Blog Tour Review: Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this exciting first installment in a new crime series. Thank you to Bookoture for the invitation to take part and to NetGalley and Bookoture for my copy of this book. 

SYNOPSIS:

Footprints were scattered about like fallen leaves. She looked down into the ravine, and once more her lungs filled with fear. A body, blackened and motionless, lay splayed out in the bushes.

Detective Megan Carpenter is no stranger to evil. Escaping the horrors of her old life, she’s vowed never to let anyone hurt her or those she loves ever again. Joining the small police force in Jefferson County’s Port Townsend, Megan is determined to get every victim of a crime the justice they deserve.

So when Ruth Turner walks into the Sheriff’s office claiming her sister Ida Watson has been missing for over a month, Megan’s instincts tell her that she needs to do more than just file a report.

Arriving at a secluded farmhouse in the hills above Snow Creek, she finds Ida’s teenage children alone and frightened.

Then a few days later, close to the Watson’s home, the blackened body of a woman is discovered in an abandoned pickup truck.

Megan must unravel the disturbing secrets of the isolated Snow Creek community to catch the killer. 

But Megan has dark secrets of her own too.

Hidden in the back of her closet is a box of tapes containing every single recording of her therapy sessions with Doctor Albright over thirteen years ago. As Megan begins to play the tapes, she’s taken straight back to the time she was a kid called Rylee, fighting to survive.

Can Megan finally confront the past she’s spent years trying to block out and will listening to her own painful story help her solve the complex case she’s now entangled in?

From the Number One New York Times and Amazon Charts bestselling author, comes an absolutely heart-stopping and completely unputdownable crime series, introducing Detective Megan Carpenter.

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MY REVIEW:

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for a good crime series and police procedural. They’re my go-to reads if I’m ever in a reading slump. When I saw Gregg Olsen was releasing the first in a new crime series I couldn’t resist checking it out as I loved the book I read by him a few months ago. Boy am I glad I did! Snow Creek is a fast-paced, jaw-dropping, twisty and utterly addictive thriller that I devoured in just a few hours. A thriller lover’s dream, it will consume you and leave you breathless.

Ruth Turner walks into the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to report her sister Ida Watson missing. Detective Megan Carpenter decides to do a welfare check rather than just file a report. When she arrives at the secluded house in the hills above Snow Creek she finds Ida’s two teenage children, Joshua and Sarah. They say that their parents went on a mission trip to Mexico but after making calls it becomes clear they never arrived in Mexico and Ida and Merritt are missing. 

When a woman’s charred body is found in an abandoned car the mystery of Ida’s whereabouts is solved. With Merritt missing and Sarah telling the Detective that her father was abusive, Megan has her prime suspect. The race is on to find Merrick and bring Ida’s killer to justice. But as further evidence is uncovered Megan starts to wonder if they’ve been focusing on the wrong person and someone else could be their killer…

This is my second read by Gregg Olsen and has secured my love of his writing. Both books were nail-biting and showed that he knows how to pack a punch, bringing shocking twists and turns at unexpected moments. There were so many in this book I got book whiplash. And OMG that ending! I wanted to scream in frustration when I realised that was the final page. I need the second installment now!

For any crime series to succeed you need a good protagonist and Detective Megan Carpenter certainly fits that bill for me. She was likeable, relatable and absolutely fascinating. Her past is shrouded in mystery, with parts of it slowly being unveiled over the course of the book as she listens to the tape from her counselling sessions with Doctor Albright thirteen years ago. The shocking revelations made me love this character all the more and I think the author has written one of the most intriguing and compelling protagonists of a series that I’ve read. She was the best character in the book and I can’t wait to learn more about her dark secrets and shadowy past.

I would highly recommend Snow Creek to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, thrillers and domestic noir. This is a book you don’t want to miss!

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A #1 New York Times, Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, seventeen novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: https://www.greggolsen.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Gregg_Olsen

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Her Dark Heart by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Rory is waiting at the door of the pre-school – a painted picture of his mother Susan in his small hand. But Susan isn’t going to see the picture, because she has vanished.

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mother. She would do anything for her three children. She drops them off and picks them up every single day. Until one day when Susan kisses them goodbye and then never comes to pick them up.

Susan’s mother Mary is worried. Susan is recently divorced and has been finding things hard recently, but she loves her kids – she’d never leave them.

Susan’s sister Clare is furious. It’s just like her to go missing. It’s not the first time either. Susan has always been a troublemaker. Always seeking attention. She knows Susan has been lying to the family for years. And she knows that Susan has been sneaking out of her family home for weeks…

As the hours turn into days, even Clare becomes fearful for Susan. And when Mary discovers Susan’s diary, she begins to uncover a dark secret from her childhood. Something no one in the family knew. When the  final diary entry leads the police to a man who is discovered dead in a local park, they’re left wondering if Susan vanished because she is a victim. Or because she is a suspect.

