Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – February 2020


February has been a crazy but wonderful reading month. I’ve read a total of fifteen books, taken part in sixteen blog tours and in two readalongs – the second one I’m still currently reading. So here is what I read this past month:

  1. Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 
  2. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Alibi Girl by C.J. Skuse ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  4. Beast (Six Stories #4) by Matt Wesolowski ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Guest List by Lucy Foley ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. The Holdout by Graham Moore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Snakes by Sadie Jones ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. Tales of Mystery Unexplained by Steph Young ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can read the synopsis for the books and my reviews by clicking on the title for all except Away with the Penguins, which will be published on Monday, March 2nd.

It’s been another month of strong and phenomenal reads, which made it almost impossible to choose a favourite. After a lot of thought I’ve decided it was a tie between the two books that linger most in my mind after reading – The Memory Wood and Away with the Penguins.

In February I also attended two book events. On February 19th I attended my first book event here in Sheffield – the book launch of Firewatching, the sensational debut by local author Russ Thomas. It was a fantastic evening and I left eagerly anticipating book two in the series which is out this time next year. You can read my review for Firewatching by clicking here.


Just a few days ago I travelled to Nottingham for the second event, The Orenda Roadshow. Orenda is one of my favourite publishers. Every book I’ve read from there collection is amazing. When you pick up one of their books you know you’re getting quality writing, great storytelling and something a bit different. Plus there’s the fact that Karen Sullivan is one of the nicest people I’ve met. At the event each of the twelve authors had a minute to talk about their latest release and later read an excerpt from the book – which resulted in tears of laughter when Matt Wesolowski read his excerpt as a 20-something vlogger. I only wish I’d videoed it. It was great to meet and get a glimpse into the personalities of so many authors and I came away with a lot of extra books on my wishlist. There was also the added pleasure of  meeting blog tour organiser extraordinaire Anne Cater at the event. A wonderful surprise.

How was your February? Did you read any of the same books? What was your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

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Blog Tours book reviews

Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5


Publisher: Orion
Published: February 6th, 2020
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this fantastic thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Orion for the gifted copy of the novel.


She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…


Wow! This was a roller-coaster ride that I didn’t want to end. Multiple plot lines and characters were woven together like an intricate patchwork quilt in this complex, thrilling and addictive read. 

In letters to her future daughter, infamous murderer April Cooper reveals what really happened in the summer of 1976, when she and her boyfriend, Gabriel LeRoy, better known as the Inland Empire Killers, embarked on a murder spree that terrorised their town before finally perishing in a fire. In the present day, Quentin Garrison is working on his new podcast Closure, telling the story of his family connection to the case and how the couple’s actions have impacted survivors and their families. When he contacts journalist Robin Diamond and tells her he has reason to believe her mother Renee is connected to the killings, she dismisses the idea as preposterous. But then her parents are attacked in their homes and she realises she doesn’t know her mother as well as she thought. Could her mother know something about what happened forty years ago? Both determined to get to the truth, we follow as it is slowly unveiled and lives are changed forever.

The mystery of April Cooper, her true role in the murders and if she survived the fire that supposedly killed her is the heartbeat of this story. She is an enigmatic, vivid character who looms large on every page. Through her secret letters, which were my favourite part of the book, we were offered an insight into who she was and the truth behind the lurid, sensationalist headlines and local lore. I had a real soft spot for her, even in the moments she wasn’t likeable and I was desperate to find out what had really happened to her. 

I devoured this book and knew it was one I’d love from the first page. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about reading it. I loved that I couldn’t figure it out, vacillating so many times in my suspicions. While I was right about some things, there was a lot I never would have thought of in a million years. On the surface it seemed a simple storyline but it morphed into something unexpected, something much more complex and inextricably linked than I imagined. The shocking revelations had my jaw on the floor and at one point in my notes I wrote “F***!! This is mental!” The twists came so fast at one point I thought I was going to get book whiplash. I’m in awe of the intricate plots that authors create and, while it would be kind of terrifying, I’d love to get a look inside their brain to find out how on earth they think of them. 

Never Look Back is a first class psychological thriller. The plot is nuanced and peppered with clues and red herrings that keep you on your toes until the last pages. It is a story about family, long-held secrets and the ripple effect caused by trauma. It is a search for the truth that shatters people’s lives while giving others a chance at redemption. 

Compelling, tense, atmospheric, deliciously suspicious and utterly brilliant I would recommend this book to any thriller lover. 



Alison Gaylin’s debut book was nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best First Novel category. A graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Alison lives with her husband and daughter in upstate New York.




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Never Look Back MMP Blog Tour