I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this book, so keep an eye out for my review the day after publication.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Another month has flown by and it’s time for another wrap up.
July was a great reading month. I read 16 books, took part in one book club readalong and 18 blog tours. Below is a quick summary of what I read this month:
False Witness by Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite crime writers and book she releases is on my must-read list. I was particularly excited about reading False Witness as it was a standalone, and it’s been a while since I read one of those from her. It did not disappoint. Once again she delivered a first-class thriller that was dark, twisted and sinister. Thrillers don’t get better than this. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Carol is another of my go-to crime authors. Her newest series is her darkest yet, and I’m loving it. A Cut For A Cut sees Kate Young once again embroiled in an investigation when she and her son find the body of a young man while diving. It had my totally hooked from the start and didn’t let go. If you are looking for an exhilarating and propulsive thriller, then this is for you. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
The Rule is a readable thriller about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to to protect their child. I really liked Daniel, the young man at the centre of the story, and the themes of duality the author used throughout. Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰
One of my most anticipated books of the year, I luxuriated in every word of this absolute masterpiece. The second book in her Romanov series follows Tsarevna Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. She is a fascinating historical figure and I loved expanding my knowledge of an era that has long fascinated me. Dazzling, captivating and truly magnificent, this is a joy for history and literature lovers alike. I’m now counting down to book three! Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Just as the tagline says, this is not another novel about a dead girl. In her startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz has taken the familiar narratives we see in psychological thrillers and given them an original twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What was her story? And what can we learn from her? She also asks who was the person who discovered the victims broken body? And how did that discovery after them?
Breathtakingly beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising and unflinching, this book went right to my soul. I’m still thinking about it almost a month after reading. It stands out not only amongst the mystery and thriller books I’ve read this year, but all the ones I’ve ever read. This is a must-read for thriller lovers and the author is a talent to watch. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Songbirds is a beautiful story that gives a voice to the voiceless. In this harrowing and heartbreaking tale, the author explores the world of transient and migrant workers, shining a light on their experiences and the institutionalised racism they face. She also highlights how this racism runs so deep that the authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, claiming they must have just moved on instead. A richly drawn novel full of memorable characters, beautiful imagery and exquisite storytelling, this is a story that needs to be read. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
The Painting is a simple yet enlightening story. A portrait of totalitarianism, immigration, family and self-discovery, it tells the story of Anika, a Hungarian immigrant living in Australia after being forced to flee her oppressively homeland. One of the few possessions she brought with her was a valuable painting. After it is stolen in what appears to be a targeted robbery, Anika is forced to confront uncomfortable questions about her family’s past. This book surprised me as it took a different, but fascinating, turn to what I was expecting. A captivating and moving story that I would recommend. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller. I listened to this book as part of the audiobook blog tour and it chilled me to the bone. I had struggled to get into it at first, but am so glad I stuck with it as this was a gripping and unnerving psychological thriller that I couldn’t stop listening to. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
The Art of Loving You is an exploration of love, grief and the afterlife. It looks at how we find meaning in life when it seems to have become meaningless and what we do with the love we have for someone when they die. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it follows Libby, who is left devastated after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. Full of wonderful characters and some truly tender and beautiful moments, I couldn’t put this down. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Mrs England with the Tasting Notes Book Club for July. I am a huge fan of Stacey Halls so I was excited for this book and the online book club meeting. Wonderfully written, atmospheric and compelling, this is one of those books that is even better after you’ve thought about it for a few days and realised that things weren’t what they first appeared. For me, one of the best things about reading a book with others is the way you can read the same book yet see things so differently. This was the best Tasting Notes Book Club yet and I enjoyed the book even more after hearing about it from the author and exploring it with others in greater detail. This is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
This warm, witty, slow-burning romance was the perfect summer read to get lost in. Poppy and Alex were fun to read and had a great dynamic. But my favourite thing about the book is the escapism it offered. I loved being able to live vicariously through the characters and travel to different countries from my back garden during a pandemic. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Björg Aegisdottir
Girls Who Lie is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, but was the first one I’ve read. The author quickly catches you up and it was easy to keep up with the characters making it easy to read even without the first book. A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller, this was another amazing read from Orenda Books. I will definitely be reading the first book in the series and any further installments. Perfect for crime fiction fans. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
The Woman in the Water is a story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Though it was predictable in places, the author leaves you with enough doubt and unanswered questions that you keep turning the pages, needing to know more. A dark, tense and twisty read that fans of the genre will enjoy. Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want? Utterly mesmerising and addictive, I devoured this book. Perfectly plotted, intricately woven and full of tension, this is a masterclass in storytelling. The Secret Life of Writers is a stylish, sharp and suspenseful thriller that is so twisty it will make your head spin. After reading it I understand why Guillaume Musso is known as the French suspense king. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on. The author slowly unveils the truth, weaving together the layers to create a complex and intricate thriller. Themes of domestic violence and coercive control are explored in various ways through out the book and it is clear it is well researched. Unnerving and affecting, I would recommend this to fans of the genre. Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Wow! Just, wow! I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister since the first time I read one of her books, but this is her best one yet. Taut, tense and twisty, this riveting thriller had me hooked. A multilayered and complex story, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Jaw-dropping and unexpected revelations pulled the rug from under me repeatedly and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. That Night is a must read for anyone who enjoys an intelligent, sharp and sensational thriller. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
I swear that it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favourite each month, as there are just so many high-quality books being written. It was really difficult to choose this month and after getting it down to two, I just couldn’t pick between them. Therefore, my books of the month for July are The Tsarina’s Daughter and Before You Knew My Name.
