, and watched as some heard the word ‘terrorist’ and used it as an excuse for racism. These short stories were some of the most poignant moments of the book and brought home that the victims aren’t nobodies but people with full lives that will be mourned.  Another thing I loved was the imagery of New York. While it’s familiar from pictures, movies and TV, it’s somewhere I’ve never visited. Yet the author paints such a vivid picture of life in the city, I felt like I was there.

Elevator Pitch is, in two words, bloody brilliant! It could easily be the plot of a blockbuster film and showcases why Linwood Barclay is an internationally best-selling author. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense, as long as you don’t mind a few grisly crime scenes thrown in. Just make sure you’ve got lots of time to spare and no plans to ride an elevator in the near future.

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans. Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series.

Blog Tour Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop and the final day of the blog tour for this phenomenal novel. Thank you to Michael Joseph Books and Penguin Random House UK for the invitation to take part and for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

A gripping and compassionate drama about two families linked by chance, love and tragedy.

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will almost be broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later…

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again,Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

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MY REVIEW:

This evocative, poignant and breathtaking novel is one that will linger long after reading. The author explores topics such as mental illness, addiction and parental neglect in this story of two families, the Gleesons and the Stanhopes, that are both different yet similar to each other. It follows them from the mid-seventies until present day as they go through the usual ups and downs, alongside a devastating and unimaginable tragedy that encompasses them all. 

I had been eagerly anticipating this book after seeing a lot of hype for it over the past few months, especially after it was chosen by viewers of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel as the summer read of 2019. The only problem with all that anticipation is the worry that it won’t live up to the hype, that you’ll be the black sheep who doesn’t love this book. But I needn’t have worried. Though it started slow, within the first 100 pages I had fallen under the spell of this book. The author writes with beautiful nuance, compassion, sensitivity, warmth and candor. Her characters and their experiences feel authentic.  You can put yourself in their shoes or imagine them being the people next door to you. I was drawn into their world, invested in their lives, and needed to know what the outcome would be for them.

This author has a talent for writing honest, complex and damaged characters. They were all multilayered and could be both ugly and loveable, giving them a realism that helps connect them to the reader. You can hate a behaviour but have some empathy when you can understand how someone reaches a point where they make the wrong choices, even if that doesn’t mean you’re okay with that behaviour. That’s what happened again and again with these characters. It felt like real life, like dealing with people you know. 

The story shifts its focus so that we get the perspective of almost all the members of the two families at various times, which enables us to get to the heart of these characters. A lot of the focus is on Kate and Peter so it is unsurprising that they were the characters I felt most invested in and the greatest empathy for, especially as they are so young when the tragedy occurs. Peter in particular was a character my heart ached for. He goes through so many terrible things that I wondered how he can survive it, but I also saw a resilience in him that told me he would. There are so many things I am longing to say about the other characters, especially Anne, but doing so would mean spoilers, and I don’t like to include those in my reviews, so I won’t say more about them.  But if you’ve read this and want to talk, please DM me. 

Ask Again,Yes is an extraordinary, riveting novel written with compassion, humanity and affection. It is a story of anger, bitterness, tragedy, love, hope and forgiveness. It is a melancholy yet heartwarming tale. It reminds us that ignorance doesn’t always mean bliss, that it can sometimes allow things to fester until they boil over and have far-reaching repercussions. But it also shows us that with understanding, empathy and love, fractured lives can be mended.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Everyone is talking about it, and for very good reason. You should pick it up as soon as possible. 

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35,’ and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People, Fever, and Ask Again, Yes.

Blog Tour Review: ‘The Sleepover’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Sleepover, the gripping fourth installment in the Detective Natalie Ward series. Thank you to Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour, and NetGalley, Bookoture and Carol Wyer for the eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

Roxy had a secret. Now she’s gone.

When fourteen-year-old Roxy says she’s going for a sleepover at her best friend Ellie’s house, Cathy sees no reason to check her daughter’s story. The two families are neighbours, and the girls  are in and out of each other’s homes every day.

It’s a decision she will regret. A day later, Roxy is found murdered in exclusive Linnet Lane, miles across town, in a house owned by two brothers with no apparent connection to Roxy. Detective Natalie Ward, called to lead the investigation, is determined to get to the bottom of why Roxy was in the basement of this grand Victorian mansion when she should have been eating chocolate in her pyjamas with her best friend. 

As Natalie begins to look closely at Roxy’s stepfather and three brothers, she discovers that Roxy had recently been admitted to hospital with suspicious injuries. Her mother Cathy seems very jumpy, and Ellie refuses to talk. Who are the people that knew Roxy best in the world protecting?