MY REVIEW:

She’s done it again. This is another winning installment in the Detective Gina Harte series. Gripping, tense, thrilling and unputdownable, I flew through it in under a day. 

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mum to her three children. She’s going through an acrimonious divorce but it is out of character when she not only doesn’t turn up to collect her youngest child, two-year-old Rory from pre-school, but also doesn’t come home that night or the next day. Her mother Mary is worried but her sister, Clare, and ex-husband, Ryan, think it’s a bid for attention. Finally, Mary calls the police and Gina and her team are assigned to the case. 

There are few clues but Susan’s diary leads them to a man who was possibly the last person to see her before she disappeared. But he’s found dead, having been brutally beaten and tortured before he was strangled to death. Is Susan a victim or did she have some part in this man’s death? The team keep digging but the missing pieces of the puzzle seem to elude them and Gina gets the sense there’s things the family aren’t telling her. It’s a race against the clock to put the pieces together, get to the truth and find Susan before she or someone else turns up dead. 

Her Dark Heart is the fifth book in this series and it lives up to the high bar that’s been set in the others. While knowledge from the other book does help with things like Gina’s backstory and character relationships it is still possible to read this as a standalone. The author is skilled in writing twisty crime fiction full of relatable characters and bad guys that make your skin crawl. 

Some of my favourite parts were from the chapters narrated by our mystery perpetrator. He was sinister, repulsive, delusional, and is determined to inflict his wrath and revenge for what happened all those years ago; though we don’t yet know what occurred. These chapters revved up the tension and had me on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure things out. There were a plethora of suspects but I couldn’t predict who he was or exactly why he was doing this. I did manage to guess part of it correctly but I was still blindsided by the revelations that came as we reached the jaw-dropping finale.

As with the author’s other books there are deeper themes running through this book than what appears on the surface. This time it’s secrets. Susan and her family are all harbouring various secrets and Gina is facing the emotional consequences of secrets she has kept for decades. While the Collins family’s secrets have led to Susan’s abduction and threaten to tear their family apart, Gina is missing her mother and feeling she has no right to grieve for not being there when she died because of the invisible chains her abusive late husband kept her in and how keeping the abuse secret led to their estrangement. It shows us how secrets can snowball, with devastating and catastrophic results.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime fiction and police procedurals. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series then check those out too. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.

The Wish List of Albie Young by Ruby Hummingbird ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this uplifting story. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and to Bookouture and NetGalley for my copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can float to the top.

Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.

On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all- everything hurts less on Thursday.

Every Thursday Maria walks to her local café. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.

Except, one week, Albie doesn’t turn up.

When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend – her only friend – she no longer has the energy to circle the TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.

Then she discovers that Albie isn’t who she thought he was, and she’s left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy – a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete. 

Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie’s wishes could hold the key to her happiness – if only she’s able to look past his secret…

This life-affirming and heartfelt tale is for anyone who has ever looked at their life and wanted more. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things will love this poignant story, which shows us that for the truest loves, the end is never really the end…

MY REVIEW:

Inspirational, heartwarming and uplifting, this delightful debut novel was a joy to read and is one that will linger long after reading.

Seventy-year old Maria Birch lives a solitary life on a rigid routine. The one day she looks forward to, the only day she breaks free of her self-imposed isolation, is Thursdays. On Thursdays, she goes to the local cafe to share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea with her friend Albie Young. Until the week he doesn’t show. When she learns her beloved friend has passed away Maria is devastated, hiding herself away once more, until she comes across a handwritten note Albie left behind. The note is a wish list of things he wanted to do for others and has some of them ticked off. Maria decides to complete Albie’s wish list to honour her friend and finds herself on a journey of self-discovery she never expected. 

This poignant tale started slowly and sadly and I was beginning to wonder when it would start to be the uplifting story I was promised, but I am glad I persevered, and after a while we follow Maria out of the darkness and into a lighter, life-changing time that was deeply moving. 

When we meet Maria we see she is a lonely figure and that she lives for her Thursdays with Albie. He’s her only friend and we know she shut herself off from life many years ago after an unknown event that haunts her. She’s been overtaken by a crushing sadness leaving her broken, full of regret and feeling unworthy of love and happiness. We get brief glimpses of happier times in her life that slowly reveal the heartbreaking tragedy she endured and help us understand her actions. For me it made Albie’s death becomes all the more devastating in light of all she has already lost and I was fighting back tears. But Albie’s list gives her a new lease of life. In carrying out the acts of kindness she sees that she is loved, finds joy in human connection and realises she still has a life to be lived to the fullest. I loved this character from the start, the sadness and fear radiating from her made me root for her to find a better life for herself and I was invested in her journey every step of the way.