What did you read this month? Did we read any of the same books?
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. Seeyou next month Emma xxx
Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.
They’re in your house.
They want your life.
And now, they have your baby.
To the world, I’m @HappyWife. Online, people only see my picture-perfect home, my handsome husband, Nick, and my beautiful baby, Thomas.
They don’t see the real Gemma Adams. They don’t see my past, the dark secrets I’m hiding in my marriage. They don’t see the fear I live in every single day.
But I know someone is watching me. And now, they’ve taken Thomas.
I just don’t know why.
But I’m going to stop at nothing to get my baby back.
Even if it destroys everything I’ve got to find him.
A compelling thriller, packed with suspense – fans of K.L. Slater and Lisa Jewell won’t be able to put it down.
“A few nice photos of your house and they think they know you, that you must be living the perfect life. If only they knew.”
TW: Domestic abuse
Gemma and her husband Nick seem to have the ideal life: a happy marriage, picture-perfect home and a beautiful newborn baby. But behind the shiny image they portray to the outside world is something much darker. A life where Gemma lives in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and Nick has all the control.
Scarlett and her lover Cole are soulmates. As soon as his divorce is finalised they are going to be together properly. Forever. At least that’s what he’s promised her. So when he suddenly ends their relationship Scarlett is shocked, and determined to win back her man. But as she starts to think that he has in fact lied to her, her thoughts instead turn to revenge. Leading her to take drastic and shocking action to make him pay for what he did.
This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on beneath the surface. Taut, tense and twisty, the author shifts seamlessly between timelines to slowly unveil the layers in the story, weaving them together to craft a complex and intricate thriller. And while there were some things that were easy to predict, there were so many unanswered questions, unexpected revelations and misdirection that it kept you on your toes and avoided feeling predictable.
Gemma and Scarlett felt like they could be any young woman you know. They are close in age but their lives couldn’t be more different, a contrast that is compelling. Gemma in particular was very likeable and reading her felt like I could have been reading about myself many years ago. I just wanted to help her break free of Nick’s grasp. Scarlett had her charms, but she also did a lot of messed up things in the name of revenge that disturbed me. But while the author doesn’t make excuses for her, she does show the reader her motivations, helping us to understand her behaviour. I found myself often empathising with her, even if I didn’t agree with what she was doing. Then there’s Nick; a vile, abusive man who made my stomach churn and blood boil. The author got the mix of charm and viciousness down to perfection so you could understand both how Gemma fell in love with him and why she was so scared.
The author explores the topic of domestic violence and coercive control in a multitude of ways throughout this book. She looks at how people find themselves in these kinds of relationships, what it is like to live in a relationship dominated by escalating abuse and control, and the aftermath of abuse and what that means for those who survived. As a domestic abuse survivor I appreciated the honesty and sensitivity with which she wrote. It is clear that she has done her research and was so realistic that it did bring back memories of my own experience. But it is also a book that educates and makes you think, helping those who don’t have any experience of these kinds of situations to understand how easily anyone can find themselves trapped in that kind of life. I also liked that she showed the many facets of abuse and control and appreciated her note at the end with places to go to for help for those who need it.
Unnerving, explosive and affecting, this was a gripping thriller that I’d recommend to fans of the genre.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ruby Speechley is the author of four psychological thrillers published by Hera Books. She loves writing about domestic situations with plenty of twists and secrets.
She was born in Portugal but has lived in the UK since she was three months old. She now lives in Cheshire with her husband and two of her three children and two dogs. She has an older son and grandson.
Published: October 16th, 2020 Publisher: One More Chapter Format: Paperback, Kindle Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Hardboiled, Police Procedural
Thank you to Sarah at BOTBS Publicity for the invitation to take part and One More Chapter for the gifted eBook ARC.
A murdered woman…
When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer. The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else. Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.
A determined detective…
Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger. Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls?
Can Maggie find the depraved killer? Or will Kate become his next living doll?