Then Roxy’s mother Cathy disappears.

When Cathy’s body is discovered close to where her daughter was found, Natalie is forced to face the grim fact that the killer is just getting started. She is troubled by the reaction of Roxy’s brother Seth to the tragedies and when his alibi falls through she brings him in for questioning, certain she is making headway.

But while Seth is in custody, one of Roxy’s school friends is found murdered and Natalie knows she must cast her net wider. Things take a more sinister turn when Ellie vanishes, her mobile phone switched off. What is Ellie hiding about the night Roxy died that could put her in terrible danger? And can Natalie figure it out before another innocent life is taken?

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MY REVIEW:

Carol you’ve done it again! The Sleepover is an absorbing, riveting and twisty thriller that had me in it’s grip from the first page, was difficult to predict, and impossible to put down. 

Fourteen-year-old Roxy tells her Mum she’s going to her friend’s house for a sleepover but the next day her body is found in the charred remains of a house fire in an area nowhere near where she was supposed to be and owned by people she didn’t know. Detective Natalie Ward and her team are called to investigate the mystery but her devastated family and friends have no answers, neither do Gavin and Kirk Lang, the owners of the house she was found in. 

As they get deeper into the investigation they seem to find more questions than answers. There are numerous suspects in the arson but there is little in the way of evidence connecting anyone to the crime, or Roxy to the Lang brothers, and Natalie is left feeling angry and frustrated when she’s sure that everyone involved is lying to her and holding back important information. 

When Roxy’s mother Cathy is found murdered the investigation takes on a greater urgency as it seems whoever killed her daughter is targeting those who know about their actions. But everytime the team think they have a clear suspect, something else comes to light that seems to point in another direction. Can Natalie and her team find the killer before they strike again?

There were so many suspects that it was impossible to figure out who the killer was, which is something the author is a master at doing in her books. As soon as I’d made up my mind it was one person, I would change my mind and think someone else! There was one person I didn’t trust from the start and was the person I couldn’t shake my bad feelings about. I don’t want to name them or say if I was right because either one could spoil it for other readers. 

The Sleepover is the fourth book in the fantastic Detective Natalie Ward series and each book feels like connecting again with old friends for me. In this book, Natalie and her husband David are still barely speaking two months after their daughter, Leigh ran away from home. Natalie is increasingly unhappy in her marriage,  David is struggling with his gambling addiction and a lack of self confidence as he still can’t find work, their eldest child Josh is acting strangely and increasingly aloof, and they are still having difficulties with Leigh. All of this is distracting Natalie but at the same time she uses the case to try and take her mind off things and avoid spending time at home with her husband. In this installment we are teased with information as to why Natalie’s relationship with her estranged sister ended and why she finds it so hard to forgive David’s lies. I’m getting desperate to know the full story about Francis though. Please tell me we’ll find out soon Carol! 

This book was full of complex, morally ambiguous characters which I absolutely loved. None of us are one dimensional and finding the humanity and empathy in someone unlikeable or “evil” is fascinating to me. The Curtis family, who are the main focus of this book, were so well written and each of them were a mix of victim and villain in their own way. It is a testament to the author’s talent that despite all of this I never lost any sympathy for them in what they went through, and hoped that the surviving members would be proven blameless. I felt like the kids in particular were trapped in a toxic cycle and if they could just break free of it they’d have a chance to be better people. The Lang brothers were the perfect villains. Despite their house being burned down I never felt any real sympathy for them and actually wanted them to be proven guilty. They were such shady characters and I really liked that we were given these characters to dislike while the evidence didn’t always seem to point in their direction. 

So if you like police procedurals and crime fiction then this book, and series, are for you. The Sleepover is a gripping and readable thriller that keeps you guessing right until the sensational conclusion. Now I’ve just got to not-so-patiently wait for book 5….

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping thrillers.

Her book, GRUMPY OLD MENOPAUSE won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.

Carol moved to the ‘dark side’ in 2017 with as series of thrillers. LITTLE GIRL LOST became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and a Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

The DI Robyn Carter and DI Natalie Ward series have sold over half a million copies, earning her acclaim as a crime writer.

2019 sees the release of two romantic comedies and three DI Natalie Ward novels, including the much anticipated THE DARE and THE SLEEPOVER.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndromeand Ageing Disgracefully and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

To learn more about Carol, go to www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer. 

Carol also blogs at www.carolwyer.com

The Sleepover - Blog Tour

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