This was a wonderfully written story about love, loss, kindness, fractured people and what can happen when you bring people together. It reminds us not to wait to tell someone we love them, mend a broken bridge, to follow our dreams and live life to the fullest because we never know what tomorrow may bring. It also shows us that we matter even if we think we don’t and that there are people who love us and miss us in our absence and that we can make a greater impact on those around us than we ever imagined.

 

The Wish List of Albie Young is a touching, tender, honest and hopeful story that will leave you feeling determined to live your best life and to share in “The Albie Effect”

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping hazelnut lattes. The Wish List of Albie Young is her debut novel, and it promises to be a real heartbreaker. 

You can find Ruby on Twitter at @HummingbirdRuby, on Facebook at /ruby.hummingbird.58 and on Instagram at rubyhummingbirdauthor.

The Wishlist of Albie Young - Blog Tour

The Child of Auschwitz by Lily Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Publication Day Lily Graham!

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this beautiful novel on its release date. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and to NetGalley and Bookouture for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

‘She touched the photograph in its gilt frame that was always on her desk, of a young, thin woman with very short hair and a baby in her arms. She had one last story to tell. Theirs. And it began in hell on earth.’

It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent their six months earlier.

But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the camp comes crashing down upon her. As she lies heartbroken and shivering upon a thin mattress, her head shaved by rough hands, she hears a whisper. Her bunkmate, Sofie, is reaching out her hand.

As the days pass, the two women learn each other’s hopes and dreams – Eva’s is that she will find Michal alive in this terrible place, and Sofie’s is that she will be reunited with her son Tomas, over the border in an orphanage in Austria. Sofie sees the chance to engineer one last meeting between Eva and Michal and knows she must take it even if it means befriending the enemy.

But when Eva realises she is pregnant, she fears she has endangered both their lives. The women promise to protect each other’s children, should the worst occur. For they are determined to hold on to the last flower of hope in the shadows and degradation: their precious children, who they pray will live to tell their story when they no longer can.

A heart-breaking story of survival, where life or death relies on the smallest chance and happiness can be found in the darkest times. Fans of The Choice and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will fall in love with this beautiful novel.

MY REVIEW:

The holocaust is a time in history I’ve always felt drawn to and I’ve read many books, both fact and fiction, about it. You know a book about this subject will always be emotional and this is no exception. Compelling, tender and poignant, this book swallowed me whole. I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. It is a story of strength and hope. Of finding light in the darkest times and the kindness that can be found in humanity even amongst the wretchedness and evil.

I hadn’t expected this to be a story mostly about the friendships between women in a death camp but it became my favourite aspect of the story. Seeing how they would help each other survive, offer comfort and words of encouragement was uplifting. Eva and Sofie had a true and loyal friendship and literally put their lives on the line for each other again and again. They were both someone I’d have wanted by my side in that situation and all the women in this book were strong, brave and inspirational. The author uses a past narrative to show us Eva and Sofie’s lives before the camp and show that they were just normal women living their lives until they were caught up in something unimaginable. The love story between Eva and Michal and the pain of Sofie’s separation from her son were vividly described in the flashbacks and made me root for them both to survive and be reunited with their loved ones. As I read I could never be completely sure which of the two women would become pregnant or how and when it would happen. I wondered how a child could possibly survive pregnancy inside a starving mother’s body, let alone the dangers of the camp, and was filled with dread even though we know from the opening pages that the child survives.

This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author but it won’t be the last as her writing was exquisite. I felt like I was transported to hell along with the characters via the author’s visceral and immersive prose that told the unvarnished truth of the holocaust. And though it made for difficult reading at times, it is told with sensitivity, with strands of hope woven through every page as we witness the endurance and resilience of the human spirit and how the miracle of a new life illuminates the darkness and despair.

All the characters in the book are well written and soon got under my skin. The author has a talent for evoking strong emotions towards the characters – be it love, sympathy, joy, despair, heartbreak or hatred. There were some formidable male characters, especially in Auschwitz, and the guards were the essence of the darkness, brutality and evil that lurks in the shadowy corners of humanity.

The Child of Auschwitz is a beautifully written, harrowing but hopeful story that I would highly recommend, especially if you’re someone who enjoys historical fiction.

Out today.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Graham grew up in South Africa, and is a former journalist. She lives now in the Suffolk coast with her husband and English bulldog, Fudge.

She is the author of six novels, published by Bookouture, including the bestselling, The Paris Secret and The Island Villa. 

Her latest novel The Child of Auschwitz will be out in 2019. 

Welcome

@lilygrahambooks

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