“Practice makes perfect.”
Dead Perfect is the third installment in the DC Maggie Jamieson series; and it’s the best one yet.
Maggie and her team face their most challenging case yet when they must track a killer who’s altering the appearance of his victims to resemble someone they know. They have few clues and no obvious suspects. But when a second body is found, it is clear they are in a race against the clock to identify and find their killer before he takes another victim. Can Maggie overcome her personal fears to find him before it’s too late?
“He’d been watching her for a while now. She was perfect. Or she would be.”
Holten has a talent for the sinister and macabre, delivering the kind of tense and twisted thriller that I love. Once again she uses one of my favourite tropes of writing from the killer’s perspective, which heightens all the creep factor. This is one sick guy. But it isn’t just the way he incapacitates and mutilates his victims that makes him so scary, or even his obsessive delusion; it’s how patient, organised and methodical he is. The idea that he could do the preparation he does without being caught is frightening, and feels very real.
I’ve read the previous books in this series so I knew the characters. But if you haven’t you can still read this book as the author quickly catches you up on past events. All the characters are relatable, real and well written, and I like Maggie more with every installment. I liked how vulnerable she was in this book and how we see her battle a new challenge when her friend is at risk. She jumps straight into the action and never slows down for a minute. And while you end the book exhausted after an arduous journey, you are also left desperate for more as it perfectly sets the scene for book four.
Dark, menacing and compelling, any thriller lover should read this book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for So Many Lies. Thank you to Sarah at Books On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC of this book.
It began with a family gathering – it ended in a bloodbath.
When the Harrington family rent a private island to celebrate their dad’s 70th birthday, old lies resurface, resulting in a murderous revenge.
Ben Harrington is stuck.
He’s recently separated from his wife of over twenty years, leaving his almost adult son and daughter feeling angry and betrayed.
What’s more, his daughter Alice has cerebral palsy and he can’t forgive himself for letting her down when she needed him most.
Ben left the family house due to an ill-advised fling with Laura resulting in an unplanned pregnancy.
But all that is the least of Ben’s troubles.
It’s his dad Tony’s 70th birthday and he and his wife Susan have invited the family over to a remote tropical island in order to mark the occasion.
That should be cause for celebration, but there are terrible secrets lurking in the Harrington family which are about to burst out into the open – siblings Steve, Ben, Gaby and Richard are all caught up in this web of deceit.
So Many Lies follows the story of the Harringtons through a series of life-changing lies, dating back to 1979, and as the story builds towards the big celebration, so does the gravity of the lies which brought the family to where they are when we meet them in the book.
Thought your family was screwed up? Wait until you meet the Harringtons …
“When the Harrington’s got together, nothing was ever simple.”
So Many Lies follows the Harrington family over the course of forty years and examines the secrets they keep, the lies they tell, and the far-reaching effects it has on them all.
The Harringtons are a dysfunctional family filled with bitterness and estrangements. They rarely speak to each other let alone all get together. But when patriarch Tony Harringon turns seventy, they all answer the invitation to join a big family celebration on a private island. But things don’t go as planned as rifts lead to tense arguments and shocking secrets are revealed. And all the while there is someone lurking in the jungle waiting for their chance to seek revenge on them all…
With a family like this, who needs enemies? All families have problems but I am glad to not be part of the toxic Harrington family after reading this book. The story begins in June 2018 with Ben Harrington waking up trying to remember the night before. He soon realises something terrible happened, but is then engulfed in darkness and the story jumps back to six weeks earlier. We are then taken on a journey that spans four decades as the history of the Harrington family is slowly told and their secrets are unveiled.
Though it is told from multiple points of view, our main narrator is Ben, the forty-seven-year-old second child. Ben’s life is a mess. He had an affair that ended his marriage when she got pregnant and doesn’t know how to get out from under the personal and financial mess he’s got himself into. I found Ben to be a bit of a wet blanket and prefered the parts of the story that were from other people’s perspective, especially the villain of the story (though I’ll not say more to avoid spoilers).
For most of the book, the flashbacks were my favourite part. I enjoyed the insight into how they had become such an estranged and dysfunctional family. All the flashbacks have titles such as The First Lie and focus on significant moments – ie lies – that shaped their future. I loved how later in the book these were told again from different points of view that peeled away the layers of secrecy and revealed the truth to the reader.
This is a steadily paced, readable thriller, but as we approach the finale the tension radiates from the pages and I was on the edge of my seat as all was shockingly revealed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Paul Teague writes thrillers, sci-fi and non-fiction books.
Writing as Paul J. Teague, he is the author of the Don’t Tell Meg and Morecambe Bay trilogies as well as several standalones such as Dead of Night, Now You See Her (with Adam Nicholls) and So Many Lies.
Paul is a former teacher, DJ, waiter and BBC radio producer, presenter and journalist.
Thank you to Sarah Hardy at BOTBS Publicity for the invitation to be part of the blog tour.
One hot summer, Dee disappeared. Now she’s back…but she’s not the girl you knew.
Sera and Dee were the best of friends.
Until the day that Dee and her brother Leo vanished from Sera’s life, during a long hot summer thirty years ago.
Now Sera is an adult, with her own child, five-year-old Katie, and has returned to her childhood home after her husband’s death.
While she grieves, the past haunts Sera at every turn … and then Dee and Leo return to their small Hampshire village, along with Dee’s young daughter.
But Dee is silent and haunted by her demons; no longer the fun-loving girl that Sera loved. And when Sera uncovers the shocking secret that Dee is hiding, it’s clear that the girl she knew is long gone – and that the adult she has grown into might put all of them in danger…
This twisty, readable book is perfect for a hot summer’s day. You can practically feel the heat sizzling from the pages as the author vividly describes the sweltering weather and fires. It is a mystery filled with dark secrets, murder and life-changing revelations.
For fifteen years Sera has wondered what became of her best friend, Dee, and her family after they disappeared suddenly one day that hot summer. When she sees Dee’s brother Leo back in town she’s hoping that she finally gets answers and the chance to rekindle her lost friendship. But it is soon apparent that Dee and Leo aren’t the people she used to know, and that there seems to be something sinister about the secrets they’re keeping. Maybe inviting them into her home wasn’t the wisest thing to do…
The Darkest Summer is set in the New Forest in the present day with flashbacks to the summers of 1990 and 2003. The scenery of the New Forest is described with breathtaking beauty and is a large part of the story. I spent my formative years near that area and as I read it conjured up images of my youth spending time in places like the ones Sera describes. It is an almost idyllic place to be and I was so fully immersed in the book that I really felt like I was back there.
As well as our main storyline there are numerous subplots that run parallel in the flashbacks and ultimately merge together, though I couldn’t see how some of them would. I loved the clever twists and turns the author wrote that made seemingly mismatched the pieces fit together.
One subplot was Henri, the Sera’s new neighbour. I had a soft spot for Henri from the start and had a gut feeling he was a good guy, so I was hoping I’d be proven right. I loved the blossoming friendship between him and Sera and the mystery surrounding his past. I had no predictions about his past so I thoroughly enjoyed she surprises in his storyline. The subplot concerning Mimi and Hazel was also fascinating and I enjoyed learning more about both mothers and how they came to be the women their daughters now know, particularly Mimi as she’s not the warmest character in the book.
This book was filled with a host of colourful characters, each of which I loved for different reasons. Sera, our main narrator and our protagonist, was a great character. She and her daughter Katie moved back to her hometown to live with her mother three years ago after her husband died suddenly. She’s still working through her grief and feels suffocated at times by her mother, who she’s always had a difficult relationship with. When she was a child her single mother was mostly learning lines or away working, so she got little of the attention she craved. Instead, she found maternal attention from Hazel, her best friend Dee’s mother, who was the cool, vivacious, affectionate mother she dreamed of. She and Dee were inseparable, had many things in common, and Sera spent most of her time on their farm and felt a part of their family so their sudden disappearance cut her deeply. She’s never recovered from that loss so rekindling those relationships is a dream come true when Dee and her brother Leo first come back into her life and, as a reader I was rooting for that, and for the potential relationship between Sera and Leo.
Dee was so well written that despite the massive change in her personality and how moody and dismissive she is as an adult, I had a lot of sympathy for her. It seemed like she must have been through something extremely traumatic as she was showing signs of mental health issues and possibly PTSD. Her refusal to talk about anything that had happened was suspicious, especially as Leo was cagey too, but I hoped it was just that she was too traumatised to discuss it yet and he was respecting her wishes. The author made the many facets of her personality completely believable but like Sera I too got tired of her outbursts, how she controlled the entire household with them, her taking advantage of people, and with her strange behaviour towards her daughter. By the end I couldn’t stand her and wanted Sera to get as far away from her as possible.
This intriguing story started slowly and built the tension steadily until it became a crescendo in the last third of the book. It didn’t feel like a tense thriller but was full of mystery and had me guessing throughout. The many twists and turns were mostly unpredictable, with one in particular completely blindsiding me and turning so much of what I had predicted on its head.
I hadn’t read any of the author’s books before this one but when I read the description I was sold and I will definitely read more of her work. A compelling, character-driven summer read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys mysteries and literary fiction.
Thank you to Sarah Hardy, Hera Books, Ella Drummond and NetGalley the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie is out now and The Darkest Summer will be out on 18 July 2019 and is available for pre-order.